Eccleston got his start on the stage but made his name on British TV, notably as a police officer who met a terrible end on the popular crime series Cracker. Although he made a memorable film debut as a mentally challenged man accused of murder in 1991's Let Him Have It, Eccleston's movie career didn't pick up until the late '90s when he appeared in a succession of projects (Elizabeth, eXistenZ, Gone in 60 Seconds). But his breakthrough on both sides of the pond came in 2005 when he put his distinctive mark on an iconic role as the ninth incarnation of the title character in Doctor Who. Although he was beloved in the part, winning the"Most Popular Actor" at the 2005 National Television Awards, he left the series after a single 13-episode season, later stating that he was unhappy with the production environment. Two years later, he signed on to another small-screen sci-fi blockbuster, Heroes, as an invisible man with a very visible chip on his shoulder. Eccleston's involvement in charitable organizations has included a celebrity ambassadorship for Mencap (a group dedicated to those with learning disabilities) and a trip to Indonesia to survey the British Red Cross's efforts following the 2004 tsunami.
- Made his professional acting debut at age 25 in a 1988 production of A Streetcar Named Desire at the Bristol Old Vic.
- First film role was in the 1991 fact-based drama Let Him Have It, in which he portrayed a mentally handicapped teen charged with murder.
- In 1997, was nominated for a Best Actor BAFTA for the miniseries Our Friends in the North (1996); won a Best Actor Award from the Broadcasting Press Guild for his performance.
- Has worked frequently with Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle: first on the 1994 drama Shallow Grave, then on the 2001 British TV drama Strumpet and later on the 2002 horror movie 28 Days Later.
- Was nominated for a 2003 Best Actor BAFTA for the made-for-TV religious drama The Second Coming.
- After reviving the long-dormant British sci-fi series Doctor Who in 2005—and winning Most Popular Actor at the 2005 National Television Awards—controversially left the series after just one season.
- Portrayed Claude on the series Heroes, using the superpower of invisibility to help Peter Petrelli.
- Of his numerous charity involvements, is a celebrity ambassador for Mencap, an organization that helps people with learning disabilities.
- Rebecca Eccleston — Niece
- Alan Eccleston — Brother
- Clare Calbraith — Ex-significant Other
- Peter Eccleston — Nephew
- Keith Eccleston — Brother
- Siwan Morris — Ex-significant Other
- Attended Salford College of Technology, Salford, England; University of London Central School of Speech and Drama, London, England (1986)
- Birth Place: Salford, Lancashire, England
- Profession: Actor
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