LEE PACE is an American actor born on this date. He is known for starring as Thranduil the Elvenking in The Hobbit trilogy and as Joe MacMillan in the AMC period drama television series Halt and Catch Fire. He has also appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Ronan the Accuser, a role he first played in Guardians of the Galaxy and reprised in Captain Marvel. He received an Emmy Award nomination for his portrayal of Ned in the ABC comedy-drama Pushing Daisies. From 2021, he stars as the galactic emperor Brother Day in the TV series adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s science fiction stories Foundation.
As a child, Pace spent several years in Saudi Arabia, where his father worked in the oil business; the family later moved to Houston, Texas. Pace attended Klein High School in Spring, Texas, a suburb of Houston, with actor Matt Bomer. Pace briefly stopped attending high school to act at Houston’s Alley Theatre before returning to graduate. At the Alley, he appeared in productions of The Spider’s Web and The Greeks. In 1997, he was accepted by the Juilliard School’s Drama Division as a member of Group 30 (1997–2001), which also included actors Anthony Mackie and Tracie Thoms. While there, he was in several plays, including Romeo and Juliet as Romeo, Richard II in the title role, and Julius Caesar as Cassius. He graduated from Juilliard with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.
In 2012, Pace starred as Garrett, the nomadic vampire, in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2. Pace was admittedly aware of the reputation linked to the Twilight franchise, and revealed that he “went in to this a little like ‘You know what you’re getting into, just do what you can.’ “ However, he enjoyed the experience and only had praise for the director Bill Condon. Stephenie Meyer, the author of the Twilight saga, was very satisfied with Pace’s performance as Garrett, since he “stood out as someone who really was just so much fun and really looked the part.” The movie was met with a mixed reception by critics. However, some critics, such as Betsy Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times, whose only issue was that he was introduced too late in the series: “Why, oh, why didn’t they introduce him sooner?” Meanwhile, Sara Stewart of the New York Post simply described him as a “standout”.
In 2011, it was announced that Pace had been cast as the king of the Mirkwood Elves, Thranduil, in Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. The announcement was made by Peter Jackson himself, who revealed on his Facebook page that Pace had been his favorite for the part, ever since he saw his performance in The Fall. The character had previously been mentioned in Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, and had previously been portrayed in The Hobbit, voiced by Oscar-nominated director Otto Preminger, and in the 1968 BBC radio series, voiced by the British actor Leonard Fenton. Pace made three trips to New Zealand, and called it a “fantastic experience”. The character appeared in the prologue of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey released in December 2012, and had a larger role in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug released in December 2013 and in the last film of the series, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, released in December2014.
In July 2011, it was announced that Pace had been cast in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, as the one-time New York City mayor Fernando Wood, an early Confederate supporter. The events in the film take place in 1865, when Fernando Wood served in the House of Representatives. However, at the time, Wood was 53 years old, which is 20 years senior to Pace’s age when he portrayed him. In a Q&A, Spielberg revealed that he decided to offer Pace the part, after he saw his performance in Ceremony. Of the experience of the film, Pace said that “it was a real pinnacle of what I’ve done as an actor.” The movie was nominated for 12 Academy Awards.
Pace’s sexual orientation became a topic of public discussion after he was identified as gay by Ian McKellen, who worked with him in The Hobbit films, in 2012. McKellen’s “outing” was described in the press as a blunder and an accident on his part, as Pace had never addressed the subject. Pace stated in a February 2018 interview that he has dated both men and women but did not identify himself with a sexual identity label. In June 2018, he spoke about being a queer actor in an interview with The New York Times.