After Highgate School, he joined the Royal Air Force and served as a pilot from 1918 to 1919. After considering other careers, he turned to acting, graduating from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. He debuted on the stage in 1924 at Hull Repertory Theatre and, by 1931, was appearing in films in which he was known for his portrayals of impeccable English gentlemen not given to displays of emotion. In the 1960s, he branched out into television before finally retiring in 1982. In 1960 he appeared in Five Finger Exercise at the Music Box Theatre in New York City. He was nominated for the 1966 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play for Ivanov.