Terence Stamp

Terence Stamp

Stamp at the Valkyrie premiere in Berlin, 2009
Born Terence Henry Stamp
(1938-07-22) 22 July 1938
Stepney, London, England, UK
Occupation Actor
Years active 1962present
Spouse(s) Elizabeth O'Rourke (m. 2002–08)
Relatives Chris Stamp (brother; deceased)

Terence Henry Stamp (born 22 July 1938)[1][2] is an English actor. After training at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London he started his acting career in 1962. He has appeared in more than 60 films. His performance in the title role of Billy Budd, his film debut, earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor and a BAFTA nomination for Best Newcomer.

Stamp's other major roles include butterfly collector Freddie Clegg in The Collector, archvillain General Zod in Superman and Superman II, tough guy Wilson in The Limey, Supreme Chancellor Valorum in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, transgender woman Bernadette Bassinger in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, ghost antagonist Ramsley in The Haunted Mansion, Stick in Elektra, Pekwarsky in Wanted, Siegfried in Get Smart, Terrence Bundley in Yes Man, the Prophet of Truth in Halo 3, Mankar Camoran in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and General Ludwig Beck in Valkyrie. He has appeared in two Tim Burton films, Big Eyes (2014) and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (2016).

For his acting, Stamp has won a Golden Globe, a Mystfest, a Cannes Film Festival Award, a Seattle International Film Festival Award, a Satellite Award, and a Silver Bear. Stamp has also had voice work, narrating Jazz Britannia on the BBC, and 1966 - A Nation Remembers on ITV in July 2016 which marked the 50th anniversary of England's 1966 FIFA World Cup victory.

Early life

Stamp, the eldest of five children, was born in Stepney, London, England, the son of Ethel Esther (née Perrott) and Thomas Stamp, who was a tugboat stoker.[2][3] His early years were spent in Canal Road, Bow,[4] in the East End,[5] but later in his childhood the family moved to Plaistow, West Ham, London, where he attended Plaistow County Grammar School. His father was away for long periods with the Merchant Navy and the young Stamp was mostly brought up by his mother, grandmother and aunts. He grew up idolising actor Gary Cooper after his mother took him to see Beau Geste (1939) when he was three years old. He was also inspired by the 1950s avant-garde method-trained actor James Dean.

After leaving school, Stamp worked in a variety of advertising agencies in London, working his way up to a very respectable wage. In the mid‑1950s, he also worked as an assistant to professional golfer Reg Knight at Wanstead Golf Club in east London. He describes this period of his life very positively in his 1988 autobiography Stamp Album.[6] Deep down, he wanted to be an actor—a realisation that came when Stamp found he no longer had to serve two years' National Service after being rejected for having had treatment on his feet.


Early career and rise to fame

Stamp won a scholarship to train at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art, then performed in various provincial repertory theatres,[7] most notably in a national tour of Willis Hall’s play The Long the Short and the Tall alongside another young actor Michael Caine.[8]

Stamp made his film debut in Peter Ustinov's film adaptation of Herman Melville's Billy Budd (1962). His portrayal of the title character brought him not only an Academy Award nomination but also international attention. He then appeared opposite Laurence Olivier in Term of Trial (1962).

Stamp with actress Monica Vitti and director Joseph Losey, circa 1965

Stamp collaborated with some of the most revered filmmakers. He starred in William Wyler's adaptation of John Fowles' The Collector (1965), opposite Samantha Eggar, and in Modesty Blaise (1966), for director Joseph Losey and producer Joe Janni. Stamp reunited with producer Janni for two more projects: John Schlesinger's adaptation of Thomas Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd (1967) starring Julie Christie, and Ken Loach's first feature film Poor Cow (1967).

He was approached to play the role of James Bond when Sean Connery retired from the role,[9] but did not receive a second call from producer Harry Saltzman because, in Stamp's opinion, 'my ideas about [how the role should be portrayed] put the frighteners on Harry. I didn’t get a second call from him'.

Stamp then travelled to Italy to star in Federico Fellini's Toby Dammit, a 50-minute portion of the Edgar Allan Poe film adaptation Histoires extraordinaires (1968, aka Spirits of the Dead). Stamp lived in Italy for several years, during which time his film work included Pier Paolo Pasolini's Teorema (1968) opposite Silvana Mangano, and Una Stagione all'inferno (1970). Stamp was considered for the title role of Alfie (1966), but turned it down in favour of Modesty Blaise (1966).

