James Neville Mason (15 May 1909 – 27 July 1984) was an English actor who attained stardom in both British and American films. Mason remained a powerful figure in the industry throughout his career and was nominated for three Academy Awards as well as three Golden Globes (winning once).
Mason was born in Huddersfield, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, to John and Mabel Mason; his father was a wealthy merchant. Mason had no formal training as an actor and initially embarked upon it for fun. He was educated at Marlborough College, and earned a first in architecture at Peterhouse, Cambridge where he became involved in stock theatre companies in his spare time. After Cambridge he joined the Old Vic theatre in London under the guidance of Tyrone Guthrie and Alexander Korda. In 1933 Korda gave Mason a small role in The Private Life of Don Juan but fired him three days into shooting.
From 1935 to 1948 he starred in many British quota quickies. A conscientious objector during World War II (something which caused his family to break with him for many years), he became immensely popular for his brooding anti-heroes in the Gainsborough series of melodramas of the 1940s, including The Man in Grey (1943) and The Wicked Lady (1945). He also starred with Deborah Kerr and Robert Newton in Hatter's Castle (1942). He then took the lead role in the critically acclaimed and immensely popular The Seventh Veil (1945) that set box office records in postwar Britain and raised him to international stardom. He followed it with a mortally wounded Irish revolutionary in Odd Man Out (1947) and his first Hollywood film, Caught (1949).