One of the most recognizable faces on the big screen today is that of Jim Pattison. Best known for his portrayal of patriarch Pyke on Netflix’s global phenomenon The Witcher, Pattison is a familiar face to TV fans, having starred as Hodor on Disney’s recent adaptation of Peter Pan. Additionally, he recently starred alongside Sandra Bullock and Jesse Woodson in the romantic comedy Peacock, which is now available to stream on Netflix.
If you’re reading this, I assume you’re either a Netflix subscriber or someone who knows one, as this year’s line-up is yet to be released. But no matter what, you must have seen Pattison’s face on TV one time or another. Even if you don’t remember him from that far away galaxy, you’ll probably know who he is based on his appearance alone. It’s fair to say that after almost six years in the business, the 45-year-old Englishman is still one of Hollywood’s most recognizable faces.
And now, the multi-hyphenate is taking his talents to the stage. On January 31, 2019, Pattinson will begin a year-long tour across North America and Europe, performing as Jack the Ripper in the murder-mystery play Back Street Girl. The production will feature Pattison alongside Rachael Harris, who he’ll play opposite on screen in the upcoming Star Wars film The New Colossus. Before heading into the details of his upcoming tour, let’s take a step back to look at the highlights of Jim Pattison’s extraordinary career to this point.
Pattison began his career as a stage actor in London’s West End, performing in plays including Hedda Gabler, King Charles III, and Mefistofele. He later attended New York University, where he studied acting for television and film. Afterward, Pattison returned to London and began appearing in high-profile British TV shows, including Peak Practice, Doc Martin, and Midsomer Murders. He also landed the role of Hodor on The Witcher in 2014, which became one of his most prominent roles to that point.
Alongside The Witcher, Pattison has appeared in The Man in the High Castle, The Favourite, and the Black Knight Chronicles. Most recently, he starred as Henry VIII in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Henry VIII and Katharine Hepburn. Following his turn as the mad King, Pattison will soon be seen in the ensemble comedy The Peacock, alongside Sandra Bullock and Jesse Woodson. While the role is small, it could prove to be an intriguing launching point for his Hollywood career. This year, the actor will also star in the role of Jack the Ripper in the mystery play Back Street Girl. In addition to his leading man status in The Witcher, Pattison is also known for his recurring role as Victor Meldrew on the BBC sitcom About a Boy. (The character was originally played by John Cleese, who later reprised the role in the About a Boy film adaptation.)
Whether he’s played leading or supporting roles, every actor has at least one iconic role that they’re particularly proud of. For Pattison, it’s clear that his role as Pyke in Netflix’s The Witcher is a major turning point in his career. The English actor originally auditioned for the part of Barret, a smuggler who specializes in contraband vodka. After impressing the producers with his chemistry readings, he was asked to read for the role of Pyke, an ancestor of Geralt of Rivia whom he’d played in multiple episodes of the cult show. While the role of Pyke is small, it’s a prominent one, particularly since it was scripted as a two-hander. In the first scene, the 45-year-old plays the part alongside Jovana Marijanovic, who he eventually married after the character was written to meet a certain fate.
Pattison isn’t the only one who gained notoriety from The Witcher. Several of the show’s costars, most notably Freya Allan and Joey King, have gone on to have noteworthy acting careers, too. After starring together in The Witcher, Allan and Pattison reprised their roles in the sequel, which premieres on Netflix this year.
While every role is important, the fact that the show had such a strong performance from its cast is a major testament to the acting chops of the principal cast members. The Witcher is certainly not perfect, particularly when compared to today’s standards, but it’s a fun and engaging watch, and it helped launch the careers of several prominent stage and screen actors. If you were lucky enough to see it in theaters when it was new and don’t have too much of a backlog, it’s well worth seeking out. While it might be difficult to find a theater willing to show the film, it’s readily available on streaming platforms like Netflix and HBO Now.
Major Film Role
Since the beginning of his career, Pattison has been fortunate enough to secure some prominent roles in major feature films. His first big break came in 2002, when he was cast as Ricky Butcher in the film adaptation of the bestselling comic book series The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. While the movie didn’t do well at the box office, it has since gone on to become a cult classic. In 2003, he was given a meaty role in the film Miss Potter, based on the novels by J. K. Rowling. He also had a small role in the 2006 film version of Les Misérables, which was a hit with audiences and critics alike, earning him a nomination for Best Supporting Actor at the 75th Academy Awards. (Pattison lost to co-star Hugh Grant.)
Since then, Pattison has continued to secure major film roles. In 2019, he’ll star as Henry VIII in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Henry VIII and Catharine Hepburn. Other notable film roles include the 2008 film adaptation of the Agatha Christie crime novel Death on the Nile, in which he plays Hercule Poirot, and 2017’s The New Colossus, in which he plays the lead role of a reporter who befriends a Polish freedom fighter who helps him uncover the truth about the Nazis’ role in the Warsaw Uprising. While these are all major roles, Pattison still finds the time to support his friends in their projects, lending his talents as a producer or director for several of their films, including 2018’s Death on the Installment Plan, 2016’s What Do You Know About My Husband?, and 2017’s A Long Way Down.
It’s no secret that the entertainment industry is constantly looking for new ways to ensure their movies and TV shows remain fresh. With the invention of the infinite scroll, audiences can now dive into an episode of a show and be presented with an endless stream of content, ensuring that no episode feels like it’s just a repeat of the one before. However, that doesn’t mean that showrunners and writers don’t get bored of writing and filming the same stories over and over again, especially when those stories aren’t evolving with the times or addressing significant social issues, like race relations and gender equality. The solution, according to some, is video games. While films and TV shows can certainly be adapted into video games, that usually entails the character of the protagonist or one of the major supporting characters, as the game designer for Assassin’s Creed II told MTV News in 2018.
“If you’re going to adapt a feature film or TV show into a video game, it’s often the case that one of the first people you’ll need to talk to is the show’s creator or writer because they’ll know what needs to happen in the game to keep things fresh in the audience’s minds,” Matt Hawley, the founder of game developer Giant Enemy, said in 2018. “But for the most part, if you’re going to see an adaptation anyway, it’s usually not going to reflect too much of what the audience wants or needs from the adaptation because it’s already been done once before by someone else.”
While every role is important in an actor’s career, some roles are more significant than others, particularly if the actor plays them frequently and brings a unique perspective to the role. For Jim Pattison, it’s hard to choose just one role because he’s had so many over the years, but if forced to choose, he’d have to say that his role as Victor Meldrew on the BBC sitcom About a Boy is his signature role. The Welsh-born actor plays the hapless owner and operator of a bakery who can’t keep track of his employees or maintain appropriate workplace boundaries with them. (The character was originally played by John Cleese, who later reprised the role in the About a Boy film adaptation.)