His subsequent film credits included The Mind of Mr. Soames (1970), Meetings with Remarkable Men (1979), and The Hit (1984), which won a Mystfest Award for Best Actor, shared with John Hurt and Tim Roth. Also in 1984, he had the opportunity to play the Devil in a cameo in The Company of Wolves. He also appeared in Link (1986), Legal Eagles (1986), The Sicilian (1987) and a cameo as Sir Larry Wildman in Wall Street (1987). His film Beltenebros (1992) (aka Prince of Shadows), was awarded the Silver Bear at the 42nd Berlin International Film Festival.[10] Stamp began his fourth decade as an actor wearing some of the choicest of Tim Chappel's Academy Award-winning costumes for the comedy The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994) which co-starred Guy Pearce and Hugo Weaving.

In 1999, Stamp played a lead role in The Limey to widespread critical acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival. For his performance, Stamp received nominations for Best Male Lead at the 2000 Independent Spirit Awards and for Best British Actor at the London Film Critics' Circle (ALFS) Awards. Also in 1999, Stamp appeared in the blockbuster Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace as Chancellor Finis Valorum (an experience he later described as 'boring'),[11] followed by Bowfinger (1999) and Red Planet (2000). He also appeared in Damian Pettigrew's award-winning documentary, Fellini: I'm a Born Liar (2002), offering ideas into the mind and working methods of Italian director Federico Fellini whom Stamp had worked with in the 1960s.

Superman roles

Terence Stamp (centre) as General Zod

Stamp portrayed the Kryptonian supervillain General Zod in Richard Donner's Superman (1978), in which he appeared in a scene with Marlon Brando. The film and its first sequel were originally conceived as one film, with Zod and his evil conspirators returning later in the film to challenge Superman, but the screenplay was so long that the producers elected to split it into two parts. Both parts began shooting simultaneously, but production on the sequel was halted partway through due to budget and time constraints. Stamp reappeared as General Zod in the second part, Superman II (1980), as the movie's primary villain. Donner was replaced as director on the sequel with Richard Lester, who completed the film using portions of Donner's original footage combined with newly filmed scenes.

On the occasion of Superman's fiftieth anniversary in 1988, Stamp introduced the BBC Radio special Superman On Trial, which was produced by Dirk Maggs and starred Stuart Milligan as Superman.

In 2003, Stamp returned to the Superman franchise in a new role, by portraying the voice of Clark Kent's biological father Jor-El in the WB/CW television series Smallville. He also provided the scream of Zod (being exorcised from the body of Lex Luthor) in the sixth-season premiere episode "Zod". In 2006, he appeared as Zod once again in Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut (a retooled version of the 1980 film which features footage shot by Donner, the film's original director).

Recent years

In recent years, Stamp has appeared in the films Ma femme est une actrice (aka My Wife Is An Actress, 2001), My Boss's Daughter (2003), Disney's The Haunted Mansion (2003), and the superhero fantasy Elektra (2005). In 2008, he appeared in the film remake of the spy comedy Get Smart; another comedy about the man who says yes to everything Yes Man, opposite Jim Carrey; with Angelina Jolie, James McAvoy and Morgan Freeman in Wanted; and with Tom Cruise in Valkyrie, based on the true story of Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg's failed attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler.

Entering in the 2010s, Stamp appeared in The Adjustment Bureau (2011), an American romantic science fiction thriller film loosely based on the Philip K. Dick short story, "Adjustment Team", opposite Matt Damon. In 2012, Stamp appeared in the Peter Serafinowicz-directed music video for the Hot Chip song "Night & Day",[12] portrayed a grumpy husband called Arthur in Paul Andrew Williams' Song for Marion (2012),[13][14][15] opposite Gemma Arterton and a heist comedy The Art of the Steal (2013), with Kurt Russell, Matt Dillon and Jay Baruchel.[16]

In 2014, Stamp appeared in Tim Burton's drama film Big Eyes, with Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz.[17][18][19][20] In 2016, Stamp appeared in another Tim Burton film, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

Stamp's next project is Crooked House (2017), directed by Gilles Paquet-Brenner and starring Christina Hendricks, Gillian Anderson and Glenn Close.[21] He also appears in George Mendeluk's forthcoming drama film Bitter Harvest, opposite Max Irons, Samantha Barks, Barry Pepper, and Aneurin Barnard.[22]

Books, music videos and voice acting

In addition to his acting career, Terence Stamp is an accomplished writer and author. He has published three volumes of his memoirs including Stamp Album (written in tribute to his late mother), a novel entitled The Night, and a cookbook co-written with Elizabeth Buxton to provide alternative recipes for those who are wheat- and dairy-intolerant.

Stamp's recent projects include the video game The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, in which he lends his voice to the villainous cult leader Mankar Camoran; and the films Zombie Island and These Foolish Things. Stamp voiced the Prophet of Truth in Halo 3, replacing Michael Wincott. In 2005, Stamp also narrated the BBC Four documentary Jazz Britannia, which chronicles the evolution of British jazz music.

