Date of Birth : Oct 22nd 1938
English actor and film director. Like Laurence Olivier, he bears the distinction of holding two knighthoods, Danish and British. He is regarded as having a very fine speaking voice.
Jacobi quickly came to the fore, and his talent was recognised by Laurence Olivier, who invited him back home to London to become one of the founding members of the new National Theatre, even though at the time he was relatively unknown. He played Laertes in the National Theatre’s inaugural production of Hamlet opposite Peter O’Toole in 1963. Olivier then cast him as Cassio in the successful National Theatre stage production of Othello, a role that Jacobi repeated in the 1965 film version, and of Andrei in the stage version and 1970 film of Three Sisters in 1970. Both these productions also starred Olivier.
After eight years at the National Theatre, Jacobi left in 1971 to pursue different roles and mediums of expression. In 1972, he starred in the BBC serial Man of Straw, directed by Herbert Wise. Most of his theatrical work in the 70’s was with the touring classical Prospect Theatre Company, with which he undertook many roles, including Ivanov, Pericles, Prince of Tyre and A Month in the Country opposite Dorothy Tutin (1976).
Although Jacobi’s name was becoming known and he was increasingly busy with stage and screen acting, his big breakthrough did not come until 1976. It was the title role of the BBC’s blockbuster series I, Claudius that finally cemented his increasing reputation with his performance as the stammering, twitching Emperor Claudius winning him many plaudits, but not an Emmy. In 1979, thanks to his international popularity he took Hamlet on an epic theatrical world tour through England, Egypt, Greece, Sweden, Australia, Japan and China with himself in the title role. He was then invited to essay the role once more at Kronborg Castle, better known as Elsinore Castle, the setting of the play itself. In 1978 he played in the BBC’s production of Shakespeare’s Richard II, with Sir John Gielgud and Dame Wendy Hiller.