Frederick Reginald Ironside (born February 12, 1950), known as Michael Ironside, is a Canadian actor. He has worked as a voice actor, producer, film director, and screenwriter in movie and television series in various Canadian and American productions. He is best known for playing villains and "tough guy" heroes, though he has also portrayed sympathetic characters.
Ironside was born in Toronto, Ontario, the son of Robert Walter Ironside and Patricia June (Passmore). His father was a street lighting technician and laborer and his mother a housewife. He is of English, Irish and Scottish descent, and is one of five children. Ironside attended the Ontario College of Art in Toronto and at age 15 wrote a play, The Shelter, which won the first prize in a university contest. He also won the Senior writing award at Riverdale Collegiate Institute in 1967. (Riverdale yearbook: 'Reveille'.)
In a January 2010 interview, Ironside stated in response to a question about his many roles in science fiction films that he has always been a big fan of science fiction and often received science fiction short-story collections from his grandfather that he kept in a shoebox under his bed. He said his favorite science fiction novels are Dune by Frank Herbert and "anything involving adventure."
Ironside specializes in playing villains and tough-guys. One of his first roles was as evil telepath Darryl Revok in Scanners (1981), an early film by David Cronenberg. He played the role of a serial killer, Colt Hawker, in the 1982 slasher film Visiting Hours, directed by Jean-Claude Lord, and appeared as Miler Crane in The A-Team episode "Taxicab Wars" (1983). His breakthrough role was as cynical anti-hero Ham Tyler in the television miniseries V: The Final Battle (1984). He is also known for his roles in Top Gun (1986) as Naval Aviator Lieutenant Commander Rick "Jester" Heatherly, Extreme Prejudice (1987) as Major Paul Hackett, Watchers (1988) as a conscience-free mutant assassin, and Total Recall (1990) as Richter, the murderous henchman of Ronny Cox's villain Cohaagen. Ironside played the villainous General Katana in the science fiction sequel Highlander II: The Quickening (1991) and, after a brief stint in ER's inaugural season, he was tapped to replace Roy Scheider as captain of the high-tech submarine seaQuest in the third season of seaQuest DSV as Captain Oliver Hudson. However, NBC cancelled the series after only thirteen episodes with Ironside as the star. In 1992, he starred as M. Emmet Walsh's brother in David Winning's thriller Killer Image. In 1997, Ironside was reunited with Total Recall director Paul Verhoeven for Starship Troopers. He appeared in The Perfect Storm (2000) and The Machinist (2004). He starred in the film Chaindance as a small-time crook, unable to make it on the outside, who was paired up with a handicapped man. Ironside starred as Resistance General Hugh Ashdown in Terminator Salvation, reunited with his co-star from The Machinist, Christian Bale.
He voiced comic book villain Darkseid in Superman: The Animated Series and its sequel, Justice League. In one episode of The New Batman Adventures, he voiced Batman in a Batman: The Dark Knight Returns sequence. Another part he played in the DC Comics universe was Lois Lane's father, General Sam Lane in three episodes of Smallville. He has worked in video games as the voice of Tom Clancy's character Sam Fisher in the Splinter Cell games and is cast as the Global Defense Initiative's Lieutenant General Jack Granger in Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars.
Ironside signed a five-year deal to portray Captain Jonas Trager in the SpaceWorks Television science fiction series, Ice Planet but the show was not produced. In 2009, he starred in The Beacon under the direction of Michael Stokes. In 2010, Ironside guest starred in Season 4, Episode 1 ("Friends and Enemies") of Burn Notice. In 2011, Ironside appeared in the film: X-Men: First Class, playing the Captain of the 7th Fleet. He appeared in Justified playing a supporting role as a Detroit hitman the following year. He also voiced the role of Ultra Magnus in season 3 of the Transformers Prime Beast Hunters television series in 2013.
Ironside appeared in Walker, Texas Ranger as The Chairman whose plan was to eliminate high level agencies such as the FBI, Texas Rangers, etc. In 2015 he appeared in the television series The Flash as Lewis Snart, the father of Captain Cold. Also in 2015, he starred as the main villain Zeus in the cult hit film Turbo Kid.
Ironside is married to Karen Marls Dinwiddie. Michael and Karen have two daughters: Adrienne Lynn Ironside (from Ironside's previous marriage) and Findlay Ironside (born 1998). He has survived both thyroid and prostate cancer.