Nighy at the Berlinale in February 2020
William Francis Nighy
12 December 1949
|Partner(s)||Diana Quick (1980–2008)|
Nighy became widely known for his performance as Billy Mack in Love Actually (2003). Other notable roles in cinema include his portrayal of Davy Jones in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series, and Viktor in the Underworld film series. He is also known for his roles in the films Shaun of the Dead (2004), The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005), The Constant Gardener (2005), Notes on a Scandal (2006), Hot Fuzz (2007), Valkyrie (2008), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 (2010), voicing Grandsanta in Arthur Christmas (2011), The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012), and About Time (2013). His performances were also acclaimed in the BBC One series State of Play and in the TV films The Girl in the Café, Gideon's Daughter and Page Eight, for which he earned Golden Globe nominations, winning one for Gideon's Daughter.
Early life and education
Nighy was born on 12 December 1949 in Caterham, Surrey. His mother, Catherine Josephine Nighy (née Whittaker), was a psychiatric nurse of Irish descent born in Glasgow, and his English father, Alfred Martin Nighy, managed a car garage after working in the family chimney sweeping business.
Nighy was brought up as a Roman Catholic, and served as an altar boy. He has two older siblings, Martin and Anna. Nighy attended the John Fisher School, a Roman Catholic grammar school in Purley, where he was a member of the school theatre group. After leaving the school with two O-levels, he worked as a messenger for The Croydon Advertiser. He entered the Guildford School of Acting to train for stage and film.
After two seasons at the Everyman Theatre, Liverpool, Nighy made his London stage debut at the National Theatre in an epic staging of Ken Campbell and Chris Langham's Illuminatus!, which opened the new Cottesloe Theatre on 4 March 1977. He was cast to appear in two David Hare premieres, also at the National. During the 1980s, he appeared in several television productions, among them Hitler's SS: Portrait in Evil with John Shea and Tony Randall.
Nighy has starred in many radio and television dramas, notably the BBC serial The Men's Room (1991). He claimed that the serial, an Ann Oakley novel adapted by Laura Lamson, was the job that launched his career. More recently he has appeared in the thriller State of Play (2003) and the costume drama He Knew He Was Right (2004).
He played Samwise Gamgee in the 1981 BBC Radio dramatisation of The Lord of the Rings (where he was credited as William Nighy), and appeared in the 1980s BBC Radio versions of Yes Minister episodes. He starred with Stephen Moore and Lesley Sharp in the acclaimed short radio drama Kerton's Story, written by James Woolf and first aired in 1996. He had a starring role in the 2002 return of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, portraying crooked politician Jeffrey Grainger. He has also made a guest appearance in the BBC Radio 4 series Baldi.
Two of Nighy's most acclaimed stage performances were in National Theatre productions. As Bernard Nightingale, an unscrupulous university don, in Tom Stoppard's Arcadia (1993), he engaged in witty exchanges with Felicity Kendal, who played the role of Hannah Jarvis, an author. He played a consultant psychiatrist in Joe Penhall's Blue/Orange (2000), for which he won an Olivier Award nomination for Best Actor, and which transferred to the West End at the Duchess Theatre the following year. In 1997, Nighy starred as Tom Sergeant, a restaurant entrepreneur, in David Hare's Skylight, which had premiered in 1995 and was moved to the Vaudeville Theatre.
Nighy received some recognition by American audiences for his acclaimed portrayal of overaged rock star Ray Simms in the 1998 film Still Crazy. In 1999 he gained further prominence in the UK with the starring role in "The Photographer", an episode of the award-winning BBC-TV mockumentary comedy series People Like Us, playing Will Rushmore, a middle aged man who has abandoned his career and family in the deluded belief that he can achieve success as a commercial photographer.
In 2003, Nighy played the role of the Vampire Elder Viktor in the American production Underworld. He returned in the same role in the sequel Underworld: Evolution in 2006, and again in the prequel Underworld: Rise of the Lycans in 2009. In February 2004, he was awarded the BAFTA Film Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Billy Mack in Love Actually. At the BAFTA Television Awards in April 2004, he won the Best Actor award for State of Play. He also appeared in the comedy Shaun of the Dead.
