Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Callow, Simon (1949-)

Actor, Writer, Director

Main image of Callow, Simon (1949-)

From box-office assistant at the Old Vic to major character star of '80s and '90s cinema describes portly, jocular Callow's career trajectory. Born in London on 13 June 1949, he came to critical attention as Mozart in the National Theatre's Amadeus (1980), but had only a small role in the film.

Merchant Ivory gave him the eye-catching role of the Reverend Beebe in A Room with a View (d. James Ivory, 1985) and the openly gay Callow crowned a succession of richly enjoyable studies with that of Gareth in Four Weddings and a Funeral (d. Mike Newell, 1994): his relationship with another man (John Hannah) and his poignant funeral are among the hit film's highlights. He is wildly funny as the convener of a men's therapy group in Bedrooms and Hallways (d. Rose Troche 1999) and as the dour Master of the Revels in Shakespeare in Love (US/UK, d. John Madden, 1998, UK/US).

He has also appeared in American films (e.g., Mr and Mrs Bridge, d. James Ivory, 1990), directed a film, Ballad of the Sad Café (US, 1991), written biographies of Charles Laughton, Orson Welles and agent Peggy Ramsay, and a lively semi-autobiography, Being an Actor, 1984, and continued to work on stage (e.g., the solo play, The Mystery of Charles Dickens, 2000), as actor and director. He was made a CBE in 1999.

Brian McFarlane, Encyclopedia of British Film

More information


From the BFI's filmographic database

Related media

Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Maurice (1987)Maurice (1987)

Merchant-Ivory Forster adaptation, about a gay affair in Cambridge

Thumbnail image of Room with a View, A (1985)Room with a View, A (1985)

Much-loved Merchant Ivory adaptation of the E.M. Forster novel

Thumbnail image of Trials of Oz, The (1991)Trials of Oz, The (1991)

Dramatisation of the notorious 'Oz' magazine obscenity trial

Related collections

Related people and organisations