Stamp read the book Perfect Brilliant Stillness by David Carse for SilkSoundBooks.[23] In his introductory reading, Stamp describes his love for this book by saying, "Greater love hath no man". Stamp appeared in the music video for "At the Bottom of Everything" by Bright Eyes.

Stamp appeared as the featured 'castaway' on BBC Radio's long-running Desert Island Discs in June 1987, and made a second appearance in March 2006 with a different selection of music.[24]

In 2002 Stamp provided the narration for History of Football: The Beautiful Game, a series on all aspects of the world's most popular sport.[25] Stamp attended every England game (including the final) at the 1966 FIFA World Cup, and in July 2016 he narrated 1966 - A Nation Remembers shown on ITV, marking the 50th anniversary of England's World Cup victory.[26]

On 7 July 2007, Stamp gave a speech on climate change at the British leg of Live Earth in Wembley Stadium before introducing Madonna.[27][28]

Personal life

Stamp in 1973, photographed by Allan Warren

In the 1960s, Stamp shared a house with actor Michael Caine before and during their rise to fame.[29] In his autobiography, What's it All About, Caine states that he "still wakes up sweating in the night as he sees Terence agreeing to accept my advice to take the role in Alfie".

Stamp received extensive media coverage of his romances in the 1960s with film star Julie Christie and supermodel Jean Shrimpton. His romance with Christie during London's "Swinging '60s" was thought to be referenced in The Kinks' 1967 song "Waterloo Sunset", with the lines about "Terry and Julie". He and Shrimpton were one of the most-photographed couples of Mod London. It was after Shrimpton ended her relationship with Stamp that he moved to India, spending time in Pune at the ashram of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, meditating and studying his teachings, and dropping out from society for several years.[30][31][32]

Stamp's brother Chris became a rock music impresario credited with helping to bring The Who to prominence during the 1960s and co-founding Track Records.

In 1984, English band The Smiths released their third single, "What Difference Does It Make?". The single cover was a photograph taken on the set of the film The Collector (but not depicted in the actual film). Originally, Stamp refused permission for the still to be used, and some pressings featured lead singer Morrissey in a re-enacted scene. In the re-enactment Morrissey is holding a glass of milk, as opposed to a chloroform pad in the original. Eventually, however, Stamp changed his mind, and the original cover was reinstated.

On New Year's Eve 2002, at age 64, Stamp married for the first time. His 29-year-old bride was Elizabeth O'Rourke, whom Stamp first met in the mid-1990s at a pharmacy in Bondi, New South Wales. A Eurasian of Australian and Indian-Singaporean parentage, O'Rourke was brought up in Singapore before moving to Australia in her early twenties to study pharmacology. The couple divorced on the grounds of his "unreasonable behaviour" in April 2008.[33]


Year Film/Television Role Notes
1962 Billy Budd Billy Budd – Merchant seaman Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year - Actor
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Newcomer
Term of Trial Mitchell
1965 The Collector Freddie Clegg Best Actor Award (Cannes Film Festival)
1966 Modesty Blaise Willie Garvin
1967 Poor Cow Dave Fuller
Far from the Madding Crowd Sgt. Francis 'Frank' Troy
1968 Blue Blue
Histoires extraordinaires (Spirits of the Dead) Toby Dammit
Teorema The Visitor
1970 The Mind of Mr. Soames John Soames
1971 A Season in Hell Arthur Rimbaud
1975 The Divine Nymph Dany di Bagnasco
Hu-man Terence
1976 Striptease Alain
1977 Black-Out Edgar Poe
1978 The Thief of Baghdad Wazir Jaudur TV
Superman General Zod
1979 Meetings with Remarkable Men Prince Lubovedsky
Together? Henry
1980 Superman II General Zod
1981 Jules Verne's Mystery on Monster Island Taskinar/Skinner
1982 Morte in Vaticano Padre Andreani, later Pope Giovanni Clemente I
1984 The Hit Willie Parker Mystfest for Best Actor (Shared with John Hurt and Tim Roth)
The Company of Wolves The Devil (uncredited)
1986 The Cold War Killers David Audley TV
Legal Eagles Victor Taft
Link Dr. Steven Phillip
Hud Edward
1987 The Sicilian Prince Borsa
Wall Street Sir Larry Wildman
1988 Young Guns John Tunstall
Alien Nation William Harcourt
1990 Genuine Risk Paul Hellwart
1991 Beltenebros Darman Silver Bear for Best Actor at the 42nd Berlin International Film Festival[10]
1993 The Real McCoy Jack Schmidt
1994 The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert Bernadette Seattle International Film Festival Award for Best Actor
Nominated—Australian Film Institute Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1996 Limited Edition Edward Lamb (Tiré à Part)
1997 Love Walked In Fred Moore
Bliss Baltazar
The Hunger Host TV
1999 The Limey Wilson Satellite Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama
Nominated—Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead
Nominated—Las Vegas Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor
Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace Supreme Chancellor Finis Valorum
Bowfinger Terry Stricter
Kiss the Sky Kozen
2000 Red Planet Dr. Bud Chantilas
2001 Revelation Magnus Martel
My Wife Is an Actress John
2001–2002 Static Shock Dennis/Professor Menace TV series
2002 Full Frontal Man on Plane/Himself
Fellini: I'm a Born Liar Himself/Toby Dammit
2003–2011 Smallville Jor-El TV series, (Voice role only)
2003 My Boss's Daughter Jack Taylor
The Kiss Philip Naudet
The Haunted Mansion Ramsley
2004 Dead Fish Samuel Fish
2005 Elektra Stick
These Foolish Things Baker
2006 The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Mankar Camoran Video Game
Voice Only
September Dawn Brigham Young
Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut General Zod
2007 Halo 3 Prophet of Truth Video Game
Voice Only
2008 Wanted Pekwarsky
Flowers and Weeds Storyteller
Get Smart Siegfried
Yes Man Terrence Bundley
Valkyrie Ludwig Beck
2010 Ultramarines: A Warhammer 40,000 Movie Captain Severus
2011 The Adjustment Bureau Thompson
2012 "Night & Day" Himself Music video for Hot Chip
Song for Marion Arthur Nominated—BIFA Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a British Independent Film
2013 The Art of the Steal Samuel Winter
2014 Big Eyes John Canaday
2016 Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Abraham "Abe" Portman
2017 Crooked House Chief Inspector Taverner Filming
Bitter Harvest Ivan