In early 2004, The Sunday Times reported that Nighy was on the shortlist for the role of the Ninth Doctor in the 2005 revival of the BBC television series Doctor Who. Christopher Eccleston ultimately filled the role.
In 2005, he appeared as Slartibartfast in the film adaptation of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. He also appeared in the one-off BBC One comedy-drama The Girl in the Café. In February 2006, he appeared in scriptwriter Stephen Poliakoff's one-off drama, Gideon's Daughter. Nighy played the lead character, Gideon, a successful events organiser who begins to lose touch with the world around him. This performance won him a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Mini-series or TV Film in January 2007. Also in 2006, Nighy made his Broadway debut at the Music Box Theatre alongside Julianne Moore in The Vertical Hour, directed by Sam Mendes.
In 2006, Nighy played the principal villain, Davy Jones, in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, although his face was entirely obscured by computer-generated makeup; he voiced the character with a Scots accent. He reprised the role in the 2007 sequel, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, in which his real face was briefly revealed in one scene. He also provided the narration for the Animal Planet series Meerkat Manor. In 2006 he played the role of Richard Hart in Notes on a Scandal, for which he was nominated for a London Film Critics' Circle award. Nighy also appeared as General Friedrich Olbricht, one of the principal conspirators, in the 2008 film Valkyrie. He had played an SS officer in the 1985 Hitler's SS: Portrait in Evil. Nighy starred in the film Wild Target in 2010.
In July 2009, he announced that he would play Rufus Scrimgeour in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1. Nighy had already worked with director David Yates twice, and with the majority of the Harry Potter cast in previous films. He has said of his role as Rufus Scrimgeour that it meant he was no longer the only English actor not to be in Harry Potter.
In 2010 he made a small cameo in Doctor Who, in the episode titled "Vincent and the Doctor".
Nighy voiced Grandsanta in the 2011 CGI animated film Arthur Christmas. In 2012, he starred in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Wrath of the Titans, and the remake of Total Recall. In 2013, he played a role in Darkside, Tom Stoppard's radio drama based on Pink Floyd's album The Dark Side of the Moon.
In 2014 he starred with Carey Mulligan in a revival of David Hare's Skylight at Wyndham's Theatre in London's West End. It had a large international audience via broadcast in the National Theatre Live series. He and Mulligan also starred in the play when it was transferred to Broadway in 2015. In 2016, he provided the voice of Socrates in the critically panned animated feature Norm of the North.
Nighy had a relationship with English actress Diana Quick, with whom he has a daughter, actress Mary Nighy. The couple separated in 2008. He has Dupuytren's contracture, a hereditary condition which can, depending on the condition's severity, cause contractures of the fingers, most commonly the ring and little fingers.
Nighy is a supporter of Crystal Palace F.C. and is the Patron of the CPSCC (Crystal Palace Children's Charity), and of the Ann Craft Trust. He is also one of the Honorary Patrons of the London children's charity Scene & Heard.
Known for his support of total gender equality, Nighy noted in an interview during the 2016 DIFF film festival that the highlighting of the gender inequality problem had been a factor in his choice of films. He has also spoken of his role in Pride, a film extolling the mutual support between the National Union of Miners and gay rights' groups in the UK in the 1980s, as one of his most cherished.
Nighy's name is similar to famous American engineer and television host Bill Nye. Nighy has admitted that in the past, he had disappointed his daughter's friends for not being the same man. He finally got to meet him in 2015 at Cafe Fiorello located in New York City. Nighy was happy to finally meet him stating, "He was very gracious and we had a laugh, and he'd had this conversation with people same as I had, so it was quite funny to finally be united."
