Michael Ironside has made a strong and indelible impression with his often incredibly intense and explosive portrayals of fearsome villains throughout the years. He was born as Frederick Reginald Ironside on February 12, 1950 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Ironside was a successful arm wrestler in his teenage years. His initial ambition was to be a writer. At age fifteen, Michael wrote a play called “The Shelter” that won first prize in a Canada-wide university contest; He used the prize money to mount a production of this play. Ironside attended the Ontario College of Art, took acting lessons from Janine Manatis, and studied for three years at the Canadian National Film Board. Ironside worked in construction as a roofer prior to embarking on an acting career.
Ironside first began acting in movies in the late 1970s. He received plenty of recognition with his frightening turn as deadly and powerful psychic Darryl Revok in David Cronenberg’s Scanners (1981). He was likewise very chilling as vicious misogynistic psychopath Colt Hawker in the underrated Visiting Hours (1982). Other memorable film roles include weary Detective Roersch in the sadly forgotten thriller Cross Country (1983), the crazed Overdog in the immensely enjoyable Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone (1983), the hard-nosed Jester in the blockbuster smash Top Gun (1986), ramrod Major Paul Hackett in Extreme Prejudice (1987), loner Vietnam veteran “Ben” in Nowhere to Hide (1987), the ferocious Lem Johnson in Watchers (1988), and lethal immortal General Katana in Highlander II: The Quickening (1991).
Moreover, Ironside has appeared in two highly entertaining science fiction features for Paul Verhoeven: At his savage best as the evil Richter in Total Recall (1990) and typically excellent as the rugged Lieutenant Jean Rasczak in Starship Troopers (1997). Ironside showed a more tender and thoughtful side with his lovely and touching performance as a hardened convict who befriends a disabled man in the poignant indie drama gem Chaindance (1991); he also co-wrote the script and served as an executive producer for this beautiful sleeper. Michael was terrific as tough mercenary Ham Tyler on the epic miniseries V (1984), its follow up V: The Final Battle (1984), and subsequent short-lived spin-off series.
Ironside also had a recurring role on the television series SeaQuest 2032 (1993). Among the television series he has done guest spots on are The A-Team (1983), Hill Street Blues (1981), The New Mike Hammer (1984), The Hitchhiker (1983), Tales from the Crypt (1989), Superman: The Animated Series (1996), Walker, Texas Ranger (1993), The Outer Limits (1995), ER (1994), Smallville (2001), ER (1994), Desperate Housewives (2004), Justice League (2001) and Masters of Horror (2005). More recently, Ironside garnered a slew of plaudits and a Gemini Award nomination for his outstanding portrayal of shrewd biker gang leader Bob Durelle in the acclaimed Canadian miniseries The Last Chapter II: The War Continues (2003).
In addition to his substantial film and television work, Ironside has also lent his distinctive deep voice to TV commercials and video games.
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