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British actor David Suchet

Biography

David Suchet was born on May 2, 1946 in London.

Family

His father Jack Suchet (1908–2001) was a gynecologist. He was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. Following his father’s instruction he was studying Business Administration Theory at the University of Cape Town. In 1932 he immigrated to Britain. First in Britain he changed several jobs including bridge playing for money. In 1933 Jack started training as a medical student at St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School. He was known for research on the use of penicillin for venereal disease treatment together with Sir Alexander Flemming.

His mother Joan Suchet (1916–1992) was an actress.

His senior brother John Suchet (b. 1944) is the British journalist, TV and radio presenter, author of several books including a trilogy about Ludwig Van Beethoven “The Last Master”. He began his career in the Reuter news agency and during 17 years he was a reporter and presenter in the ITV channel. John speaks three languages: French, German and Russian. John Suchet’s official website: www.johnsuchet.co.uk.

His junior brother Peter Suchet (b. 1949) is a businessman.

На фото: Piter, David and John Suchet © Photo from englishclass.jp

Early years

David Suchet and both his brothers studied at the boarding school Grenham House in Birchington-on-Sea, Kent County, then at the private Wellington School in Somerset. As regards youth hobbies one can mention sports: Suchet was a part of the tennis school team at Wellington School, played rugby and handball. Despite his sporting achievements David was going to follow his father to become a doctor. However his lot was different: when he was 17 Suchet passed audition to the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain and having graduated from school he had decided to choose the career of actor.

In the age of 22 Suchet graduated from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) majoring as “actor” and began his ascension to the heights of dramatic art. The actor played his first roles on stage of the Gateway Theatre in Chester. The actor admits: “I had humble beginnings in the theater and because of that I have always had two feet on the ground”.

“When I was a young actor and very unemployed, I actually worked at Moss Bros and I was in the formalwear department. I learned how to do bow ties because I knew that if I could teach anybody to tie a bow tie, I’d always get a tip of ten shillings”.

School days: David Suchet, bottom left, with members of the Wellington School tennis team
© Photo from dailymail.co.uk

Romance with theatre

Nevertheless his theatrical fame came soon. In 1973 Suchet joined the Royal Shakespeare’s Company (RSC). On stage of the Stratford-upon-Avon, Royal Court Theatre and Aldwych Theatre he played the best Shakespeare’s repertoire — more than 20 roles: beginning from Mercuzio in “Romeo and Juliet” to the Fool in “The King Lear”. Further information is in the section “Theatre” »

Othello, 1985 © Photo from rsc.org.uk

Cinema and television

In the 1970s Suchet became quite popular in theatrical circles. Having a beautiful well-tuned voice, stately, attractive figure Suchet started to receive various roles in the theatre and cinema. The first TV role turned out in the late 1970s: in the TV series в “The Professionals: Where the Jungle Ends” and “The Protectors: Fighting Fund”. The first appearance in the full-length feature film was Corbett in “The Missionary”. The famous TV roles in the 1980s include Blott in the series “Blott on the Landscape”, the main part in the TV series “Freud”. In 1983 the actor won the first award for the role of Lavrentiy Beria in the comedy “The Red Monarch”. The famous Suchet roles include Napoleon and Maxwell (won the Emmy Award), the Biblical roles of Joab and Aaron, vampire hunter Van Helsing in “Drakula” filming, Ruben Roberts from ?mile Zola’s novel and Troulefau from “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”. Suchet starred in more than 70 TV films and movies. The filmography is given in the following website. The actor states: “Actually, when I was a lot younger, he [Poirot] was never my type of reading. Detective fiction in general wasn’t. I read about two of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries by Conan Doyle, and I enjoyed them, but that was that. I far rather prefer reading biography — and I have actually played some real-life characters, like Sigmund Freud.”

But it happened in 1989 — a new chapter about “a small Belgian with long moustache” began. Having become the actor’s business card the role of detective Hercule Poirot brought David Suchet the world name. During two decades a wonderful stylish series based on Agatha Christie’s stories and novels has been on TV screens, the ITV channel announced the filming of the last 5 films about the famous detective, which are going to appear on the screens in 2013. “. Further information is in the section “Poirot” »

Radio and sound recording

From the very beginning of the professional actor’s career until nowadays David Suchet has been participating in radio shows. The characters imparted with Suchet’s voice include famous literary characters (for example, the main character of Ian Fleming’s Dr. No, Aslan in “The Chronicles of Narnia”), real historical figures (for instance, the playwright Henrik Ibsen). Besides the work on radio David Suchet recorded about 50 audio books including 40 Agatha Christie’s detective stories, works of John Bunyan, Ruth Rendell, Brian Sibley etc. In 2010 a large-scale audio issue “The Jesus Storybook Bible Deluxe Edition” was released — it is a creative and bright children-oriented adaptation of Biblical stories performed by the writer Sally Lloyd-Jones.

