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Karl Urban

Karl Urban
Karl Urban promoting the film Dredd at the 2012 Fantastic Fest
Born Karl-Heinz Urban
(1972-06-07) 7 June 1972 [1]
Wellington, New Zealand
Occupation Actor
Years active 1990–present
Spouse(s) Natalie Wihongi (2004-2014)
Children 2

Karl-Heinz Urban (born 7 June 1972) is a New Zealand born actor. He is best known for playing Éomer in the second and third installments of Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy in Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness and the upcoming Star Trek Beyond, and Judge Dredd in the film Dredd (2012). He won acclaim for his performances in New Zealand films The Price of Milk and Out of the Blue. He recently played the main character John Kennex on the television series Almost Human.


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
    • New Zealand roles 2.1
    • International roles 2.2
  • Personal life 3
  • Filmography 4
    • Film 4.1
    • Television 4.2
    • Video games 4.3
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early life

Urban was born in Wellington, New Zealand. His father, a German immigrant, owned a leather goods store, and his mother once worked for Film Facilities in Wellington. Through his mother, the young Urban was exposed to classic New Zealand cinema, and developed an interest in the film industry.[2] Urban attended St Mark's Church School, where he showed an early love for public performance. His first acting role came at age eight, when he had a single line in one episode of the New Zealand television series Pioneer Woman. Though continuing to take part in school stage productions, he did not act professionally again until after high school.

He attended Wellington College in 1986–1990. He then enrolled at Victoria University of Wellington in the Bachelor of Arts program but left after one year to pursue a career in acting. Over the next few years, he appeared in several local TV commercials in addition to theater roles in the Wellington area. Eventually he moved to Auckland, where he was offered many guest roles in TV shows (one of which was playing a heroin addict in the police drama Shark in the Park). Urban then moved briefly to Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia in 1995, before returning to New Zealand the following year.[3]


New Zealand roles

Urban was seen on the internationally syndicated American/New Zealand TV series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and on its spin-off Xena: Warrior Princess, in which he played the recurring roles of both Cupid and Julius Caesar from 1996 to 2001. He also made an appearance as Mael in the episode "Altared States", from the first season of Xena. Both programs were filmed in New Zealand. In 2001, he appeared in the offbeat rural romance The Price of Milk, for which he received his first nomination at the New Zealand Qantas Film and Television Awards. Urban later won acclaim for his portrayal of policeman Nick Harvey in Out of the Blue, a dramatization of New Zealand's Aramoana massacre, for which he won the Qantas Film and Television Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2008.

International roles

Urban's first Hollywood role was in the 2002 horror film Ghost Ship. Since then, he has worked on many high-profile movies, including the second and third installments of the The Lord of the Rings trilogy (The Two Towers and The Return of the King), The Bourne Supremacy (as Russian Federal Security Service agent Kirill), The Chronicles of Riddick, Star Trek and Doom.

The Hollywood Reporter speculated that Urban was one of several actors being considered for the part of British secret service agent 007 in Casino Royale, directed by fellow New Zealander Martin Campbell.[4] However he was unable to make the audition because of filming commitments. The role eventually went to Daniel Craig.

Urban, Zachary Quinto, J. J. Abrams, and Chris Pine, at the Star Trek Into Darkness in Sydney, Australia movie premiere, in April 2013

Urban played John "Reaper" Grimm in Universal Pictures' Doom (based on the first-person shooter video game Doom), which was released on 21 October 2005. In 2007, he starred in the Viking adventure Pathfinder. A longtime fan of Westerns,[5] Urban appeared as Woodrow Call in Comanche Moon, the CBS miniseries prequel to Lonesome Dove, in January 2008.

In 2009, he played Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy, a role famously originated by DeForest Kelley, in the eleventh Star Trek film.[6][7][8][9] A fan of the Star Trek franchise since childhood, Urban actively pursued a role in the film.[10] His performance was widely embraced by the Star Trek fan community for its faithfulness to the spirit of Kelley's McCoy.[11]

In 2009, Urban appeared as himself in the documentary film Reclaiming the Blade, discussing his sword-wielding experience in films such as The Lord of the Rings.[12]

Urban next appeared as CIA agent William Cooper in Red, adapted from the DC Comics graphic novel of the same name and co-starring Bruce Willis and Helen Mirren.[13] He portrayed Black Hat, a villainous priest-turned-vampire, in the film adaption of the Korean manhwa Priest, released in 3-D in 2011.[14]

In 2012, Urban starred as law-enforcing comic book hero Judge Dredd in the film Dredd. In an interview with Shave magazine, Urban described it as a "high-octane, action-fueled film... about the day in the life of Dredd." The film was directed by Pete Travis, with a script by Alex Garland.[15] Though it underperformed at the box office, Dredd was well received by critics.[16]

He reprised his role of "Bones" McCoy in the sequel to Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, which was released on 15 May 2013.

