- Category : Actor
- Type : GP
- Profile : 4/6 - Opportunistic / Role Model
- Definition : Split - Large
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Rulership 1
John Scot Barrowman (born 11 March 1967) is a Scottish actor, singer, dancer, and writer who holds both British and American citizenship. Born in Glasgow, he grew up in Illinois following his family's emigration to the United States. Encouraged by his high school teachers, Barrowman studied performing arts at the United States International University in San Diego before landing the role of Billy Crocker in Cole Porter's Anything Goes at London's West End.
Since his debut in professional theatre, Barrowman has played lead roles in various musicals both in the West End and on Broadway, including Miss Saigon, The Phantom of the Opera, Sunset Boulevard and Matador. After appearing in Sam Mendes' production of The Fix, he was nominated for the 1998 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical and, in the early 2000s, returned to the role of Billy Crocker in the revival of Anything Goes. His most recent West End credit was in the 2009 production of La Cage aux Folles.
Aside from his theatrical career, Barrowman has appeared in various films including the musical biopic De-Lovely (2004) and musical comedy The Producers (2005). Before venturing into British television, he featured in the American television dramas Titans and Central Park West but he is better known for his acting and presenting work for the BBC that includes his work for CBBC in its earlier years, his self-produced entertainment programme Tonight's the Night, and his BAFTA Cymru-nominated role of Captain Jack Harkness in the science fiction series Doctor Who and Torchwood. Barrowman has also had a number of guest roles in television programmes both in the US and the UK. He appeared as a contestant on the first series of celebrity ice skating show Dancing on Ice while his theatrical background allowed him to become a judge on Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical talent shows How Do You Solve a Problem like Maria?, Any Dream Will Do and I'd Do Anything. In 2006, he was voted Stonewall's Entertainer of the Year. More recently Barrowman starred in the CW's Arrow as Malcolm Merlyn/The Dark Archer, the show's version of the DC villain Merlin the Archer.
Barrowman is also featured on more than a dozen musical theatre recordings including cover tunes found on his 2007 album, Another Side, and 2008's Music Music Music. Both albums accrued places on the UK Albums Chart, as did his self-titled John Barrowman (2010), which reached number 11, his highest chart placing to date. Furthermore, Barrowman has published two memoirs and autobiographies, Anything Goes (2008) and I Am What I Am (2009), with his sister Carole as co-author. The siblings also teamed up to write a novel, Hollow Earth (2012). The second book in the series, Bone Quill, has been released in the UK and will be released in the US in July 2013.
Barrowman was born in 1967 in the Mount Vernon area of Glasgow, the youngest of three siblings. Barrowman lived in Glasgow for the first eight years of his life. His mother was a singer and worked as a clerk in a record shop while his father was employed by the Caterpillar heavy machinery company in Uddingston. In 1976, his father's company relocated the family to Aurora, Illinois in the United States, where his father managed the Caterpillar tractor factory. Barrowman recalls his family as loving, but strict and mindful of etiquette: always polite and respectful towards others. Comparing the two countries where he was raised, Barrowman concludes: "Scotland gave us, as a family, closeness; America gave us the get-up-and-go." The family settled in Joliet, where Barrowman attended Joliet West High School in the heart of a "quintessentially middle-class conservative town". Barrowman's high school music and English teachers changed the future course of his life, his music tutor instilling in him a love for performing, and his English teacher, Joseph Bennington, encouraging him to realise his true potential. His English teacher moved him into a "Gifted" program and coached Barrowman for the school's speech team. With the support of his teacher, he competed with other schools in statewide speech competitions, where he sharpened his skills reading scenes from plays.
As a freshman, Barrowman won parts in several musical productions and from 1983 to 1985 he performed in such musical productions as Oliver!, Camelot, Hello, Dolly!, Li'l Abner and Anything Goes. Looking back, he acknowledges that "without the support he received in high school, chances are that he would not now be appearing in royal command performances in the West End in front of the Royal Family or having Stephen Sondheim ask him to play opposite Carol Burnett".
Barrowman spent his senior year shoveling coal for an Illinois power company. His father had arranged the job (and similar jobs for his brother and sister) to give Barrowman the experience of manual labour. His father told him: "If you want to do manual labour for the rest of your life you'll know that when you do it; it's a choice. But if you don't like it, you'll understand the importance of educating yourself and – if you decide what you want to do – being good at your craft or your skill." Barrowman worked for the power company for the entire summer, but did not like the job. Eventually, he convinced the company to move him to work in the storeroom.
Barrowman graduated from high school in 1985, and became a naturalised citizen of the United States (although he maintains dual citizenship of Great Britain and the US). After he graduated from high school, he moved to San Diego, California, to study performing arts at the United States International University (USIU). As part of an exchange programme, he returned to Britain in 1989, to study Shakespeare for six months.
