Sharlto Copley

Sharlto Copley Biography:


Date of Birth: November 27, 1973

Sharlto Copley began directing and acting in his own short films at the age of 12. His love for improvisation and characterization led him to writing, directing and appearing in numerous stage plays throughout his school career. During this time he studied Speech and Drama through Trinity College of London.

Much of his early years were spent in the business world. He co-founded his first company at the age of 19. Over the last 14 years, he has been responsible for co-founding and managing several successful companies including Channel 69 Studios (television broadcasting and production), Atomic Visual Effects (post production and visual effects), Slaves Talent Management (talent agency), and Inspired Minority Pictures (film production).

In 1998 Channel 69 became one of the founding companies of ETV, South Africa's first private terrestrial broadcast network. At age 24, Copley became the youngest executive in the history of South African television to own and control a daily five-hour block of programming. During this time, he oversaw over 1300 hours of content and worked closely with Warner Brothers Television, a partner in the channel.

After leaving ETV, Copley began to work as a producer and director, working on numerous commercials, music videos and short films. In addition, he continues to oversee the visual effects work produced by Atomic. His work has won him numerous awards and recognition in South Africa, including the Avanti Awards, The Stone Awards, and the Loeries.

His short film 2001: A Space Oddity, which he co-produced and directed is South Africa's most popular short of all time—it reached over 18 million people on the Internet and continues to be broadcast on a range of platforms.

His next short, Hellweek, was a spoof at animation training in Africa that was designed to promote Atomic VFX. Both shorts were screened at the Cannes film festival in 2005.

In 2006 Copley co-wrote, produced, directed and edited his first feature film, Spoon, a supernatural thriller.

Copley won a UK Film Council script writing competition for Judgement Day, a project he co-wrote. In 2007, his longtime friend, director Neill Blomkamp began work on a film version of Alive in Jo Burg and asked Copley to play a role in the short test. The purpose of the shoot was simply creative exploration, but the positive response from Neill and producer Peter Jackson saw Copley returning to his acting roots and accepting the lead role in District 9. Copley improvised all his dialogue in the film. His performance as Wikus Van Der Merwe received critical acclaim and District 9 became the surprise hit of the summer, grossing over $200 million worldwide. It also garnered an Academy Award nomination for Best Motion Picture of the Year.

With his gift for dialects and characterization, Copley quickly went on to land the highly coveted role of "Murdock" in The A-Team. The A-Team was Copley's favorite TV show as a child. He won the role by shooting a series of improvised scenes featuring "things that may happen to Murdock in a hotel room" and sending them to director Joe Carnahan.

Continuing to pursue the acting side of his career, he went on to play roles in the major motion pictures Elysium (2013) starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster and Maleficent (2014) starring Angelina Jolie.

Recent credits include the action flick Hardcore Henry (2015), the ensemble drama The Hollars (2016), the crime thriller Free Fire (2017) with Brie Larson and Cillian Murphy and the dark comedy Gringo (2018), alongside Charlize Theron and David Oyelowo.


Gringo (2018)
Free Fire (2017)
The Hollars (2016)
Hardcore Henry (2015)
Chappie (2015)
Maleficent (2014)
Elysium (2013)
Europa Report (2013)
The A-Team (2010)
District 9 (2009)
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