James Norton Biography

(Actor Starred as Tommy Lee Royce in Happy Valley)

Birthday: July 18, 1985 (Cancer)

Born In: London, England

English film, TV, and stage actor James Norton is best known for his award-winning role of criminal Tommy Lee Royce in the crime drama series Happy Valley. The role has also earned him a British Academy Television Award nomination. Norton has also impressed audiences with his gripping performances in series such as Grantchester and McMafia. Born to a well-to-do teacher couple in Lambeth, he was educated in the elite Ampleforth College and Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, before joining RADA. Over the years, he has appeared in several films, such as Flatliners and Little Women, and series such as Doctor Who, Death Comes to Pemberley, and Black Mirror. He has done equally well in his stage career, appearing in plays such as The Lion in Winter, Belleville, Journey's End, and A Little Life. The actor suffers from Type 1 diabetes but has not let his condition hamper his acting career. He is engaged to fellow actor Imogen Poots.

Quick Facts

British Celebrities Born In July

Also Known As: James Geoffrey Ian Norton

Age: 38 Years, 38 Year Old Males


father: Hugh B Norton

mother: Lavinia J Norton

siblings: Jessica Norton

Partner: Imogen Poots

Born Country: England

Actors British Men

Height: 6'1" (185 cm), 6'1" Males

Notable Alumni: Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, Ampleforth College

Diseases & Disabilities: Type 1 Diabetes

More Facts

education: Ampleforth College, Fitzwilliam College; Cambridge, Royal Academy of Dramatic Art

Childhood, Early Life & Education

James Norton was born James Geoffrey Ian Norton, on July 18, 1985, in Lambeth, London, England, to teacher parents, Hugh and Lavinia Norton. His father was born in Tanzania and later taught at the Hull School of Art and Design. Norton is of English, Scottish, Irish, Cornish, and distant Ashkenazi Jewish descent.

Norton was raised with his younger sister, Jessica, in Malton, Ryedale district, North Yorkshire. Jessica grew up to be a doctor.

He is a descendant of Hugh Ross Norton, OBE, Archdeacon of Sudbury. He is also related to former PM David Cameron.

Norton initially studied at the Bramcote Prep School (Scarborough College). At 13, he moved to the elite boarding school, Ampleforth College, located in the premises of a North Yorkshire Benedictine monastery. He was particularly good at tennis and theater in school.

At 15, he worked at Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre. In 2004, he joined the theology course at the Fitzwilliam College, the University of Cambridge.

At Cambridge, he was part of The Marlowe Society drama club. He graduated with First Class Honors in 2007.

Following this, he earned a Fitzwilliam Travel Grant and traveled to Northern India and Nepal, where he taught schoolchildren and studied Buddhism and Hinduism. After returning to the UK, he joined London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). Just 6 months before graduating, he bagged a minor role in the 2009 coming-of-age drama An Education.

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After his small role in An Education, James Norton appeared in movies such as the comedy drama Cheerful Weather for the Wedding (2012), the biographical sports film Rush (2013), and the period drama Belle (2013). He had also established his TV career by then, with series such as the crime drama Inspector George Gently (2012), the sci-fi series Doctor Who (2013), and the 3-part drama Death Comes to Pemberley (2013).

Meanwhile, he was also doing well in his stage career, which had begun back in 2007, with the Shakespearean play Cymbeline at the Cambridge Arts Theatre. He followed this up with the roles of Miles Richards in Posh (2010), Henry in That Face (2010), Captain Stanhope in Journey's End (2011). In 2011, Norton was seen in the London stage revivals of The Lion in Winter and Journey's End.

However, James Norton shot to fame and became a household name with his performance as Tommy Lee Royce in the British crime drama series Happy Valley (2014-2023). His antagonistic role in the series, which was that of a murderous rapist and kidnapper, was so convincing, it apparently got him death threats, too. The role also won him a Crime Thriller Award for the Best Supporting Actor in 2014, apart from a British Academy Television Award nomination for the Best Supporting Actor in 2015.

He followed this up with the role of sleuthing vicar Sidney Chambers in the ITV detective drama Grantchester (2014-2019). Over the years, he showcased his versatile range by playing the Sir Clifford Chatterley in the TV film version of D.H. Lawrence’s 1928 novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover (2015), the brooding Prince Andrei Bolkonsky in the TV adaptation of Russian author Leo Tolstoy’s 1869 novel War & Peace (2016), Russian dynasty scion Alex Godman in the BBC thriller McMafia (2018), osteopath Stephen Ward in the miniseries Trial of Christine Keeler (2019-2020), and Hugo Swan in the sci-fi series Nevers (2021-2023). He has also appeared in minor roles in Life in Squares (2015) and Black Mirror (2016).

Some of his notable film roles include those of Bjorn in the 2014 historical action movie Northmen: A Viking Saga, Jamie in the 2017 sci-fi horror-drama Flatliners, Welsh journalist Gareth Jones in the 2019 biographical thriller Mr. Jones, John Brooke in the 2019 film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s 1868 novel Little Women, and British imposter Robert Hendy-Freegard in the 2022 thriller Rogue Agent.

He has continued his stage journey with his appearance as Jude St. Francis in the West End production of American author Hanya Yanagihara’s 2015 Booker-shortlisted novel A Little Life (2023). He has also voiced a character in the 2014 role-playing video game Dragon Age: Inquisition. Tabloids and fans have already touted him as the next James Bond after Daniel Craig.

Personal Life

From 2015 to 2017, James Norton dated Academy Award-nominated actor Jessie Buckley of The Lost Daughter fame. In 2018, he began dating actor Imogen Poots, who has appeared in movies such as 28 Weeks Later.

Norton and Poots had apparently fallen for each other after working together in the West End production of Amy Herzog’s Belleville at the Donmar Warehouse. The couple got engaged in February 2022.

Norton suffers from type 1 diabetes and needs multiple insulin injections in a day. He has often taken his father to sets to appear as an “extra” in his projects.

In 2014, Norton purchased a house in London’s Peckham area. In 2015, the Royal Theatrical Support Trust named him as one of its trustees.

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