Moreover, David Suchet is well known for his work on sound recording for characters of animated cartoons, documentary movies and programmes. The characters of the Hollywood cartoons “Flushed away” and “Pinocchio” use his voice, Suchet’s voice is behind the screen of the BBC documentary TV projects “Space Odyssey: Voyage to the Planets”, “Space Odyssey: The Robot Pioneers”, “The Story of Jesus” and “Life Before Death”.


“It’s fascinating and very rewarding,” he says of his varied career. “Every part I play I feel I’m going back to the beginning and thinking ‘oh God, can I do this?’ because it’s a challenge every time.”

— David Suchet for officiallondontheatre.co.uk

 

A special method

A special method of training for the role was mentioned in interviews and articles about Suchet over and over again. Before the start to work on a new character the actor takes a piece of paper and halves it. On the right side he lays down his similarities with a future character, on the left side — all the differences. Suchet’s colleagues often mock at these “lists” but the actor has never deviated from the rule for several decades. “I really want people to see the character I’m playing, not me, the actor David Suchet. The character is the matter of interest, his temper, his worldview, not the actor himself”, — he says. Then he adds: “My gift , if I have a gift, is to be different people, to understand people and to become them”.


“There is a huge difference, isn’t there, between celebrity actors — what we call stars — and character acting,” Suchet muses. “I’m a character actor, I’m not a celebrity in that sense, you don’t go to see me, you go to see the play I’m in and the character I’m playing.”

— David Suchet for officiallondontheatre.co.uk

 

© Photo by Mark K. Wyville

Public activity

Suchet is the Vice-President of the Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Trust which most challenging achievement nowadays has been securing funding of construction of the new M6 Toll motorway where it cuts the lines of the Lichfield and Hatherton Canals, both of them the Trust wishes to see reopened.

In 2005 Suchet was elected the chairman of the River Thames Alliance. In 2006 David agreed to prolong his stay in office for one year more. He is also the patron of the River Thames Boat Project.

© Photo from lhcrt.org.uk

Private life

In 1976 Suchet married Sheila Ferris, the theatre actress, first he met her during his work in the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry. In the 1980s Mrs. Suchet left her theatrical career to bring up children: son Robert (b. 1981) and daughter Catherine (b. 1983).

David Suchet wiht his family © Photo from uktimes.co.uk

Hobby

Photography is David Suchet’s favourite hobby. Suchet was firstly interested in photography when his maternal grandfather James Jarch?, the famous press photographer, gave him a Kodak camera as a present. Jarch? also became the teacher for the young photographer: explaining the principle of camera functioning and giving several important tips of advice he aroused a real passion to the art of photography. In 2012 the ITV channel showed the TV film “David Suchet: People I Have Shot” devoted to James (Jimmy) Jarch?, David’s grandfather, the famous press photographer, whose portraits of Winston Churchill, Her Majesty Queen Elisabeth II, Einstein and many other celebrities of the XX century decorated the front pages of the British newspapers in the 1940—50s. No doubts, David Suchet is the film presenter.

Music is the other Suchet’s hobby. The actor plays the drums, also he learned to play clarinet at the age of 40.

© Photo from dailymail.co.uk

Philosophy

David Suchet is an Anglican protestant. He was brought up by his Jewish father who was an atheist and his Christian mother who was not a regular churchgoer. The childhood of David, his senior brother John and his junior brother Peter was completely devoid of religious education. According to Suchet his decision to become an Anglican may have led him to Judaism as well. But it is not a topic of public discussion for him. Suchet became a believer at the age of 40 and chose the Church of England. “I’m a Christian by faith. I like to think it sees me through a great deal of my life. I very much believe in the principles of Christianity and the principles of most religions, actually that one has to abandon oneself to a higher good. I think to accept the now and to live in the present is the most important thing for all of us to learn to do to be able to live in the present and not let the quality of the present be coloured by the fear or anxiety of the future or the pain of the past”.


“I have a very strict rule in my life and I mean it — that whatever I’m doing now is the most important, because it may be my very last. If life teaches us anything at all, if this recent decade has taught us anything in our knowledge of terrorism, it is that we are lucky to be alive and tomorrow may never come. So whatever I’m doing now, first of all it’s my first love — it has to be, because it may be the last thing I do — and it has to get my total one hundred percent effort.”

— David Suchet for officiallondontheatre.co.uk

 

© Photo by Mike Lawn | The Daily Mail

2010 — Appointed CBE (Commander of the British Empire);

2010 — Named Honorary Famous Belgian by the Belgian Tourist Board;

2010 — Honorary Degree from the University of Kent;

2002 — Appointed OBE (Officer of the British Empire).

Theatre »

 

Filmography »

 

Photos »

 

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© 2001—2014. Texts by Daria Pichugina, Adelka
© 2001—2014. Translated by Adelka, Kim Dolce, Elena Ukhina et al.

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