Actor Dominic Monaghan played cheeky rabble-rousers in British theater and television long before he was cast as a comical hobbit in New Line Cinema's epic The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Born in Berlin, Germany, on December 8, 1976, Monaghan is the younger of two boys. His schoolteacher father and nurse mother spoke English at home and, when Monaghan was 12 years old, moved the family back to their native Manchester. Growing up, Monaghan worked several odd jobs -- as a mail sorter, a stock boy, a sauté chef -- but he always wanted to be an actor. He enrolled at Aquinas College, a Catholic sixth form school in England, where he studied English literature, drama, and geography. By his second year, Monaghan was a regular fixture in school plays. He performed in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, played the Artful Dodger in Dickens' Oliver Twist, and even portrayed American gangster Bugsy Malone. Monaghan soon started acting outside of school and joined the Manchester Youth Theatre. His work with the troupe caught the attention of a talent agent, who sent him to an open casting call for the television show Hetty Wainthrop Investigates, starring veteran actress Patricia Routledge. Monaghan, then only 18, made his television debut as amateur detective Routledge's underage sidekick, Geoffrey Shawcross.