British Actors You Should Know: Tobias Menzies

Tobias Menzies as Captain James Fitzjames in this brand new horror/drama series The Terror (Photo Credit: Courtesy of AMC() 

As you may have already heard, Tobias Menzies has been cast to take over the role of Prince Philip from Matt Smith in Season 3 of Netflix period drama The Crown. Menzies has signed on for the next two seasons, with shooting to begin this summer in the UK. He will be joined by Olivia Colman who will be playing Queen Elizabeth II and Helena Bonham Carter as the new Princess Margaret. 

This 44-year-old actor has had a prolific career thus far and, if you watch much television, you’re sure to have seen him in something. But just in case Menzies' name or face is unfamiliar, we’ve put together a quick list of his credits to get you acquainted with the newest Crown cast member.

Like many a young British actor, Tobias started his career with guest appearances on mystery series such as Foyle’s War and Midsomer Murders. His first recurring television role, however, was on the long-running UK emergency medical drama, Casualty. From 1998 to 2000, he played Frank Gallagher (not to be confused with the Shameless patriarch). The son of the hospital’s clinical director of A&E, Frank starts out as a heroin addict, but turns his life around and becomes a drug counselor.

 

Menzies’ next major TV stint was in the 2005 HBO historical drama Rome, playing Marcus Junius Brutus. Torn between his love of Caesar (Ciaran Hinds) who has been like a father to him and the Roman Republic, Brutus becomes one of the chief conspirators in the assassination of the famous general and politician.

 

After a few smaller roles in feature films such as Casino Royale and Atonement, Menzies returned to the small screen in 2009 for a two-episode arc in the BBC spy drama MI-5 (a.k.a. Spooks). He portrayed newly appointed Home Secretary Andrew Lawrence, whose alligences are unknown to MI-5.

Though his character turns out to be trustworthy,  if you are familiar with this series at all, being a good person probably means you don't get to hang around for long. (While perhaps his first foray into the international spy thriller genre, it was not his last. He later appeared in The Honourable Woman and The Night Manager.)

 

Menzies played another politician in the 2013 Black Mirror episode, "The Waldo Moment". Liam Monroe is a Conservative Party candidate who has become the target of intense badgering by one of his by-election opponents, Waldo, a blue cartoon bear. 

Like any other British TV actors working today, Tobias has also spent some time in the Game of Thrones universe. In 2013, he began playing the kind but ineffectual Edmure Tully, brother of Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) and the Lord of Riverrun, for a short time anyhow. Edmure's marriage ceremony was the stage for the infamous Red Wedding massacre, and he’s been a prisoner ever since.

 

And lest you think he only does drama, Menzies has figuratively donned a white coat in two British sitcoms.

As a hand-sanitizer-obsessed OB-GYN in season one of Catastrophe, he nonchalantly guided Sharon (Sharon Horgan) through the perils of later-in-life pregnancy. In 2012, he played a handsome doctor/administrator in charge of the merger of staff from two local hospitals in Getting On.

 

And when it comes to similarlites in your CV, Tobias has, oddly enough, appeared in several submarine-based projects. In 2010, he was a baddie in the BBC mini-series, The Deep. He was also featured in the 2014 film Black Sea with Jude Law. Though I don’t think he actually got on the vessel in that one. Instead, his character was the shady financier of the whole treasure hunt. Finally in 2013, he guest starred in the Doctor Who episode "Cold War" as a Russian submarine officer who unfortunately didn’t believe in all that alien business.

 

And speaking of time travel…

Undoubtedly Mr. Menzies’ best known credit to date is his Golden Globe-nominated dual role in the fantasy romance series, Outlander. In it, he plays dedicated husband Frank Randall, an academic who was away serving in British Intelligence during the war. But just as he and his wife attempt to reconnect on a second honeymoon, Claire (Caitriona Balfe) mysteriously disappears in the Highlands. When she returns years later, pregnant with another man’s child, he loves the baby anyway.

 

His other role on the show is as Frank’s ancestor, Jonathan "Black Jack" Randall, an English Army captain in 1743 who was posted in Scotland during the time leading to the Jacobite rising.  Randall justifies his monstrous behavior as being required to enforce British rule. But Jack is also a sadist and unhealthily obsessed with both Claire and her newfound love, Jamie (Sam Heughan). From what I hear, he's the kind of villain viewers love to hate.

 

So now that you are more acquainted with the on-screen talents of Mr. Menzies, how do you feel about his casting in The Crown? Please feel free to mention any other performances that I have had to omit, including his many theater credits.