Meet the Cast

William Wilberforce
played by Ioan Gruffudd


William Wilberforce played by Ioan Gruffudd

Meet William Wilberforce

Harriet Beecher Stowe praised him in the pages of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Novelist E. M. Forester compared him to Gandhi. Abraham Lincoln invoked his memory in a celebrated speech. In the houses of Parliament, Nelson Mandela recalled his tireless labors on behalf of the sons and daughters of Africa, calling Britain "the land of William Wilberforce—who dared to stand up to demand that the slaves in our country should be freed." The cat in residence at 10 Downing Street between 1973 and 1987 quickly earned a "Wilberforce-ian" reputation for catching mice, and as such was given the name Wilberforce and served under four prime ministers.

William Wilberforce (1759-1833) led the twenty-year fight to end the British slave trade, a victory now regarded as He finally succeeded in March 1807 and continued to fight for abolition until, days before his death in 1833, he saw the institution of slavery abolished throughout the British colonies. Not limiting himself to just abolitionist work, he dedicated his life to what he called his "two great objects:" abolishing slavery in the British Empire and what he called "the reformation of manners [society]." To this end, he advocated for child labor laws, campaigned for education of the blind and deaf, and founded organizations as diverse as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and the National Gallery (of Art). "Good causes," it has been said, "stuck to him like pins to a magnet."

- Wilberforce biographer and Amazing Grace lead historical consultant, Kevin Belmonte

About Ioan Gruffudd

Ioan Gruffudd will reprise his role as Mr Fantastic in The Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, based on the Marvel Comic Superheroes, starring alongside Julian McMahon, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans and Michael Chilkis, following the success of the last year's blockbuster The Fantastic Four.

Ioan began acting in his teens in his home town of Cardiff. He enrolled in the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and immediately began work upon graduation. He starred in the Welsh language Academy® nominated romantic drama Soloman and Gaenor.

He first found fame in the title role of the award-winning television series Hornblower. Other recent television successes include the popular miniseries The Forsyte Saga, with Damian Lewis and Gina McKee; the lead role in the adaptation of Tony Parson's bestselling novel Man and Boy, and the role of Pip in Tony Marchant's Great Expectations, starring alongside Charlotte Rampling and Justine Waddell.

His film profile continued to rise with recent leading roles in 102 Dalmations, co-starring with Glenn Close and Alice Evans and TV Set, starring with David Duchovny and Sigourney Weaver.