Barrowman's professional acting career began in London's West End in 1989, playing the role of Billy Crocker in Cole Porter's Anything Goes at the Prince Edward Theatre, alongside Elaine Paige as Reno Sweeney and Bernard Cribbins as Moonface Martin. He continued to appear in West End productions for the next decade, taking the title role of Domingo Hernandez in Matador at the Queen's Theatre in 1991; as Raoul in The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty's Theatre in 1992; as Claude in Hair at the Old Vic Theatre in 1993; as Chris in Miss Saigon at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1993; as Joe Gillis in Sunset Boulevard at the Adelphi Theatre from 1994–1995; and as Beast in Beauty and the Beast at the Dominion Theatre in 1999. Barrowman was part of the musical Godspell in 1994, and was a soloist in two songs, "We Beseech Thee" and "On The Willows". He was nominated for an Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical in 1998 for originating the role of Cal Chandler in The Fix, a performance he repeated in Cameron Mackintosh's 1998 gala concert Hey, Mr Producer!. Barrowman played Joe Gillis in Sunset Boulevard in the West End and, briefly, on Broadway. His only other Broadway credit is in the role of Barry in the Stephen Sondheim revue Putting It Together (1999–2000) at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre alongside Carol Burnett and George Hearn. In a review of Putting It Together, theater critic Tom Samiljan noted Barrowman's "fine baritone voice and suave looks". In 2002, Barrowman appeared as Bobby in Sondheim's Company in the Kennedy Center's Stephen Sondheim Celebration.
He returned to the role of Billy Crocker in Trevor Nunn's 2003 West End revival of Anything Goes, and appeared in West End non-musical dramas, such as his role as Wyndham Brandon in Rope at the Minerva Theatre, Chichester in 1993, and he starred as Lieutenant Jack Ross opposite Rob Lowe in the 2005 production of A Few Good Men.
He starred in pantomime productions of Cinderella at the New Wimbledon Theatre (Christmas, 2005–06) and in Jack and the Beanstalk at Cardiff's New Theatre (Christmas, 2006–07). He played the title role in Aladdin at the Birmingham Hippodrome over Christmas 2007–8 and as a guest act for the Royal Variety Performance at the London Palladium in 2008. Barrowman played the lead in the Robin Hood pantomime at the Birmingham Hippodrome for the 2008–09 season. He presented Andrew Lloyd Webber's 60th birthday party in London's Hyde Park on September 14, 2008. Exactly one year later, Barrowman succeeded Roger Allam as Zaza/Albin in the West End revival of La Cage aux Folles, at the Playhouse Theatre.
Barrowman was one of the original hosts of Live & Kicking, a children's Saturday morning variety show on the BBC. During this time, he became known for his catchphrase, "it's a dirty rat!", which he used during a phone-in game set in a haunted house. From 1993–1994, Barrowman reported on technology news as the host of the Electric Circus segment of the show. He appeared on the children's television game show, The Movie Game from 1994–1996. Barrowman was one of the regular presenters on Five channel's afternoon show 5's Company from 1997–1999. Between April 10 and April 14, 2006, Barrowman presented ITV's morning talk show, This Morning, while Phillip Schofield took an Easter break. Barrowman read bedtime stories on the CBeebies channel between May 1 and May 5, 2006. That summer, Barrowman was on a Judges panel alongside Andrew Lloyd Webber, David Ian, and Zoe Tyler on BBC One's music talent show How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?. In the same year, Barrowman made two television appearances on New Year's Eve: He talked about spirituality and civil partnerships on BBC Television's Heaven & Earth, hosted by Gloria Hunniford, and he appeared as a guest on Graham Norton's one-off BBC Television programme, The Big Finish, teaming up with Craig Revel Horwood and Louis Walsh to take a lighthearted look at news stories in 2006. On February 11, 2007, Barrowman co-presented coverage of the BAFTA Film Awards, along with Ruby Wax for E!: Entertainment Television. On February 11 and February 18, 2007, Barrowman guest-presented two editions of Elaine Paige on Sunday, a pre-recorded BBC Radio 2 weekly musical theatre and film music showcase.
In 2007, Barrowman was a judge on the BBC One TV series Any Dream Will Do, hosted by Graham Norton. The show searched for a new, unknown actor to play the role of Joseph in a West End revival of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, eventually choosing Lee Mead. He guested on the BBC Two comedy panel quiz show Never Mind the Buzzcocks (Series 19, Episode 5), challenging host Simon Amstell to a "gay-off". He also guested on Al Murray's Happy Hour, The Charlotte Church Show, and Friday Night with Jonathan Ross.
On July 27, 2007, Barrowman guest hosted The Friday Night Project, on Channel 4, with Justin-Lee Collins and Alan Carr. In 2008 Barrowman presented a primetime BBC game show called The Kids Are All Right. On the show, four adults compete against seven "smart and sassy" children for cash in four rounds "testing their brainpower, knowledge and speed of response". On February 16 and 23, 2008, he presented the National Lottery Draw.
