Jim Carter is an English actor best known for his role of Charles Carson in the TV series ‘Downton Abbey’. After graduating from Ashville College, he attended University of Sussex with a law major but changed it to English before accepting a title role in ‘Serjeant Musgrave's Dance,’ Gardner Arts Centre theatre’s first student production. He dropped out of university after two years to join a fringe theatre group in Brighton. His first paid job was in Howard Brenton’s ‘Gum and Goo’ in 1969. He made appearances in numerous plays with various theatre groups before moving to America to enroll in a circus school where he learned juggling, unicycling and tightrope walking. In addition to playing magic acts in cabarets, he began making onscreen appearances. He took up roles in the movie ‘Flash Gordon’ and the television show ‘Fox’. He made appearances in many TV series, movies, and theatrical productions in the ensuing years. He is also a cricket lover and has once served as the Chairman of Hampstead Cricket Club. He married actress Imelda Staunton in October 1983 and has one daughter. In the 2019 New Year Honors, he was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire for his services to drama.
Childhood & Early Life
Jim Carter was born on 19 August 1948, in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England. His father worked for the Air Ministry and his mother was a “land girl” who later became a school secretary. He attended Ashville College, Harrogate, where he became the head boy during his final year.
He attended University of Sussex to study law but later changed his major to English. He eventually stepped into the blooming Drama Society by playing the lead role in ‘Serjeant Musgrave's Dance’, which was the first student production at the newly built Gardner Arts Centre theatre.
Falling in love with acting, he joined a fringe theatre group in Brighton after dropping out of university after just two years.
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In July 1968, Jim Carter made an appearance in Howard Brenton's play ‘Winter Daddykins’ for the Brighton Combination theatre group before getting his first paid job in a play named ‘Gum and Goo’ by Howard Brenton for the Brighton Combination in 1969.
In 1970, he appeared in the show ‘Come Together’ at London's Royal Court Theatre as part of the Brighton Combination. He then toured America with ‘Ken Campbell Roadshow’ (1974-76). In 1978 he became a member of Young Vic Company and made appearances in ‘The Tempest’, and ‘Richard III’.
In 1978, he went to a circus school in America and then appeared in ‘Julius Caesar,’ a production of Riverside Studios, from 21 May to 29 June 1980. In 1980, he also made his film debut with a small role in ‘Flash Gordon’ and his television debut in the show ‘Fox’.
In 1982, he appeared in Richard Eyre's National Theatre revival of ‘Guys and Dolls’. In 1986-87, he performed in ‘The Infernal Machine’ at the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith, London before portraying the role of Cowardly Lion in the Royal Shakespeare Company's ‘The Wizard of Oz’ in 1987-88.
He appeared in the TV series ‘Lipstick on Your Collar’ (1993) and ‘Cracker’ (1994). His notable film roles include ‘Richard III’ (1995), ‘Shakespeare in Love’ (1998), ‘The Little Vampire’ (2000), and ‘Ella Enchanted’ (2004).
In 2005, he appeared in the play ‘The President of an Empty Room’ at the National Theatre. The same year, he starred in the movie ‘House of 9’ and then played Captain Brown in the BBC series ‘Cranford’ (2007-09).
In 2010, he was featured in the film ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and played Charles Carson on the TV show ‘Downton Abbey’ (2010-15). In 2017, he was featured in the movie ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’.
Jim Carter’s portrayal of Ralph Bashford in the 1998 film ‘Shakespeare in Love’ is among his major works. The movie received positive reviews from the critics and was a box office success. The entire cast jointly won the ‘Screen Actors Guild Award’ for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.
His role of Mr. Charles Carson in ‘Downton Abbey’ earned him four nominations for the ‘Primetime Emmy Award’ for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series from 2012-15.
Family & Personal Life
Jim Carter met actress Imelda Staunton in January 1982 at the National Theatre during rehearsals of ‘Guys and Dolls’. He was thirty-four while she was twenty-six. They ended up dating even though she considered him “old!” The couple tied the knot in October 1983 and has one daughter, Bessie, born in 1993.
Being a cricket lover, he once served as the Chairman of Hampstead Cricket Club and organized a Celebrity Cricket Match on 18 September 2011.
He was featured in a Greenpeace campaign about the effects of global warming in 2013.
He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2019 New Year Honors for his services to the drama industry.
Currently, he is residing in West Hampstead, North London, with his wife and a dog named Molly.
Jim Carter is a keen cyclist and often rides for charity causes. On a ten-day trip to Ghana, he raised £8,670 for the provision of clean water in the small impoverished town of Tafo.