Karl Heinz Urban was born in Wellington, New Zealand on June 7th, 1972. He is the only child of a German immigrant who, though now retired, owned a leathergoods retail store for many years in Wellington. His mother, who used to work at Film Facilities in Wellington, seems to have influenced his interest in acting. Every so often major NZ film releases were screened by Film Facilities for industry people and staff. Karl would go along and watch such films as Smash Palace, Utu and Carry Me Back, so from an early age he was aware of and exposed to NZ films. One of his mother's friends was the comedian Ginette McDonald, and as a youngster he used to go with his mother to live TV tapings of Ginette's comedy show, Lynn of Tawa. This led to Ginette McDonald casting him in his first ever role at the tender age of 9 in the TV series, Ettie Route Pioneer Woman. This was in 1981, and although he had only one line of dialogue, "They've got no proper clothes on", it was the start of things to come.
In 1990 he played a troubled drug addict in the police series Shark in the Park III. In 1992 he appeared in White Fang, and also as the lazy but gifted teenager Timothy Johnstone in Homeward Bound. 1993 saw him playing gay paramedic, Jamie Forrest, in New Zealand's top rated soap opera, Shortland Street. He left the show the following year and appeared as Wayne in Pathways. Karl played Cupid in the TV series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. The episode A Comedy of Eros saw this character appear on Xena: Warrior Princess. He also played several other roles in Xena. He first appeared in Altared States as the conniving Maell, who fell to a watery death after plotting to kill his brother Icus. His next Xena appearance was in Destiny as Julius Caesar. Caesar was his main role on the show, appearing as that character in The Deliverer, When in Rome, A Good Day and Ides of March. Karl appeared again in Xena in 1995`s Lifeblood, which was originally filmed as part of a pilot show called Amazon High. He made one final return to Xena in 1996, in the episode When Fates Collide.
The role of Eomer Eadig in The Lord of the Rings, shot on location in New Zealand, got him noticed. Based on the books by J. R. R. Tolkien, and directed by Peter Jackson, Karl appeared in the last two movies of the trilogy, The Two Towers and The Return Of the King,
In 2002 he appeared in the horror movie Ghost Ship. It was a three month shoot at Warner Bros studios on the Gold Coast, Australia. Karl played Arctic Warrior salvage crewmember, Munder.
From there he went on to a major role in the Pitch Black sequel, The Chronicles of Riddick, where he played necromonger, Lord Vaako. After that he had a role in The Bourne Supremacy, playing a deadly Russian assassin named Kirill.
In 2005, Karl got top billing in Doom. Shot in Prague, the movie is based on the popular Doom series of video games produced by id Software. Karl plays a marine, John "Reaper" Grimm, who becomes a reluctant hero when he and his fellow marines are sent to investigate what went wrong at a remote scientific research station on Mars. Once there, they do battle with a variety of vicious and evil creatures and only a few are able to escape Mars alive.
Pathfinder was soon to follow. Pathfinder is an action adventure film concerning the skirmishes that took place between the Vikings and Native Americans a thousand years ago. Set in 847 A.D, a Viking boy is left behind in North America and is adopted and raised as an American Indian. As he grows older he is forced to fight for the survival of his adopted family when a Viking raid wipes out his village. The young man then becomes his adopted people's savior in battling the ferocious Norsemen.
In March, 2006, Karl finished filming a movie for New Zealand director Rob Sarkies. Called Out Of The Blue, the movie is based on the Aramoana massacre in New Zealand in 1990, where 13 people were shot dead by local Aramoana resident David Gray, who was then shot dead by police. Karl plays policeman Nick Harvey, and at the NZ Qantas Film and Television Awards he won the best supporting actor award.
The TV mini-series, Comanche Moon was aired on CBS on January 13, 2008. The mini-series follows Karl's character, Woodrow Call, and Gus McCrae (played by Steve Zahn), through their years as Texas Rangers as they fight the Comanche to open West Texas for settlement. Comanche Moon is a sequel to CBS' award winning 1989 mini-series Lonesome Dove, where the characters Call and McCrae were originally played by Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Duvall, respectively.
Filming has also finished on the action thriller Black Water Transit, where Karl stars as a rogue CIA agent, Earl Pike. Its scheduled release date is unkown due to some production legal matters that have yet to be resolved.
In 2009 he travelled around the world promoting the latest Star Trek feature film, in which he plays Doctor Leonard "Bones" McCoy. It was officially released worldwide on May 8th, 2009.
After Star Trek, he went on to make a horror film called And Soon The Darkness, which was released on DVD in late December 2010.
In 2010, Karl starred in the spy thriller Red, based on a WildStorm/DC comicbook, where he plays a CIA agent, William Cooper, on the hunt for Bruce Willis' character, Frank, a retired CIA agent. It was filmed in Toronto and Louisiana, and also stars Morgan Freeman, Mary Louise Parker, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren. Karl mentioned in an interview that he'll be returning to play William Cooper in the sequel.
A movie adaptation of a Tokyopop graphic novel called Priest, in which he co-star swith Paul Bettany, was released on May 13th, 2011.
DREDD 3D, which was filmed in Cape Town, South Africa. It was released in 3D in September 2012.
2013 will be a busy year for Karl. The film The Loft is sceduled for release, and 2013 will see Karl reprise familiar roles in The Chronicles Of Riddick: Dead Man Stalking, Red 2, Star Trek sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness. and Rhys Darby's TV mockumentary, Small Poppies, where he plays a gay hairdresser. Karl also signed up for the family adventure fantasy film, The Wonder, to be filmed this year. It will be shot in 3D with special effects done by Pixomondo. There is also talk about him starring as All Black captain Richie McCaw, in a TV film called The Kick, about Stephen Donald’s history making World Cup penalty.
Karl serves as a celebrity ambassador for KidsCan, a charity that supports over 16,000 disadvantaged children in New Zealand. He is also a patron of The Key To Life Charitable Trust.
Although his work takes him all over the world, he still calls New Zealand home and lives there with his wife Natalie (she was his makeup artist on The Privateers) and their two sons, Hunter and Indy.
Oh, and for the record, Karl is not related to country singer Keith Urban.
© Karl Urban Online.