Before that, he gained fame (along with Daniel Craig) in Our Friends in the North, played the new Jesus in The Second Coming by Russell T. Davies and appeared alongside Nicole Kidman in The Others, as well as starring with Ewan McGregor in Shallow Grave. American audiences may recognize him as stolen-car broker Raymond Calitri in Gone in 60 Seconds, the traitorous Duke of Norfolk in Elizabeth with Cate Blanchett as the Virgin Queen, and as Major Henry West in 28 Days Later, or perhaps as Claude the invisible man in Heroes.
On 30 October 2005, Eccleston appeared on stage at the Old Vic theatre in London in the one-night play Night Sky alongside Navin Chowdhry, Bruno Langley, David Warner, Saffron Burrows and David Baddiel. Eccleston sat on the 2nd Amazonas International Film Festival Film Jury in November 2005. The director Norman Jewison was chairman of the Jury.
In December 2005, Eccleston traveled to Indonesia's Aceh province for the BBC Breakfast news programme, examining how survivors of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami were rebuilding their lives.
In May 2006, Eccleston appeared as the narrator in a production of Romeo and Juliet at The Lowry theatre in his home city of Salford. The theatre company with which he performed, Celebrity Pig (of which he is patron), is made up of learning disabled actors.
In August 2006, Eccleston filmed New Orleans, Mon Amour with Elisabeth Moss. The film was directed by Michael Almereyda, and shot in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans, it is currently in post-production and scheduled for a 2008 release. Late in 2006 he starred in Perfect Parents, an ITV drama written and directed by Joe Ahearne, who had directed him in Doctor Who.
Eccleston joined the cast of the NBC TV series Heroes in the episode "Godsend", which was broadcast on 22 January 2007. Eccleston played a character named Claude who has the power of invisibility, and helps Peter Petrelli with his powers.
Eccleston appeared as The Rider in a film adaptation of Susan Cooper's novel The Dark Is Rising, which opened in the U.S. on 5 October 2007. He also appeared as the villainous Destro in the live-action G.I. Joe film: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra where he proceeded to be one of the best parts of an already enjoyable movie. He made another outing on the big screen when he played Big Bad Malekith in Thor: The Dark World.
Eccleston also appeared in an episode of The Sarah Silverman Program as the title character in a show within the show about a cult favourite science fiction hero, possibly in reference to his stint as the Doctor in Doctor Who.
In 2013, the spotlight was thrust on Eccleston once again when Doctor Who celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. With the Milestone Celebration becoming an object of worldwide note, many questioned if Eccleston would reprise his role as the Ninth Doctor alongside David Tennant and Matt Smith. After much guessing, Eccleston ultimately announced that he would not be returning for the special, leading Steven Moffat to draft in the War Doctor, played by Sir John Hurt, to take on the role that the Ninth Doctor would have played.
In 2021 however, Christopher Eccleston eventually returned to the role of the Ninth Doctor in Big Finish Doctor Who.
- Creator Backlash: The most infamous case in Doctor Who. It's not 100% clear why he left the show but his experiences on set were enough to keep him away from it even when a differing production team was running the show. He even opted out of multiple Doctors getting together for Comic-Cons or charity events.
- Creator Breakdown: One of the reasons he stayed away from Doctor Who and the BBC for the longest time. His leaving after Series 1 led to him being demonized by the British tabloids which took a negative tole on his health so he understandably wasn't too eager to return.
- Mean Character, Nice Actor: One of the prickliest incarnations of the Doctor, but his fellow Who actors have nothing but good stories about him. Even Steven Moffat noted that his turning down of "The Day of the Doctor" was nothing but cordial.