Jonny Lee Miller: who plays John Major in The Crown season 5, are his tattoos real, what is he best known for?

The Crown star Jonny Lee Miller made a name for himself in Trainspotting and has previously appeared on stage with Benedict Cumberbatch

Jonathan Lee Miller is a 49-year-old British actor from London known for his television, film, and stage roles. His first major film role was as Sick Boy in the gritty Irvine Welsh adaptation Trainspotting alongside Ewan McGregor and Robert Carlyle.

He married Tomb Raider actress Angelina Jolie in 1996 but the couple separated after 18 months and divorced in 2000.  Miller married actress and model Michele Hicks in 2008 - they have one son, Buster. Miller and Hicks divorced in 2018. Over his career, Miller has taken on many now iconic roles and played well known fictional and historical figures - his latest role sees him play a the last 20th century Conservative Prime Minister.

Jonny Lee Miller as John Major in The Crown season 5Jonny Lee Miller as John Major in The Crown season 5
Jonny Lee Miller as John Major in The Crown season 5

Who does Jonny Lee Miller play in The Crown?

Miller was cast as former British Prime Minister John Major in season five of Netflix drama The Crown. In the latest season, Major will play an important role in discussions about the future of the monarchy, and Charles lobbies for his mother the queen to abdicate and allow him to ascend to the throne.

John Major was the 50th Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and leader of the Conservative Party, succeeding Margaret Thatcher after her resignation in 1990. He called an election in 1992 which the Conservatives won, and continued to serve as Prime Minister until his defeat by Tony Balir at the 1997 general election.

Netflix has now billed the series as a fictional dramatisation of the royal family that is ‘inspired by real-life events’ after criticism over its claims to historical accuracy. Last month John Major called the show a “barrel-load of nonsense”.

Are Jonny Lee Miller’s tattoos real?

Jonny Lee Miller has several real tattoos on his body which mark events from across his life. He has the number 26.2 tattooed on his left shoulder blade which represents the marathons he has run - a marathon is 26.2 miles long. He also has a tattoo sleeve featuring a serpent on his left forearm and a ribbon on his right shoulder blade.

For his role as John Major in The Crown, he will be wearing a buttoned up suit for the duration of his screen time, so production won’t need to worry about airbrushing his tattoos out or covering them with makeup.

What else has Jonny Lee Miller been in?

Miller’s first screen role was an uncredited performance in a 1982 episode of classic sci-fi series Doctor Who. He has small roles in Inspector Morse, Casualty, EastEnders and The Bill before playing Sick Boy in Trainspotting.

He has since starred in other films including The Escapist, Aeon  Flux, Emma, Dark Shadows, and Trainspotting 2. His other TV appearances include playing Jordan Chase in eight episodes of drama series Dexter, and Sherlock Holmes, in the modern American-set series Elementary.

Benedict Cumberbatch  and Jonny Lee Miller attend The Olivier Awards in 2011Benedict Cumberbatch  and Jonny Lee Miller attend The Olivier Awards in 2011
Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller attend The Olivier Awards in 2011

Is Jonny Lee Miller friends with Benedict Cumberbatch?

Miller and Cumberbatch starred opposite each other in the National Theatre production of Frankenstein in 2011, directed by Danny Boyle - the actors alternated between playing The Creature and Victor Frankenstein opposite each other, switching roles at every other performance.

Cumberbatch previously said that the pair were good friends, and had expressed concern that their performances would be compared if Miller took on the role of Sherlock Holmes in Elementary because of their friendship and the similarity of the role.