Kenneth Colley is an English film and television actor whose career spans 50 years. He came to wider prominence through his role as Admiral Piett in the Star Wars films The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
CareerUnlike the other ill-fated Imperial officers who appeared alongside him in The Empire Strikes Back, Colley was the only actor to play an Imperial officer in more than one Star Wars film. Colley reprised his role as Piett in the Cartoon Network animated special Lego Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out in September 2012. Coincidentally, Colley and David Prowse had a part in the 1977 fantasy film Jabberwocky.
Colley was born in Manchester, Lancashire. One of his early appearances on British television was as Noah Riley in the hard-hitting 1970s police drama The Sweeney, the episode entitled Trap. He played Jesus in The Life of Brian, having also appeared in the earlier Monty Python-related production Ripping Yarns episode "The Testing of Eric Olthwaite" alongside Michael Palin. As a Shakespearean actor he played the Duke of Vienna in the BBC Television Shakespeare production of Measure for Measure in 1979.
Colley also played an important role in the 1982 Clint Eastwood film Firefox, where he played a Soviet colonel tasked with the protection of the Firefox and its secrets. He went on to play SS-Standartenführer Paul Blobel in the Second World War drama War and Remembrance.
Colley worked extensively with British director Ken Russell from the early 1970s to the early 1990s as part of a repertory of actors who appeared across Russell's television and film work. He played the role of Modest Tchaikovsky in the 1971 film The Music Lovers. He went on to play the role of LeGrand in Russell's controversial masterpiece The Devils; he played the journalist Krenek in the biopic Mahler in 1974; the composer Frédéric Chopin in Lisztomania; Mr Brunt in Russell's adaptation of The Rainbow by D. H. Lawrence. His last role for Russell was as Captain Dreyfus in the film Prisoner of Honor, which dealt with the Dreyfus affair.
He has directed one film to date, Greetings, a 2007 horror film starring Kirsty Cox, Henry Dunn and Ben Shockley.
Personal lifeColley lives in Hythe, Kent.
According to comments which Terry Gilliam made in the DVD audio commentaries for both films, Colley has a stammer in real life. When he had a role in a film, however, he could recite the lines perfectly. Stuttering is a character trait, however, in his role as the Accordion Man in the 1978 BBC television drama, Pennies from Heaven.
|1964||Seventy Deadly Pills||Covent Garden porter|
|1967||The Jokers||De Winter|
|1967||How I Won the War||2nd Replacement|
|1968||The Blood Beast Terror||James|
|1970||The Music Lovers||Modeste Tchaikovsky|
|1972||The Triple Echo||Provo Corporal|
|1974||Fall of Eagles||Father Gapon|
|1975||Slade in Flame||Tony Devlin|
|1979||Measure For Measure||'Duke of Vienna'|
|1979||Monty Python's Life of Brian||Jesus|
|1980||The Empire Strikes Back||Admiral Piett|
|1981||Peter and Paul||Theodotus|
|1983||The Scarlet and the Black||Captain Hirsch|
|1983||Return of the Jedi||Admiral Piett|
|1984||Return to Waterloo||The Traveller|
|1987||The Whistle Blower||Bill Pickett|
|1988||A Summer Story||Jim|
|1989||The Rainbow||Mr. Brunt|
|1990||The Plot to Kill Hitler||Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel|
|1990||I Hired a Contract Killer||'The Killer'|
|1990||The Last Island||Nick|
|1992||La Vie de Bohème||Balayeur de rues|
|1996||El último viaje de Robert Rylands||Archdale|
|1999||Hold Back the Night||Uncle Bob|
|1974||The Nine Tailors||Potty Peake||TV mini-series, Series 1 Episode 3, Lord Peter Wimsey|
|1975||The Sweeney||Noah Riley||TV series, Series 2 Episode 6, Trap|
|1977||Ripping Yarns||Arthur the Robber||1 episode, The Testing of Eric Outhwaite|
|1978||Les Misérables||Police Prefect||TV film|
|1978||Pennies from Heaven||The Accordion Man||6 episodes, TV mini-series|
|1979||Measure for Measure||Duke||BBC Shakespeare series|
|1985||'||Adolf Eichmann||TV film|
|1985||'||King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy||TV mini-series|
|1982||I Remember Nelson||Admiral Lord Nelson|
|1986||Return to Treasure Island||Ben Gunn||10 episodes, credited as Ken Colley|
|1988||War and Remembrance||SS-Standartenführer Paul Blobel||2 episodes, TV mini-series|
|1990||Agatha Christie's Poirot||Mathew Davenheim||1 episode, "The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim"|
|1991||Inspector Morse||DCI Patrick Dawson||Episode 16 Second Time Around|
|1991||Prisoner of Honour||Captain Alfred Dreyfus||TV film|
|1993||Unnatural Causes||Inspector Gerry Reckless||TV film|
|1994-5||Moving Story||Ken Uttley||13 episodes|
|1995||Solomon & Sheba||Nathan||TV film|
|2001||Midsomer Murders||Lloyd Kirby||1 episode, The Electric Vendetta|
|2002||Relic Hunter||Professor Lamenza||1 episode, Faux Fox|
|2005||Like Father Like Son||Rawsthorne||2 episodes|
|2006||Foyle's War||Brian Jones||1 episode, Bad Blood|
|2009||Casualty 1909||Dr. Frederick Smith||3 episodes|
|2012||Admiral Piett||TV film|
|2013||Vera||Ronald Devreux||Series 3, Episode 3 Young Gods|
|2013||Misfits||Old Rudy||Series 5, Episode 4|
|2016||Peaky Blinders||Vicente Changretta||Series 3, Episodes 2 & 3|