Hugh Bonneville

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Hugh Bonneville

Bonneville at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival in 2017
Hugh Richard Bonniwell Williams

(1963-11-10) 10 November 1963 (age 60)
Paddington, London, England
Alma materCorpus Christi College, Cambridge (BA)
Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art
Years active1990–present
Known forRobert Crawley, Earl of Grantham in Downton Abbey
Lucinda Williams
(m. 1998; sep. 2023)

Hugh Richard Bonniwell Williams[1] DL (born 10 November 1963), known professionally as Hugh Bonneville, is an English actor.[2] He is best known for portraying Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham, in the ITV historical drama series Downton Abbey from 2010 to 2015. His performance on the show earned him a nomination at the Golden Globes and two consecutive Primetime Emmy Award nominations, as well as three Screen Actors Guild Awards. He reprised his role in the feature films, Downton Abbey (2019), and Downton Abbey: A New Era (2022). He also appeared in the films Notting Hill (1999), Iris (2001), The Monuments Men (2014), and the Paddington films (2014–present).

Early life and education[edit]

Hugh Richard Bonniwell Williams was born on 10 November 1963 in Paddington, London. His mother was a nurse and his father was a urological surgeon.[3] He was educated at Dulwich College Preparatory School in south London and at Sherborne School.[4]

Following secondary education, Bonneville read theology at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.[5] [6] He graduated from Cambridge with a 2:2 in theology.[7] He went on to study at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London.

Bonneville is an alumnus of the National Youth Theatre.[4]



When he began acting, Bonneville chose Richard Bonneville, a variation of his middle names, as his stage name, because there was a well-known playwright named Hugh Williams. After appearing as Richard Bonneville for ten years, he changed Richard to Hugh.[1]

Bonneville's first professional stage appearance was at the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park. In 1987, he joined the National Theatre where he appeared in several plays, then the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1991, where he played Laertes to Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet (1992–1993). He played Valentine in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Bergetto in 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, Kastril and later Surly in The Alchemist.[8]

In 1994, billed as Richard Bonneville, he appeared in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes episode "The Dying Detective". His film debut was in 1994's Mary Shelley's Frankenstein with Robert De Niro and Kenneth Branagh. In the 1997 James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, he had a small role playing a naval sailor onboard "HMS Bedford". His early roles were usually good-natured bumbling characters like Bernie in Notting Hill (1999) and Mr Rushworth in Mansfield Park (1999).


In the BBC television series Take a Girl Like You (2000) and Armadillo (2001), he played more villainous characters, leading up to the domineering Henleigh Grandcourt in Daniel Deronda (2002) and the psychopathic killer James Lampton in The Commander (2003) series. In Love Again, he played the poet Philip Larkin.

In Iris (2001), he played the young John Bayley opposite Kate Winslet, with his performance lauded by critics and receiving a BAFTA nomination for Best Supporting Actor. In 2004, Bonneville played Sir Christopher Wren in the docudrama Wren – The Man Who Built Britain. Bonneville also works extensively in radio. He played the role of Jerry Westerby in the BBC Radio 4 dramatisation of the John le Carré novel The Honourable Schoolboy, first broadcast in January 2010.[9] Earlier, he appeared in the surreal parallel universe comedy Married.


From 2010 until 2015, he appeared in the ITV period drama Downton Abbey, as Robert, Earl of Grantham, a role he repeated in the 2019 film. Bonneville again reprised the role of Robert Crawley in the 2022 film Downton Abbey: A New Era.

In early 2010, he appeared in the comedy film Burke and Hare.[10] In 2011 and 2012, he starred as Ian Fletcher in the award-winning BBC comedy series Twenty Twelve, and reprised the role in the 2014 BBC comedy series W1A. In December 2012, he appeared on BBC Two with co-star Jessica Hynes in World's Most Dangerous Roads, travelling through Georgia. He also appeared in the much-delayed film Hippie Hippie Shake with Cillian Murphy and Sienna Miller.

From 2011 until 2014, Bonneville was the narrator of the Channel 4 show The Hotel. On 18 November 2012, Bonneville appeared on stage at St Martin's Theatre in the West End for a 60th anniversary performance of Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap, the world's longest-running play.[11]

Bonneville's Paddington Bear designed statue—"The Journey of Marmalade"—in Hyde Park, London, auctioned to raise funds for the NSPCC

Bonneville played Mr. Brown in the 2014 film Paddington and its 2017 sequel Paddington 2. He has appeared in the singing comedic role of Peter the Pillager, the Pirate King, in the ABC fairy tale-themed musical comedy extravaganza series Galavant during its 2015 and 2016 seasons. He also narrated the ITV series The Cruise.

