Ian McShane: 5 Awesome Performances And 5 That Sucked

From Deadwood to the dead wood of the Hercules actor's career.

This weekend sees the release of Hercules, the latest Hollywood attempt to cash in on the popularity of the Greek Myths in the absence of another Percy Jackson film. Picking up after his legendary twelve labours have been completed, the film sees Hercules (Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson) as a sword-for-hire to the King of Thrace (John Hurt). Directed by Brett Ratner of X-Men 3 notoriety, Hollywood executives will be hoping it fares a lot better (commercially at least) than The Legend of Hercules, which bombed back in January. While other writers on WhatCulture! have already written the film off, there is one grain of hope for film fans: a supporting performance by the eminently watchable Ian McShane. The graduate of British TV may not have reached the stratospheric heights of Hollywood in the way that his early career may have suggested, but even in his seventies he is still capable of turning in eye-catching, gleeful performances that can lift the cast around him. Certainly there's a lot more to him than chewing the scenery as Blackbeard in Pirates of the Caribbean (more on that later). But of course, like all the actors we've covered in these segments, McShane's career is far from a perfect one. For all the enthusiasm that he usually brings to a role, there are times when he's been coasting or just found wanting in an obvious way. Today we're looking back over his career, highlighting five performances which prove his acting chops and five which left us running for cover. We'll start at the top end of the scale with one of his rare forays into period drama...

Freelance copywriter, film buff, community radio presenter. Former host of The Movie Hour podcast ( and click 'Interviews'), currently presenting on Phonic FM in Exeter ( Other loves include theatre, music and test cricket.