He played Golic on Alien 3 and also became known for playing The Doctor in the 1996 Doctor Who film. His role as Percy Toplis in the 1986 show, The Monocled Mutineer, sparked his rise to stardom.
He auditioned for the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art acting course while attending Cardinal Allen Grammar school in Liverpool. He made his television debut in the 1982 series, Play for Today.
He became known for his supporting film roles in Withnail & I and Queen of the Damned.
His father worked as a metallurgist and encouraged him to hone his acting talent. He had a 14-year marriage to Annie Milner that ended in 2006; the couple had two sons, Joe and Jake. Following his divorce he had a relationship with actress Susannah Harker which lasted from 2006 until 2008.
He acted alongside Idris Elba on TV's Luther from 2010 to 2011.