Ian McShane is an English actor best known for his starring role as Al Swearengen in the Western drama television series Deadwood, from 2004-2006.
In 2009 he starred in the NBC series Kings, as King Silas Benjamin.
He also had a starring role as prior Waleran Bigod, whose ruthless manipulation comes from his belief that it is God's will for him to gain power within the Church, in the historical drama television miniseries The Pillars of the Earth, based on the book of the same name by Ken Follett.
McShane earned the coveted Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Television Drama for his versatile performance as Al Swearengen. His charismatic and alluring performance also led him to a 2005 Emmy nomination as well as 2005 and 2006 SAG nominations for Lead Actor.
In 2005, he was voted TV's Sexiest Villain. His performance in Deadwood gained him a wave of critical acclaim which included receiving the Television Critics Association's annual award for Individual Achievement in Drama and being selected as one of GQ's Men of the Year. They described the character of Swearengen as "infectious and darkly irresistible".
The New York Times dubbed McShane as "One of the Most Interesting Villains on Television", and Rolling Stone Magazine bestowed him the title of "Hot Barkeep" and described his character as "played to perfection".
In 2008 McShane was heard as the evil snow leopard Tai Lung in Kung Fu Panda. He also opened on Broadway to rave reviews in Daniel Sullivan's revival of The Homecoming by Harold Pinter for which he shared with his fellow actors a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Ensemble Performance.
In 2009 he appeared in 44 Inch Chest, a drama from the same creative team as Sexy Beast, directed by Malcolm Venville. McShane voices the character of Mr. Bobinsky in the animated feature Coraline, an adaptation of Neil Gaiman's international best-selling book, directed by Henry Selick.
Also in 2009, he starred in Paramount's thriller Case 39, playing a detective opposite Renee Zellweger. In 2010 he had a starring role in the Starz mini-series The Pillars of the Earth.
McShane has added his vocal prowess to characters such as Ragnar Sturlsson in New Line's The Golden Compass, alongside Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig and Captain Hook in Shrek The Third.
He has appeared in eclectic roles in films such as McG's We Are Marshall for Warner Bros., Paul W.S. Anderson's Death Race for Universal, Woody Allen's Scoop, Harald Zwart's Agent Cody Banks for MGM, Rodrigo Garcia's Nine Lives and Jonathan Glazer's critically acclaimed Sexy Beast, giving a riveting performance as the handsome yet dark and sinister Teddy Bass, which prompted one London writer to declare him "the king of cool".
Having starred in more than forty films, McShane made his film debut in 1962's The Wild and the Willing which led to roles in The Battle of Britain, The Last of Sheila, Villain (starring opposite Richard Burton), Casper Wrede's The Terrorists (starring opposite Sean Connery) and James Toback's Exposed.
McShane has enjoyed a long and creatively diverse career in both British and American television, including a role in David Wolper's seminal 1970's mini-series, Roots, as well as BBC and BBC America's Trust, playing the eccentric megalomaniacal head of the firm, Alan Cooper-Fozzard.
Starring turns in Whose Life Is It Anyway? for Granada TV, as Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights for the BBC and in Harold Pinter's Emmy Award-winning The Caretaker are among his other television highlights.
McShane has also stepped into roles as well known figures, taking on such parts as Judas in NBC's Jesus of Nazareth, directed by Franco Zeffirelli; Prince Rainer in the NBC's The Grace Kelly Story and the title role in Masterpiece Theatre's Disraeli.
Additional mini-series credits include Charlie The Kid, A.D., The Great Escape, Marco Polo, Evergreen, and War and Remembrance.
In the late 80's the actor formed McShane Productions, which produced the much-adored Lovejoy for the BBC and A&E. Lovejoy gave McShane a vehicle to star in as well as to produce and direct.
He followed that lovable rogue character with the darker and more serious Madson, which he produced and starred as the title character and the dramedy Soul Survivors for BBC and Showtime.
In 2000, McShane returned to the West End in London to make his musical debut in Cameron Mackintosh's The Witches of Eastwick, as Darryl Van Horne.
His varied stage career has included roles as Hal in the original cast of Loot, the title role of The Admirable Crichton at the Chichester Festival, Tom in The Glass Menagerie, and Charlie in The Big Knife.
He co-starred with Judi Dench and Ian McKellen in The Promise, which successfully played in London and debuted on Broadway.
In Los Angeles, he starred in three productions at The Matrix Theatre, including the world premiere of Larry Atlas' Yield of the Long Bond, and he received the Los Angeles Drama Critics' Circle Award for his roles in Inadmissible Evidence and Betrayal.
Born in Blackburn, England, McShane is the son of professional soccer player Harry McShane, who played for Manchester United, and Irene McShane. He attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
McShane and his wife, Gwen Humble, reside in California.