In 2017, Bonneville portrayed Lord Mountbatten in director Gurinder Chadha's film Viceroy's House, which depicted the tumult and violence surrounding the Partition of India during the final days of British rule. Also in 2017, he portrayed the voice of Merlin in the movie based on the children's TV series Thomas & Friends, Journey Beyond Sodor. Also that year, he narrated the documentary A Return to Grace: Luther's Life and Legacy and it was announced that Bonneville would play Roald Dahl in an upcoming biopic about the author.[12]

In 2018, Bonneville succeeded Julie Andrews as host and narrator of the annual "From Vienna: The New Year's Celebration" episode of Great Performances, broadcast on New Year's Day on PBS in the United States.[13] Also in 2018, he returned to voice Merlin in one of the episodes of the twenty-second series of Thomas & Friends.

In 2019, Bonneville portrayed C. S. Lewis at the Chichester Festival Theatre's production of Shadowlands,[14] along with actors Liz White and Andrew Havill.


On 8 March 2023, Bonneville appeared on ITV’s DNA Journey with comedian, John Bishop.[15]

On 7 May 2023, Bonneville appeared as the host of the Coronation Concert of King Charles III.[16] In June, 2023, it was announced that Bonneville will return to the third instalment of Paddington.[17]

Personal life[edit]

Bonneville married Lucinda Williams in 1998.[18] They lived with their son, Felix, in West Sussex.[19] In September 2023, the couple separated after 25 years together.[20]

In 2009, Bonneville was the voice of Justice Fosse in Joseph Crilly's British premiere of Kitty and Damnation for the Giant Olive Theatre Company at the Lion & Unicorn Theatre in Kentish Town.[21] Shortly thereafter he became Giant Olive's first patron.[22] Bonneville is also a patron of the London children's charities Go Live Theatre Projects[23] and Scene & Heard, as well as an ambassador for WaterAid.[24]

On 8 October 2019, he was appointed as a Deputy Lieutenant of the County of West Sussex.[25]


Denotes works that have not yet been released


Year Film Role Notes
1994 Mary Shelley's Frankenstein Schiller
1997 Tomorrow Never Dies Air Warfare Officer – HMS Bedford
1999 Notting Hill Bernie
Mansfield Park Mr Rushworth
2001 Blow Dry Louis
High Heels and Low Lifes Farmer
The Emperor's New Clothes Bertrand
Iris Young John Bayley
2003 Conspiracy of Silence Fr. Jack Dowling
2004 Piccadilly Jim Lord Wisbeach
Stage Beauty Samuel Pepys
2005 The Commander: Virus James Lampton Uncredited
The Commander: Blackout
Man to Man Fraser McBride
Asylum Max Raphael
Underclassman Headmaster Felix Powers
2006 Scenes of a Sexual Nature Gerry
2007 Four Last Songs Sebastian Burrows
Hola to the World Painter Short film
2008 One of Those Days Mr Burrell
French Film Jed
2009 Knife Edge Charles Pollock
Glorious 39 Gilbert Williams
From Time to Time Captain Oldknow
2010 Critical Eye Brian
Shanghai Ben Sanger
Third Star Beachcomber
Burke & Hare Lord Harrington
Hippie Hippie Shake John Mortimer Unreleased[26]
2011 Third Star Beachcomber
2014 The Monuments Men Lieutenant Donald Jeffries
Muppets Most Wanted Irish Journalist
Paddington Henry Brown
2015 Stick Man Santa Clause Voice
Silent Hours Commander William Calthorpe
2017 Viceroy's House Lord Mountbatten
Paddington 2 Henry Brown
Journey Beyond Sodor Merlin Voice
Breathe Teddy Hall
A Return to Grace: Luther's Life and Legacy Narrator
Secrets of the Magna Carta Documentary[27]
2019 Downton Abbey Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham
2020 Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey Mr. Delacroix
2021 To Olivia Roald Dahl
2022 Downton Abbey: A New Era Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham
I Came By Sir Hector Blake
The Amazing Maurice The Mayor Voice
2023 Bank of Dave Sir Charles
Mummies Lord Sylvester Carnaby Voice
2024 Paddington in Peru Henry Brown


Year Film Role Notes
1990 Chancer Jas 2 episodes
1991 Dodgem Rick Bayne 5 episodes
1993 Paul Merton: The Series Captain Episode: #2.6"
Stalag Luft Barton Television movie
1994 The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes Victor Savage Episode: "The Dying Detective"
Credited as Richard Bonneville
Peak Practice Dominic Kent Episode: "Perfect Love"

