John McEnery  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

John McEnery (1 November 1943 – 12 April 2019) was an English actor and writer. He played the clerk in the 1970 version of Bartleby.


Born in Birmingham, he trained (1962–64) at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, playing, among others, Mosca in Ben Jonson's Volpone and Gaveston in Marlowe's Edward II. At the age of 20 he found his first stage work, spending three seasons with the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool. He joined the National Theatre company in 1966. While working at the Everyman, he met actress Stephanie Beacham, whom he later married. The couple had two daughters but subsequently divorced.

His first notable screen role was in 1968 as Mercutio in Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet; he was nominated for a BAFTA Award for his performance. He took the title role in the 1970 film Bartleby, in which he starred opposite Paul Scofield. In 1971 he starred in a major role alongside Claude Jade and Jean-Pierre Cassel in Gérard Brach's bittersweet The Boat on the Grass about a girl between two friends. In this film are references to his stage roles when he declaims Hamlet or when he sings in duet with Claude Jade God Save the Queen. He later played Russian politician Alexander Kerensky in Nicholas and Alexandra (1971). His other film credits include The Duellists, Black Beauty, The Land That Time Forgot (1975) and The Krays (1990) as gangster Eddie Pellam, When Saturday Comes, as well as Mel Gibson’s Hamlet.

In the 1980s, at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre, he took the title role in Gogol's The Government Inspector, directed by the Russian actor and director Oleg Tabakov, also performing on stage in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Nicholas Nickleby, Waiting for Godot, Curse of the Starving Classes for the RSC, Taking Sides, Precious Bane with Vanessa Redgrave, and Bingo with Patrick Stewart. For television, his credits include Our Mutual Friend, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Little Dorrit, The Buddha of Suburbia, Tusitala, Jamaica Inn, and Caligula A.D.

Joining The Globe Theatre in 1997 for its inaugural productions Henry V (Pistol), and As You Like It (Jaques), over the next ten years he performed in King Lear (The Fool), Richard II (John of Gaunt and The Gardener), Edward II (Archbishop Of Canterbury), Pericles (Pericles), and The Merchant of Venice (Shylock) amongst many others.

In 1998, he wrote and produced the play Merry Christmas, Mr. Burbage in honour of the 400th anniversary of the creation of the Globe Theatre, which was performed at the site of the original Curtain theatre, in which the then Artistic Director of The Globe, Mark Rylance, performed. In 2011 he appeared as Rowley in The School for Scandal (directed by Deborah Warner) at the Barbican Centre. In 2008, he appeared in a guest role in Sidetracked, the first episode of Wallander.

More recently he worked and performed with the Malachites, including performing as Lear at the site of The Rose theatre, and uncovering and preserving the many ties between Shakespeare and Shoreditch (site of the original Theatre and Curtain), and 'the Actors’ Church' St Leonard's, at which his play 'Raising Burbage' was performed.

He had two brothers, the actor Peter McEnery, and the photographer David McEnery.

Partial filmography

Year Title Role Notes
1965 Othello Senators-Soldiers-Cypriots
1968 Romeo and Juliet Mercutio
The Other People John
1970 The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun Yves-Marie aka Philippe
Bartleby Bartleby
1971 The Boat on the Grass Oliver
Nicholas and Alexandra Kerensky
1972 The Ragman's Daughter Old man in wagon
1973 One Russian Summer Vadim
1974 Little Malcolm Wick Blagdon
The Land That Time Forgot Captain Von Schoenvorts
Galileo Federzoni
1976 Schizo Stephens uncredited
1977 The Duellists Chevalier
1978 The Word Florian Knight TV miniseries
1983 Jamaica Inn Reverend Francis Davey TV miniseries
1987 Little Dorrit Captain Hopkins
1990 The Krays Eddie Pellam
The Fool Mr. Maclean
Hamlet Osric
1991 Prince of Shadows Walter
1993 The Buddha of Suburbia Uncle Ted TV miniseries
1994 Black Beauty Mr. York
1996 When Saturday Comes Joe Muir
1998 Merlin Lord Ardente
Tess of the D'Urbervilles Jack Durbeyfield London Weekend Television serial
2003 Girl with a Pearl Earring Apothecary

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "John McEnery" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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