Rowan David Oakes is an English actor and environmentalist. He is best known for his roles in the series The Pillars of the Earth, The Borgias, The White Queen and Victoria and for his discursive Natural History podcast, Trees A Crowd.
Rowan David Oakes
|Alma mater||Bristol Old Vic Theatre School|
University of Manchester
|Occupation||Actor, Artist, Presenter|
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Career
- 3 Personal life
- 4 Charity Work and Advocacies
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Early life and educationEdit
Oakes was head boy at Bishop Wordsworth's School, in Salisbury, Wiltshire, where he was also heavily involved with the Salisbury Playhouse and their youth theatre, Stage 65. He graduated with a first in English literature from the University of Manchester.
David began his career at Shakespeare’s Globe, before taking roles at the Almeida Theatre and the Old Vic, but he came to prominence when he played the villainous William Hamleigh in the television miniseries The Pillars of the Earth (2010), produced by Ridley Scott's production company. David was present to accept the Jury Prize at the 2011 Romy Awards in Vienna alongside Donald Sutherland and Natalia Wörner.
The following year, Oakes was cast in the television series The Borgias (2011), airing on Showtime. He played Juan Borgia opposite Jeremy Irons. Whilst shooting the second season, David performed a cameo in the sequel to The Pillars of the Earth, World Without End (2012).
In an attempt to distance himself from his "TV Period Bad Boy" image, in 2013 David played Mr Darcy in an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice at Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park. He said, "I've been playing bad guys back to back, so Darcy's a bit of an antidote!" He followed this by more stage work, appearing in the world premiere of Shakespeare in Love at the Noël Coward Theatre as Christopher Marlowe.
The role of Prince Ernest, brother of Queen Victoria's husband Prince Albert, went to Oakes in 2016 in the ITV series Victoria. The role reunited Oakes with his Trinity co-star Tom Hughes, and Pillars of the Earth co-star Rufus Sewell.
In 2017, Oakes starred in the film adaptation of Albert Sánchez Piñol's novel Cold Skin, directed by Xavier Gens and co-starring Ray Stevenson and Aura Garrido. He also starred as Thomas Novachek in the London West End premiere of David Ives's play Venus in Fur at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. This production was directed by Patrick Marber and co-starred Natalie Dormer as Vanda.
In 2019, Oakes continued his love for playing in open air venues by playing Hamlet at Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre, York. Critics were united in their praise of his Hamlet, saying that he “plays Hamlet with natural ease: he is clearly comfortable with the cadences of the language and he conveys meaning well.” “David Oakes’s interpretation of the Danish Prince is charming, clever and quick-witted...”, “...establishes an excellent rapport with the audience... and his final rising to the role of hero-avenger is splendidly done...” and that his performance was ”...elegant in movement, golden tongued, sometimes still, yet as likely to surprise as quicksand, witty, bright yet brittle.”
|2008||Bonekickers||Alfred, Lord Tennyson||Iain B. MacDonald||BBC One||Episode 6 "Follow the Gleam"|
|Walter's War||Oswald Hennessey||Alrick Riley||BBC Four|
|2009||Henry VIII: The Mind of a Tyrant||George Cavendish||Channel 4||Episode 3 "Lover"|
|Trinity||Ross Bonham||Colin Teague||ITV2||Episodes 1, 2, 3|
|2010||The Pillars of the Earth||Lord William Hamleigh||Sergio Mimica-Gezzan||TV miniseries; Appeared in all eight episodes|
|2011–2012||The Borgias||Juan Borgia||Neil Jordan, John Maybury, David Leland, John Amiel, Kari Skogland, Jeremy Podeswa et al.||Season 1 & 2|
|2012||World Without End||Bishop Henri||Michael Caton-Jones||Channel 4||Appears as a cameo alongside Charlotte Riley|
|2013||Ripper Street||Victor Silver||Andy Wilson||Episode 8 What Use Our Work?|
|The White Queen||George, Duke of Clarence||James Kent, Jamie Payne and Colin Teague||Episodes 1 - 7|
|2014||Kim Philby: His Most Intimate Betrayal||Kim Philby||BBC2||Two-part drama documentary by Ben MacIntyre|
