The 14 best Karl Urban movies and TV shows

A list of Karl Urban’s must-watch and unforgettable performances

14 best Karl Urban movies and TV shows
Karl Urban showcasing his talent across epic fantasy, sci-fi, and adventure genres.

When it comes to versatile actors who effortlessly captivate audiences with their performances, Karl Urban undoubtedly stands out.

Known for his chameleon-like ability to embody a wide range of characters, Urban has graced both the big and small screens with his talent, leaving an indelible mark in the entertainment world.

But which are his best works to date? With millions of viewers worldwide, it can be hard to decide. To help make things easier, we’ve rounded up the top 14 Karl Urban movies and TV shows.

14 captivating Karl Urban movies and TV shows

Xena: Warrior Princess (1995 – 2001)

Karl Urban as Cupid in Xena Warrior Princess
Karl Urban appears as Cupid in Xena: Warrior Princess in the episode titled The Comedy of Eros that aired on May 12, 1997

Karl Urban makes several guest appearances in the iconic TV series; Xena Warrior Princess, including that of Julius Caesar, Caesar, Cupid, Kor, and Mael, but his most impactful one is that of Cupid, the mischievous god of love.

Cupid’s character brings a touch of humor and whimsy to the show, often meddling in the main characters’ lives with his love-inducing arrows. Urban’s charismatic portrayal and memorable performance showcase his ability to embody diverse roles leaving a lasting impression on fans of the warrior princess.

Heaven (1999)

Karl Urban as The Sweeper in Heaven (1998)
Karl Urban as The Sweeper in Heaven (1998)

In the film Heaven (1999), Karl Urban portrays The Sweeper, a strip club owner and a friend of the protagonist, Robert (Martin Donovan).

The Sweeper offers Robert an opportunity to revamp his club. Meanwhile, amidst a turbulent divorce, Robert forges a bond with Heaven, a dancer at the club. Uniquely, Heaven experiences disturbing premonitions about Robert’s future, cautioning him about the impending dangers. As the story unfolds, these premonitions materialize, intertwining with an abundance of unexpected twists in the plot.

Karl Urban delivers a captivating performance as The Sweeper, with his portrayal bringing intensity and charisma to the character of the strip club owner.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

Karl Urban as Éomer and Ian Mckellen as Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
Karl Urban as Éomer and Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

As Éomer, a brave warrior of Rohan, Karl Urban displays his acting prowess in the second installment of Peter Jackson’s epic fantasy trilogy masterpiece based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels.

Set in Middle-earth, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) follows the journey of Frodo (Elijah Wood) and the Fellowship as they face various challenges in their quest to destroy the One Ring.

Urban’s impression of a reluctant hero fiercely fighting against opposing forces, displaying his bravery and determination as he fights against opposing forces to protect his people, adds substance and authenticity to the character.

Star Trek (2009)

Karl Urban in Star Trek (2009)
Karl Urban as Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy in Star Trek (2009)

J.J. Abrams’ exhilarating origin story reboot of the Star Trek series proved to be a box office success, and at the heart of this revitalization is Karl Urban’s impression of Dr. Leonard Bones McCoy.

Star Trek (2009) is set in an alternate timeline and follows the iconic crew’s early days as they come together for their first mission. As the unit faces a threat that could change the course of the universe, McCoy’s expertise and unwavering loyalty to his friends prove invaluable in their fight for survival.

Urban’s portrayal of McCoy captures the character’s trademark blend of gruffness and warmth, providing comic relief and heartfelt moments throughout the film. With his nuanced performance, Urban pays homage to the beloved character while injecting fresh and captivating energy onto the screen.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

Karl Urban as Éomer in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
Karl Urban as Éomer in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

In the epic conclusion of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Urban’s impression of Éomer reaches new heights in The Return of the King (2003). 

As the forces of good and evil clash in the ultimate battle for Middle-earth, Urban’s performance showcases the bravery and determination of a warrior fighting for the salvation of his people.

His character’s journey from a steadfast soldier to a critical player in the war against darkness adds depth and emotional resonance to the film. His contribution to this Academy Award-winning film certainly cements his place in cinematic history.

The Bourne Supremacy (2004)

Karl Urban in The Bourne Supremacy (2004)
Urban as Kirill, a ruthless assassin in The Bourne Supremacy (2004).

The Bourne Supremacy is an action-packed sequel to The Bourne Identity. The story revolves around Jason Bourne (starring Matt Damon), a former CIA agent who becomes entangled in a dangerous conspiracy.

