English actor. His powerful and sensitive talent has ensured a succession of leading roles in Shakespearean and other mainly serious drama on stage, television, and film. In the theatre he has several times played the title role in Hamlet, notably in 1979 at the Old Vic in London. Television appearances include the title role in I, Claudius (1976; BAFTA award). His screen performances include Dead Again (1991), Gladiator (2000), Gosford Park (2001), Two Men Who Went to War and A Revenger's Tragedy (both 2002), and Cloud Cuckoo Land (2003).
Other stage work includes Peer Gynt (1982), Cyrano de Bergerac (1983), Much Ado About Nothing (1985), Richard II (1988), Richard III (1989), Becket (1991), Macbeth (1993–94), the role of Claudius in Kenneth Branagh's adaptation of Hamlet (1996), and as Prospero in The Tempest (2002). Among his other films are Day of the Jackal (1973), Little Dorrit (1987), and Henry V (1989). He starred as Francis Bacon in the UK biopic Love Is the Devil (1998).
He starred on UK television as the medieval sleuth in Cadfael 1994–96. He starred as Francis Bacon in the UK biopic Love Is the Devil (1998), and in 2002 he returned to television in the legal drama series The Jury, and in The Gathering Storm, a BBC drama about the life of Winston Churchill. He returned to I, Claudis in 2010, playing emperor Augustus for a series on BBC Radio 4.
Jacobi made his debut with the Birmingham Repertory Theatre 1960–63 and joined the National Theatre in 1963, remaining until 1971. He worked with the Prospect Theatre Company (reformed as the Old Vic Company) from 1972, becoming artistic associate 1976–81, and is an associate actor of the Royal Shakespeare Company. He was knighted in 1994.
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