Fairbrass made his film acting debut as D.I Challoner in the 1989 Working title thriller For Queen and Country opposite Academy Award winner Denzel Washington. Film and television appearances quickly followed, including the Ray Winstone film Tank Malling, and the Channel 4 Film, The Final Frame playing Suggs’s right-hand man, Franklin. He also landed a regular role as Gary ‘Technique’ Pagnall in the ITV drama series London’s Burning in 1990. That same year Fairbrass was cast opposite Helen Mirren as Detective Frank Burkin in the Bafta/Emmy-award-winning original Prime Suspect 1 and 2
In 1991, he secured his first Hollywood acting role in the 1992 action blockbuster Cliffhanger with Sylvester
Stallone. This led to roles in independent films with lead roles in Beyond Bedlam (1994) with Elizabeth Hurley, Galaxis (1995) with Brigitte Nielsen, Proteus, Killing Time, and Darklands.
More TV credits soon followed, including a guest star role opposite Melinda Clarke in the U.S. action show Soldier of Fortune Inc, and with Helen Baxendale in An Unsuitable Job for a Woman. Fairbrass travelled to Rome next for The Aldo Moro Story, opposite Roshan Sethand directed by the award-winning Art house director, Aurelio Grimaldi and a regular role in the ITV comedy series Duck Patrol.
In 1999 Fairbrass landed the regular role of Dan Sullivan in EastEnders. He left the show in August 2001. He then took the lead role of Ray Betson in the Channel Five crime drama The Great Dome Robbery.[
In 2007, he starred in the feature film Rise of the Footsoldier as real life gangster Pat Tate, and opposite Jason Statham in The Bank Job. The following year he joined Til Schweiger in the game-based action film Far Cry (2008). Fairbrass voiced “Gaz” in the video game Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007) then again as one of the most iconic characters in the games history as Ghost in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009) and as Sgt. Wallcroft in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.[ He starred in the vampire film Dead Cert[alongside Billy Murray as well as the action film Freight and comedy Just for the Record.[
In 2011, Fairbrass took the co-lead in the crime thriller St Georges Day, other lead roles included Vikingdom 3D, House of the Rising Sun, opposite Dave Bautista, Hijacked, and Get Lucky and Let me Survive. In 2012, Fairbrass took his first lead role in a US action thriller The Outsider, which starred Jason Patric, James Caan and Shannon Elizabeth. In Bula Quo!, he costarred alongside Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi.
In 2014 he took the lead in the psychological thriller, Breakdown, alongside James Cosmo, Bruce Payne, Emmett Scanlan, Olivia Grant and Tamer Hassan. In 2015, he played the lead role of Jack Cregan in the revenge thriller London Heist with Steven Berkoff, which he also co-wrote. The film was produced by his own son, Luke Fairbrass. Craig Fairbrass went on to win the Best Actor Award at the 2016 Marbella International Film Festival for the role.[
Fairbrass returned to the Call of Duty franchise, voicing Tee and additional voices in Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. In 2017 he reprised his role of Pat Tate in Rise of the Footsoldier 3: The Pat Tate Years, a prequel to the 2007 original and proved to be Fairbrass’s most powerful performance to date, winning him the best actor award at the 2018 National Film Awards in London.[
Fairbrass has major roles in two massively multiplayer online motion capture games, Star Citizen and as George Mason in Under no Flag the single player mode in Battlefield V, due for release in 2018. Fairbrass also takes a lead role in award winning Director Gerard (HYENA) Johnson’s next Film, the dark thriller MUSCLE and will again be reprising his role of Pat Tate in Rise of the Footsoldier 4 Marbella and the Scott Adkins actioner Avengement.