Meet the characters and cast of Endgame
Click on any of the major characters in Endgame to learn more about how they fit in the story, and also about the careers of the actors who portray them.
In the 1980s, Michael Young was head of communications for Consolidated Gold Fields, a British mining company with significant assets in South Africa — assets that would be at risk if boiling race relations were to explode. Young recognized that a volatile South Africa was bad for business, but a peaceful resolution would be in everyone's interest.
At the behest of African National Congress (ANC) president Oliver Tambo and at great personal and professional risk, Young initiated a series of covert talks between representatives of the exiled ANC and powerful Afrikaner elite — more than a dozen meetings over five years — at the company's Somerset mansion.
It was not Young's first foray into conflict resolution. In the 1970s at the request of former British Prime Minister Edward Heath, Young worked on one of the first contacts between a major British political party and the IRA in an attempt bridge the divide fueling the bloody civil war in Northern Ireland. Young had also advised political leaders in both Portugal and Spain as the two countries transitioned from dictatorships to democracies.
Today, Young runs his own company advising businesses and governmental organizations around the world on strategic change management.
Jonny Lee Miller
For Jonny Lee Miller, acting is a family affair. His grandfather, Bernard Lee, played M in the first 12 James Bond films, and his father, Alan Miller, was an actor and producer. According to published reports, Miller was seven years old when he knew he wanted to be a film actor. In school, with drama teacher Frank Whately (brother of Inspector Lewis star Kevin Whately), Miller's interest deepened. Miller left school at the age of 17. His first film success came in Hackers, soon followed by Trainspotting. On television, Miller may be known to American audiences for his series Eli Stone. In 2009, Miller made his Broadway debut alongside Sienna Miller in About Miss Julie. Miller will next appear on Masterpiece classic in 2010 alongside Romola Garai in a new adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma.
Rudolph Agnew was a fourth generation "gold" man when he began working for the British mining company Consolidated Gold Fields in 1957. Agnew became CEO and Chairman of the Board in his 40s.
During the apartheid era, the company's South African holdings represented the largest private investment in the country by a British corporation. Agnew himself drew criticism for refusing to withdraw from South Africa, though the businessman later said he thought the best way to destroy apartheid was to "feed it rather than starve it."
He provided funding and support for Michael Young to engage in the secret talks dramatized in Endgame, although Agnew made it clear that his involvement could not be overt.
Consolidate Gold Fields was taken over by another British conglomerate in 1989. Agnew went on to serve as chairman of other companies. In addition, he served as chairman of the board for the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Center, where he continues as director.
Agnew received a knighthood for services to international human rights and conservation.
One of Britain's most revered actors, Derek Jacobi is well known for his work on Masterpiece in I, Claudius, Cadfael and The Jury. After study at Cambridge University and training with the Birmingham Repertory Company, Laurence Olivier asked Jacobi to join London's National Theatre in 1963. Over the years, Jacobi has amassed an exceptional list of film, television and theatrical credits, notably appearing in many Shakespeare adaptations. In 1985, he won a Tony Award for his portrayal of Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing. His film credits include The Day of the Jackal, Gladiator, Henry V, Hamlet and The Golden Compass among others.
Willem Petrus "Willie" Esterhuyse was a university professor active in enlisting other Afrikaners to the anti-apartheid cause when he assumed a role in opening the dialogue between the exiled African National Congress (ANC) and South Africa's apartheid government in the late 1980s. Esterhuyse detested what he deemed the terrorist actions of the ANC that put civilians in danger as much as he knew that South Africa's government could not continue on its current course. Author of the 1981 book, Apartheid Must Die, the cool-headed professor was involved not only in the initial talks, but in convincing parties to come back to the table when negotiations had stalled.
Esterhuyse subsequently became an advisor to Thabo Mbeki, ANC president Oliver Tambo's representative at the talks who went on to be president of South Africa. Esterhuyse retired from Stellenbosch University in 2006. He continues to speak about the challenges facing present day South Africa and is writing a book about trust and confidence-building in bridging the racial divide.
William Hurt's father worked for the U.S. State Department, and young William spent his first six years in the South Pacific. After his parents divorced, his mother remarried Henry Luce III, the son of Time magazine co-founder Henry R. Luce. Three years after attending the Juilliard School in New York, Hurt appeared in the film Altered States, and went on to star in several iconic 1980s films — Body Heat, The Big Chill, Children of a Lesser God, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Broadcast News and The Accidental Tourist. Between 1985-1987, Hurt received three Academy Award nominations in the Actor in a Leading Role category, and won for his portrayal of Luis Molina in Kiss of the Spider Woman in 1985. Hurt first worked with Endgame director Pete Travis in Vantage Point. He will be seen in Ridley Scott's Robin Hood.
Rolihlahla "Nelson" Mandela was born to a tribal chief in Transkei, a former republic of Africa. His father died when Mandela (given the name Nelson at school) was nine. The tribe was grooming the younger Mandela for a greater role, but he left to become a lawyer.
