Childhood & Early Life
David Mark Morrissey was born on June 21, 1964 in Kensington, Liverpool, England into a middle-class family. His father Joe Morrissey was a cobbler, while his mother worked for the retail and football betting company, Littlewookd.
David was the youngest among the four children in the family. He had two brothers named Tony and Paul, and a sister named Karen Lane.
He was born in the old house of his grandmother, which his mother had inherited. When he was seven years old, the family moved into a new house.
David got the first taste of cinema when he was a child. It was the drama film ‘Kes’ that he watched on television. Thereafter, he became extremely enthusiastic about watching movies, television and musicals.
Fascinated by the art of acting, David first performed on stage at the age of 11. It was for a school production of the play ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’. One of his teachers, Miss Kelly, was the first one to recognize his acting talent, encouraging him to be confident on stage.
When he was in the secondary school, he joined the ‘Everyman Youth Theatre’, where he made his stage debut in the play ‘Fighting Chance’.
David’s father passed away when he was 15 years old. A year later, he finished high school and started working at the Wolverhampton Theatre company, where his duties included managing the set and costumes.
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In the early 1980s, David Morrissey auditioned for a role in the five-part television series ‘One Summer’. He auditioned eight times before eventually bagging the role of Billy Rizley, the leading character in the drama series. Its critical and commercial success set him up for a successful career in the British entertainment industry.
Following his successful screen debut, David decided to polish his acting skills further and enrolled in the ‘Royal Academy of Dramatic Art’. He graduated from there in 1985.
He returned to Liverpool and joined the ‘Liverpool Playhouse’ after graduating in performing arts from RADA. Thereafter, he became part of the ‘Royal Shakespeare Company’ (RSC), starring in plays like ‘Le Cid’ and ‘Twelfth Night’ for them. He also appeared in key roles in many acclaimed plays, such as ‘Ghetto’, ‘King John’, ‘Edward IV’ and ‘Richard III’.
In addition to working in several stage productions in the early 1990s, he was also seen in television series, such as ‘Screenplay’, ‘The Widowmaker’ and ‘The Storyteller: Greek Myths’ (1991).
In 1988, David made his film debut in the drama movie ‘Drowning by Numbers’. He played the supporting role of Bellamy in it. The movie premiered at the ‘Cannes Film Festival’ and was hailed for its screenplay and solid performances.
In the 1990s, he appeared in supporting roles in films, such as ‘Robin Hood’, ‘Waterland’ and ‘Being Human’. However, his television career remained relatively more successful, as he got to work in series, such as ‘Framed’, ‘Between the Lines’, ‘The Knock’ and ‘Into the Fire’.
One of his most revered film roles was as Christopher Finzi in the 1998 film ‘Hilary and Jackie’. The film received many nominations at the ‘Academy Awards’ and the ‘BAFTA Awards’. It remains one of the most critically acclaimed films of David’s career.
In 2002, David played a supporting role in the four-part crime drama series ‘Murder’ and followed it up with key roles in television films, such as ‘Out of Control’ and ‘This Little Life’.
In 2003, he appeared in the television drama series ‘State of Play’, in which he played one of the leading roles as MP Stephen Collins. The critically and commercially acclaimed series ran for six episodes.
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In the early 2000s, after playing supporting roles in films like ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ and ‘Born Romantic’, David was roped in to play a leading role in the crime thriller film ‘Basic Instinct 2’ opposite Sharon Stone. While the film was a critical success, it ran into controversy owing to highly explicit sex scenes.
In 2007, he appeared in the psychological horror film ‘The Reaping’ opposite Hilary Swank. The film was received poorly by the critics, but proved to be successful at the box office.
While his film career was picking up in the 2000s, his television career remained more successful. In 2004, he was seen in the leading role of Ripley Holden in the musical comedy drama series ‘Blackpool’.
The six-part series received universal critical acclaim and a ‘Golden Globe Award’ nomination. He later reprised his role of Ripley Holden in the television film based on the same series, titled ‘Viva Blackpool’.
In 2008, David appeared in a leading role in the drama series ‘Sense and Sensibility’, an adaptation of the popular Jane Austen novel of the same name. The series received mostly positive reviews and good ratings.
As for his film career in the late 2000s, he gave notable performances in movies like ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ (2008), ‘Nowhere Boy’ (2009) and ‘The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep’ (2009). He also played a supporting role in the historical war film ‘Centurion’ (2010).
While his film credits reduced in the 2010s, he remained quite active on television. He was seen playing the negative role of the governor in the post-apocalyptic zombie horror series ‘The Walking Dead’, for which he received much critical acclaim.
Apart from acting, David has also taken some behind the camera roles in his career. He turned a writer and director for short films, such as ‘Something for the Weekend’ and ‘Bring me Your Love’. He has also directed a few television feature films like ‘Don’t Worry About Me’, ‘Sweet Revenge’ and ‘Passer By’.
Family & Personal Life
David Morrissey got married to his long-time girlfriend Esther Freud, a novelist, on August 12, 2006. The couple has three children together, including two sons named Albert (Albie) and Gene, and a daughter named Anna.
The British actor has been part of a number of humanitarian causes. In 2009, he ran a drama workshop for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. He has also been associated with a charity called ‘The SMA Trust’, which raises funds for children’s disease.
He is a lifelong fan of the football club ‘Liverpool FC’.