|1976||Softly, Softly: Taskforce||Albert Blake||Episode: "Say it with Flowers"|
|1978–1982||Play for Today||Dave/William/Bill||3 episodes|
|1980||Agony||Vincent Fish||Season 2|
|Fox||Colin Street||2 episodes|
|BBC2 Playhouse||Bruno||Episode: "Standing in for Henry"|
|1982||Minder||Oates||Episode: "Looking for Micky"|
|Play for Tomorrow||Connor Mullen||Episode: "Easter 2016"|
|1983||Reilly, Ace of Spies||Goschen||Episode 3: "1905: The Visiting Fireman"|
|Jemima Shore Investigates||David Cullen||Episode: "A Model for Murder"|
|1984||Crown Court||Lee Sinclair||Episode: "The Son of His Father: Part 1"|
|1985||The Last Place on Earth||Cecil Meares||Miniseries: 7 episodes|
|1989||Storyboard||Sam||Episode: "Making News"|
|1990||Making News||Sam Courtney||6 episodes|
|Screenplay||Howard Nash||Episode: "Antonio and Jane"|
|TECX||Brill||Episode: "Writing on the Wall"|
|1991||The Men's Room||Mark Carleton||BBC serial|
|Bergerac||Barry||Episode: "All for Love"|
|Boon||Steve Reeves||Episode: "Pillow Talk"|
|1991–1993||Performance/Absolute Hell||Roger Maitland/Hugh Marriner||2 episodes|
|1992||Chiller||Tom Dickenson||Episode: "The Cat Brought It In"|
|A Masculine Ending||John Tracey||Television film|
|1993||Eye of the Storm||Tom Frewen||6 episodes|
|Peak Practice||Alan Sinclair||Episode: "Growing Pains"|
|Don't Leave Me This Way||John Tracey||Television film|
|The Maitlands||Roger Maitland||BBC TV production|
|1994||Wycliffe||David Cleeve||Episode: "The Four Jacks"|
|1996||Testament: The Bible in Animation||Belshazzar (voice)||Episode: "Daniel"|
|1997||Insiders||Mark Gordon||Episode: "The Vat Man"|
|Kavanagh QC||Giles Culpepper QC||Episode: "Ancient History"|
|1999–2000||Kiss Me Kate||Ian||5 episodes|
|1998–2000||The Canterbury Tales||The Merchant||2 episodes|
|1999||People Like Us||Will Rushmore||Episode: "The Photographer"|
|Animated Tales of the World||Tiger (Voice)||Episode: "A Story of Taiwan: Aunt Tiger"|
|2002||Auf Wiedersehen, Pet||Jeffrey Grainger||Season 3|
|The Inspector Lynley Mysteries||Alan Lockwood||Episode: "Well Schooled in Murder"|
|2003||State of Play||Cameron Foster||6 episodes|
|Ready When You Are, Mr. McGill||Phil Parish||Television film|
|The Lost Prince||Arthur Bigge, 1st Baron Stamfordham||Television film|
|The Canterbury Tales||James||Episode: "The Wife of Bath"|
|The Young Visiters||Earl of Clincham||Television film|
|Life Beyond the Box: Norman Stanley Fletcher||Narrator (voice)||Television film|
|2004||He Knew He Was Right||Colonel Osborne||3 parts|
|2005||The Girl in the Café||Lawrence||Television film|
|Gideon's Daughter||Gideon Warner||Television film|
|2006||Horizon||Narrator (voice)||Episode: "The Great Robot Race"|
|2009||10 Minute Tales||Mr Jellaby||Episode: "Statuesque"|
|2010||Doctor Who||Dr. Black||Uncredited; episode: "Vincent and the Doctor"|
|2011||Page Eight||Johnny Worricker||BBC TV series: The Worricker Trilogy|
|2014||Turks & Caicos||Johnny Worricker||BBC TV series: The Worricker Trilogy|
|Salting the Battlefield||Johnny Worricker||BBC TV series: The Worricker Trilogy|
|2017||Red Nose Day Actually||Billy Mack||Television short film|
|2018||Ordeal by Innocence||Leo Argyll||BBC TV series|
|2020||Castlevania||Saint Germain (voice)|
|1969||Plaza Suite||Asst. Stage Manager||Neil Simon||Watermill Theatre, Newbury|||
|1969||The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore||Performer||Tennessee Williams||Watermill Theatre, Newbury|||
|1971||Landscape and Silence||Performer||Harold Pinter||Gateway Theatre, Chester|||
