Having appeared in numerous productions (including brief appearances in Cold Mountain and Munich), Brake achieved his first significant role in mainstream cinema being cast as Joe Chill in Christopher Nolan's 2005 film, Batman Begins. In this film (as in most versions of the Batman comic series), his character is the criminal who murdered Bruce Wayne's parents, effectively starting him on his path to becoming Batman.
Following this, Brake appeared as the warped Portman in Doom. Brake also made a cameo appearance in the video for Muse's "Knights of Cydonia", playing a villainous sheriff in a strange futuristic western. He then played the villain Bobby DeWitt in The Black Dahlia, and appears in Hannibal Rising as Enrikas Dortlich, one of the war criminals who murders young Hannibal Lecter's sister.
In September 2007, Brake appeared on stage at the Young Vic in The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers. The production was directed by Matthew Dunster.
Returning to film, his next starring role was that of Prior in Outpost from director Steve Barker. Brake starred in Craig Singer's Perkins' 14, which was featured in the After Dark Horrorfest film festival. In 2009, Brake appeared as Gary Scott in Rob Zombie's Halloween II, a sequel to his remake of Halloween – a role he garnered based on a personal recommendation to Rob Zombie from Sid Haig.
He has also appeared in several British television shows including M.I. High, Keen Eddie and Jeeves and Wooster, as well as the American television show Cold Case.
Brake portrayed a captain in the einherjar in the 2013 film Thor: The Dark World. In March 2015 Rob Zombie cast Brake as killer Doom-Head in the horror film 31.
Beginning in 2014, Brake portrayed the Night King in the HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones, appearing in the show's fourth and fifth seasons, notably in the episode "Hardhome", which won numerous awards.