Credited as Richard Bonneville

Cadfael Daniel Aurifaber Episode: "The Sanctuary Sparrow"
Credited as Richard Bonneville
Between the Lines Henry Oakes Episode: "Close Protection"
1995 The Vet Alan Sinclair 6 episodes
EastEnders Headmaster Episode: "14 December 1995"
1996 Married for Life Steve Hollingsworth 7 episodes
Bugs Nathan Pym Episode: "Bugged Wheat"
1997 Breakout Peter Schneider Television movie
See You Friday Daniel Episode: "#1.1"
The Man Who Made Husbands Jealous Ferdinand Fitzgerald Episode: #1.1"
Get Well Soon Norman Tucker 4 episodes
1998 Heat of the Sun Edward Herbert Episode: "Hide in Plain Sight"
Mosley Bob Boothby 4 episodes
Holding the Baby Gordon Muir Unknown episodes
The Scold's Bridle Tim Duggan Television movie
1999 Murder Most Horrid Inspector Dawson Episode: "Confessions of a Murderer"
2000 Take a Girl Like You Julian Ormerod 3 episodes
Thursday the 12th Brin Hopper Television movie
Madame Bovary Charles Bovary
2001 Hans Christian Andersen:
My Life as a Fairytale
The Cazalets Hugh Cazalet 6 episodes
Armadillo Torquil Helvoir Jayne TV film
2002 Midsomer Murders Hugh Barton Episode: "Ring Out Your Dead"
Tipping the Velvet Ralph Banner Episode: "#1.3"
Daniel Deronda Henleigh Grandcourt 3 episodes
Impact Phil Epson Television movie
The Gathering Storm Ivo Pettifer
Right Under My Eyes James
The Biographer Eric
Doctor Zhivago Andrey Zhivago
2003 The Commander James Lampton
Love Again Philip Larkin
Hear the Silence Andrew Wakefield
2004 Wren: The Man Who Built Britain Christopher Wren TV documentary
2005 The Rotter's Club Voice of Adult Ben 2 episodes
The Robinsons George Robinson 6 episodes
2006 Courting Alex Julian/Charles Carter 10 episodes
Beau Brummell: This Charming Man Prince Regent Television movie
Tsunami: The Aftermath Tony Whittaker Television movie
2007 The Vicar of Dibley Jeremy Ogilvy Episode: "The Vicar in White"
Five Days DSI Iain Barclay 4 episodes
The Replacements Voice Episode: "London Calling"
The Diary of a Nobody Charles Pooter Television movie
Miss Austen Regrets Rev. Brook Bridges
2007–08 Freezing Matt 3 episodes
2008 Bonekickers Gregory Parton 6 episodes
Lost in Austen Claude Bennet 4 episodes
Filth: The Mary Whitehouse Story Sir Hugh Carleton Greene Television movie
2008–11 Country House Rescue Narrator 24 episodes
2009 Hunter DSI Iain Barclay 2 episodes
Ruth Watson's Hotel Rescue Narrator 6 episodes
Legally Mad Gordon Hamm unaired pilot[28]
2010–15 Downton Abbey Robert Crawley,
Earl of Grantham
52 episodes
2010 Ben Hur Pontius Pilate 2 episodes
Agatha Christie's Poirot Edward Masterman Episode: "Murder on the Orient Express"
The Silence Chris 4 episodes
2010–14 Rev. Roland Wise 3 episodes
2011 Doctor Who Captain Avery Episodes: "The Curse of the Black Spot"
"A Good Man Goes to War"
The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side
Inspector Hewitt Television movie
2011–12 Twenty Twelve Ian Fletcher 13 episodes
2011–14 The Hotel Narrator 33 episodes
2012 Turn Back Time: The Family 5 episodes
Getting On Philip Moore Episode: "#3.6"
World's Most Dangerous Roads Episode: "#3.2"
Mr Stink Mr Stink Television movie
2013 Da Vinci's Demons Duke of Milan Episode: "The Hanged Man"
2014 Top Gear Himself Episode: "Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car"
2014–17 W1A Ian Fletcher 14 episodes
2015–16 Galavant Pirate King 2 Episodes
2015–18 Sofia the First Book Narrator 5 episodes
2016 The Hollow Crown Gloucester Episode: "Henry VI, Part I"
Walliams & Friend Various Episode 7
2017 The Grand Tour Himself Series 2 Episode 3
A Return to Grace:
Luther's Life and Legacy
Narrator Documentary
2018 Countdown to Calvary Host/Narrator Documentary
Thomas & Friends Merlin Voice; Episode: "Seeing is Believing"
Christmas with the Tabernacle Choir[29] Narrator
2019 Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Narrator 2 episodes
2018–24 Great Performances Host/Narrator Episode "From Vienna: The New Year's Celebration 2018"
Episode "From Vienna: The New Year's Celebration 2019"
Episode "From Vienna: The New Year's Celebration 2020"[30]
Episode "From Vienna: The New Year's Celebration 2021"
Episode "From Vienna: The New Year's Celebration 2022"
Episode "From Vienna: The New Year's Celebration 2023"
Episode "From Vienna: The New Year's Celebration 2024"
2020 Sandylands One-Eyed Man 2 episodes
2020–22 Amphibia Wigbert Ribbiton Voice; 2 episodes[31]
2020 DuckTales Santa Claus Voice; Episode: "How Santa Stole Christmas"[32]
2022 The Hidden Lives of Pets Narrator Documentary series[33]
Secrets of the Royal Gardens Documentary series[34]
2023 The Gold DCI Brian Boyce 6 episodes
DNA Journey Himself 7 March
Coronation Concert Host [35]
2024 The Completely Made-Up Adventures of Dick Turpin Jonathan Wild 6 episodes
Douglas Is Cancelled Douglas Bellowes In production[36]


