James Norton (actor)

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James Norton
James Norton filming TV series Grantchester on Clare College Bridge in Cambridge in 205
Norton, on Clare College Bridge, Cambridge
during filming for Grantchester, 2015
Born James Geoffrey Ian Norton
(1985-07-18) 18 July 1985 (age 32)
London, England, UK
Residence Peckham, London
Education Ampleforth College, Yorkshire
(independent Roman Catholic boarding school)
Alma mater Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge
Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
Occupation Actor
Years active 2007–present
Known for Happy Valley (2014–present)
Grantchester (2014–present)
War & Peace (2016)
Home town Ryedale, Malton, North Yorkshire
Height 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)

James Geoffrey Ian Norton[1] (born 18 July 1985) is an English actor. He is best known for roles in the British TV series Happy Valley, Grantchester and War & Peace. For his role as ex-convict Tommy Lee Royce in Happy Valley, Norton was nominated for the British Academy Television Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2015.[2]

Early life[edit]

Norton was born in London, the son of Lavinia Jane (Norman) and Hugh Biddulph Norton,[3] his parents were both teachers; his father, who was born in Tanzania, was a Lecturer at Hull School of Art and Design.[4][5] Though originally from London, Norton's family lived in the town of Malton in the Ryedale district of North Yorkshire.[6][7] Norton, who grew up at the edge of the Howardian Hills in North Yorkshire, has described his childhood as "idyllic."[2]


Norton was educated at Ampleforth College,[1][8] an independent Roman Catholic (Benedictine) boarding school in the village of Ampleforth in North Yorkshire, where he excelled in theatre and tennis. He did work experience at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough when he was 15.[5]

Starting in 2004, Norton read theology at Fitzwilliam College at the University of Cambridge, graduating in 2007 with First Class Honours.[8] Norton received a Fitzwilliam Travel Grant to travel to Northern India, to teach and perform for schoolchildren at 16 schools,[8] he has said his studies were principally focused on Hinduism and Buddhism.[1]

Norton was a member of the Marlowe Society theatre club at Cambridge, and in 2007, he played Posthumus in a production of Cymbeline directed by Trevor Nunn for the society's centenary.[9] Norton said he did a lot of theatre during college.[10][11]

Norton then attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London for three years, but left in 2010 six months before graduation to take an acting assignment.[4][12]


Norton appeared in the film An Education starring Carey Mulligan in 2009;[12] in 2010, he was an original cast member of Posh at the Royal Court Theatre.[13] At the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield in 2010, Norton starred in That Face as Henry, an 18-year-old who has dropped out of school to care for his mentally disturbed and drug-dependent mother, played by Frances Barber. Lynne Walker of The Independent wrote of his performance: "At the centre of it all is Henry who, in James Norton's striking portrayal, is like a young caged animal".[14]

In 2011, Norton starred as Captain Stanhope in the classic First World War drama Journey's End,[15] the production toured the UK from March to June and transferred to the Duke of York's Theatre in the West End from July to September.[7] Norton then took the role of Geoffrey in The Lion in Winter at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket directed by Trevor Nunn, with whom Norton had worked at Cambridge in Cymbeline.[12]

In the 2012 film Cheerful Weather for the Wedding, Norton played Owen, the would-be groom of a conflicted bride.[16] He appeared in the 2013 film Rush as Formula One driver Guy Edwards; in the 2013 film Belle, he played a suitor of the title character, a mixed-race lady in 18th century English society.[17]

Norton's television appearances include the Doctor Who episode "Cold War", in which he played a crewman on a Soviet submarine during the Cold War, and Death Comes to Pemberley, based on the P. D. James novel involving characters from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice caught up in a murder mystery.

Norton was acclaimed for his role as Tommy Lee Royce, the villain of the hit crime drama Happy Valley. Michael Hogan of The Telegraph wrote: "...the breakout star, seen in only a few small parts before this, has been the devilishly handsome James Norton, 29, as the heinous killer Royce, whom he has played with impressive depth".[18] As the first series came to its dramatic conclusion, Norton commented, "8 million people are currently wishing me dead".[18] Norton confirmed he would be appearing in the second series of Happy Valley at the 2015 BAFTAs.[19]

Since 2014, Norton has played crime-solving vicar Sidney Chambers alongside Robson Green as Police Inspector Geordie Keating in the ITV series Grantchester, based on the novels by James Runcie.[20][21] Grantchester was his first starring role.[22] A second series was broadcast in early 2016, with a third series going into production in autumn 2016,[23][24] the third series aired in both the UK and the U.S. in late spring/early summer 2017.

