Karl Urban’s first ever acting role came at the age of eight. He had a single line in one of the episode of the New Zealand television series ‘Pioneer Woman’. Following this, Urban did not pursue acting professionally until he finished high school.
After leaving college, he appeared in several theatre productions and local TV commercials. He moved to Auckland where he was offered guest roles in several TV shows. He then located to Bondi Beach, Sydney before finally settling down in New Zealand in 1996.
Immediately after coming to New Zealand, Urban bagged himself a big project, the internationally syndicated American/New Zealand TV series ‘Hercules: The Legendary Journeys’ and its spin-off ‘Xena: Warrior Princess,’ playing the recurring role of Cupid and Julius Ceasar. He played the characters from 1996 until 2001.
In 2000, Urban appeared in offbeat rural romance ‘The Price of Milk’. The film won him a nomination at New Zealand Quantas Film and Television Awards. He next appeared as policeman Nick Harvey in ‘Out of the Blue’. His perfect portrayal of the character earned him widespread acclaim and appreciation from the critics and audience.
His growing popularity soon helped him make his Hollywood debut with the horror flick ‘Ghost Ship’. ‘Ghost Ship’ not just opened the gateway to Hollywood for Urban but also earned him numerous prestigious film offers that turned fruitful for his career.
Karl Urban’s acting skills and impressive screen presence earned him the eyeballs of many famed directors who cast him in their projects. What resulted was a string of roles in films that eventually became big hits.
His first major break came with the character of Eomer in the second part of the ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, ‘The Two Towers’, in 2002. Spectacularly brilliant, he reprised his role in the third instalment of the series ‘The Return of the King’.
Following the ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, Urban was flooded with roles. In 2004, was seen in two films, namely, ‘The Bourne Supremacy’ and ‘The Chronicles of Riddick’. While the former was a spy thriller, the latter was a science fiction adventure. Both the films performed exceptionally at the box office and became cult movies.
In 2005, Urban played the character of John ‘Reaper’ Grimm in Universal Pictures' ‘Doom’. Meanwhile, he returned to New Zealand cinema to star in the crime drama ‘Out of the Blue’. Directed by Robert Sarkies, the film was very well received and went on to become one of the top ten highest grossing local films.
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Just when nothing could seem to go wrong in Urban’s escalating career, his next film ‘Pathfinder’ badly bombed at the box office. The film opened to negative comments and critical reception across the globe.
Despite having earned a name in the film industry, Urban did not give television a miss. In fact, he accepted television offers that came his way as well. After his recurring roles in ‘Hercules’, Urban’s next major project in television came with ‘Comanche Moon,’ a CBS miniseries, which was a prequel to ‘Lonesome Dove’. In it, he played the character of Woodrow Call
In 2009, Karl Urban returned to the big screen with a bang, playing Dr. Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy, in the eleventh edition of the Star Trek film. His performance was widely lauded by the critics and audience and even earned him a couple of nominations. Same year, he also appeared as himself in the documentary film ‘Reclaiming the Blade’, discussing his sword-wielding experience in films.
Before reprising his role of Dr Leonard Bones McCoy in the twelfth edition of ‘Star Trek’ series ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ in 2013, Urban did a couple of films including ‘Black Water Transit’, ‘And Soon the Darkness’, ‘RED’, ‘Priest’, ‘Black Hat’ and ‘Dredd’. He also made a cameo appearance in the third film of the Riddick series titled ‘Riddick’
In 2013, he starred as Detective John Kennex in the televisions series ‘Almost Human’. The series was futuristic themed and was set 35 years into the future, wherein cops in the L.A.P.D. were paired up with lifelike androids. In the series, Karl Urban played a detective who disliked robots but did not have any choice than to be paired up with them.
In 2014, he was seen in the erotic thriller ‘The Loft’. The film was in fact a remake of a Belgian film of the same name. Despite being directed by the same director, ‘The Loft’ failed to impress the audience.
In 2016 Karl Urban worked in two important projects. In the first movie, he reprised his role of Dr Leonard McCoy for the thirteenth instalment of the Star Trek series, ‘Star Trek Beyond’. In his second film of the year, ‘Pete's Dragon’ he played the main antagonist.
He has three upcoming releases lined up, namely, ‘Thor: Ragnarok’, ‘Hangman’ and ‘Bent’
Personal Life & Legacy
Karl Urban married Natalie Wihongi in September 2004. Wihongi was his makeup artist for the film ‘The Privateers’. The couple was blessed with two sons, Hunter and Indiana.
In 2014, he announced his separation from Wihongi. Thereafter, he started dating actress Katee Sackhoff.
Besides acting, he is an active philanthropist. He serves as a celebrity ambassador for KidsCan, a charitable organization that supports over 16,000 disadvantaged children in New Zealand by providing them with essentials such as food, clothing, and shoes.