Production Year Book Title Role Notes
2004 Birds Without Wings narrator
2014 Goldfinger
2016 Paddington Takes the Test
Paddington At Large
Paddington Marches On
Paddington Abroad
Paddington Helps Out
2017 Paddington At Work
On the Banks of Plum Creek
Paddington Goes to Town
Farmer Boy
2018 Paddington Takes the Air
Paddington On Top
2021 Absolute Proof
2022 Late Summer On State Street


Year Award Category Project Result
2001 British Academy Film Award Best Supporting Actor Iris Nominated
European Film Award Best Actor Nominated
2002 Berlin International Film Festival New Talent Award Won
2006 Monte-Carlo Television Festival Outstanding Actor in a Miniseries Tsunami: The Aftermath Nominated
2012 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series Downton Abbey Nominated
2013 Nominated
2011 Golden Globe Awards Best Actor - Miniseries or Television Film Nominated
2012 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama Series Won
2013 Nominated
2014 Won
2015 Won
2016 Nominated
2011 Monte-Carlo Television Festival Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series Nominated
2013 Nominated
2011 British Comedy Awards Best TV Comedy Actor Twenty Twelve Nominated
2012 Nominated
2012 British Academy Television Award Best Actor in a Comedy Programme Nominated
2013 Nominated
2015 W1A Nominated
2016 Nominated


Commonwealth honours[edit]

Commonwealth honours
Country Date Appointment Post-nominal letters
 United Kingdom 8 October 2019 – Present Deputy Lieutenant of West Sussex[37][38] DL


University degrees
Location Date School Degree
 England Corpus Christi College, Cambridge Lower Second Class Honours Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Theology
 England Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art
Honorary degrees
Location Date School Degree Gave Commencement Address
 England October 2019 University of Winchester Doctor of Arts (D.Arts)[39][40]