He also appears in the 2014 films Northmen: A Viking Saga and Mr. Turner, a biographical drama on the life of the artist J. M. W. Turner by director Mike Leigh.[25] In 2015 Norton played Duncan Grant in the BBC Two mini-series about the Bloomsbury Group, Life in Squares.[25][26][27]

In 2016, Norton appeared as Prince Andrei Bolkonsky in the BBC miniseries of Andrew Davies' production of War & Peace.[4][28] The mini-series, a co-production with The Weinstein Company, allowed the cast to film in Russia.[29]

Between March and May 2016, Norton appeared in Tracy LettsBug in London's West End.[30]

In 2016, he appeared in "Nosedive", an episode of the anthology series Black Mirror.[31]

Personal life[edit]

In 2014, Norton bought a house in the Peckham area of London.[11]

Asked if he is religious — in the context of portraying a vicar in Grantchester — Norton said: "[O]bviously I have a relationship with religion, because I went to a Catholic school and studied theology. I can't call myself religious, but I'm definitely fascinated by it".[11]

In 2015, Norton was made a trustee of the Royal Theatrical Support Trust.[32]

Norton has type 1 diabetes.[1][33]

Norton's father Hugh, who has retired from working as a lecturer at a college near Hull, has made a number of uncredited appearances alongside him in various productions.[34]


Year Title Role
2009 Education, AnAn Education Jenny's boyfriend
2012 Cheerful Weather for the Wedding Owen
2013 Rush Guy Edwards
2013 Belle Oliver Ashford
2014 Mr. Turner Francis Willoughby
2014 Northmen: A Viking Saga Bjorn
2014 Bonobo Ralph
2017 Hampstead Philip
2017 Flatliners Jamie
Year Title Role Notes
2012 Inspector George Gently James Blackstone Episode: "Gently with Class"
2012 Restless Kolia Miniseries
2013 Blandings Jimmy Belford Episode: "Pig-hoo-o-o-o-ey"
2013 Doctor Who Onegin Episode: "Cold War"
2013 By Any Means Michael Prence Episode: "Episode 1"
2013 Death Comes to Pemberley Henry Alveston Serial; 3 episodes
2014–present Happy Valley Tommy Lee Royce Main cast
2014–present Grantchester Sidney Chambers Lead character
2015 Life in Squares Duncan Grant Serial; 3 episodes
2015 Lady Chatterley's Lover Sir Clifford Chatterley Film
2016 War & Peace Prince Andrei Bolkonsky Serial
2016 Black Mirror Ryan Episode: "Nosedive"
2018 McMafia Alex Godman Serial
Video games
Year Title Role Notes
2014 Dragon Age: Inquisition Cole Voice


Year Title Role Notes
2007 Cymbeline Posthumus
2010 Posh Miles Richards
2010 That Face Henry
2011 Journey's End Captain Stanhope
2011–12 Lion in Winter, TheThe Lion in Winter Geoffrey
2016 Bug Peter
  • Found111, London (24 March - 14 May 2016)

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
2014 Crime Thriller Awards Best Supporting Actor Happy Valley Won[35]
2015 British Academy Television Awards Best Supporting Actor Happy Valley Nominated[36]
2016 Glamour Awards Man Of The Year Award N/A Won
2017 Broadcasting Press Guild Award Best Actor Happy Valley, Grantchester, War & Peace Nominated
2017 GQ Men Of The Year Awards Breakthrough Actor of the Year N/A Won


