Peter Capaldi

Peter Capaldi Biography

Film Actor, Actor, Television Actor (1958–)
Peter Capaldi is an Oscar-winning director, screenwriter and actor known for his varied roles in TV and film. He is also the 12th thespian to play Doctor Who.


Born on April 14, 1958, in Glasgow, Scotland, Peter Capaldi explored other creative paths before turning to acting and appearing in film and TV fare like Local Hero and Prime Suspect 3. He won an Oscar for directing and writing the short Franz Kafka's It’s a Wonderful Life and played the abrasive Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It before becoming the 12th actor to portray Doctor Who.

Background and Early Career

Peter Capaldi was born on April 14, 1958, in Glasgow, Scotland, working in theater productions as a teen before going on to study at the Glasgow School of Art. A self-described "uber-geek" who knew that he wanted to explore a variety of artistic endeavors, he at one point sang lead for the punk band The Dreamboys.

He decided to pursue acting and landed a part as an oil executive in the 1983 Burt Lancaster film drama Local Hero, launching a decades-long career that would see him taking on varied roles in TV and film. Parts in the Harold Pinter film Turtle Diary (1985) and the TV biopic John and Yoko—A Love Story (1985) soon followed.

Wins Academy Award

Other '80s work for Capaldi included a lead role in the humorous vampire tale The Lair of the White Worm (1988), co-starring Hugh Grant, and a supporting role in Dangerous Liaisons (1988) as the servant Azolan. Capaldi eventually made a big statement with behind-the-camera work as well, writing and directing the 1993 short film Franz Kafka's It's a Wonderful Life. With the story focusing on Kafka's trials and tribulations while attempting to start The Metamorphosis, the project originally aired on BBC Scotland and ultimately won a BAFTA Award and an Academy Award in the Short Film (Live Action) category.

TV Work

Capaldi also turned to British television, with starring roles in the Helen Mirren movie Prime Suspect 3 (1993), in which Capaldi portrayed transgendered performer Vera Reynolds, and the miniseries The Crow Road (1996). He also played a grandiose, evil angel in the 1996 BBC six-episode fantasy program Neverwhere, and made further big-screen appearances in Smilla's Sense of Snow (1997) and Bean (1997).

Capaldi donned his director's and screenwriter's cap again for 2000's Strictly Sinatra, a film about a nightclub vocalist who falls in with the Scottish mob. A variety of British TV work followed during the first decade of the new millennium, including his role as the off-putting, abrasive communications director Malcolm Tucker in the Armando Iannucci political sitcom The Thick of It, which debuted in 2005 and for which Capaldi won another BAFTA years later. The project was spun off into the film In the Loop (2009), with Capaldi appearing as Tucker once again. A more serious role came to the actor in the form of news director Randall Brown in the drama The Hour.

The Next Dr. Who

In August of 2013, during a BBC live broadcast, it was announced that Capaldi would be the 12th actor to portray sci-fi character Doctor Who in the popular TV series of the same name. Capaldi, who kept his casting top secret, had appeared in the time-hopping show before, as a Roman merchant, as well as in its spin-off Torchwood. He will be succeeding actor Matt Smith in the lead role, and is slated to take over during the series' Christmas special.

2013 also saw Capaldi featured in the big-budget summer zombie flick World War Z and the suspense tale The Fifth Estate, which dramatizes the WikiLeaks affair. In 2014, Capaldi will appear in Maleficent, an origin story for the powerful sorceress in Sleeping Beauty, with Angelina Jolie in the lead role.

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