On March 1, 2008, Barrowman appeared as a panelist of the Eurovision Song Contest selection show, Eurovision: Your Decision on BBC 1, alongside Carrie Grant and Terry Wogan. From April 29 to May 1 he presented This Morning. Barrowman began featuring as a judge on the Canadian version of How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? in June 2008. In 2008, Barrowman became the presenter for Animals at Work, a children's television show on CBBC that showcases "animals with extraordinary skills that make people's lives easier and safer"; Animals at Work began in 2009 with 26 episodes. He began hosting Tonight's the Night on BBC in April 2009. In February 2010, Barrowman appeared as a guest host on UK shopping channel QVC.
In 2012, Barrowman signed up to host This Morning in the Summer.
In July 2012, Barrowman co-hosted the G4's 2012 Live Comic Con in San Diego with Candace Bailey.
Prime time drama
Barrowman's television career began with several appearances in short-lived prime-time soap operas. Barrowman first starred as Peter Fairchild in Central Park West (1995) a show American film critic Ken Tucker calls "a tale of ritzy, ditsy New York City careerists—some struggling to make it, others plotting to retain their status and power." Television critic David Hiltbrand called Barrowman's character a "Prince Charming ... a virtuous, hardworking assistant DA who keeps getting distracted by women who swoon in his path." Tucker noted Barrowman's character of Peter Fairchild to be "physically an eye-widening cross between John Kennedy Jr. and Hugh Grant". The show lasted for two seasons on CBS, from September 1995 to June 1996. Next, Barrowman appeared as Peter Williams in Titans (2000). According to writer Joanna Bober, in Titans, Barrowman plays a "ruthless mogul" who gains "control of the family's private aviation company (a fleet of 'Titans') from his semi-retired father" while increasing the profitability of the company amidst a series of soap opera intrigues. Titans was canceled after airing eleven episodes. Barrowman was also considered for the role of Will in Will and Grace, but the producers reportedly felt he was "too straight" and the role eventually went to Eric McCormack instead. Commenting on the decision, Barrowman remarked, "The sad thing is it's run by gay men and women." He later expressed contempt for the idea that all gay men act the same way.
On March 25, 2008, Barrowman made a guest appearance in episode 22 of the BBC's Hotel Babylon. Entertainment Weekly reported that Barrowman would appear in the 2010 season of Desperate Housewives, "for a minimum of five episodes, portraying Patrick Logan, the ex-boyfriend at the center of the Angie Bolen (Drea de Matteo) mystery." On February 23, 2010 Barrowman announced on The One Show that his contract had been extended to a total of six episodes.
Barrowman will star on the upcoming ABC drama series Gilded Lillys created and produced by Shonda Rhimes.
Barrowman plays the main antagonist Malcolm Merlyn/The Dark Archer in Arrow.
Film and reality television
Barrowman appeared as Ben Carpenter in the low-budget film Shark Attack 3: Megalodon (2002). His musical abilities are featured in several film roles: as Jack in the Cole Porter biopic De-Lovely (2004), singing a duet with Kevin Kline on the song Night and Day; and as the lead tenor Stormtrooper in The Producers (2005), singing Springtime for Hitler. Barrowman co-presented and performed in the BBC One series The Sound of Musicals (2006).
Barrowman took part in the reality television series Dancing on Ice on ITV1 in January and February 2006. Resembling a real ice skating competition, ice dancers Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean trained celebrities to compete on the show. His skating partner was World Junior Gold Medalist and three-time Russian champion Olga Sharutenko. On February 4, Barrowman and Sharutenko faced Stefan Booth and Kristina Lenko in the skate off and were eliminated by the judges' by a vote of 3 to 2. He was one of five celebrity guests on the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special (2010), and achieved both the top score and also first place when the audience vote had been counted. His professional partner was Kristina Rihanoff and they danced the Quickstep. In September 2012 Barrowman guest hosted on Attack of the Show.
