John Shrapnel is a British actor of theatre, television, and film, best known to American audiences for his roles in "Gladiator" and "Troy. " Shrapnel was born in Birmingham, England and attended the City of London School and then Cambridge University. He was an original member of the National Youth Theatre and went on to become a member of Laurence Olivier's Royal National Theatre company as well as the Royal Shakespeare Company. Shrapnel made his television debut with episodes of "ITV Playhouse" in the late 1960s and soon afterwards appeared in his first film, the 1971 historical drama "Nicholas and Alexandra." He had roles in the 1980s TV miniseries "The Woman in White," "Sorrell and Son," and "Vanity Fair." In 1996, Shrapnel played Skinner in the live-action adaptation "101 Dalmatians" and in 1999 appeared in the romantic comedy "Notting Hill," starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant. In 2000, he had a leading role in Ridley Scott's action-drama "Gladiator" as the senator Gaius. He returned to the historical epic genre in 2004 with "Troy," in which he played General Nestor alongside the solider Achilles (Brad Pitt). Shrapnel also was cast as Lord Howard in the 2007 award-winning historical drama "Elizabeth: The Golden Age," starring Cate Blanchett as the title character and Clive Owen as Walter Raleigh.