On this date in 1964, actor Christopher Eccleston was born in Little Hulton, near Lancashire, England, to working-class parents. The youngest of three boys, Eccleston attended Joseph Eastham's High School, where his dream was to play soccer for Manchester United. At age 19, while attending a technical school, he signed up for a drama class and his life took a turn. Eccleston studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama and soon found himself performing the works of Shakespeare, Chekhov and Moliere. At 25, he made his professional stage debut in Bristol, performing in "A Streetcar Named Desire." His role in the film, "Let Him Have It" (1991), brought him public notice. But it was the British TV series, "Cracker" (1993-1994), which brought him fame in the UK. Eccleston appeared in the film, "Shallow Grave" (1994), then became a regular in the BBC drama serial, "Our Friends in the North," for which he was named "best actor" in 1997 by the Broadcasting Press Guild Awards and the Royal Television Society Awards (RTS). Often seeking roles echoing his own working class background, he has won praise for a poignant and truthful acting style. In the movie based on the Thomas Hardy book, "Jude" (1996), he played the title role opposite actress Kate Winslet. He again won the RTS award in 2003 for his performance in "Flesh and Blood," and was nominated for "best actor" for his role in "The Second Coming" (2004). He played the ninth doctor in "Doctor Who," winning "most popular actor" from the National Television Awards (2005). Recent films include "New Orleans, Mon Amour" (2006), "Perfect Parents" (2006) and "The Dark Is Rising" (2007), in which he played the lead in a film adaptation of Susan Cooper's novel. In 2007, Eccleston joined the cast of the NBC TV series, "Heroes." Eccleston is an avid marathon runner, competing several times a year. Although raised by a devout mother, Eccleston, by his own admission, is an atheist.
“I'm an atheist. My mother is very religious, a churchgoer. She would often encourage me to go to church as well, but never forced it upon me, which I thought was quite decent of her.
There was no defining moment in which I decided there was no god for me. It was more of a growing process. I do feel that whatever religious beliefs I had as a child were foisted upon me. It's like when you ask where Grandma went when she died, and you'd be told that she went to heaven. I wouldn't necessarily view that as a bad thing, but it was stuff like that which I think hindered my intellectual development. Now that I've grown, I prefer a different interpretation.”
—Christopher Eccleston, actor, born Feb. 16, 1964. BBC interview. Source:
Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor
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