Ivan Blakeley Kaye is internationally best known for his role as King Aelle in Vikings (2013). In 2019 he has joined the cast of Amazon’s series pilot for Stephen King’s The Dark Tower (2020) as well as StudioCanal’s action film Gunpowder Milkshake (2020).
A remarkably versatile actor, Ivan Kaye already had a successful stage career in London’s West End in dramatic and musical theatre before starting his work in television and film in his early thirties.
Born on 1st July 1961 in Northampton, Ivan Kaye recreated TV adverts at the age of two years and performed TV shows with his friends throughout his childhood. After a key experience at age eight, he joined a youth theatre group and took over organizational responsibility in his early teens. His parents were social workers who insisted that he should earn a university degree to give him additional options if his plans for an acting career didn’t develop as anticipated, but during his academic education, he used every opportunity to perform in plays.
Hence Ivan Kaye managed to beat the odds and succeeded as a professional actor without a privileged background, any connections to influential players in the entertainment industry or even formal education at drama school.
Starting with theatre and musical performances, he made his stage debut at Sadlers Wells in 1980 in ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ as Willie Wonka, appearing throughout the 1980s with the National Theatre in ‘The Changeling’, ‘Ghetto’ and ‘The Magic Olympic Games’, as well as West End performances in ‘The Rocky Horror Show’ at the Piccadilly Theatre as Eddie and Dr Scott, ‘Serious Money’ at Wyndhams and ‘A View From the Bridge’ at Bristol Old Vic, transferring to the Strand. His most recent theatre appearance was in the role of Tom Kettle in critically acclaimed West End play ‘The Ferryman’ in 2017/2018 before its transfer to Broadway.
In 1992 he already had his own TV show: He played the leading role in the name part of detective drama Sam Saturday (1992) and has since been seen as Reuben Starkadder in Cold Comfort Farm (1995), a duplicitous spouse in Bad Girls (1999), an initially questionable doctor in EastEnders (1985) and dim farm-hand Bryan in sitcom The Green Green Grass (2005).
More recently, he has appeared in less than sympathetic mode in productions that have reached an international audience and been dubbed into several languages like Assassination Games (2011) and period pieces The Borgias (2011) and Vikings (2013) (on his Twitter page he describes himself as “Villain for Hire”), but also in more lovable parts in crime drama series The Coroner (2015) and in mini-series The Woman in White (2018). Since then, he has transitioned to a focus on feature films made for the big screen in several genres (comedy, horror and period drama).
Being a household name at home and having co-starred with Hollywood actors in multiple films, Ivan Kaye’s larger-than-life on-screen version of King Aelle of Northumbria in Vikings (2013) has finally earned him worldwide fame. His career has received another boost from 2017 onward as in 2019 he has been involved in several promising and prestigious international projects like Amazon’s series pilot for an adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower (2020) and female-led action thriller Gunpowder Milkshake (2020).
Due to his enormous versatility, Ivan Kaye has been featured in a wide array of roles encompassing lead and main parts as well as antagonists, outright villains, and comical characters.
As a founder and director of Comedy Ink Productions together with actor/writer Douglas McFerran (born May 1958) he has produced and acted as a lead in short comedic offerings such as the mini-series Brilliant! (2007) and short film Sherlock Holmes Confidential (2013).
Ivan Kaye has a reputation of being especially kind and appreciative towards his fans on social media and in person. He is a supporter of the Hounslow Urban Farm (where ‘Green Green Grass’ was partially filmed) and, with several other actors, the Justice for Andrew campaign, seeking justice for the murder of a young Liverpudlian. Ivan Kaye has two grown-up daughters and lives in London.
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