Simon Philip Hugh Callow, CBE (born June 15th, 1949) is an English stage, film and television actor. He was born in Streatham, London, England to Neil Francis Callow (British) and Yvonne Mary Guise (French) and was raised in the Roman Catholic faith of his mother. He studied at the Queen's University of Belfast before giving up his degree course to go into acting at the Drama Centre, London.
He was already a successful stage actor before making his film debut in a minor role in Amadeus in 1984 (having played Mozart in the original stage production at the Royal National Theatre).
His first TV role was in Carry On Laughing episode Orgy and Bess, in 1975, but it was apparently cut from the final print. He starred in several series of the Channel 4 situation comedy, Chance in a Million, as Tom Chance, an eccentric individual to whom coincidences happened regularly. Roles like this and his part in Four Weddings and a Funeral brought him a wider audience than his many critically acclaimed stage appearances.
At the same time, he was successful both as a director and as a writer. His Being An Actor (1984) was a critique of 'director dominated' theatre, in addition to containing autobiographical sections relating to his early career as an actor. At a time when subsidised theatre in the UK was under severe pressure from the Thatcher government, the work's original appearance caused a minor controversy.
In 1989, he directed Carmen Jones at the Old Vic and in 1995 he directed a stage version of the classic French film Les Enfants du Paradis (known as Children of Paradise in the United States) for the RSC. Callow has also directed opera productions.
One of Callow's best-known books is Love Is Where It Falls, a poignant analysis of his eleven-year relationship with Peggy Ramsay (1908-91), a prominent British theatrical agent from the 1960s to the 1980s. He has also written extensively about Charles Dickens, whom he has played in a one-man show on stage, The Mystery of Charles Dickens, in the film Hans Christian Andersen: My Life as a Fairytale, and on television several times, including in "The Unquiet Dead", a 2005 episode of the BBC science-fiction series Doctor Who.
He appeared with Saeed Jaffrey in 1994 British television series Little Napoleons. In 2004, he appeared on a Comic Relief episode of Little Britain for charity causes. In 2006, he wrote a piece for the BBC1 programme This Week bemoaning the lack of characters in modern politics.
He has starred as Count Fosco, the villain of Wilkie Collins's novel The Woman in White, in film (1997) and on stage (2005, in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical in the West End.
He is currently one of the Patrons of the Michael Chekhov Studio London.
Callow narrated the audio book of Robert Fagles' 2006 translation of Virgil's The Aeneid.
Simon Callow was also the reader of “The Twits” and “The Witches” in the Puffin Roald Dahl Audio Books Collection.
In 1999, he was awarded the CBE for his services to acting. He has also written biographies of Orson Welles and Charles Laughton.