"I have always in my career tried to choose quality roles over commercial ones, because I need to challenge myself," says veteran Oscar-nominee Frank Langella. "For me there are two things worth fighting for in life: love and work."
On the career front he appears to have won both the battle and the war. After more than four decades in the business he's completed over 40 films, appeared in 70 plays and picked up an armful of accolades, playing a range of memorable characters, including Shakespeare, Dracula, Sherlock Holmes, Clark Kent's cigar-chewing boss Perry White and He-Man's nemesis Skeletor.
Frank A Langella Jr was born on January 1, 1938, into an Italian American family in New Jersey. He was named after his father, Frank A Langella Sr, a business executive. After graduating high school he set his sights on a future in acting, and studied drama at university.
He's been a regular on both the small and big screen since 1965, starting his career with roles in several US TV series and a part in Mel Brooks film The Twelve Chairs
. His first love, however, remains the theatre. He achieved widespread recognition for his title role performance in the Broadway production of Dracula
in 1977, a part he later played on the big screen.
While he may have remained largely under the fame radar for most of his career, Frank rocketed into the spotlight in 2009 when he was Academy Award shortlisted for his portrayal of US President Richard Nixon in the movie Frost/Nixon
. According critics, who described his performance as "flawless" and "masterful", it was difficult to imagine anyone doing a better job.
Three years earlier, however, when he was offered the stage role for shows in London and Broadway, Frank wasn't sure if he was up to the job and asked the director for time to mull it over. "Four weeks later I called him and accepted the role, and I am very glad that I did," reveals the actor.
While he admits to often going after parts that scare him, he's not averse to having a bit of fun with his craft. In 1993 he made a three-episode appearance on sci-fi series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
, largely because he knew it would delight his two kids.
He and the children's mum, Ruth Weil, were just a year short of their 20th wedding anniversary in 1996, when their marriage ended in divorce. The same year he met actress Whoopi Golberg on the set of basketball comedy Eddie
and romance later blossomed between the pair. They moved in together, but went their separate ways in 2001.