Karl Urban plays Kirill, a ruthless Russian secret service assassin. His portrayal of the central antagonist exudes excitement and tension to the already gripping narrative, illustrating his versatility as a character actor.

Out Of The Blue (2006)

Karl Urban as Nick Harvey in Out Of The Blue (2006)
Out of the Blue is a 2006 New Zealand crime drama film directed by Robert Sarkies starring Karl Urban as Nick Harvey.

This crime drama is a take on the tragic true story of the Aramoana massacre, a mass shooting that took place in New Zealand in 1990. Karl Urban’s performance in the film showcases his range as an actor.

Out of the Blue is the story of a small-town policeman caught up in an unforeseen tragedy and outrunning ruthless bounty hunters. Urban’s role as the protagonist Senior Constable Nick Harvey in this New Zealand film showcases his ability to bring authenticity and substance to local stories.

Red (2010)

Karl Urban in movie Red (2010)
Karl Urban plays William Cooper, a CIA black ops agent who is tasked with killing Frank in Red (2010)

Red is a star-studded New Zealand action-thriller starring Bruce Willis (Frank Moses), Morgan Freeman (Joe Matheson), Helen Mirren (Victoria), and John Malkovich (Marvin Boggs). Karl Urban plays the role of William Cooper, a CIA operative caught in a high-stakes chase assigned the task of getting rid of Frank.

Cooper becomes entangled in a dangerous game of cat and mouse with a group of retired CIA agents, forcing him to match wits and firepower with formidable opponents. His performance as a highly skilled and determined agent adds an extra layer of excitement to this entertaining film.

Dredd (2012)

Karl Urban Dredd (2012)
In the film Dredd, Karl Urban stars as the eponymous Judge Dredd, a law enforcer given the power of judge, jury, and executioner in a dystopian megalopolis called Mega-City One

In this adrenaline-pumping sci-fi film called Dredd (2012), Urban takes on the titular role of Judge Dredd, a relentless and stoic law enforcer.

Set in a crime-ridden Mega-City One, Dredd finds himself on a dangerous mission to take down a ruthless drug lord. Urban’s performance captures the character’s spirit, showcasing his dedication to upholding and delivering justice with brutal efficiency.

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

Karl Urban and Chris Pine in Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)
Karl Urban as Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy and Chris Pine as Captain James T. Kirk in Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

A thrilling sequel to the 2009 film, Karl Urban reprises his role as Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, the USS Enterprise’s chief medical officer in Star Trek Into Darkness (2013).

As the crew faces a dangerous terrorist threat, Urban’s portrayal of Bones continues to impress; with his sharp wit and unwavering dedication to his friends, Bones adds humor and substance to the story.

Urban’s nuanced performance carries on the character’s legacy, further solidifying his place in the Star Trek franchise and delighting fans with his memorable presence.

Almost Human (2013-2014)

A still from the TV series Almost Human starring Karl Urban
A still from the TV series Almost Human starring Karl Urban

Set in a future where human police officers get partnered with advanced androids, Karl Urban plays the protagonist, Detective John Kennex, in Almost Human.

The sci-fi TV series follows Kennex as he navigates the workings of law enforcement in a technologically advanced world. Urban’s nuanced performance explores the complexities of a future where human emotions clash with advanced technology. His portrayal of a conflicted and resilient character elevates the show while also captivating viewers.

Pete’s Dragon (2016)

Karl Urban as Gavin Magary in Pete's Dragon (2016)
Karl Urban as Gavin Magary in Pete’s Dragon (2016)

Urban’s versatility as an actor shines through in this family-friendly film, where he plays Gavin, a ruthless hunter, and lumberjack.

Directed by David Lowery, Pete’s Dragon is a heartwarming fantasy adventure film about a young boy named Pete (Oakes Fegley), who befriends a magical dragon named Elliott (voiced by John Kassir).

Gavin initially acts as a persistent antagonist in the story, relentlessly pursuing Pete and Elliot. However, as the story progresses, he undergoes a change, learning from his experiences and moving towards a more scrupulous path.

The film explores themes of friendship, loyalty, and the power of family bonds. It takes audiences on an emotional journey as Pete and his newfound family work together to ensure the safety of Elliot and preserve the magic that exists within their lives.

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Karl Urban as Skurge in Thor: Ragnarokhor: R
Karl Urban as Skurge, a ruthless bounty hunter and the keeper of the Bifrost in Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

In Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok, Karl Urban debuts as Skurge, a ruthless bounty hunter and the keeper of the Bifrost. The film follows Thor (Chris Hemsworth), aided by an unconventional team that includes Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), and Skurge, as they strive to save Asgard from the powerful Hela (Cate Blanchett).

