Walter Charles Dance, was born on October 10, 1946, in Redditch, Worcestershire, England. His father, who was an engineer, was of English and Irish descent, and his mother came from English ancestry. Sadly, Charles’ father died when he was just four years old. After his father’s passing, his mother moved Charles and herself to Devon, England, where life was a struggle, as she worked long hours in a cafe to earn money. Initially, being an actor was not what the BAFTA and Emmy nominated Dance set out to do with his life. He wanted to be a graphic designer. When he came of age, he studied graphic design and photography, at the Plymouth College of Art and the Leicester College of Art. At the mid-way point of his studies, however, a desire to be an actor took hold of him, and he has been at it ever since. After leaving college, in addition to taking acting lessons, Dance worked a variety of jobs, while he waited for his first paying job in entertainment. In the original West End theatrical production of “Fiddler on the Roof,” Dance was hired to be a dresser.
In 1974, Dance made his television debut, appearing in the British series, “Father Brown,” as Commandant Neil O’Brien in the episode “The Secret Garden.” The following year, he again found work in television, appearing in two episodes of the series “Edward the King,” as Prince Eddy. That same year, Dance joined the Royal Shakespeare Company. During the five years he was a member, he performed in numerous productions, including, among other works, “Coriolanus” and “Hamlet.”
Dance worked several more jobs acting in television series, and one television movie, “Tales of the Unexpected,” before making his film debut as the character of Claus in the 1981 James Bond movie “For Your Eyes Only.” Dance would have to wait, however, until 1984, to garner international acclaim, which he did for his work in the television mini-series “The Jewel in the Crown.” The series, which was parts drama, history, and romance, dealt with a period of the several years prior to India gaining it independence in 1947. Dance portrayed the character of Guy Perron in five of the series’ episodes. In 1988, Dance played the lead role of genetic researcher Edward Forester, in, what was at the time, a controversial, television mini-series, “First Born.” His character was attempting to breed a gorilla / human hybrid. Less than a decade after making his film screen debut in a Bond movie, Dance portrayed Ian Fleming, the author and creator of the iconic Bond character, in the television movie “Goldeneye.”
Dance worked steadily throughout the 1990s in both film and on television. Those members of the Sherlock fandom might be interested to know that Dance appeared in the 2000 television series “Murder Rooms: Mysteries of the Real Sherlock Holmes” as Sir Henry Carlye in the episode “The Dark Beginning of Sherlock Holmes.” In 2004, Dance wrote, directed, and produced the HBO film “Ladies in Lavender,” based on a short story written by William J. Locke. Dame Judi Dench and Dame Maggie Smith starred in the movie; Dance had been a part of the ensemble cast, with both actresses, in the 2001 Oscar nominated film “Gosford Park.” The following year, he appeared as Mr. Tulkinghorn, in the critically acclaimed, and Golden Globe nominated television mini-series “Bleak House,” based on the novel by Charles Dickens. In 2006, Dance was awarded the OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) for his work in drama.
In addition to acting and his other creative pursuits, Dance is a father of three. He has two grown children, a son Oliver, and a daughter Rebecca, from his first marriage to Joanna Haythorn. The two met while Dance was in art school, and they married in 1970. The couple divorced in 2004. In 2012, he welcomed another daughter, Rose, whom he had with sculptress, Eleanor Boorman. The couple were engaged for a few years, but have since separated.
Since 2011, Dance has portrayed the character of Lord Tywin Lannister, in the mega-hit, HBO series, “Game of Thrones,” which is based on the bestselling book series, “A Song of Ice and Fire,” written by George R.R. Martin. The patriarch of the Lannister family, Tywin is someone who believes in putting the good of the family, and the Lannister name, above all other considerations. He is an austere, ruthless, opinionated individual, who is part politician and part warrior. Regardless of how many episodes Dance has left on the series, he has helped to bring to life a truly memorable character. Despite his villainous nature, Tywin is someone fans of the show have come to love to hate, and are always eager to learn what scheming plans he has for keeping the Lannisters on top.