|2015||Endeavour||Jocelyn "Joss" Bixby||Sandra Goldbacher||ITV & Mammoth Productions||Season 3: "Ride"|
|The Living and the Dead||William Payne||Sam Donovan||BBC||Episodes 4 - 6|
|2016–2017||Victoria||Ernest II, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha||Tom Vaughan, Sandra Goldbacher, Oliver Blackburn, Lisa James Llarsson, Geoff Saxe, Jim Loach & Daniel O'Hara||ITV & Mammoth Productions||Season 1 and 2|
|2011||Truth or Dare||Justin||Corona Pictures / Rob Heath||Also known as "Truth or Die" in the USA|
|2012||100Dniowk@||David Potter||Agresywna Banda / Alessandro Leone||Polish-language feature film – for which David learned Polish|
|2013||Love By Design||Adrian||Solar Junction / Michael Damien||Romantic comedy with Jane Seymour and Olivia Hallinan|
|Goblin?||Harry||Multi Story Film / Christian James||Short film with Holliday Grainger|
|Who Shall I Play With Now?||Gregory||Dog Ate Cake / Henry Bell||UK premiere on 29 June 2013 at the Wimbledon Shorts Festival|
|2014||Sins of a Father||Martin||Sea Lion Films / Andrew Piddington||A partially re-shot, re-edited version of the 1991 film Shuttlecock with Alan Bates and Lambert Wilson|
|2015||Night Feed||Husband||Channel 4 / Christian James||A short film made by Channel 4 with Alice Lowe for Film Four Frightfest|
|2017||Cold Skin||Friend||Babieka / Xavier Gens||An adaptation of the novel co-starring Ray Stevenson|
|2018||The Garden of Evening Mists||Frederick||HBO Asia / Tom Lin||An adaptation of Tan Twan Eng's Booker Prize winning novel, also starring John Hannah|
|2019||You||Brandon Miller||Moolmore / Nicola Abbatangelo|
- Oakes has performed with The Fitzrovia Radio Hour
- 2008: A Dance to the Music of Time as Charles Stringham (BBC Radio 4)
- 2017: Foiled as Richie (BBC Radio Wales)—written by David Charles and Beth Granville, based on the Edinburgh Fringe show of the same name
- 2018: Season two of Foiled
- 2019: Season three of Foiled
- In 2006, David performed a 90-minute abridged version of Much Ado About Nothing as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company's "Complete Works" festival along with his final year graduates from the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. He alternated between playing Claudio and Verges alongside fellow graduate Matt Barber.
- Since appearing at Shakespeare's Globe at the outset of his career, David has frequently performed in numerous rehearsed readings as part of their "Read Not Dead" initiative, including their landmark 200th reading of Philip Massinger's A New Way To Pay Old Debts; David played Wellborn alongside a cast including Benjamin Whitrow, Alan Cox, and Nicholas Rowe.
- Other performances between 2008 and 2013 for "Read Not Dead" include an early quarto edition of Henry IV: Part One as Prince Hal opposite Benjamin Whitrow's Falstaff, Calderon's Life is a Dream (La Vida Es Sueno) as Segismundo, Taming Of A Shrew as Aurelias, The Spanish Tragedy as Lorenzo, The Return from Parnassus as Ingenioso, Bassianus as Geta, Gorboduc as a "smooth, almost oily" Arostus, John Lyly's Love's Metamorphosis as Montanus, and Thomas Middleton's Your Five Gallants as Tailby.
- Oakes set up a theatre company called Dog Ate Cake with a long-term theatrical collaborator, Henry Bell
- David was nominated for both WhatsOnStage and Broadway World awards for his performance in Shakespeare in Love in 2015. The production was also nominated for an Olivier Award.
- In 2015 David starred as Banquo in a charity fundraiser for the Shakespeare Schools Festival. The event was largely improvised by the actors and lawyers involved, but based on a framework written by Jonathan Myerson. The cast also included Christopher Eccleston as Macbeth, Haydn Gwynne as Lady Macbeth, Patterson Joseph as MacDuff, and Pippa Bennett-Warner as one of the Weird Sisters. The event interrupted the events of the original play following the death of Duncan, placing Macbeth on trial for murder. David, Patterson, and Haydn appeared as witnesses for the prosecution and Christopher and Pippa as witnesses for the defence. The event was overseen by High Court Judge, Sir Michael Burton; the QCs were John Kelsey-Fry, Jonathan Laidlaw, Dinah Rose, and Ian Winter, and the foreman of the jury was Jeremy Paxman.