Mandela joined the ANC in 1943 and set about remaking the organization into a more radical force for change leading the organization's armed wing. Mandela was banned, arrested and imprisoned by the apartheid regime time and again. He spent much of his time evading capture until, in 1964, he was sentenced to life in prison for charges including sabotage and planning armed action. At his trial, Mandela explained that the choice to embrace violence as a tactic was made after all other strategies had failed.
Behind bars, Mandela became a powerful symbol as the anti-apartheid movement gained strength worldwide. Mandela was released on February 11, 1990, after 27 years in prison. He was elected president of the ANC in 1991 and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize two years later.
Mandela voted for the first time in his life — and was sworn in as the president of South Africa — in 1994. He stepped down in 1999 and set up three foundations bearing his name.
Native New Yorker Clarke Peters grew up in New Jersey but got his professional start in the early 1970s in Paris in the musical Hair. Subsequently, Peters moved to London and formed the soul band The Majestics, got work as a backup singer, and toured with Shirley Bassey. He has worked extensively in London's musical theater scene, and was seen on Broadway in Chicago and The Iceman Cometh. In addition to his on stage success, Peters received a Tony nomination for penning the book of the musical Five Guys Named Moe. He may be best known to US audiences for his portrayal of Lester Freamon on The Wire. Peters is at work on the TV series Treme about post Katrina life in New Orleans from the writers of The Wire.
The child of teachers-activists, Thabo Mbeki has said he was "born into the struggle," and got involved in political activism at a young age. Mbeki left the country in 1962 under orders from the ANC. The exiled expatriate took the over its department of information and publicity in the 1980s as right-hand man to ANC president Oliver Tambo.
Later that decade, as director of international affairs, he was a key figure in ANC negotiations with the apartheid government, most notably leading the delegation in the "talks about talks" dramatized in Endgame.
Chosen by Nelson Mandela to be the first deputy president of the new Government of National Unity in 1994, Mbeki became president of the ANC in 1997, and two years later was elected president of South Africa.
Mbeki drew criticism and praise during his tenure, gaining notoriety for his position that AIDS was not caused by a virus. He resigned as president in 2008, after the allegation that he interfered in a corruption case against his former deputy and ultimate successor Jacob Zuma — a charge he denies. (Zuma, as head of ANC intelligence, had attended three of the meetings dramatized in Endgame.) Mbeki stepped down the same week several African leaders lauded him for brokering a deal in Zimbabwe between President Robert Mugabe and his opposition.
London native Chiwetel Ejiofor (his first name means "God brings") is the son of Nigerian parents, his father a doctor and part-time singer, and his mother a pharmacist. At age 11, Ejiofor was involved in a car accident that killed his father. He started acting at age 13, later joined London's National Youth Theatre and attended the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. At age 19, he had a small part in Steven Spielberg's Amistad. His first wide recognition came as a result of the film Dirty Pretty Things. Subsequent film credits include Kinky Boots, Inside Man and American Gangster among others. Ejiofor has also had a noted theatrical career in London, appearing in acclaimed productions such as Blue/Orange and Othello. Upcoming film projects include 2012 with John Cusack and Salt with Angelina Jolie.
Oliver Reginald Tambo was president of the ANC from 1967 to 1991. He kept the black nationalist organization together from a home base in Lusaka, Zambia, after being banned by the South African government in 1960. Thanks to Tambo's ability to attract powerful young activists to the cause — including Thabo Mbeki — the ANC transformed itself into the voice for black South Africans under apartheid.
In the 1980s, Tambo asked Michael Young to help him "build a bridge" between the apartheid government and the ANC. Mbeki, who became his second-in-command, attended the secret talks organized by Young, reporting back to Tambo. As work toward a negotiations continued, Tambo suffered a stroke and underwent extensive medical treatment.
Tambo returned to his homeland in 1991 and was elected national chairman of the ANC and chair of its emancipation commission. He suffered another stroke and died in 1993. One year later, South Africa held its first democratic elections with people of all races being able to vote.
South African actor, activist and playwright John Kani has experienced the horrific effects of apartheid first hand. In 1976, Kani was imprisoned in solitary confinement for 23 days, and in 1985, his brother was murdered by police in South Africa — the same year John himself survived after being stabbed 11 times. Kani is the author of the play Nothing But the Truth, and along with Athol Fugard and Winston Ntshona, wrote the plays Sizwe Banzi is Dead and The Island. (Kani received a Tony Award in 1975 for Best Actor for his work in these two plays.) Kani has extensive theatrical credits to his name, including appearances in acclaimed Royal Shakespeare Company productions of The Tempest and Hamlet. Kani has received numerous honors for his work, including a special Obie Award (bestowed by the Village Voice newspaper) for his contributions to theater. In 2005, he received an award from South African President Thabo Mbeki for his efforts through the arts to liberate South Africa.
