Stephen Mangan is an English actor, best known for his roles as Guy Secretan in the television series Green Wing, Dan Moody in I’m Alan Partridge, Sean Lincoln in Episodes and holistic detective Dirk Gently in Dirk Gently.
He studied Law at Gonville and Caius College Cambridge University, but he knew within two days of university that he didn’t want to be a lawyer and spent most of his time taking part in drama productions, starring in 23 overall.
Stephen Mangan was born to Irish parents in Winchmore Hill, North London in 1972. He attended Haileybury College, Hertfordshire and despite appearing in school plays there, he never imagined he could be an actor. “It wasn’t an option as far as I could tell. I’d have put it in a category with astronaut or jockey.” Therefore, after having a gap year in the United States, he went on to study Law at Gonville and Caius College Cambridge University, where his fellow students included Rachel Weisz, Sam Mendes, Jonathan Cake and Tom Hollander. He knew within two days of university that he didn’t want to be a lawyer and spent most of his time taking part in drama productions, starring in 23 overall.
After university, he took a year out to nurse his mother, Mary, who was dying of cancer. Weeks after her death, feeling he had nothing to lose, he auditioned for the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and successfully won a place. “To get into somewhere like that was a seal of approval. It was no longer that you made someone laugh in a school play or you were funny to your mates.” He graduated from RADA in July 1994 and did not pursue lead roles on screen, preferring to take what he saw as more limitless opportunities on the stage. “I refused to do anything but theatre when I first left RADA. Theatre is the actor’s medium, film is the director’s medium and on television the writer is king you’re not being typecast or held to ransom by how you look.”
He spent several years in regional theatre, playing in classics such as The Tempest, Twelfth Night and Hamlet, and his successful seasons with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the touring company Cheek By Jowl earned him a nomination for the Ian Charleson award for his roles as Sir Benjamin Backbite in The School for Scandal and Don Pedro in Much Ado About Nothing.
Stephen Mangan became a regular face in London’s West End in plays such as Hay Fever and Noises Off, but 2001 marked his breakthrough TV role as the eponymous character in the six-part BBC TV adaptation of Sue Townsend’s Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years. He is now probably best known for his role as Dr. Guy Secretan in the TV comedy series Green Wing, a character who was voted 34th in Channel 4’s The World’s Greatest Comedy Characters.
Stephen Mangan has gone on to play a number of similarly self-obsessed characters on film such as Sean Sullivan in Festival and Josef in Confetti, a film which was wholly improvised. “If you enjoy doing things by the seat of your pants, not knowing what’s going to come out of the other actors’ mouths, it’s fantastic.” He was highly praised for his role as Norman in the revival of Alan Ayckbourn’s The Norman Conquests at the Old Vic Theatre in London, and also took the trilogy to Broadway along with the other cast members.
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