Doctor Who and Torchwood
Barrowman is best known in the UK for his role in the BBC science fiction drama Doctor Who. When the series was revived in 2005, Barrowman came on board as recurring guest character Captain Jack Harkness, a time traveller from the 51st century. His first appearance as Harkness was in the two-part story "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances". He went on to appear in the next three episodes, "Boom Town", "Bad Wolf" and "The Parting of the Ways". Jack became so popular, he was given his own show - Torchwood, a Doctor Who spin-off series featuring a team of alien hunters based in modern day Cardiff, which premiered in 2006. Ken Tucker describes Barrowman's role on Torchwood as "dashing" and "celestially promiscuous", and "like Tom Cruise with suspenders, but minus the Scientology". In the show, Jack "tracks down—and occasionally beds—ETs with the help of his quartet of bedazzled groupies—slash—Experts in Their Fields: One's a doctor, one's a cop, one's a scientist, and one... makes coffee piping hot. It's like the Justice League of Extended-Pinkie Nerds." Barrowman continued to guest star in Doctor Who in 2007, appearing in "Utopia", "The Sound of Drums", and "Last of the Time Lords". He also participated in a Doctor Who special on the BBC's The Weakest Link. In 2008, Barrowman appeared in the two-part 2008 series finale, "The Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End" and reprised the role of Captain Jack Harkness in the "Doctor Who: Tonight's the Night" special. In 2010, Barrowman returned to Doctor Who with a cameo in The End Of Time along with other previous stars. Series 3 of Torchwood was broadcast in July 2009 as a miniseries of five episodes called Children of Earth. Filming of Series 4 called Torchwood: Miracle Day began on January 11, 2011 primarily in Los Angeles, and in and around Cardiff, Wales. The first episode of Miracle Day aired on Starz Network in the USA on July 8, 2011 and was broadcast on BBC One in the UK on July 14, 2011. Both Doctor Who and Torchwood became popular in the United States on the BBC America network.
Barrowman's memoir and autobiography, Anything Goes, was published in 2008 by Michael O'Mara Books. His sister, English professor and journalist Carole Barrowman, helped write the book using her brother's dictations. In 2009, Barrowman published I Am What I Am, his second memoir detailing his recent television work and musings on fame. In the book, Barrowman reveals that when he was just beginning his acting career, management sent a gay producer to talk to him. The producer told Barrowman that he should try to pretend to be heterosexual in order to be successful. Barrowman was offended and it made him more aware of the importance of his role as a gay public figure: "One of my explicit missions as an entertainer is to work to create a world where no one will ever make a statement like this producer did to me to anyone who's gay."
Barrowman's first published work of original fiction was a Torchwood comic strip, titled Captain Jack and the Selkie, co-written with sister Carole. Commenting on the characterization of Jack Harkness in the comic strip Barrowman states: "We’d already agreed to tell a story that showed a side of Jack and a part of his history that hadn’t been explored too much in other media. I wanted to give fans something original about Jack." Barrowman's début fantasy novel titled Hollow Earth, co-written with his sister Carole, was published in the United Kingdom on 2 February 2012 by Buster Books. The novel is about twins Matt and Emily ("Em") Calder who share an ability that allows them to make artwork come to life, due to their powerful imaginations. Their ability is sought after by antagonists who wish to use it in order to breach Hollow Earth—a realm in which all demons and monsters are trapped.
Barrowman claims to be bidialectal. He learned an American accent after school children picked on his Scottish accent when he moved to the United States. His General American accent is often said to hint at, or is called, Mid-Atlantic. On The Friday Night Project and in various interviews, Barrowman stated that he still speaks in a Scottish accent when he is with his parents.
Barrowman met his husband, Scott Gill, during a production of Rope at the Chichester Festival Theatre in 1993, after Gill came to see Barrowman in the play. The couple have houses in London and Cardiff. Barrowman and Gill entered into a civil partnership on December 27, 2006. A small ceremony was held in Cardiff with friends and family, with the cast of Torchwood and executive producer Russell T Davies as guests. The pair were legally married in the state of California on July 2, 2013, following the United States Supreme Court's decision to deny an appeal to the overturning of Proposition 8 in Hollingsworth v. Perry.
To this end, Barrowman is active in his community supporting the issues that matter to him most. He worked with Stonewall, a gay rights organisation in the UK, on the "Education for All" campaign against homophobia in the schools. In April 2008, the group placed posters on 600 billboards that read, "Some people are gay. Get over it!" Barrowman contributed his support to the project asking people to join him and "Help exterminate homophobia. Be bold. Be brave. Be a buddy, not a bully." That same month, Barrowman spoke at the Oxford Union about his career, the entertainment industry, and gay rights issues. The event was filmed for the BBC programme The Making of Me, in an episode exploring the science of homosexuality. He was voted Entertainer of the Year in 2006 by Stonewall and placed on the Out 100 list for 2008, an annual list of notable LGBT people compiled by Out magazine. In June 2010, Barrowman met with the current Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron as a representative of the LGBT community.
On November 30, 2008, Barrowman was asked during Radio 1's Switch programme about his habit of exposing himself during interviews, and did so on this occasion. Although the act was not seen (a show staff member had covered the webcam), the BBC and Barrowman subsequently apologised for any offence caused. He placed third in Broadcast magazine's "Hottest Commodity" poll in November 2006.
He was one of 48 British celebrities who signed a public notice warning voters against Conservative Party policy towards the BBC prior to the 2010 general election. In 2011, he released his own skin care line, entitled HIM.
He is a Christian with agnostic leanings.