Stephen Walters, an Royal Television Society (RTS) Best Actor nominee, was born on 22 May 1975 in Merseyside, England (UK), where he spent the remainder of his childhood. A regular both on British television and film, for many years he has played a wide range and variety of character roles in both drama and comedy. The roles with which he is most commonly associated are unpredictable, complex figures. These characters illustrate a wide range of dialect accents and backgrounds including American, RP, Scottish, Irish ,Eastern European, Cockney, Mancunian and others. Stephen has also worked alongside directors as eclectic as Matthew Vaughan, Danny Boyle, Ronny Yu, Guy Ritchie, Peter Webber, Sam Miller, Rowan Joffe, and the late Antonia Bird.
After completion of a BTEC in Performing arts at Southport Collage (1990-1992), he went on to gain a place at the prestigious Bristol Old Vic Theatre School (1994-1996). In 1994 Stephen played the lead role of Joey Jackson, a poetic soul searching for the meaning of life, in Jim Morris’ “Blood on the Dole” as part of the “Alan Bleasdale Presents” series for Channel 4. This performance garnered much critical acclaim for Walters and with the personal advice of Bleasdale he decided to apply to train at drama school. Stephen has spoken about this period in his career by saying, “I owe everything to Alan Bleasdale in that, after seeing Blood on the Dole, he made me realize and see for the first time that I was an actor…Bleasdale opened the door for me…literally and metaphorically speaking”.
In 1989, whilst still at Saint Wilfrids secondary school, Stephen got his first break in television through a now defunct agency run by fellow Liverpudlian actor Ricky Tomlinson, with whom he has appeared in no less than five different projects. Cast as part of ITVs “Dramarama” series on an episode entitled “Ghost Story”, Stephen played the featured role of Corporal Tomkins. This was directed by future award winning Director Julian Jarrold, whom Stephen went on to work with again on an ITV drama entitled “Touching Evil”. Stephen portrayed lead guest character Jack McCaffrey, a slippery cockney, in a two-part drama written by Paul Abbott.
Coincidentally, by a strange quirk of fate in the spring of 2013, Stephen played the lead role of Ricky Tomlinson in “Ragged”, which was a one-off drama for the “Sky Arts Presents” series directed by comedian Johnny Vegas. The role dealt with Tomlinson’s incarceration during the 1970’s builders strike. For his performance, Stephen was nominated, alongside Derek Jacobi, for an RTS Award as Best Actor in a single drama.
After leaving drama school Stephen appeared as Ian Glover in Jimmy McGovern’s highly acclaimed drama “Hillsborough”, which went on to win a Bafta for best drama. His next performance was in the role of Jamie Spencer on ITV’s ill fated drama series “Springhill” (1996), though Stephen did not return for the second series due to artistic differences.
Between 1998 and 2000, Stephen appeared in numerous eye catching episodic performances such as BBC’s “Pie In the Sky”, opposite the late Richard Griffiths, Mikey Sullivan in Jimmy McGovern’s “Liverpool 1”, Private John McGrath in “Band of Brothers” (HBO), and Scot in “Nice Guy Eddie”. Stephen also played Kick Box Stevie in the feature film “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” by Stuart Suggs.
In 2001, with three back-to-back roles, Stephen’s work and range were presented to a larger much larger audience. Stephen starred in the BBC’s production of writer Jim Cartwright’s (Road, Little Voices) “Strumpet” opposite Christopher Eccleston. “Strumpet” was directed by Oscar winning director Danny Boyle. The role of Knockoff was, in Stephen’s words, “An actor’s dream”. This performance was in complete contrast to Walters’ more dramatic work up to this point and showed his love for comedy. Walters has gone on record as saying…”It took someone like Danny to take a chance on me…previously I had done more intense, perhaps disturbed kind of characters…then along came this script that I read for and Danny thought I could play it…working with Danny Boyle, Christopher Eccleston and Jim Cartwright was a real learning curve for me”.
That same year Stephen featured in the film “Mean Machine” (2001), a remake of the 1974 Burt Reynolds film produced by Matthew Vaughn, as bomb expert Nitro opposite actor Vinny Jones. He then played the role of Nazi skinhead Blowfish in Ronny Yu’s film “51st State” (AKA-“Formula 51”) opposite Samuel L Jackson and Robert Carlyle. Both characters showcase the more unpredictable, dangerous type of characters that Walters seems to relish. Interestingly, Stephen also worked with Carlyle in his first ever feature film “Plunkett and McCleane”, directed by Jake Scot, son of acclaimed director Ridley Scot, where he played the role of Denis. Robert Carlyle has been an important influence on Stephen’s career.
These consecutive roles were the springboard to Stephen being cast in the lead role of prison Psychiatrist Nick Vaughn, alongside Lenny James, in Channel 4’s eight-part drama series “Buried” (2002). The series, by award winning producer Tony Garner, was awarded the Bafta for Best Drama and Stephen was the recipient of critical acclaim for his performance.
In 2003, Stephen played a two episode lead guest as Dylan Forbes in the ITV drama “Murder City”, directed by Sam Miller. The following year (2004) Stephen was directed by Matthew Vaughn in the explosive supporting role of Shanks, opposite Daniel Craig, in the feature film “Layer Cake”. Vaughn, who had produced Barry Scholnick’s Mean Machine, offered Stephen the role.
Continuing with his eclectic list of credits, Stephen’s next project was Guy Richie’s film “Revolver” (2005) where, opposite Jason Statham, he portrayed Irish Joe. That same year saw a cameo appearance, as the Arkham Lunatic, in Christopher Nolan’s acclaimed feature “Batman Begins” and a turn later as master Lord Gilbert Gifford in the BBC’s “Virgin Queen”.
