About

Michael Mears  has had a rich and varied career in theatre, television and film – including seasons with the National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company, and the Peter Hall Company, portraying many classical and Shakespearean roles.  He has also worked in many of the UK’s regional theatres.

‘An actor both gifted and unselfish … Mears gives the most inventive reading of Malvolio’s letter scene since Olivier himself.’   The Observer – reviewing ATC’s production of Twelfth Night

He has also performed in London’s West End on a number of occasions, most notably for nine months as Arthur Kipps in the long-running hit The Woman In Black.

In 2016, he toured in English Touring Theatre’s production of Peter Whelan’s The Herbal Bed, playing the inquisitorial Vicar-General, for which he was critically acclaimed.

‘The most vivid performance is from the chilling Michael Mears, as the wily puritanical and dangerous deputy.’  Evening Standard

In 2019 he played Father Flavia in OUR LADY OF KIBEHO by Katori Hall, at the Royal Theatre, Northampton and at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East, London.

Television roles include Rifleman Cooper in the first six Sharpe films, and Alex Kozoblis in two series of The Lenny Henry Show.

On film he will be remembered as the Hotel Barman who brings Hugh Grant and Andie McDowell together in Four Weddings And A Funeral.

SOLO WORK

But Michael Mears is perhaps best known as an award-winning performer of his own original solo plays for theatre and radio.

More information about THIS EVIL THING, his most recent solo play (2016), which has now been performed by him over 100 times in many venues in the UK and in the eastern USA, can be found on other pages of this website.

His first solo play, Tomorrow We Do The Sky, about the lives of factory canteen workers, premiered at the Traverse Theatre during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1991, and was nominated for the Independent Theatre Award, and Time Out Theatre Award, before playing in London, on tour, and subsequently being broadcast on BBC Radio 4.

This was followed by Soup, his Scotsman Fringe First Award winning solo play about homelessness, which garnered five star reviews and had a sell out three week run at the Pleasance in 1995.  Michael was also nominated for the Stage Best Actor Award at that year’s festival.  Soup also played in London, on tour, and was broadcast on BBC Radio 4.

A Slight Tilt To The Left played at the Assembly Rooms in 2002, and this play, as well as four other solo plays, Slow Train To Woking, Uncle Happy, Jam and Arnold Darwin’s Feeling Better, were all specially commissioned for BBC Radio, and have been performed by him on Radio 4.

Recent Posts

Was I a priest in a past life?

I’ve been working as a professional actor for over 40 years now – just writing
that sentence fills me with a certain sense of awe and wonder as well as an
undertow of where have all the years gone?
‘All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have
their entrances and their exits, and one man in his time plays many parts.’

Thus says Jaques in Shakespeare’s As You Like It.
Looking back now, I’ve played a goodly number of parts: various lawyers,
doctors, politicians – not forgetting a trio of different undertakers (because of
my tall lugubrious looks?) – oh and once I even played an exorcist!
But it sometimes seems to me that the majority of the parts this ‘one man in his
time’ has been called upon to play, have been members of the clergy. The one with the highest status was probably the Inquisitor in Shaw’s SAINT JOAN.

I’ve yet to be asked to play the Pope however. Any Pope. Though last year I did play an Italian priest sent by the Pope (to investigate alleged miracles occurring in Rwanda).
Usually it’s been a humble vicar or reverend that I’ve been asked to don a dog-collar for. And most of these parts have been played onstage.

But about thirty years ago I was called upon to play my first on-screen priest.
An Italian one, and a young one (well, I was young then) – in a charming film
about the Italian community in London called QUEEN OF HEARTS. One of
my scenes involved me presiding at a baptism, which was filmed in St. Peter’s
Church in Clerkenwell, and one of the priests there was on hand to ‘give me
advice’.
He was a short, stout, keen-eyed Italian man, who gave me tips on how to hold
the baby. He watched me closely and after I had successfully finished shooting
the scene, he came up to me and said, ‘You should be a priest.’
I laughed and thanked him.
‘No, I’m serious,’ he went on. ‘You should become a priest.’
‘Well,’ I responded, ‘There are similarities between acting and the priesthood,
I suppose. You know, standing in front of a crowd of people, addressing
them from a pulpit or ‘stage’. Needing to have a decent voice, being able to
project…there are similarities…’ I tapered off as I noticed him waiting for me to finish. ‘I am serious. You should become a priest.’
‘But I love acting and I’m only in the early years of my career…’
‘Think about what I say,’ were his final words as he ambled off back to his
office.
Two years later I was walking from my then home in Streatham to Tooting Bec
tube station. As I approached a bus-stop near the tube I saw him – he was
unmistakable.
‘Father! It’s me! Do you remember? The actor you gave advice to for the film
a couple of years ago.’
He looked at me keenly. ‘Oh yes, I remember you well.’
‘What are you doing here in south London?’ I asked.
‘Visiting Catholic prisoners at Wandsworth Prison.’
‘Ah yes.’
He then scrutinised me for a moment before saying, ‘So, are you a priest yet?’

I didn’t succumb to his ‘hard-sell’ then or at any other time, but in a sense I did
fulfil his almost-command to ‘become a priest’ – by portraying so many of them
on stage and screen through the subsequent years.
My latest incarnation, a German Jesuit priest, an atomic-bomb survivor in
Hiroshima, is one that I have worked on during lockdown – it’s an extraordinary
story and he comes across as a very special priest, not that he would ever have
described himself as such.

This performance, THE PRIEST’S TALE, was
filmed and livestreamed on August 6th but is still available to view on Vimeo at
https://vimeo.com/438259377 or by going to http://www.sandsfilms.co.uk and
clicking on theatre events. (There’s also a wonderful Japanese violinist, Chihiro Ono, who provides musical interludes.)

But why? Why all these priests? A chap I met and talked to about this a few
years back, and who claimed to be psychic, said it was obvious.
‘You must have been a priest in a past life.’
Of course! That’s the answer I should have given to the priest advising me on
the film.
‘You should become a priest.’ ‘No need, I’ve already done that – in a previous life.’

  1. Four perspectives on war and nuclear weapons… Leave a reply
  2. August 6th 2020 Leave a reply
  3. Two tales from survivors of the atomic bombs 75 years ago… 1 Reply
  4. Lockdown Labour of Love Leave a reply
  5. THIS EVIL THING – now a ‘lockdown movie’ 2 Replies
  6. International Conscientious Objectors’ Day 2 Replies
  7. Less than 48 hours… Leave a reply
  8. Leo and Albert Leave a reply
  9. 7 days to go… Leave a reply