Timothy Leonard Spall, OBE (born on February 27, 1957) is an English character actor who plays Peter Pettigrew in the Harry Potter film series. He first portrayed him Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and reprised the role in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1, with brief appearances in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
Timothy’s career took a serious turn as he had to deal with a life-threatening disease: acute myelogenous leukemia. As he battled the disease, he continued to work in limited capacity film and television appearances before earning the role of “Wormtail” in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
Timothy earned the title of Officer of the Order of British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth on New Year’s Eve, 1999.
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Tim has earned many nominations for his work in films and television, but has only won one time – the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Ensemble Movie Cast for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2.
I relish Pettigrew. It’s nice to play a character so reprehensible and weak. He’s a rat – I’m now a pin-up in all sorts of pet shops!” (Independent, 12/28/2004)
Isn’t it funny? It’s been a delight to be involved in such an amazing bunch of films like that, but what’s remarkable about that from a personal view is that while it’s brilliant and amazing—I’ve been in about three or four—it doesn’t feel like I’ve been that much involved, because my little contribution doesn’t take long, whereas the kids worked on them for 10 years of their lives. Most of the older actors were just in and out. So while it was a delight to have been in them, what’s amazing is that, while it’s one of the smallest parts I’ve ever played in my life, it’s the one I’m most famous for.
Source: A.V. Club Interview
Life and Career
Life and Career
Raised in London, Timothy was the son of postal worker and a hairdresser. As a youth, he showed great promise at the National Youth Theatre and then at the RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts), where he is an Associate Member, with brilliant performances with the title roles in MacBeth and Othello, which lead to him joining the Royal Shakespeare Company for two years.
Timothy quickly moved to roles in British television where he found a home. He earned a BAFTA nomination for his role as a portrait photographer struggling with marital problems in Secrets & Lies (1996) as well as other award winning shows. He also was able to work under noted directors like Ken Russell, Clint Eastwood, and Potter alum Kenneth Branagh.
- In 1996, the Spall family was thrust into darkness when Timothy was suddenly diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia — and given days to live. But, defying all medical expectations, Timothy fought back against the cancer, undergoing chemotherapy in a London hospital, where he was kept in isolation. He was allowed home from hospital in August 1996 to begin the long hard battle back to health — and back to work.
- He was so determined to pocket a memento from his work on the Harry Potter films, he snatched a prosthetic ear from the film set. He says:
I lifted a prosthetic ear while filming Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It’s strictly frowned upon, but it was too good to pass by. It will live on a shelf at home. If they’re truthful, most performers try to get a souvenir from every job they do.
- Timothy and Harry Potter co-star Gary Oldman have both played the character of Rosencrantz: Gary in Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (1990) and Timothy in Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet (1996).
- Has played a rat in two movies. He provided the voice of Nick the rat in Chicken Run (2000) and as Ron Weasley’s rat Scabbers in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004).
- Played British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill in both Jackboots on Whitehall (2010) and The King’s Speech (2010). This makes him the second actor to play Churchill twice, in two otherwise unrelated productions. The first was Robert Hardy, who played the role in several films over the course of twenty-five years. Timothy and Robert appear together in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005). The latter also features fellow Churchill portrayer Brendan Gleeson.
- He was awarded the OBE (Officer of the Order of British Empire) in the 2000 Queen’s Millennium Honors List for his services to drama.
- Child Hope Charity
Timothy is a large supporter of the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution). The RNLI is a charity dependent on donations to ensure its volunteer lifeboat crews and its lifeguards are provided with the best possible training, equipment, and lifeboats to save lives at sea. In St. Ives for instance, two legacies have covered the costs of the next refit for the all weather lifeboat and the servicing of the crews lifejackets for five years.
Shane and I have been deeply humbled by the men and women who crew the lifeboats around our coasts, who are prepared to risk their own lives to save the lives of others, at times in truly treacherous conditions – yet are volunteers. Also remarkable is the generosity of the public whose donations ensure the crews can do their lifesaving work. We’ve seen how gifts in wills underpin the lifesaving service, and the gratitude of RNLI volunteers for those donations. The generosity of people through their final wishes is truly inspiring as they leave behind a real legacy.
Timothy, how did you get involved with ChildHope?
ChildHope approached me and I agreed to become a Patron as I was so impressed by the quality of work and the total commitment of those working there. For such a small charity to be making such a genuine difference to the lives of so many children is amazing. I was thrilled to be asked to be part of it.
Why is this charity so important to you?
I believe that when you have the chance to do something you really like, like acting, then you have to help other people to have a chance as well..… I love kids. I have got two and they have grown up in a ‘normal’ environment and I couldn’t see why other kids couldn’t have that kind of opportunity as well.
How do you help to raise awareness for the charity?
I attended the 10K run in London and handed out trophies to the winners, did some press photographs and an interview for ChildHope’s newsletter. I have also recorded a radio ad to help raise awareness of their work. Then there are interviews like this one, which I hope will promote the organisation and its great work. I try to do as much as my schedule allows. I hope to give my voice for a documentary ChildHope is planning about the lives of some of the children it works with.
Connect with Timothy Spall
Connect with Timothy Spall
Fan Mail Address:
Markham and Froggatt Ltd
4 Windmill Street
London W1T 2HZ