Simon Russell Beale, CBE (born 12 January 1961) is an English actor and music historian. He has been described by The Independent as "the greatest stage actor of his generation." In the spring of 2009 Beale and Sam Mendes collaborated on The Winter's Tale and The Cherry Orchard, in which Russell Beale played Leontes and Lopakhin respectively, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, later transferring to the Old Vic Theatre. In 2010 he played Sir Harcourt Courtly in London Assurance, again at the National. In March 2011 he made his debut with The Royal Ballet in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Most recently, Russell Beale was cast as the Coalition Home Secretary, William Towers, in the tenth and final series of BBC1's spy drama, Spooks. Russell Beale will play the title role in Timon of Athens at the Royal National Theatre beginning 10 July 2012. The production will be broadcast to cinemas around the world on 1 November 2012 through the National Theatre Live programme. In December 2012 he plays the cross-dressing Captain Dennis in Privates on Parade as part of the Michael Grandage Season at the Noel Coward Theatre.