Stamp found success with his first film Billy Budd (1962), for which he won a Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actor and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and a BAFTA Award for Best Newcomer. Stamp won recognition for the film The Collector (1965); which is commemorated in Cannes Film Festival.

For The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994), Stamp won a Seattle International Film Festival for Best Actor and was nominated for the Best Actor in a Leading Role, an Australian Film Institute Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. For The Limey (1999), he won a Satellite Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead and Las Vegas Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor.

Stamp was nominated by a British Independent Film Award for Best Actor in Song for Marion (2012).


Golden Globe

Cannes Film Festival


Seattle International Film Festival

Satellite Award

Silver Bear

Beijing International Film Festival Tian Tan Award


Academy Award

British Independent Film Awards

Golden Globe


Australian Film Institute Award

Independent Spirit Award

Las Vegas Film Critics Society Award


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  4. Internet Movie Database
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  6. Stamp, 1987
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  17. "Terence Stamp joins Burton's Big Eyes". Screen Daily. Wendy Mitchell. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  18. "Terence Stamp Joins Tim Burton's 'Big Eyes'". The Hollywood Reporter. Philiana Ng. 28 June 2013. Retrieved 28 June 2013.
  19. "Terence Stamp Joins Tim Burton's 'Big Eyes' Plus Watch 40-Minute 'Scene By Scene' With The Actor". The Playlist. Ben Brock. Retrieved 2 July 2013.
  20. "Casting Couch: Terence Stamp to Work With Tim Burton, Rosemarie Dewitt is Joining 'Kill the Messenger,' and More". Film School Rejects. Nathan Adams. Retrieved 1 July 2013.
  21. Wiseman, Andreas (September 13, 2016). "Agatha Christie thriller 'Crooked House' underway". Screen Daily. Retrieved September 14, 2016.
  22. "Aneurin Barnard Joins 'The Devil's Harvest'; Animated 'Book Of Life' Sets Channing Tatum, Zoe Saldana & More". Deadline. Nancy Tartaglione. Retrieved 17 October 2013.
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  26. "1966 - A Nation Remembers". ITV. 5 October 2016.
  27. The Spectator blog July 2007
  28. Video of speech on YouTube
  29. "Terence Stamp's London roots". East London History. 2011. Retrieved 26 November 2011.
  30. Davies, Barbara (25 July 2006). "The Intriguing Story of Dr. Who's Sidekick". The Daily Mail. London. Retrieved 12 December 2009.
  31. The Examiner, Volumes 17-19- Page 32. The Examiner. Retrieved 12 December 2009.
  32. "Religion: God Sir at Esalen East". TIME. 16 January 1978. Retrieved 12 December 2009.
  33. "Actor Stamp and Wife Get Divorce". BBC News. 29 April 2008. Retrieved 29 April 2008.
  34. Stamp, T. (1987) Stamp Album, Bloomsbury Publishing, London.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Terence Stamp.
Preceded by
Actors portraying General Zod
for Superman and Superman II
Succeeded by
Callum Blue
for Smallville
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