Ben Cross was born Harry Bernard Cross on December 16, 1947, in London, England. He began acting at a very young age and participated in grammar school plays — most notably playing “Jesus” in a school pageant at age 12.
Ben left home and school at age 15 and worked various jobs, including work as a window washer, waiter and carpenter. He was master carpenter for the Welsh National Opera and property master at the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham, England.
Driven by his desire to be an actor, Ben accepted and overcame the enormous challenges and obstacles that came with the profession. In 1970, at the age of 22, he was accepted into London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) — the alma mater of legendary actors such as Sir John Gielgud, Glenda Jackson and Sir Anthony Hopkins.
Upon graduation from RADA, Ben performed in several stage plays at Duke’s Playhouse where he was seen in “Macbeth”, “The Importance of Being Earnest”, and Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman”. He then joined the Prospect Theatre Company and played roles in “Pericles”, “Twelfth Night”, and “Royal Hunt of the Sun”. Ben also joined the cast in the immensely popular musical “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and played leading roles in Peter Shaffer’s “Equurs”, “Mind Your Head” and the musical “Irma La Douce” — all at Leicester’s Haymarket Theatre.
Ben’s first big screen film appearance came in 1976 when he went on location to Deventer, Holland, to play “Trooper Binns” in Joseph E. Levine’s World War II epic A Bridge Too Far (1977), which starred a very famous international cast — namely Dirk Bogarde, Sir Sean Connery, Sir Michael Caine and James Caan.
In 1977, Ben became a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and performed in the premier of “Privates on Parade” as “Kevin Cartwright” and played “Rover” in a revival of a Restoration play titled “Wild Oats”.
Ben’s path to international stardom began in 1978 with his extraordinary performance in the play, “Chicago”, in which he played “Billy Flynn”, the slick lawyer of murderess “Roxie Hart”. During his performance in this play, he was recognized and recommended for a leading role in the multiple Oscar-winning Chariots of Fire (1981). The major success of Chariots of Fire (1981) opened the doors to the international film market. Ben followed up Chariots of Fire (1981) with strong and successful performances, most notably in the Masterpiece Theatre miniseries The Citadel (1983), in which he played a Scottish physician, Dr Andrew Manson, struggling with the politics of the British medical system during the 1920s, and his performance as “Ash Pelham-Martyn”, a British cavalry officer torn between two cultures in the Home Box Office miniseries The Far Pavilions (1984). During the 1984 Summer Olympic Games, Ben appeared in a commercial for American Express with Jackson Scholz, a sprinter for the 1924 American Olympic team whose character was featured in the film Chariots of Fire (1981). He subsequently replaced James Garner as the featured actor endorsing the Polaroid Spectra camera in 1986. Ben was also featured in “GQ Magazine” as one of the annual “Manstyle” winners in January, 1985, followed by a featured photo shoot in March, 1985.
Having stuck by his desire to choose quality roles over monetary potential, Ben has enjoyed long-term success in the film industry, currently over 30 years. Over the years, Ben has played several outstanding roles including his portrayal of “Solomon”, one of the most fascinatingly complex characters of the Bible, in the Trimark Pictures production Solomon (1997) in 1997. Other outstanding roles included his “Barnabus” in the 1991 MGM remake of the miniseries Dark Shadows (1991); “Sir Harold Pearson” in the 1994 Italian production Honey Sweet Love… (1994) (Honey Sweet Love); “Ikey Solomon” in the Australian production The Potato Factory (2000) in 2000; and, most recently, his role as Rudolf Hess in the 2006 BBC production Nuremberg: Nazis on Trial (2006).
Ben is a director, writer and musician, as well. Among many of his original works is the musical “Rage” about Ruth Ellis, which was performed in various regional towns in the London area. He also starred in it and played the part of the hangman. Ben’s first single as a lyricist was released by Polydor Records in the late 1970s and was titled “Mickey Moonshine”. Other works include “The Best We’ve Ever Had” and “Nearly Midnight”, both written by Ben and directed by his son, Theo Cross. In addition, the original soundtrack for “Nearly Midnight” was written, produced and performed by his daughter, Lauren Cross. These works were performed in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 2002 and 2003, respectively. “Square One”, directed by Ben, was performed at the Etcetera Theatre in London in 2004.
Ben has lived all over the world, including London, Los Angeles, New York, Southern Spain, Vienna, and, most recently, Sofia. He is familiar with the Spanish, Italian and German languages and has enrolled in a course studying Bulgarian. When he’s not filming, he can be found writing music, screenplays and articles for English language publications.
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