In 2007, after a self imposed year hiatus, Stephen undertook three new projects. First was the feature film “Hannibal Rising”, the final installment of the Hannibal series which explored the origins of Hannibal Lecter, where he was featured alongside fellow actor Rhys Ifans. Stephen portrayed Zigmas Milko, a man of Eastern European origin and one of Hannibal’s main victims. Director Peter Webber described the death of Zigmas Milko as one of his favorite scenes in the movie. Immediately following his role in Hannibal, Stephen was featured in BBC 3’s six part comedy series entitled “The Visit”, which was set in a prison waiting room. Stephen played the colorful character Splodge, a Manchunian rogue and a troublesome yet likable loser. Later that same year, Stephen played the frighteningly strange, oddly comedic Maddison Twatter (AKA-Mad Twatter) in a three episodes stint for E4’s cult smash “Skins”.
In 2008 Stephen appeared in “Franklyn”, a film directed by Gerald McMorrow, which premiered at the London Film Festival. His dual role as Bill Wasnik/Wormsnakes was played opposite Bernard Hill and Ryan Philippe respectively. In another two-part drama entitled “Wire In The Blood”, Stephen played serial killer on the loose James Williams. Robson Green, also featured in the series, collaborated with Stephen in ITV’s 1997 drama “Touching Evil”. These episodes were directed by Philip John who, coincidentally, would later direct Walters in Outlander (2014-2016).
“Splintered”, a horror movie released cinematically in 2010, was demanding for Stephen since he played dual roles as brothers Vincent and Gavin. Playing opposite himself in the same scene presented unique challenges, yet garnered recognition and acclaim for Walters.
“Powder” (2011), based on Kevin Sampson’s novel of the same name, featured Stephen in the lead role of Johnny Winegums, the manager of an aspiring POP music group. Some scenes in the film involved filming in front of a live audience, composed of over fifty thousand fans, at the V Festival. This was an experience Stephen thoroughly enjoyed. Later that year Stephen featured heavily in “Age of Heroes” along with Sean Bean. The WWII drama, directed by Adrian Vitoria, highlighted the story of Ian Fleming’s Commandos who were assigned to infiltrate behind enemy lines in the Nazi controlled snowy mountains of Norway. Walters has commented that the role of Private Syd Brightling was both a physical and mental test of endurance. Walters would work with Sean Bean again in 2013’s “The Accused”, penned by Jimmy McGovern.
In 2012 Stephen played the role of gangster Callum Rose, opposite his name-sake and friend actor Stephen Graham, in the BBC’s production “Good Cop”. Written by Stephen Butchard, and despite only running for one series, “Good Cop” won the RTS award for Best Drama. Sam Miller acted as director. That same year Stephen played the role of Gaz in Niall Griffith’s “Kelly + Victor”, a film which received a Bafta for Best Debut Feature and critical acclaim for its director Kieran Evans.
2013 brought Stephen lead roles in two back to back television series, highlighting his range and versatility. First was the comedy “Great Night Out”, from Jimmy Mulville’s HatTrick Productions, where Walters played the lovable but simple Daz Taylor. Second was “The Village” where he played Crispin Ingram, a sadistic teacher from Derbyshire. Director Antonia Bird cast Stephen in the latter and he was devastated to hear of her sudden death not long after filming. Gillies McKinnon, another director Stephen worked with on “The Village”, also directed Jimmy McGovermn’s “Needle” (1990), Stephen’s second professional project that told the story of the heroin epidemic in Liverpool. A second series of “The Village” was re-commissioned, though Stephen was unable to reprise his role due to a scheduling conflict with “Outlander” (2014-2016).
Stephen worked extensively with director Brian Kelly in 2014. He filmed three episodes of NBC’s “Dracula”, opposite Jonathan Rhys Meyers, as Hungarian detective Hackett. The series was shot in Budapest, Hungary. Kelly then cast Walters as Simon the Sorcerer in NBC’s series “AD the Bible” (2015). The series was shot in Morocco.
From 2014-2016, opposite Caitriona Balfe and Graham McTavish, Walters portrayed the featured role of Angus Mhor in the television adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s best selling Scottish time travel novel “Outlander”. Presented by Starz/Sony and executive producer Ronald D Moore, the show has been re-commissioned for seasons three and four.
Between seasons one and two of “Outlander”, Stephen was featured in two stylistically different shows back to back, both for the BBC. First, he was in two episodes of “Dickensian” (2015) opposite Stephen Rea. Second, was a lead episode of “Musketeers” (2015), shot in Prague, in the role of Borel. Walters received strong accolades for this role.
Early in 2016, Stephen completed filming on Rowan Joffe’s “Tin Star” for Sky Atlantic. Filmed in Canada, the production features Tim Roth and Christina Hendricks, and has been described as a contemporary western. Stephen is featured as failed Rock Star Johnny.
During the summer of 2016 Stephen completed filming on two episodes of “Into the Badlands” where he played The Engineer, an American Warlord, opposite Daniel Wu and Nick Frost. At present Stephen is shooting “Little Boy Blue”, written for ITV by Jeff Pope, with fellow actor Stephen Graham.
In addition to his acting credits, Stephen is also an accomplished writer and director, with several short films completed. The first is award winning short “Danny Boy”, an intense drama where a man must come to terms with his mother’s Alzheimer’s. Second, a recently completed film titled “I’m not Here”, is an exploration of Charles Manson wherein Stephen plays the lead role. Stephen also has numerous original scripts in various stages of development.
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