John Kavanagh is an Irish actor who has acted on the stage, in over twenty films including Cal (1984), Braveheart (1995) and Alexander (2004), and in numerous television programs. His awards include being nominated for the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Play in 1989 for his role in a revival of Juno and the Paycock.
John Kavanagh is an Irish character actor. He began his career with the Irish comedy Paddy (1970), where he played the small role of Willie Egan. That same year, he played another small role in the World War II film The McKenzie Break (1970), about a P.O.W. camp in Scotland whose prisoners are preparing an escape.
The next twelve years brought Kavanagh no new films, though he continued to act on stage. Finally, he decided to return to screen acting with the theatrical film The Ballroom of Romance (1982), which put him in a romance with actress Brenda Fricker. The film was followed up with the small film Attracta (1983), and the made-for-television movie The Country Girls (1984), starring Sam Neill.
Kavanagh's next theatrical film was one of the most famous films of his career: the Irish film Cal (1984), starring Helen Mirren and John Lynch. The film was about a young member of the IRA (Lynch) who is seeking to get out of the organisation. He meets the widow of one of the IRA's victims (Mirren) and they begin a love affair.
Moving on from this film, Kavanagh acted in a number of films and television series. He participated in the thriller The Fantasist (1986), the crime drama Bellman and True (1987), the action film Joyriders (1988), and the independent film 4 Play: In the Border Country (1991), among others.
Kavanagh's career picked up considerably in the mid-nineties. He acted alongside such classic actors as Mia Farrow and Jim Broadbent in the John Irvin film Widows' Peak (1994). Kavanagh then guest-starred in the Sharpe series (starring Sean Bean and Hugh Fraser), where he played the holy man Father Michael Curtis. That same year, he acted in Braveheart (1995) as one of the nobles who routinely changed sides from Scotland to England in the Scottish wars of independence. Kavanagh next acted in Some Mother's Son (1996), a prison film written by Jim Sheridan, and reunited with Brenda Fricker in Pete's Meteor (1998).
After a number of smaller films, Kavanagh acted in another historical epic: the Oliver Stone film Alexander (2004), starring Colin Farrell, Val Kilmer and Anthony Hopkins. Kavanagh played the role of Parmenion, the old general who questions Alexander's actions. After a plot to kill the young leader is foiled, Parmenion is accused of being the mastermind behind it and is murdered. While the film was a triumph overseas, its domestic box office was a fraction of the budget, and it received negative reviews for a number of reasons. After this, Kavanagh acted in Brian De Palma's murder film The Black Dahlia (2006) which failed at the box office.