  1. ^ a b Bonneville, Hugh (2022). Playing under the piano: from Downton to darkest Peru. New York. pp. 78–80. ISBN 978-1-63542-342-6. OCLC 1334493251.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  2. ^ Room, Adrian (2010). Dictionary of Pseudonyms: 13,000 Assumed Names and Their Origins (5th ed.). Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. p. 69. ISBN 978-0-7864-4373-4. OCLC 607613318. Retrieved 19 December 2015.
  3. ^ "Hugh Bonneville: "I want to grab him and say get real"". Big Issue. Archived from the original on 24 July 2020. Retrieved 19 December 2015.
  4. ^ a b Greensteet, Rosanna (6 November 2004). "Q&A: Hugh Bonneville". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 August 2011.
  5. ^ "Corpus Playroom Renovations". Corpus Christi College. Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 18 August 2011.
  6. ^ Franks, Alan (16 February 2008). "Hugh Bonneville and Tom Hollander on Freezing, fame and friendship". The Times. Retrieved 18 August 2011.
  7. ^ "Interview: Hugh Bonneville star of Downton Abbey". The Cambridge Student. Archived from the original on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 12 January 2015.
  8. ^ Trowbridge, Simon (2010). The Company: a Biographical Dictionary of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Oxford, England: Editions Albert Creed. pp. 52–53. ISBN 978-0-9559830-2-3.
  9. ^ "The Complete Smiley – The Karla Trilogy, Book 2: The Honourable Schoolboy". BBC. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
  10. ^ "Burke and Hare Teaser Art Debuts at Cannes". Dread Central. 16 September 2012. Retrieved 12 January 2015.
  11. ^ "Mousetrap celebrates 60 years with gala performance". BBC. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  12. ^ "Hugh Bonneville to play Roald Dahl in new film". BBC News. 11 May 2017. Retrieved 12 May 2017.
  13. ^ "About From Vienna: The New Year's Celebration 2018". PBS. 13 November 2017. Retrieved 15 August 2020.
  14. ^ "Shadowlands". 7 June 2022. Archived from the original on 9 October 2022. Retrieved 7 June 2022.
  15. ^ "Irish roots of "Downton Abbey's" Hugh Bonneville revealed in new "DNA Journey"". Irish Central. 7 March 2023. Retrieved 7 March 2023.
  16. ^ "Coronation Concert: What time is it and how long is it on for?". LBC. Retrieved 8 May 2023.
  17. ^ "MSN". 3 July 2023. Retrieved 3 July 2023.
  18. ^ "Biography for Hugh Bonneville". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 5 December 2011.
  19. ^ Myers, Marc (17 September 2019). "'Downton Abbey' Star Hugh Bonneville Grew Up in an Edwardian Home That Felt Grand". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
  20. ^ Wace, Charlotte (1 October 2023). "Hugh Bonneville and his wife Lulu Williams split after 25 years". The Times & The Sunday Times. Retrieved 1 October 2023.
  21. ^ "Off-West End Announcements – 3 July 2009". What's on Stage. 3 July 2009. Archived from the original on 20 October 2012. Retrieved 18 August 2011.
  22. ^ "The History of Giant Olive Theatre Company". Giant Olive Theatre Company. Archived from the original on 17 August 2011. Retrieved 18 August 2011.
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Scene & Heard – Who We Are". 2010. Archived from the original on 10 February 2009. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  25. ^ "Deputy Lieutenant Commissions LIEUTENANCY OF WEST SUSSEX". The London Gazette. Retrieved 4 August 2022.
  26. ^ Meacham, Steve; Maddox, Garry (14 February 2011). "Hippies tossed aside in corporate decision". The Sydney Morning Herald. After a promised release failed to eventuate last year, the British production company, Working Title, has confirmed it will not reach cinemas. The managing director of the distributor Universal Pictures in Australia, Mike Baard, said: 'I's going to land in the direct-to-video's off our release schedule.'
  27. ^ "Secrets of the Magna Carta, Written by Martin Durkin". The Objective Standard. 7 March 2021. Retrieved 8 March 2021.
  28. ^ Schneider, Michael (11 May 2009). "NBC passing on 'Legally Mad'". Variety. Retrieved 28 December 2019.
  29. ^ "The 2018 Concert". Christmas with the Tabernacle Choir. Retrieved 21 December 2023.
  30. ^ "From Vienna: The New Year's Celebration 2020". 26 November 2019.
  31. ^ Ramos, Dino-Ray (23 June 2020). "Disney Channel Renews 'Amphibia' For Season 3; Kermit The Frog, Jenifer Lewis, George Takei And More To Guest Star on Season 2". Deadline.
  32. ^ "November 2020 Programming Highlights". Walt Disney Television Press. 19 October 2020. Archived from the original on 21 October 2020. Retrieved 19 October 2020.
  33. ^ "The Secret Life of Our Pets". Retrieved 12 January 2022.
  34. ^ "Secrets of the Royal Gardens". Retrieved 3 March 2022.
  35. ^ "Stars announced for spectacular one-off performance at the Coronation Concert". Retrieved 24 April 2023.
  36. ^ Yossman, K.J. (17 November 2023). "Karen Gillan, Hugh Bonneville to Star in New Cancel Culture Dramedy From Steven Moffat (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 18 November 2023.
  37. ^ Sampson, Annabel (9 October 2019). "Downton Abbey's Hugh Bonneville gains a real-life royal title". Tatler Magazine. Retrieved 29 April 2022.
  38. ^ "Deputy Lieutenant Commissions LIEUTENANCY OF WEST SUSSEX". The London Gazette. Retrieved 4 August 2022.
  39. ^ "Honorary Doctorates 2019" (PDF). Retrieved 23 October 2021.
  40. ^ "Hugh Bonneville - Graduation 2019". YouTube. Archived from the original on 13 December 2021.

Further reading[edit]

  • Trowbridge, Simon. The Company: A Biographical Dictionary of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Oxford: Editions Albert Creed, 2010. ISBN 978-0-9559830-2-3.

External links[edit]