Lord Palmerston swept into Season 3 as the charming, button-pushing Foreign Secretary who has often proved as a thorn in the royals’ sides. But what about the man behind the character that wormed his way into viewers’ hearts? Check out the list below and get to know Laurence Fox, the actor bringing Palmerston to life this season on Victoria.
Mystery solved! Yes, you’ve seen him on MASTERPIECE before.
Fox is, quite possibly, most recognizable from his nearly ten-year run as James Hathaway on the Inspector Morse spin-off, Inspector Lewis. Fox played the Detective Sergeant (and, later, Detective Inspector) sidekick to Kevin Whately’s Detective Inspector Robert Lewis. (The final season of Inspector Lewis is available on PBS Passport.)
When it comes to which character he himself is more like, well, he admitted to MASTERPIECE: “My school teachers would probably tell you that I was probably a bit Palmerstonian as well. I’m probably more like Palmerston than I am like Hathaway, if you know what I mean.”
He also starred in the 2007 MASTERPIECE film A Room With A View with Elaine Cassidy, Rafe Spall and Downton Abbey’s Elizabeth McGovern.
He’s practically acting royalty.
It’s no secret where Fox’s charms and on-screen talents come from! He was born into a multi-generational acting family dynasty, spanning three generations (and counting). It began with his grandparents, Robin Fox and Angela Worthington, and branched down to their own children. Laurence’s father, James, starred alongside Julie Andrews, Mary Tyler Moore and Carol Channing in the 1967 classic Thoroughly Modern Millie, and has spent nearly six decades working in the industry. His uncle Edward Fox has been working just as long, with roles in A Bridge Too Far, Gandhi, and more.
Laurence, his siblings and cousins eventually joined in on the fun. Laurence’s younger brother Jack was just cast in Sanditon, MASTERPIECE’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s incomplete final work. Their sister Lydia has worked on a number of films, such as Submarine and The Double. Cousins Emilia and Freddie Fox have appeared in major hits as well, like The Pianist (Emilia) and Watership Down (Freddie, alongside Academy Award winner and Les Misérables star Olivia Colman).
The Fox family actors certainly aren’t strangers to playing royal roles, either. Before Laurence’s time on Victoria, he played Prince Charles in Whatever Love Means (2005) and King George VI (“Bertie,” the grandson of Prince Albert!) in W.E. (2011). Laurence’s father James Fox played King George V in the very same film.
Cousin Emilia Fox played Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen (2009), and his uncle Edward Fox played King Edward VIII (the Duke of Windsor) in Edward & Mrs. Simpson (1978).
His biggest role to date is Dad.
His sons, Winston and Eugene, even joined him on the Victoria set during the summer months, watching their Dad in action both on-screen and behind-the-scenes. According to Fox, though, they’re used to it by now.
“My oldest son doesn’t care so much about acting,” he told MASTERPIECE in an exclusive interview. “My youngest son, the lovely sound department gave him a set of earphones and stuck him in front of the monitor and I got him to give me marks out of 10 for my performance with a thumbs up, or a thumbs down, or a thumbs in the middle. And I got a couple of thumbs up, but mostly it was thumbs in the middle. “Can do better, Dad.” He sat there for four or five hours, watching me acting, and really paying attention. He’s just curious in that way. My oldest son was upstairs, looking around the library, because we were in some interesting locations. So, he was more interested in the history, as it was, rather than us pretending.”
Not only is Fox a seasoned, professionally trained actor – he’s a bonafide musician, as well. Fox released his EP Sorry for My Words in 2013 and his debut album Holding Patterns in 2016. Since then, he’s released new singles on his personal SoundCloud channel, getting fans excited for his next upcoming album.
He attended the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
Fox graduated from the famed drama school in 2001 (the same year that he appeared in the Academy Award-winning film Gosford Park, written by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes), adding his name to a lengthy list of star studded alumni that includes Alan Rickman, Ralph Fiennes, Anthony Hopkins, Vivien Leigh, Peter O’Toole, Richard Attenborough and Albert Finney, to name a few.