Oakes has directed a number of theatre pieces alongside his acting career. In 2003 he took a stage adaptation of The Wicker Man to the Epping Forest Theatre Festival. Rehearsing in and around his hometown of Salisbury, Oakes "got kicked out of the [Cathedral] Close for rehearsing pagan rituals for [his] open-air production of The Wicker Man."
Also whilst at University in 2005, Oakes assisted director Natalie Wilson on a production of Smilin' Through that was co-produced by the Truant Company, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, and Contact Theatre, Manchester. Later that year, Oakes once again turned to literary adaptation, taking a production of Stephen King's The Boogeyman to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Oakes frequently directs at Shakespeare's Globe extending their "Read Not Dead" series, a study devoted to performing fully staged readings of the entirety of the Early Modern Canon of Drama. Most recently Oakes directed Robert Greene's The Honourable History of Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay and Lewis Theobald's "Happy Ending" version of John Webster's Duchess of Malfi, "The Fatal Secret".
David recently directed an extract of Robert Daborne's A Christian Turn'd Turk as part of a special "Read Not Dead" event at Shakespeare's Globe. Four directors with four scholars were teamed up with actors and presented their arguments and selected scenes at a special hustings event on Thursday 29 May 2014. Winning the event, teamed with Dr Emma Smith of Oxford University, Oakes directed the full play on Sunday 5 October 2014 in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.
In February 2018, David was interviewed for the PBS Masterpiece Podcast in relation to his role in Victoria. And on February the 17th, 2019, David appeared on the ‘Smashing Sundays’ podcast - hosted by Lucy Pinder and, David's Co-star from ‘Foiled’, Beth Granville.
'Trees A Crowd' GuestlistEdit
- 25th Feb '19 - Mark Frith, BAFTA-winning documentary maker and Artist
- 11th Mar '19 - Polly Morgan, Artist and Taxidermist
- 25th Mar ‘19 - David Fettes, Wildlife Photographer
- 8th Apr '19 - Astrid Goldsmith, Animator and Model-maker
- 22nd Apr '19 - Dr Steve Etches MBE - Fossil collector
- 29th Apr '19 - Dr Ellinor Michel, molluscan systemetist and ecologist at the Natural History Museum
- 6th May ‘19 - Dr Fay Clark, animal welfare scientist at Bristol Zoo
- 20th May ‘19 - Dr Guy Stevens, CEO and Co-Founder of The Manta Trust.
- 3rd Jun ‘19 - The Maldives Underwater Initiative, which includes a dozen Marine Biologists based on Laamu Atoll including some that work for the Blue Marine Foundation, the Manta Trust and the Olive Ridley Project.
- 17th Jun '19 - Bella Hardy, folk singer and song writer.
- 1st Jul ‘19 - Wolfgang Buttress and Dr Martin Bencsik, co-creators of numerous multi-sensory artworks including the bee-inspired HIVE and BEAM.
- 15th Jul ‘19 - Beccy Speight, CEO of the Woodland Trust.
- 29th Jul ‘19 - Dr Terry Gough M.V.O., Head of Estates and Gardens at Hampton Court Palace.
David is an environmentalist and an ambassador for the Woodland Trust. His podcast Trees A Crowd is a series of informal conversations with artists, scientists and enthusiasts; a mutual celebration of the beauty of the environment and the way it inspires them as human beings. Each episode explores how the countryside has inspired their careers as they reflect on how growing up within the natural world became working for the natural world. Growing up in the New Forest and the Purbeck Jurassic Coast, David Oakes launched this podcast as a passion project to explore his lifelong fascination with the wild people and the wildlife that makes our planet its home.
Oakes is an avid fine line sketcher. He is increasingly known for sketching on-set animals upon coloured pages of script reissues and giving them to production members. In May 2015 he exhibited as part of the Dulwich Artists Open House Festival alongside artist and designer Sarah Hamilton. He has also contributed a chapter on Charity Cards for Ms Hamilton's book, House of Cards.
Charity Work and AdvocaciesEdit
David, following his infant niece being diagnosed with a lung condition, has been heavily involved with raising awareness for and fundraising on behalf of the British Lung Foundation.
In 2013, Oakes collaborated with his Borgias castmate Holliday Grainger to make the short comedy film "Goblin". Directed by Christian James, the film was screened at the 2014 Film 4 Fright Fest in their Shorts Showcase, and all profits from the sale of this film were donated to the British Lung Foundation.