Skurge initially forms an uneasy alliance with Hela, driven by a desire for power and glory but later realizes the magnitude of Hela’s destructive plans. Urban’s portrayal of Skurge garnered acclaim from fans, who hailed it as one of Marvel’s standout villainous performances.

He sacrifices himself to protect others from Hela’s army. With a mix of dark humor and raw emotion, Urban brings depth and complexity to the character, leaving a lasting impression in the MCU.

The Boys (2019-Present)

Karl Urban in The Boys (2019-Present)
The Boys series from left: Laz Alonso (as Mother’s Milk), Karl Urban (as Billy Butcher), and Tomer Capone (as Frenchy).

Karl Urban’s popularity increased after being cast in Amazon Prime Video’s dark and gritty show, The Boys (2019-present). The actor plays Billy Butcher, who is determined to expose corrupt superheroes by waging incredible battles.

His portrayal of the complex and vengeful character showcases his versatility as an actor and his ability to draw audiences into each episode.

About Karl Urban’s early life, career, and personal life

Karl-Heinz Urban is a New Zealand actor who has gained prominence in Hollywood over the course of several decades, having appeared in many high-profile movies and TV shows.

Born on June 7, 1972, in Wellington, New Zealand, Urban developed a passion for acting at a young age. Urban enrolled at St Mark’s Church School, where he exhibited an early fondness for engaging in public performances. His father, a German immigrant, owned a leather goods store, while his mother had a background in the film industry, having worked for Film Facilities in Wellington.

It was through his mother that Karl was introduced to the world of classic New Zealand cinema, igniting his fascination with the art of filmmaking. He pursued his dreams by attending Victoria University, where he honed his skills and laid the foundation for his future career. During the subsequent years, Karl Urban made appearances in numerous local TV commercials in addition to theater roles within the Wellington region.

Urban’s journey from making appearances in New Zealand films to an internationally recognized talent is a testament to his hard work, passion, and unwavering commitment to his craft.

From his portrayal of Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy in the Star Trek franchise to his memorable role as Éomer in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, Karl Urban’s career is filled with incredible stories set in fantastic and deadly worlds.

Beyond his on-screen work, Urban remains grounded and humble. He continues to contribute to his local community and inspire aspiring actors through his achievements.

Personal life

Karl Urban, known for his private nature, has managed to keep his personal life relatively under wraps. However, some details have been revealed. He tied the knot with his longtime partner, Natalie Wihongi, in September 2004. Interestingly, Wihongi served as his makeup artist during the production of the 2000 television film The Privateers.

The couple has two sons named Hunter and Indiana. It’s worth noting that their second son was named after the iconic hero from the beloved Indiana Jones franchise, which happens to be one of Urban’s favorite film series.

Frequently asked questions

Are Keith and Karl Urban related?

No, Keith Urban and Karl Urban are not related; they only share their last names. Keith Urban is a well-known country music singer and songwriter from New Zealand, while Karl Urban is an actor, also from New Zealand, known for his roles in movies and TV shows.

What is Karl Urban’s most successful role to date?

Karl Urban’s most successful role to date is subjective; however, one role that garnered significant acclaim and recognition for him is his portrayal of Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy in the Star Trek franchise, starting from the 2009 film directed by J.J. Abrams.

What awards has Karl Urban received nominations for?

Karl Urban has received nominations for several awards throughout his career. Here are some of the notable ones:

  • Nominated – Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor on TV for his role in The Boys (2020).
  • Nominated – New Zealand Film and TV Awards for Best Lead Actor for Truth About Demons (2001).
  • Won – The Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture for his role in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003).
  • Nominated – MTV Movie & TV Awards for his role as Vaako in The Chronicles of Riddick (2005).
  • Nominated – MTV Movie & TV Awards for his role in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2004).
  • Won – Qantas Film and Television Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Out of the Blue (2006). 

What other films has Karl Urban been in besides the ones listed in the article?

Karl Urban has an extensive filmography beyond the ones mentioned here. Some notable films include The Price of Milk(2000), Ghost Ship (2002), The Chronicles of Riddick (2004), Doom (2005), Pathfinder (2007), Priest (2011), and The Loft (2014), among others.

Wrapping up

Urban’s ability to bring depth and authenticity to his characters has made him a highly watchable actor in film and television. His talent, dedication, and professionalism have earned him the respect and admiration of his peers in the industry.

With remarkable filmography and a bright future ahead, Karl Urban has solidified his status as one of the most talented actors of his generation. Audiences eagerly anticipate his next project, knowing he will bring his signature charisma and talent to every role he undertakes.

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