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Hannah, John (1962-)


Main image of Hannah, John (1962-)

A charming Scottish actor whose presence has enlivened many films and television series, John Hannah's career has gone from strength to strength since the mid-1990s. He was born on 23rd April 1962 in East Kilbride, and studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow. He had an early success with his appearance in Michael Caton-Jones' political thriller Brond (Channel 4, 1987), playing a student caught up in a conspiracy. He also appeared in such crime dramas as Taggart (ITV, 1990) and Between the Lines (BBC, 1992), as well as showing a comic side in Steve Coogan's Paul Calf's Video Diary (BBC, 1993), which he then reprised in Pauline Calf's Wedding Video (BBC, 1994).

His big break (along with much of the rest of the cast's) came in Four Weddings And A Funeral (d. Mike Newell, 1994), when he played the decent, likeable Matthew, single-handedly elevating W.H. Auden's poetry sales with his powerful reading of 'Funeral Blues' at his boyfriend's funeral. He also played a tough forensic psychologist in the highly successful McCallum (BBC, 1995-8). Another gay role in Madagascar Skin (d. Chris Newby, 1995) might have led to typecasting, had he not then taken on such disparate roles as a useless father in the crime caper The James Gang (d. Mike Barker, 1997) and the villain in Disney's TV remake of The Love Bug (US, 1998).

He was pleasant but anaemic as Gwyneth Paltrow's Monty Python-quoting love interest in Sliding Doors (UK/US, d. Peter Howitt, 1998), but found a blockbuster niche via two hilarious camped-up performances in The Mummy and The Mummy Returns (both US, 1999/2001). He had a small role as a crusading law student in Norman Jewison's injustice saga The Hurricane (US, 1999), and was a suitably loathsome and treacherous Wordsworth in the Romantic poetry saga Pandaemonium (d. Julien Temple, 2000). He then played Ian Rankin's detective John Rebus (ITV, 2000-4), in several films, continuing Hannah's identification with the darker side of life. On US television, he had a striking guest appearance in Alias (2001) as a brainwashed mole, and a lighter performance in Frasier (2003) as an adulterous accountant. Since then, his work has been lower-key, although he was typically excellent in yet another crime drama, Cold Blood (ITV, 2005), best known for featuring gameshow host Matthew Kelly as a serial killer.

Alexander Larman

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