|1971||Entertaining Mr Sloane||Mr. Sloane||Joe Orton||Gateway Theatre, Chester|||
|1971||Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead||Performer||Tom Stoppard||Arts Theatre, Cambridge|||
|1971||The Immoralist||Performer||André Gide||Hampstead Theatre|||
|1971||Speak Now||Timmy||Olwen Wymark||Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh|||
|1971||Under New Management||Harold||Chris Bond||Everyman Theatre, Liverpool|||
|1972||Freedom of the City||Skinnwe||Brian Friel||Everyman Theatre, Liverpool|||
|1976||Occupy!||Player||Everyman Theatre, Liverpool|||
|1977||Illuminatus!||Performer||Ken Campbell/Chris Langham||National Theatre, London|||
|1978||Comings and Goings||Vernon||Mike Stott||Hampstead Theatre Club|||
|1979||The Warp||Performer||Neil Oram/ Ken Campbell||Institute of Contemporary Arts, London|||
|1980||Illuminations||Gorman||Arthur Rimbaud||Lyric Hammersmith|||
|1983||A Map of the World||Performer||David Hare||National Theatre, London|
|1985||Pravda||Eaton Sylvester||David Hare/ Howard Brenton||National Theatre, London|||
|1986||King Lear||Edgar||William Shakespeare||National Theatre, London|||
|1987||Mean Tears||Julian||Peter Gill||National Theatre, Cottesloe|||
|1991||Betrayal||Jerry||Harold Pinter||Almeida Theatre, London|
|1993||Arcadia||Bernard Nightingale||Tom Stoppard||National Theatre, London|||
|1994||The Seagull||Trigorin||Anton Chekhov||National Theatre, London|||
|1995–97||Skylight||Tom Sergeant||David Hare||National Theatre, Vaudeville Theatre||UK tour|
|1998||A Kind of Alaska||Hornby||Harold Pinter||Donmar Warehouse|||
|2000–2001||Blue/Orange||Robert||Joe Penhall||National Theatre, Cottesloe
Duchess Theatre, London
|2006||The Vertical Hour||Oliver Lucas||David Hare||Music Box Theater, Broadway|||
|2014||Skylight||Tom Sergeant||David Hare||Wyndham's Theatre, West End|||
|2015||Skylight||Tom Sergeant||David Hare||John Golden Theatre, Broadway|||
|1981||The Lord of the Rings||Sam Gamgee||BBC Radio 4|
|1983||Yes, Minister||Frank Weisel||BBC Radio 4|
|1993||Arcadia||Bernard Nightingale||BBC Radio 3|
|1994||Ancient Enemies||Unknown||BBC Radio 4|
|1999||So Much Blood||Charles Paris||BBC Radio 4 Saturday Play|
|2002||Blue/Orange||Unknown||BBC Radio 4|
|2003||Baldi: The Book Case||O'Connor||BBC Radio 4 Afternoon Play|
|2003||Turtle Diary||William||BBC Radio 4 Saturday Play|
|2004||A Series of Murders||Charles Paris||BBC Radio 4 Saturday Play|
|2004||All Fingers and Thumbs||Tom||BBC Radio 4 Afternoon Play|
|2006||A Charles Paris Mystery: Sicken and So Die||Charles Paris||BBC Radio 4|
|2007||A Charles Paris Mystery: Murder Unprompted||Charles Paris||BBC Radio 4|
|2008||I Wish to Apologise for My Part in the Apocalypse||Keith||BBC Radio 4 Afternoon Play|
|2008||A Charles Paris Mystery: Dead Side of the Mic||Charles Paris||BBC Radio 4|
|2009||Educating Rita||Frank||BBC Radio 4 Saturday Play|
|2010||Private Lives||Elyot||BBC Radio 4 Saturday Play|
|2010||A Charles Paris Mystery: Cast in Order of Disappearance||Charles Paris||BBC Radio 4|
|2010||A Charles Paris Mystery: Murder in the Title||Charles Paris||BBC Radio 4|
|2011||The Bat Man||Christopher||BBC Radio 4 Afternoon Play|
|2013||Darkside||The Witch Finder / Doctor Antrobus||BBC Radio 2|
|2016||A Charles Paris Mystery: A Decent Interval||Charles Paris||BBC Radio 4|
|2019||A Charles Paris Mystery: Star Trap||Charles Paris||BBC Radio 4|
|2020||A Charles Paris Mystery: A Doubtful Death||Charles Paris||BBC Radio 4|
|2013||Disney Infinity||Davy Jones|
|2014||The Elder Scrolls Online||High King Emeric|