Later in 2014, Oakes ran the length of the country to raise awareness for infant lung diseases for both the British Lung Foundation and ChILD Lung Foundation UK. More recently he joined with the BLF to promote their new Children's Hub to provide families with information and support.
Alongside this, in 2016, 2017 & 2018 he created the charity's Christmas card.
Arts charities: Anno's Africa & Shakespeare Schools FestivalEdit
Since 2014, Oakes has also been a friend of Anno's Africa, an arts-based charity working with Kenyan orphans and slum children, and has supported the UK based Shakespeare Schools Festival, most notably with and surrounding their "Trial of Macbeth" and "Trial of Richard III". In 2019, David helped organise, and alongside Michael Palin, Twiggy and others, appeared in the ‘Just A Book’ poster campaign on the London Underground. The campaign was created to support independent businesses and bookshops on British highstreets and also to raise funds for Anno’s Africa. 
- "Q&A with actor David Oakes". Salisbury Journal. 27 November 2013. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
- "Interview for Emma Hartley entitled "Desert Island Folk Discs"". Retrieved 2 December 2012.
- "Interview for 1883 Magazine from 2011". Archived from the original on 1 July 2015. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
- "List of graduates from the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School since 1984". Archived from the original on 8 May 2010. Retrieved 5 June 2010.
- Press release (n.d.). "Ian McShane, Donald Sutherland, Rufus Sewell, Matthew Macfadyen, Sarah Parish, Hayley Atwell, Eddie Redmayne and Gordon Pinsent Headline Star-Studded Cast for Screen Adaptation of Ken Follett's Bestselling Masterpiece The Pillars of the Earth". Tandem Communications. Retrieved 4 April 2011.
- Vlessing, Etan (10 June 2010). "David Oakes, Holliday Grainger join 'Borgias'". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 13 June 2010. Retrieved 3 July 2010.
- "Brief Encounter with David Oakes". Whats On Stage. 24 June 2013. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
- "Natalie Dormer will star in erotically charged West End production of Venus in Fur" by Alistair Foster, The Evening Standard, 12 May 2017
- "The Stage, Hamlet Review". Retrieved 2 August 2019.
- "British Theatre Guide, Hamlet Review". British Theatre Guide. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
- "WhatsOnStage, Hamlet Review". WhatsOnStage. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
- "York Post, Hamlet Review". YorkPost. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
- "UK Theatre Database: RSC's Much Ado About Nothing". Archived from the original on 21 April 2013. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
- "The 200th Read Not Dead". Retrieved 24 March 2013.
- "The Marlowe Society Research Journal - Volume 05 - 2008" (PDF). Retrieved 24 March 2013.
- "David Oakes' Spotlight CV". Retrieved 24 March 2013.
- "Interview for Fault Magazine 2011". Retrieved 2 December 2012.[permanent dead link]
- "The Trial of Macbeth: Photos". Retrieved 21 February 2016.
- "Guardian - Trial of Macbeth". Retrieved 21 February 2016.
- "Interview for Wiltshire Life 2010" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 March 2013. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
- "Theatre Credits Prior To Drama School". Retrieved 11 June 2013.
- "Dog Ate Cake". Retrieved 11 June 2013.
- "Bacon and Bungay Review". Retrieved 11 June 2013.
- "Globe Read Not Dead 2014". Retrieved 19 January 2014.
- "PBS Masterpiece Victoria Interview". Retrieved 14 February 2019.
- "Smashin Sundays with David Oakes". Retrieved 20 February 2019.
- "Trees A Crowd". Retrieved 14 February 2019.
- "Woodland Trust Ambassadors". Retrieved 22 July 2019.
- "Trees A Crowd". Retrieved 22 July 2019.
- "David Oakes Prints". Retrieved 5 June 2015.
- "Dulwich Open House". Retrieved 3 October 2015.
- "Goblin Film Four Fright Fest Review". Retrieved 25 January 2017.
- "BLF Patrons". Retrieved 25 January 2017.
- "David Oakes Runs for Charity". Retrieved 25 January 2017.
- "Josie was the Strongest". Retrieved 25 January 2017.
- "Anno's Africa Patrons". Retrieved 25 January 2017.
- "Just A Book at The Bookseller". Retrieved 17 June 2019.
- "Official Twitter for the Woodland Trust". Retrieved 3 July 2019.