  1. ^ a b c d Godwin, Richard. "The Rise of Mr. James Norton". Mr. Porter. Archived from the original on 29 September 2017. Retrieved 29 September 2017. 
  2. ^ a b Shattuck, Kathryn (9 January 2015). "Easily Channeling a Vulnerable Vicar: James Norton in ‘Grantchester’ on PBS ‘Masterpiece’". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  3. ^ "Hugh Norton & Lavinia Norton Engagement, Children, Joint Family Tree & History - FameChain". Famechain.com. Retrieved 13 October 2017. 
  4. ^ a b c Norton, Graham Norton (2 January 2016). "James Norton, Graham Norton — BBC Radio 2". BBC Radio 2. Retrieved 3 January 2016. 
  5. ^ a b Williams, Andrew (1 June 2014). "'I admire Michael Fassbender enormously,' says Happy Valley's James Norton". The Sunday Express. Retrieved 20 June 2014. 
  6. ^ "How James Norton went from killer to clergyman". The Yorkshire Post. 5 October 2014. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  7. ^ a b Hutchinson, Charles (19 May 2011). "Review: Journey's End, Leeds Grand Theatre". The Press (York). Retrieved 27 December 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c "All the world’s a stage (page 13)" (PDF). Optima. Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge (13): 13. Autumn 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 December 2013. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  9. ^ Christiansen, Rupert (24 September 2007). "The Marlowe Society: Talent show for theatre's brightest stars". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  10. ^ "James Norton". The Artists Partnership. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  11. ^ a b c Merry, Elspeth (28 April 2014). "James Norton". 1883 Magazine. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  12. ^ a b c Watson, Jonathan (4 November 2011). "James Norton: Joining the big league". The Stage. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  13. ^ Billington, Michael (16 April 2010). "'Posh' – Royal Court, London". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  14. ^ Walker, Lynne (9 July 2010). "'That Face, Crucible Studio, Sheffield". The Independent. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  15. ^ "Best of British: James Norton". ShortList. Retrieved 4 November 2014. 
  16. ^ Holden, Stephen (6 December 2012). "There Will Always Be a Fantasy England: 'Cheerful Weather for the Wedding' With Elizabeth McGovern". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 June 2014. 
  17. ^ Darling, Cary (21 May 2014). "Movie Review: 'Belle'". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved 20 June 2014. 
  18. ^ a b Hogan, Michael (3 June 2014). "Happy Valley's James Norton: '8 million people are currently wishing me dead'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 20 June 2014. 
  19. ^ Goodacre, Kate; Jeffery, Morgan (10 May 2015). "James Norton will return to Happy Valley for series 2". Digital Spy. Retrieved 10 May 2015. 
  20. ^ "ITV announces the cast of new six-part drama Grantchester". ITV Press Centre. 25 March 2014. Retrieved 20 June 2014. 
  21. ^ Debnath, Neela (20 October 2014). "Grantchester star Robson Green: ‘We’re going to lose James Norton quickly’". The Independent. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  22. ^ "Grantchester: James Norton talks about playing heavy-drinking vicar in new detective drama". Nottingham Post. 7 October 2014. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  23. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (26 November 2014). "ITV Has Faith In ‘Grantchester’, Orders 2nd Season Of Period Mystery Series". Deadline.com. Retrieved 19 July 2015. 
  24. ^ Hughes, Sarah (3 March 2016). "Grantchester, TV review: It took less than two minutes for James Norton to strip to his swimming trunks". The Independent. Retrieved 6 March 2016. 
  25. ^ a b Fisher, Alice (5 October 2014). "Fashion: James Norton under cover". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  26. ^ Molloy, Antonia (18 August 2014). "New BBC drama Life in Squares to track lives of Bloomsbury Set". The Independent. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  27. ^ Kelly, Guy (25 July 2015). "Life In Squares star James Norton: 'acting is a neurotic profession, I always need to get away'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 14 September 2015. 
  28. ^ "James Norton: ‘Weirdly, I read War & Peace while filming Happy Valley!’ (Video)". What’s on TV. 29 December 2015. Retrieved 3 January 2016. 
  29. ^ Brown, Emma (14 January 2016). "The Russian Prince". Interview. Retrieved 31 January 2016. 
  30. ^ Shenton, Mark (12 February 2016). "Tracy Letts's Bug To Be Revived at West End's Found111 with TV Star James Norton and Kate Fleetwood". Playbill. Retrieved 14 February 2016. 
  31. ^ "‘Black Mirror’ Season 3 Trailer: "No One Is This Happy’". Deadline. 7 October 2016. Retrieved 7 October 2016. 
  32. ^ "James Norton on Twitter". Twitter. 
  33. ^ Ross, Jonathan (30 January 2016). "Series 10 - Episode 4". The Jonathan Ross Show. Archived from the original on 2 February 2016. Retrieved 31 January 2016. 
  34. ^ Furness, Hannah (8 January 2016). "New celeb on the block: James Norton's dad, the War and Peace extra". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 3 April 2016. 
  35. ^ "Winners unmasked at Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards 2014 on ITV3". ITV. 24 October 2014. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  36. ^ "BAFTA TV awards 2015: Nominations in full". BBC. 8 April 2015. Retrieved 14 April 2015. 

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