|2015||The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited||High King Emeric|
|Disney Infinity 3.0||Davy Jones|
|2017||The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind||High King Emeric|
|Destiny 2||The Speaker|
|2018||The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset||High King Emeric|
|2019||The Elder Scrolls Online: Elsweyr||High King Emeric|
|2020||The Elder Scrolls Online: Greymoor||High King Emeric|
Awards and nominations
- Williams, Steven (30 June 2006). "Acting Legend Bill Nighy Talks About The Pronunciation Of His Name". Contactmusic.com. Retrieved 10 February 2010.
- Barratt, Nick (11 November 2006). "Family Detective" – via www.telegraph.co.uk.
- Shaitly, Shahesta (4 July 2010). "Bill Nighy: Five things I know about style". The Observer. UK. Retrieved 7 October 2010.
- Bill Nighy: the thinking woman's bagel Archived 1 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine
- Wills, Dominic. "Bill Nighy – Biography". TalkTalk. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
- Blackhall, Sue (1 February 2010). Bill Nighy: The Unauthorised Biography. John Blake Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84454-867-5.
- Bill Nighy, Hello magazine, undated, accessed 23 November 2009.
- Schiff, Amanda (2 December 2008). "Laura Lamson Obituary". The Guardian. UK. Archived from the original on 5 December 2008. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
- " 'Skylight' at Vaudeville" abouttheartists.com, accessed 30 March 2015
- Roslyn Sulcas, "Mulligan and Bill Nighy Prepare ‘Skylight’ for Broadway", New York Times, 26 February 2015; accessed 13 September 2018
- "BBC – Doctor Who (David Tennant and Billie Piper)- News". Archived from the original on 8 April 2008. Retrieved 10 August 2011.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
- "Bill Nighy Is a Wild Target | Empire". Empire. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
- "Bill Nighy to star in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows". BBC. 6 July 2009. Retrieved 6 July 2009.
- "James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton and Ashley Jensen join the cast of "Arthur Christmas"". Archived from the original on 4 December 2011. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
- "Bill Nighy".
- "Pink Floyd album inspires Sir Tom Stoppard radio play". BBC. 28 March 2013. Retrieved 24 August 2013.
- Ben Brantley, "Volatile Chemistry in an Underheated Flat", New York Times, 04 July 2014; accessed 13 September 2018
- " 'Skylight' review – Hare revival is a Thatcherite play for today", The Observer, 22 June 2014. Retrieved 18 July 2014.
- Ben Brantley, "Review: ‘Skylight,’ With Carey Mulligan and Bill Nighy, Opens on Broadway", 02 April 2015; accessed 13 September 2018
- "Emma. director Autumn de Wilde explains the film's unusual punctuation". Radio Times.
- "Bill Nighy: Uptight Englishmen can be rich pickings for appearing daft". Sky News.
- Crystal Palace Supporters Children's Charity Archived 17 April 2013 at the Wayback Machine accessed 2 June 2007
- "Ann Craft Trust: Safeguarding Disabled Children & Adults at Risk". Ann Craft Trust. Retrieved 14 March 2018.
- "Scene & Heard – Who We Are". sceneandheard.org. 2010. Archived from the original on 10 February 2009. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
- "The Milton Rooms homepage". Themiltonrooms.com. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
- "In England at Christmas It's Me and the Queen", City Times (12 December 2016), accessed 25 March 2017.
