Conti had his first stint with acting at the age of eighteen. He was cast for Citizen's Theatre's 1959 production ‘The Roving Boy’. Same year, he began working with the Dundee Repertory.
Throughout the decade of 1960s, Conti meagrely survived. Except for sporadic television appearances here and there, Conti’s acting career was largely doomed to the point that he even thought of giving it up permanently to pursue a career in medicine for a steady income.
In 1972, the struggling actor performed for the play, ‘The Black and White Ministrels’ at the Transverse Theatre for the Edinburgh Festival. His performance in the play earned him a place in the religious television drama series, ‘Adam Smith’. This led to the beginning of a more promising acting career.
Following his 1972 television breakthrough, Conti did not give up on his on-stage appearance. He continued to star in plays, making his debut on the London stage in 1973 with the Christopher Hampton play ‘Savages’.
In 1974, he performed at the Hampstead theatre for ‘Other People’ and ‘Don Juan’; in ‘Don Juan’, he played the title role.
Year 1975 was an important year career-wise for Conti. He starred as Charles Bovary for the television mini-series ‘Madame Bovary’ alongside Francesca Annis and Gabrielle Llyod. Same year he made his debut on big screen with the film, ‘Slade in Frame’. Later that year, a biopic on scientist Galileo Galilee ‘Galileo’ had him don the role of Andrea Sarti.
Conti gained limelight for playing a significant role of a Jewish novelist, Adam Morris, in the 1976 British television drama, ‘The Glittering Prizes’. The series focused on the changing lives of a group of Cambridge students.
In 1977, Conti gave a stellar performance in the televised adaptation of the trilogy of Alan Ayckbourn’s plays, ‘The Norman Conquests’ wherein he played the title role of Norman. The show was a major hit with the audience.
In 1979, came the big breakthrough of Conti’s career with ‘Whose Life It Is Anyway?’ A theatrical adaptation of an eponymous 1972 televised play was first premiered at the Mermaid Theatre and later made its way to Broadway. It marked Conti’s first ticket to Broadway as well. Conti’s role of a paralyzed sculpture gained remarkable appreciation from the audience and also a couple of awards.
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His superlative success in Broadway and London theatres set the stage for a commendable film career. The decade of 1980s had Conti star in noteworthy films including ‘Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence’ and ‘Reuben, Reuben’. While the former earned him praise for stellar performance, the latter won him an Academy Award nomination.
Conti went on to star in many other films in the decade of 1980s including ‘American Dreamer’, ‘Saving Grace’, ‘Heavenly Pursuits’ and ‘Roman Holiday’. Though the films did not fare exceedingly well at the box office, they did helped Conti to keep it going for him professionally.
Conti ended the 1980s with the film, ‘Shirley Valentine’. Apart from films, he starred in various television shows including ‘Blade on the Feather’, ‘Rosemary's Baby’, ‘The Wall’, ‘Faerie Tale Theatre’, ‘Nazi Hunter: The Beate Klarsfeld Story’, ‘The Dumb Waiter’ and so on.
The decade of 1990s had Conti star in a couple of big screen projects including ‘Someone Else’s America’, ‘Something To Believe In’, ‘Don’t Go Breaking by Heart’ and so on.
During the mid-1990s, he guest appeared on ‘Friends’ and ‘Cosby’, and starred opposite Nigel Hawthorne in a long-running series of Vauxhall Astra car advertisements in the UK.
In 2004, Conti made his debut in the world of literature with his debut novel, ‘The Doctor’. It was about a former Secret Operations pilot with Intelligence Services. Following year, he starred in the British-American crime thriller film, ‘Derailed’ which was based on the eponymous novel.
He appeared in the hit BBC sitcom ‘Miranda’ alongside Miranda Hart and Patricia Hodge, as Miranda's father, in the 2010 seasonal episode ‘The Perfect Christmas’. Same year, he appeared in two films, ‘The Tempest’ and ‘A Closed Book’.
In 2012, Conti made his big screen presence with three films, ‘Streetdance 2’, ‘Run For Your Wife’ and ‘The Dark Knight Rises’.
Other than appearing in films, television and theatre, Conti has donned the cap of a stage director as well for three plays namely, ‘Otherwise’ Engaged’, ‘Present Laughter’ and “the Last of the Red Hot Lovers’. Interestingly, two of them had his wife play opposite to him.