Childhood & Early Life
Stuart Peter Townsend was born on December 15, 1972, in Howth, Dublin, Ireland, to Irish model Lorna Hogan and English professional golfer Peter Townsend. He has two younger siblings, Dylan and Chloe. His mother died of brain hemorrhage in 1994. From his father’s second marriage, Stuart has two half-siblings, Hugo and Ella Townsend.
He was interested in acting since his childhood. Later, he joined a two week acting course at the ‘Gaiety School of Acting,’ Dublin, just to be with his girlfriend. With developing interested in the performing art, he joined a two-year course at the same school.
Stuart and his friends formed an acting company, ‘Ether for Lunch.’ In 1993, he performed in the school’s production of ‘Tear up the Black Sail.’
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He made his professional stage debut in 1994, in John Crowley’s ‘True Lines.’ After this, he appeared in Irish short films ‘Summertime’ (1995) and ‘Godsuit’ (1993).
These performances got him the role of ‘Dermot’ in his first feature film, ‘Trojan Eddie’ (1996). In this film he played a conman’s young assistant who seduces a bride away from her groom on the wedding day. He got an opportunity to work alongside Richard Harris. This role brought him attention, and he got offers to act in stage and film projects in England and Ireland.
Stuart got a starring role as ‘Jez,’ a good-hearted conman, in the 1997 successful romantic-comedy ‘Shooting Fish.’ The same year he played a complex, supporting role as ‘Tom’ in Carine Adler’s acclaimed British film ‘Under the Skin.’
In the 1998 British crime-thriller ‘Resurrection Man,’ he played a psychotic killer, ‘Victor Kelly.’ He won the 1998 ‘Fantafestival Award for Best Actor.’ He appeared as ‘Tim’ in Michael Winterbottom’s drama film ‘Wonderland’ (1999), which was premiered at the ‘1999 Cannes Film Festival.’
In the 1999 period mystery film ‘Simon Magus,’ he played the role of an underprivileged Jew. He played dual roles of ‘Lark and Gippo the Fool’ in the film ‘The Venice Project’ (1999), which was set in the 16th and 20th centuries.
In 2000, Stuart played the title role of seducer ‘Adam’ in ‘About Adam,’ which was his first notable Hollywood performance and fetched him a lot of acclaim. This film was featured at the ‘2000 Sundance Film Festival’ as well.
Townsend was the original choice of director Peter Jackson for the role of ‘Aragorn’ in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy. However, just before the filming started, he was replaced with Viggo Mortensen, as the makers felt that the role needed an older actor.
Stuart appeared as vampire ‘Lestat de Lioncourt’ in the 2002 vampire film ‘Queen of the Damned,’ a film adaptation of Anne Rice’s book of the same name. The role of ‘Lestat’ was earlier played by Tom Cruise in Neil Jordan’s ‘Interview with the Vampire’ (1994). Townsend received appreciation for his performance.
In 2002, he played ‘William Jennings’ and worked alongside Charlize Theron in the American-German crime-thriller ‘Trapped,’ which was based on the best-seller ‘24 Hours.’ He worked with Charlize Theron in two more films - a Canadian-British romantic-drama ‘Head in the Clouds’ (2004), and his own directorial debut, ‘Battle in Seattle.’
In 2003, Stuart essayed ‘Dorian Gray’ in the comic book-based superhero film ‘The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.’ In mid-2000, he appeared as ‘Val Xavier,’ alongside Helen Mirren, in Tennessee Williams play ‘Orpheus Descending.’
In 2005, he appeared as an investigative reporter ‘Carl Kolchak,’ in quest of his wife’s murderer, on ‘Night Stalker,’ the remake of the 1974 cult series, ‘Kolchak: The Night Stalker.’ The series, however, received poor ratings and got cancelled after 6 episodes. In 2007, he co-starred with Ryan Reynolds and Emily Mortimer in the comedy film ‘Chaos Theory.’
In 2007, Stuart made his directorial debut with the political-action-thriller ‘Battle in Seattle’ (2008), a film about the protest riots at the 1999 World Trade Organization’s ministerial conference. He received nomination for the 2008 ‘Irish Films and TV Award for Best Script for a Film’ for the film.
In 2010, Townsend was signed for the role of ‘Fandral’ in Kenneth Branagh’s superhero film ‘Thor,’ but later he left due to creative differences. He played the main role of ‘XIII’ on the Franco-Canadian TV series ‘XIII: The Series’ (2011-2012).
In 2015, he appeared as ‘Dr. Wainwright’ on the supernatural series ‘Salem.’
He took a hiatus from acting and returned in 2017 with a guest role on ‘Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.’ Townsend has signed a film, ‘Grace and Grit,’ in a lead role opposite Mena Suvari.