While not quite a rags-to-riches tale (yet), James Harkness’ journey into acting is one that is truly inspirational. Born and raised in the deprived area of Glasgow, Gorbals, James’s teenage years were combative, leading to an axe attack that almost took his life and left the 18-year-old scarred. The young man immediately decided to turn his life around and follow an early passion for acting.
He cut his teeth at the Glasgow Citizens Youth Theatre, where he was scouted by the National Theatre in London. He went on to train at LAMDA, graduating in 2013. Several key onscreen roles followed, with James appearing in Silent Witness (BBC), Justin Kurzel’s big screen adaptation of Macbeth (2015) and science fiction actioner Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016). He then landed parts in two award-winning feature films: Joe Wright’s Darkest Hour (2017) and Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread (2018).
But perhaps James’ breakout performance came in 2019, playing the lead role of Craig Myers to great acclaim, opposite Kelly Macdonald and John Hannah, in BBC One’s primetime miniseries The Victim. On the back of this performance, he landed a lead role in Julian Fellowes’ new Netflix drama The English Game, and he will soon be seen in Nicole Taylor’s The Nest (BBC).