Sometimes, appearing in a huge franchise can make you become a household name across the world and the rest of your career becomes easy, but for some actors (and quite often better ones) are forced to play from the sidelines; consistently being a supporting actor and never the main role, this is the case for Karl Urban. Urban is an actor from New Zealand who, despite having gained critical acclaim for films in his homeland he has never been thought of as a leading man for Hollywood, yet unless you have been living on Mars you will have seen him in quite a few of his films, ones that you could even count among your favourites, but you just might now know.

As I mentioned Urban started out working in his home country of New Zealand and here he started out working in the theatre and appearing on television adverts. Karl Urban then got a break after being seen internationally by appearing on the television series’ Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess in the recurring roles of Cupid and Julius Caesar. After fulfilling his work on television he appeared in an offbeat romance film entitled The Price of Milk for which he received a nomination at the New Zealand Qantas Film and Television Awards; he later appeared in Out of the Blue (2007), a dramatisation of New Zealand’s Aramoana massacre and gained positive reaction and the Qantas Film and Television Award for Best Supporting Actor.

So now lets move on to what I know him for: being a supporting actor in a number of franchises. The first of them, and arguably the biggest of all of his films is Lord of the Rings. Now, Lord of the Rings has a huge cast and story that spreads itself over three films so there’s no doubt that you’re not going to be able to name all of the actors an actresses who were a part of the project, but Karl Urban had a pretty decent role in The Two Towers and Return of the King. Karl Urban played Éomer. Éomer has quite a significant role in the books which is diminished in Peter Jackson’s trilogy but he still plays a part. In the films Éomer is made an outcast but is present at the Battle of Helm’s Deep as he remains loyal to the King of Rohan, he is also responsible for the death of the leader of the Haradrim. After this part in one of the most successful trilogies of all time you could have forgiven Karl Urban for thinking he was going to have a pretty tasty career.

The final chapter of The Lord of the Rings trilogy was released in 2003 and in 2004 Urban appeared in two more franchises significantly differing in quality. First was The Chronicles of Riddick where Urban plays the villain to Vin Diesel’s hero and as such Urban’s character dies in the climatic battle scene. This was a first taste of Hollywood films really and an encouraging start although the film itself didn’t go down well with critics. Despite this, Urban’s next choice was superb. If you missed Karl Urban in Lord of the Rings you may have seen him in The Bourne Supremacy (part of another of the best trilogies of all time). In Supremacy Karl Urban is again the villain playing second fiddle to Matt Damon’s hero who everyone loves; Urban was the Russian agent Kirill who killed Marie but inevitably failed in his mission to kill Bourne himself.

In 2007 Karl Urban got a shot at being the leading man in Pathfinder, a Viking adventure film. The film itself lacks in the dialogue area and replaces it with an emphasis on violence, blood and gore… this was probably a reason for the harshly negative reaction to it, however I don’t mind the film but it certainly didn’t do anything to help Karl Urban’s career.

As a childhood fan of Star Trek Urban actively pursued a role in the 2009 reboot.

In 2009 Urban returned to doing what he does best and decided to hang around in the background of another huge blockbuster: Star Trek. This is probably a role that Urban is most famous for to fans across the globe. In JJ Abrams reboot of the famous science fiction series Urban plays Dr. Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy who becomes Kirk’s first (and pretty much only) friend at Starfleet Academy. As Bones, Urban injected (a nice little pun for those who have seen the film) some comedic moments into Star Trek and his performance is held in high regard by fans of the original series.

After appearing in Red and Priest, Urban gets another chance at being a lead man in a big blockbuster this year in Dredd, a reboot of the 1995 film starring Sylvester Stallone, in which Urban will be playing Judge Dredd. The film itself is being hotly anticipated by fans of the comic book character  and it received positive reception at Comic Con which has probably the hardest crowd to please in the world.

At the age of 40 it may be a little late for Karl Urban to make that step to the forefront after being in the secondary roles for so long but it is not unheard of. Urban has a real talent for acting and I have enjoyed every one of his performances that I have seen. In my opinion Karl Urban has not got the recognition or fan base that he deserves but with the Star Trek franchise looking as though it could stretch out easily for a few films then he may get it there or in any upcoming Judge Dredd sequels. He deserves it, that’s for sure.

Here’s a video of Karl Urban talking about his role in Star Trek and just generally being cool. His colleagues seem to love him too!

Advertisements