Peter Willem ("P.W.") Botha dropped out of college to become a full-time organizer for South Africa's far-right National Party at age 20. Elected to parliament at the age of 32, he cycled through several ministerial positions in national government.
Botha's terms as prime minister (1978-84) and president (1984-89) were marked by upheaval and violence at home and abroad, as leftist black governments rose to power in neighboring African nations, global opposition to apartheid grew, and African student and labor unrest under apartheid increased.
Tactically, Botha used his police and military forces to quiet dissent domestically and in neighboring states. Politically, Botha attempted to walk some middle ground between pro- and anti-apartheid factions, sometimes veering wildly between the two but satisfying neither.
Nicknamed the "Groot Krokodil" ("great crocodile"), Botha resigned as party leader after a stroke in 1989, but refused to give up the presidency until members of his own cabinet turned on him. Before leaving office, he met with Nelson Mandela in prison but declined to release him.
Botha refused to appear before South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, tasked with examining crimes of the apartheid era, maintaining that he did not authorize the killings, tortures and disappearances that took place during his regime. He died in 2006.
Actor Timothy West's career began in the 1950s in British theater, and in 1962, he debuted with the Royal Shakespeare Company. His theatrical career has flourished, including noted performances King Lear and Death of a Salesman to name a few. West's Masterpiece credits include Bleak House, A Room With a View and King Lear among others. Both his wife, Prunella Scales, and son Samuel West have also appeared on Masterpiece. In addition to his acting work on stage, TV and in films, West is the author of several books. West holds honorary degrees at six British universities.
F.W. de Klerk
Frederik Willem "F.W." de Klerk had an opportunity to teach law, but chose to go into the family business — politics. Throughout much of his career in a variety of ministerial positions under Prime Minister P.W. Botha, he supported university segregation and showed little interest in apartheid reform.
Yet, in his very first speech after being elected state president in 1989, de Klerk called for a non-racist South Africa and for negotiations about the country's future. Within two years, he had lifted the government's ban on the ANC and released Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners.
De Klerk was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 1993 for helping to bring apartheid to an end and drafting a new constitution based on "one person, one vote." He subsequently joined Mandela's Government of National Unity as second deputy president.
De Klerk announced his retirement from politics in 1997, going on to establish the F.W. de Klerk Foundation in 2000 and the Global Leadership Foundation in 2004.
Matthew Marsh, a veteran of the London stage, has appeared in a variety of productions including Hamlet, The Crucible, Julius Caesar, Now Or Later, The Goat, Glengarry Glen Ross, Copenhagen, The Little Foxes and The Overwhelming. Marsh has been a consistent presence on British television since the 1980s in programs such as Spooks, Chancer and Midsomer Murders.
Political scientist turned spy chief Lukas Daniel "Niel" Barnard was just 31 when he became a full university professor.
South African president P.W. Botha tapped Barnard to head up his newly reorganized spy program, renamed the National Intelligence Service (NIS) in 1980. One of Botha's closest political advisors, Barnard became a powerful voice of pragmatism for the president.
Barnard began furtive talks with the still imprisoned Nelson Mandela in 1988. At the same time, he was the relay man to Botha for information coming out of stealth meetings in England between parties representing the ANC and South Africa's ruling class.
Barnard held his intelligence post for 12 years. In 1996, he became the director-general of provincial administration for the Western Cape. The ANC raised concerns about Barnard's appointment at that time, citing unanswered questions about the role of the NIS in political assassinations.
Barnard publicly denied any knowledge of murder, torture or other human rights violations. The ANC later withdrew its allegations against Barnard.
Born Marco Giuseppe Salussolia to an Italian father and Austrian mother, Mark Strong trained as a theatrical actor. After drama school, he had a string of nine plays in nine months, and has continued a successful theatrical career in productions such as Closer, The Iceman Cometh, Speed-the-Plow and Twelfth Night. On film, Strong has been seen in Roman Polanski's Oliver Twist, Syriana, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, Body of Lies and RocknRolla among others. Strong will be seen in Sherlock Holmes alongside Robert Downey, Jr. and in Ridley Scott's Robin Hood.
Willem de Klerk
Willem de Klerk started out — like his younger brother F.W. — a supporter of apartheid. But by the 1980s, this Reformed Dutch theologian and journalist determined that the system of racial segregation needed not just to be reformed, but abolished. Known by his nickname "Wimpie," the elder de Klerk was anything but. His anti-apartheid position earned him no friends in government or, indeed, within his family. He resigned from two newspaper editor posts under pressure.
But his political views and relation to the man who would be president — but no actual government ties — made him uniquely suited to be part of the Afrikaner delegation in the talks dramatized in Endgame.
At times, the de Klerk brothers were barely on speaking terms, but many believe it was Willem that convinced his younger brother to meet with Nelson Mandela in prison.
In 1989, Willem became a founding member of the Democratic Party, the first non-racial political party in South Africa.
The reformed reformer died on August 7, 2009. "Many of his ideas and insights remain relevant for the future," F.W. de Klerk said in a statement upon his brother's death.