- "Bill Nighy has Never Been Prouder of his Career Choices than 'Pride'", Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) Australia online, interview (27 February 2019), accessed 3 March 2019.
- Mansel Fletcher (15 November 2011). "The Look: Mr Bill Nighy". Mr. Porter.
- Cartner-Morley, Jess; Mirren, Helen; Huffington, Arianna; Amos, Valerie (28 March 2013). "The 50 best-dressed over 50s". The Guardian. London.
- "50 Best Dressed Men in Britain 2015". GQ. 5 January 2015.
- Alexander, Keira (23 March 2017). "Bill Nighy talks Bill Nye confusion, and the time they met in NYC". AM NY. Retrieved 3 March 2021.
- "The Man With The Stolen Heart". Charlotte Film Festival. Archived from the original on 8 August 2012. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
- "Great White Shark 3D". Retrieved 1 November 2013.
- Billen, Andrew (31 March 2018). "Ordeal by Innocence: the Christie Mystery that almost got away". The Times (72497). Saturday Review. pp. 4–5. ISSN 0140-0460.
- Desk, BWW News. "The Watermill Celebrates 50 Years of Producing Theatre and Three London Transfers in 2017". BroadwayWorld.com.
- Blackhall, Sue (26 December 2010). Billy Nighy - The Unauthorised Biography. Kings Road Publishing. ISBN 9781784185176 – via Google Books.
- "Bill Nighy". IMDb.
- National Theatre archive Archived 21 July 2013 at the Wayback Machine cast and production listing.
- "In Conversation With Bill Nighy".
- "King Lear (1986): National Theatre, Olivier Theatre | BBA Shakespeare". bbashakespeare.warwick.ac.uk.
- Clum, John M. (4 May 2018). Staging Gay Lives: An Anthology Of Contemporary Gay Theater. Routledge. ISBN 9780429965753 – via Google Books.
- Coveney, Michael (18 April 1993). "Arcadia: Michael Coveney's review" – via www.theguardian.com.
- "THEATRE / Every picture tells a story: Paul Taylor on The Seagull". The Independent. 9 July 1994.
- Wolf, Matt (8 June 1998). "3 by Harold Pinter".
- "'Skylight' Theater Review: Carey Mulligan and Bill Nighy Bring New Fire to an Old Romance". 3 April 2015.
- Green, Willow (29 November 2001). "Lord of the Radio". Empire (Cinemas). Retrieved 6 May 2020.
- "BBC – A Charles Paris Mystery – Sicken and So Die". BBC. 3 March 2008. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
- "BBC – A Charles Paris Mystery – Murder Unprompted". BBC. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
- "BBC – Afternoon Play – I Wish to Apologise for My Part in the Apocalypse". BBC. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
- "BBC – A Charles Paris Mystery – Dead Side of the Mic". BBC. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
- "BBC – Saturday Play – Educating Rita". BBC. 26 December 2009. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
- "BBC – Saturday Play – Private Lives". BBC. 2 January 2010. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
- "BBC – A Charles Paris Mystery – Cast in Order of Disappearance". BBC. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
- "BBC – A Charles Paris Mystery – Murder in the Title". BBC. 22 November 2010. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
- "BBC – Afternoon Play – The Bat Man". BBC. 20 April 2011. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
- "BBC – A Charles Paris Mystery – A Decent Interval". BBC. March 2016.
- "BBC – A Charles Paris Mystery – Star Trap". BBC. March 2019.
- "BBC – A Charles Paris Mystery – A Doubtful Death". BBC. May 2020.
- Destiny – End Credits – IGN Video. IGN Video. 11 September 2014. Retrieved 4 December 2014.
- Avalanche Software. Disney Infinity 3.0. Scene: Closing credits, 5:39 in, Featuring the Voice Talents of.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bill Nighy.|
- Bill Nighy at IMDb
- Bill Nighy: A Life in Pictures Interview at BAFTA
- Bill Nighy at the BFI's Screenonline
- Bill Nighy at British Comedy Guide
- Silk Sound Books