- After a successful stage career, began taking small television roles in the late 1980s.
- Made his Broadway debut in Marie Jones' Stones in His Pockets, for which he was nominated for a Tony Award.
- Won Olivier Awards for The Producers and the London production of Stones in His Pockets.
- Played Geraldine McQueen's bed-bound mother in comedian Peter Kay's X Factor spoof Britain's Got the Pop Factor.
- Known for being a chameleonic performer, he shaved his head for the role of eunuch Lord Varys in HBO's Game of Thrones.
- Is a fan of Manchester United soccer club.
- Still lives in his childhood hometown of Ballycastle, Northern Ireland.
- 2008, Tony — Actor (Featured Role--Play): Nominee
- 2001, Tony — Actor (Play): Nominee
- 2011, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series: Nominee
- 2014, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series: Nominee
- 2001, Olivier Awards — Best Actor: Winner
- Attended Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London, England
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