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Kobna Kuttah Holdbrook-Smith

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Date of Birth:
Place of Birth:
Accra, Ghana

Kobna Kuttah Holdbrook-Smith is a Ghanaian-British actor known for his film, television, theatre, and voice work.

Early life

Holdbrook-Smith was born in Accra, Ghana. He grew up in Frimley, Surrey, England, where he lived with his mother, Tenu; his father, Henry; and his brother, Kofi.

He was initially frightened of taking up acting due to his family's disapproval. "I was about 15, I thought, 'I wonder if I could [become an actor]'. I hadn't really suggested it to anyone. It just didn't seem allowed. So there was a slow exploration of [acting] and by the time I was 18, I was resolute."

He attended Guildford School of Acting to study acting, graduating in 2000.


Holdbrook-Smith began his acting career on television in 2002 when he played Orlando Figes in the Judge John Deed episode "Everyone's Child". Since then, he has had roles in TV series such as Little Britain, Star Stories (from 2006 till 2008), Taking the Flak, Sirens, Holby City, Silk, Father Brown, The Last Panthers, Class, Dark Heart, and The Split.

His first major theatre lead came in 2005 when he played Ken in Mustapha Matura's Playboy of the West Indies at the Tricycle Theatre. He later starred in their critically acclaimed African-American Season, performing in the European premieres of Walk Hard by Abram Hill, Fabulation by Lynn Nottage, and Gem of the Ocean by August Wilson. In interviews, he has cited August Wilson's plays as personal favorites.

In 2006 he played Levee In Ma Rainey's Black Bottom by August Wilson at the Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre, then four years later he appeared as Herald Loomis in Joe Turner's Come and Gone by August Wilson at the Young Vic Theatre.

He first appeared at the Globe in 2007 in Love's Labours Lost. Later the same year he performed this Shakespeare play at the National Theatre of Korea, in Seoul. Holdbrook-Smith had his debut at the National Theatre in 2009 and has since starred in four productions there (most notably appearing as Mortimer in Edward II).

In 2015 he played Laertes alongside Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet at the Barbican Theatre, this play was also broadcast live in cinemas worldwide as part of National Theatre Live.

In 2016 Holdbrook-Smith could be seen with Benedict Cumberbatch again, this time in the blockbuster Marvel’s Dr. Strange. A year later he played the part of Det. Crispus Allen in DC Comics Justice League. The same year he also starred as Warden Walker in the well-known children's film Paddington 2, and as Father Emery in the positively-reviewed horror film Ghost Stories. In 2018, he played the role of Oliver in The Commuter and played Frye/Weasel in Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns.

Holdbrook-Smith has also performed in BBC Radio dramas, including Judas and On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Furthermore, Holdbrook-Smith is known for his audiobook narrations, most notably the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch.

Kobna Holdbrook-Smith is currently starring in the musical Tina as Ike Turner at the Aldwych Theatre.

He was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2020 Birthday Honours for services to drama, and was recognized as one of the United Kingdom's most influential people of African or African Caribbean heritage when Holdbrook-Smith was included in the 2021 edition of the annual Powerlist.


Film roles



The Double

10ml I.V.

Trick or Receipt


Doctor Strange

Ghost Stories

Justice League

Paddington 2

The Commuter

Mary Poppins Returns


Zack Snyder’s Justice League

Telelviion roles

Judge John Deed


Absolute Power

Little Britain

Holby City

Family Affairs

According to Bex

Mike Bassett: Manager


Star Stories

The Bill

The Whistleblowers

Katy Brand's Big Ass Show

Whatever It Takes

Taking the Flak





Holby City



The Café

Turks & Caicos


Agatha Raisin

Father Brown

Midsomer Murders

The Last Panthers



Dark Heart

The Split