by Nur Hussein, staff writer
Karl Urban was born 42 years ago today in Wellington, New Zealand, and we would like to wish him a very happy birthday.
Urban’s early acting career was very much based in New Zealand, where his post-college acting credits include theatre and TV commercials in his home country. The world at large (and sci-fi fandom) started to see Urban when he played recurring characters in the wildly popular Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess. He played the role of both Cupid and Julius Caesar in both those series. Since then, Urban has slowly become a staple of sci-fi and fantasy movies and TV.
In 2002, Urban had his first Hollywood role, as a supporting actor in the Steve Beck film Ghost Ship. Later in 2002, we saw him in the first high-profile movie he had been in; he played Éomer in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Éomer was the brother of Éowyn and nephew of the king Théoden of Rohan. Although his character had his role somewhat diminished in Peter Jackson’s adaptation, Urban did play the character memorably. We see him charging into battle both at Helms Deep and in the following film, The Lord of the Rings: The Return Of The King where Urban’s Éomer was a formidable, borderline suicidal warrior.
After The Lord of the Rings, we found Urban popping up in more and more genre films. He was Vaako in the Chronicles of Riddick (2004) and Riddick (2013) and the Black Hat in 2011’s Priest. He was cast as the protagonist of 2005’s video game adaptation film, Doom (which flopped at the box office). The game’s iconic protagonist was nameless, but in the film he is called Staff Sergeant John “Reaper” Grimm.
Most recently, we saw Urban play the younger version of Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot series: Star Trek in 2009, and Star Trek Into Darkness in 2013. While the films have garnered good to mixed reviews, one thing a lot of people agree on is that Urban’s McCoy is an almost dead-on interpretation of the character people remember, formerly played by DeForest Kelley in the original Star Trek.
In 2012, Urban played Judge Dredd in a new rebooted movie, Dredd. The movie, as well as Urban’s performance was lauded by fans and critics alike. Despite this, it didn’t perform very well at the box office, but did better in video releases. It is worth checking the movie out just for Urban’s take on Judge Dredd, it’s one of genre’s underrated movies.
On the television front, Urban’s recent role in genre is as a human detective John Kennex in the robot-filled sci-fi cop drama, Almost Human. Sadly, Fox cancelled this series after only one season.
As a well-loved actor in genre, we hope to see Urban in more roles to come. Have a wonderful birthday!
Nur is a tinkerer of programmable things, an apprentice in an ancient order of technomages. He enjoys fantasy, sci-fi, comic books, and Lego in his spare time. His favourite authors are Asimov and Tolkien. He also loves Celtic and American folk music. You can follow him on twitter: @nurhussein