While still in his twenties, Stamp achieved early recognition as the luckless title character of the 1962 film adaptation of Herman Melville's Billy Budd, and playing the male leads of 1965's The Collector and 1966's Modesty Blaise. He is probably best known as General Zod in Superman and Superman II. Ironically, he later played Zod's archenemy, Superman's father Jor-El, on Smallville.
More recent roles include the title character of The Limey, Supreme Chancellor Valorum in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (who trades barbs with Senator Lot Dodd, voiced by Toby Longworth), and "Stick", the mentor of Marvel Films's Elektra.
Other voice work includes roles in the video games The Elder Scrolls IV and Halo 3, and the narrator of 9/11: The Twin Towers, a documentary on the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack.