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Spotlight: Jonny Lee Miller

Hackers (1995) was Lee Miller’s big break.
Frankenstein, the latest production to take its place in the National Theatre’s Olivier auditorium, has set the London Theatre scene abuzz. Ever since it was announced that Danny Boyle, a director who has gone from strength to strength over the past few years and who has practically achieved superstar status, would be taking the reins for this new take on Mary Shelley’s timeless classic, theatre-lovers have been wondering what tricks he would have up his sleeve for his return to the London stage. Now the show has opened, it has become apparent that he drafted in a dream team of people he has worked with in the past, from Set Designers to Actors. Indeed, one half of the Frankenstein/Creature duo is Jonny Lee Miller, who featured in Boyle’s Trainspotting in 1996. He and Benedict Cumberbatch have been attracting rave reviews for their performances, so let’s look a little closer at one of the men who is taking London’s National Theatre by storm.

Lee Miller comes from a long line of performers. His father, Alan Miller, worked as a stage actor and later as a floor manager, whilst his grandfather, Bernard Lee, is a familiar face to Bond fans who would recognise him as the character ‘M’ in no less than 11 films in the franchise. It’s no surprise then, that he had wanted to become an actor from the age of 7, and was an active member of the National Youth Music Theatre, where he met one of his best friends, Jude Law. By 17, he had dropped out of school.

Visitors of London’s Hard Rock Café -those who may have visited it during the late 80’s – might be surprised to learn that they may have been helped by a young Lee Miller, as he worked as a porter there after he left school, before taking on small roles in films and TV series like EastEnders. For an actor without formal theatre or film training, it wasn’t long though before he got his big breaks with a role in Hackers in 1995 and then in Trainspotting (now a cult film) in 1996, where he first worked with Danny Boyle. From there on in it has been a slow but steady rise to prominence for the one-time husband of Angelina Jolie (whom he met and co-starred with in Hackers), with roles in high-profile TV shows such as Dexter and the BBC’s Emma. He was even very nearly cast as the new face of the James Bond franchise, narrowly missing out on the title role to Daniel Craig.

Not that he would have needed much training to fill the role: Lee Miller is a keen athlete, being a regular jogger and having run the London Marathon in just 3hrs 1min – a time that even 007 himself would tip his hat to. He was also due to take part in a race to the North Pole, had contractual obligations not forced him to bail out to feature in a TV series. Not least on his list of achievements, he is the proud father of a 2 year old boy, Buster Timothy Miller, and godfather to Jude Law’s son, Rafferty.

From his small town beginnings in Kingston upon Thames, in the South East of England, where he was born, Lee Miller’s rise to fame has been leisurely, yet unwavering. His portfolio being mainly screen-based, it was a gamble for Danny Boyle to cast him as the lead in a stage show, and on the daunting and cavernous backdrop of the Olivier theatre, no less. But it has paid off, with Lee Miller taking over the space with his charisma, and the press begging for more. It will come as no surprise if his stint at the National catapults him to even more dizzying heights. And let’s hope it does – the more London gets to see of this fine actor, the better.

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Everything Theatre
Founded in 2011, Everything Theatre started life as a pokey blog run by two theatre enthusiasts and – thanks to the Entry Pass Scheme for 16-25 year olds – regular National Theatre goers. Today, we are run by part-time volunteers from a wide array of backgrounds. Among our various contributors are people who work in theatre, but also people who work in law, medicine, events, marketing and even psychiatry! We are all united by our love for the London theatre scene.