In 2013, Urban starred as Detective John Kennex in Almost Human, a TV series created by J. H. Wyman. The series was set 35 years into the future when cops in the L.A.P.D. are paired up with lifelike androids. Urban played a detective who has a dislike for robots but ends up being teamed up with one with emotional feelings.

Urban next appeared in the ensemble thriller The Loft, a remake of the Belgian film of the same name. It was filmed in New Orleans and Belgium by the director of the 2008 original, Erik Van Looy.[17]

Personal life

Urban married Natalie Wihongi (who was his makeup artist on The Privateers)[18] in September 2004. Together they have two sons: Hunter, born November 2000, and Indiana ("Indy"), born January 2005[19] and named for the eponymous hero of the Indiana Jones franchise,[20] the first movie of which he has cited as one of his favorites.[21] They lived in Auckland, New Zealand. The couple announced their separation in June, 2014.[22] Urban is currently dating Katee Sackhoff, which was confirmed by Sackhoff on the "Schmoes Know Movie" show on 29 January 2015.[23]

Urban serves as a celebrity ambassador for KidsCan, a charity which currently supports over 16,000 disadvantaged children in New Zealand by providing them with essentials such as food, clothing, and shoes.[24]



Year Title Role Notes
1992 Chunuk Bair Wellington Soldier
1997 Amazon High Kor Television movie
1998 Heaven Sweeper
1998 Via Satellite Paul
2000 The Irrefutable Truth about Demons Harry Ballard
2000 The Price of Milk Rob
2000 The Privateers Capt. Aran Dravyk Television movie
2002 Ghost Ship Munder
2002 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Éomer
2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Éomer Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast
Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Acting Ensemble
National Board of Review Award for Best Cast
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Nominated—Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
2004 The Chronicles of Riddick Vaako
2004 The Bourne Supremacy Kirill
2005 Doom John Grimm Nominated—Fangoria Chainsaw Award for Bloodiest Beatdown (with Dwayne Johnson)
2006 Out of the Blue Nick Harvey
2007 Pathfinder Ghost
2009 Star Trek Leonard McCoy Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Cast
Denver Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
Nominated—Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Acting Ensemble
Nominated—Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Ensemble
2009 Black Water Transit[25] Earl Pike
2010 And Soon the Darkness Michael
2010 RED William Cooper
2011 Priest Black Hat
2012 Dredd Judge Dredd
2013 Star Trek Into Darkness Leonard McCoy
2013 Riddick Vaako
2013 Walking with Dinosaurs Zack
2014 The Loft Vincent Stevens
2016 Pete's Dragon Filming
2016 Star Trek Beyond Leonard McCoy Filming
2016 The Wonder Filming


Year Title Role Notes
1990 Shark in the Park Rohann Murdoch 6 episodes
1992 Homeward Bound Tim Johnstone Unknown episodes
1993 White Fang David Episode: "Tough Kid"
1993–1994 Shortland Street Paramedic Jamie Forrest Unknown episodes
1995 Riding High James Westwood Unknown episodes
1996 Hercules: The Legendary Journeys Cupid Episode: "The Green-Eyed Monster"
1996 Xena: Warrior Princess Mael Episode: "Altared States"
1997–2001 Xena: Warrior Princess Julius Caesar 8 episodes
1997 Xena: Warrior Princess Cupid 2 episodes
1998 Hercules: The Legendary Journeys Julius Caesar Episode: "Render Unto Caesar"
2000 Xena: Warrior Princess Kor Episode: "Lifeblood"
2008 Comanche Moon Woodrow F. Call 3 episodes
2013–2014 Almost Human John Kennex 13 episodes
2014 Short Poppies Alex Turnbull Episode: "Mary Ledbetter"

Video games

Year Title Role Notes
2013 Star Trek Leonard McCoy Voice and likeness


  1. ^
  2. ^
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  4. ^ [1] Archived 1 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Karl Urban rewinds TV favorites, 10 January 2008
  6. ^ And Karl Urban as McCoy!, 17 October 2007
  7. ^ Urban, Pine join Abrams' 'Star Trek', 18 October 2007
  8. ^ Karl Urban: From Comanche Moon's Old West to Star Trek's Exciting Future, 11 January 2008
  9. ^ Urban Talks Trek Characters and Production Design, 11 January 2008
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ Karl Urban at the Internet Movie Database
  13. ^ Interview: Karl Urban on the set of RED, 15 July 2010
  14. ^ SD Comic-Con '10: Karl Urban Goes Vampirific in 'Priest'
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  25. ^ Tony Kaye Says Unreleased 'Black Water Transit' Is "Not Finished Yet", 28 April 2011

External links

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