Steven Berkoff
Steven Berkoff 2011-12-12 250px
Steven Berkoff at the world premiere of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo on December 12, 2011[1]
Born Leslie Steven Berks
August 3 1937 (age 75)
Stepney, London, England
Occupation Actor
Years active 1958 - present
Known for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Barry London (1975)

Steven Berkoff is the actor who portrays Girolamo Savonarola.

Acting careerEdit


As well as being an actor, Berkoff is a playwright and director.[2]

He joined the Repertory Company at Her Majesty's Theatre in Barrow-in-Furness for approximately two months in 1962.[2]

His earliest plays are adaptations of works by Franz Kafka: The Metamorphosis (1969); In the Penal Colony (1969); and The Trial (1971); these complex psychological plays are said to be nightmarish and to create a disturbing sense of alienation in their audiences.[2]

In the 1970s and 1980s, he wrote a series of verse plays including: East (1975); Greek (1980); Decadence (1981); West (1983); Sink the Belgrano! (1986); Massage (1997); Sturm und Drang; and The Secret Love Life of Ophelia (2001).[2]

Critic Ned Chaillett has described Sink the Belgrano!, a critical take on the Falklands War, which premiered at the Half Moon Theatre, in Stepney, on 2 September 1986, as "a diatribe in punk-Shakespearean verse"; and Berkoff himself described it as "even by my modest standards ... one of the best things I have done".[2]

Berkoff employs a style of heightened physical theatre known as "total theatre". Drama critic Aleks Sierz describes his Berkoff's dramatic style as "In-yer-face theatre"[2]

In an August 2010 interview with guest presenter Emily Maitlis on The Andrew Marr Show, he said he found it 'flattering' playing evil characters, saying that the best actors took on the roles of villains.[2]

In 1988, he directed an interpretation of Salome by Oscar Wilde, performed in slow motion, at the Gate Theatre, Dublin. Berkoff then revived the play with a new cast at the Lyttelton auditorium of London's National Theatre, opening on 7 November 1989. This was his first directorial job at the UK's National Theatre.[2]

In 1998, his solo play Shakespeare's Villains, premiered at London's Haymarket Theatre, was nominated for a Society of London Theatre Laurence Olivier Award for Best Entertainment.[2]

In 2011, Berkoff performed a one man show at Riverside Studios in Hammersmith called One Man. It consisted of two monologues; the first was an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Tell-Tale Heart" and the second was a piece written by Berkoff called 'Dog', which was a comedy about a loud-mouthed football fan and his dog.[2]

Film and televisionEdit

In Hollywood films, Steven Berkoff has played villains such as the corrupt art dealer Victor Maitland in Beverly Hills Cop; gangster George Cornell in The Krays; the sadistic Soviet officer Col. Podovsky in Rambo: First Blood Part II and General Orlov in the James Bond film Octopussy. (Berkoff has stated that he takes Hollywood roles only in order to subsidise his theatre work. He regards many of the films he has appeared in as lacking artistic merit).[2]

He also appeared in the 1967 Hammer film Prehistoric Women, in the 1980 film McVicar alongside Roger Daltrey and in the Australian biographical film on the early life of Errol Flynn entitled Flynn (1996) (entitled My Forgotten Man in some markets).[2]

In Stanley Kubrick's films A Clockwork Orange (1971) and Barry Lyndon (1975), Berkoff plays a police officer and a gambler nobleman (Lord Ludd), respectively.[2]

In 1994, he starred in and directed the film version of his own play Decadence. Shot in Luxembourg, it co-starred Joan Collins.[2]

Guest appearance in La Femme Nikita TV show episode "In Between" (1998).[2]

Main character voice on Expelling The Demon (1999), a short animation by Devlin Crow, written by A-Soma with music by Nick Cave. Best Film at Krok, Ukraine Film Festival.[2]

He also appeared in the independent feature Moving Target and in the 2010 British gangster film The Big I Am playing "The MC". He played the role of antagonist in The Tourist (2010) with Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp and Paul Bettany.[2]

In 2010, he played the former Granada Television chairman Sidney Bernstein in the BBC Four drama, The Road to Coronation Street.[2]

Berkoff portrayed Dirch Frode, attorney to Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer), in David Fincher's 2011 adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, opposite Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig.[2]

As a television actor, he had an early TV role in an episode of The Avengers. He also had an early role as a regular playing a Moonbase Interceptor pilot in the Gerry Anderson TV series UFO. His other television roles include: Hagath in the episode "Business as Usual" in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine; Stilgar in the 2003 miniseries Children of Dune; a gangster (Mr Wiltshire) in episode 8 of the BBC's Hotel Babylon series; a lawyer (Freddie Eccles) in an episode of ITV's Marple entitled By the Pricking of My Thumbs; and Adolf Hitler in the mini-series War and Remembrance, role he originally baulked at taking, primarily on moral grounds; he later relented.[2]

Berkoff played the historical Florentine preacher Girolamo Savonarola on two separate television series. The first time was in 1991 for the television film A Season of Giants.[2]

Berkoff also appears as himself in the "Science" episode of the British current affairs satire Brass Eye (1997), warning against the dangers of the fictional environmental disaster "Heavy Electricity".[2]

Berkoff appeared in the Doctor Who episode "The Power of Three", which aired on 22 September 2012. He played a member of the 'Shakri', whose mission was to rid the Earth of the human 'plague'.[2]

External linksEdit

Steven Berkoff's official website
Steven Berkoff on Wikipedia
Steven Berkoff on IMDb


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