Ian McDiarmid was born in Tayside, Scotland, in 1944. He studied at The University of St Andrews for an M.A. in Clinical Psychology. After deciding that Clinical Psychology was not for him, he went in Theatre. At the Royal Academy in Glasgow, he received the prestigious gold medal for his work. He now has a highly successful career as a theatre director, and from 1990 until his retirement in 2001 was Joint Artistic Director of London's Almeida Theatre in Islington. He, along with his co-director Jonathan Kent, revived the Almeida and persuaded many Hollywood stars including Kevin Spacey, Ralph Fiennes and Anna Friel to tread the boards in their humble theatre. They won the coveted London Evening Standard Award in 1998 for their efforts.