A dashingly handsome, dark-haired actor hailing from Somerset, England, James Purefoy did extensive stage and television work in his native country beginning in the mid-1980s before breaking out with significant film roles at the close of the 90s. The performer made his professional acting debut as Alan Strang in a 1986 stage production of "Equus" and subsequently joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, where he was featured in productions including "The Tempest" and "Macbeth." Looking to make the move to screen work, but finding little in the way of film roles, Purefoy began a successful television run with a co-starring role on the Granada-CV series "Coasting," chronicling a theme park owned by two brothers in Blackpool. In 1991, he made his debut on American television when PBS broadcast "The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes" as a presentation of "Mystery!" His supporting role in the British miniseries "The Cloning of Joanna May" landed him back on the small screens of USA when it was aired on A&E in 1992, and the following year he was featured in the three-part miniseries "Calling the Shots" on PBS' "Masterpiece Theatre." Purefoy made his feature acting debut in "Feast of July," a period drama produced by Merchant Ivory. This debut didn't immediately jump-start a film career, and Purefoy instead spent his time performing with the Birmingham Repertory Theatre and acting in television productions including the popular British period action series "Sharpe" and the British TV adaptation of "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall" (1996). He returned to the Royal Shakespeare Company to act in Simon Callow's 1996 staging of "Les Enfants du Paradis." The following year, he reappeared on British small screens with a co-starring role in the critically lauded miniseries "A Dance to the Music of Time." 1998 saw the actor return to features with a pivotal supporting role as an appealingly rugged but sensitive heterosexual upon whom a gay acquaintance (Kevin McKidd) develops a crush in Rose Troche's winning and fresh "Bedrooms & Hallways." Becoming something of a crush object himself thanks to the charming role, Purefoy went against type and bulked up to play the downwardly spiraling drunk Tom Bertram in Patricia Rozema's somewhat revisionist take on Jane Austen's "Mansfield Park" (1999). The actor returned to the stage with "Four Knights in Knaresboro," a dark comedy produced at Kilburn's Tricycle Theatre the same year he was featured in the independents "The Lighthouse" and "Women Talking Dirty" (all 1999). Purefoy kicked off 2000 with an appearance in the British miniseries "Metropolis" and made the most of a supporting turn as a seductive actor who strikes the fancy of the hormonal Joely Richardson in Ben Elton's feature directorial debut "Maybe Baby." He again appeared on American television, portraying Carrasco in the TNT original "Don Quixote," while his delightfully sincere supporting turn as the Black Prince of Wales suitably impressed with the skills of the lowly squire (Heath Ledger) in "A Knight's Tale" (2001) introduced him to an even larger USA audience. A co-starring role in the eagerly-awaited action thriller "Resident Evil" (2002) would prove the actor's breakthrough with the American audience. Later that year, he starred in the small screen remake of Thomas Hardy's novel "The Mayor of Casterbridge" (A&E, 2003). Purefoy next appeared in the European films "Photo Finish" (2003), "George and the Dragon" (2004) and "Blessed" (2004) before garnering much attention from Hollywood in his next role, playing Reese Witherspoon's high-born lover Rawdon Crawley in director Mira Nair's stylish 2004 adaptation of the classic William Thackery novel "Vanity Fair." Purefoy was then cast as a regular in his first television series, portraying Marc Antony in HBO's sprawling historical epic, "Rome" (2005-07). Alongside supporting roles in the notorious flop "John Carter" (2012), action thriller "Wicked Blood" (2013) and J.G. Ballard adaptation "High-Rise" (2015), Purefoy focused largely on TV for the next several years, playing charismatic serial killer Joe Carroll in thriller "The Following" (Fox 2013-15), starring opposite Michael Kenneth Williams in the crime drama "Hap and Leonard" (Sundance 2016- ), and co-starring in the acclaimed reboot of "Roots" (History 2016).