Jonathan Bailey

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Jonathan Bailey
Jonathan Bailey 2015.jpg
Bailey in April 2015
Born
Jonathan Stuart Bailey

(1988-04-25) 25 April 1988 (age 34)
OccupationActor
Years active1995–present
Works
Full list

Jonathan Stuart Bailey (born 25 April 1988)[2] is an English actor. Known for his comedic and dramatic roles on stage and screen, he is the recipient of a Laurence Olivier Award as well as nominations for Evening Standard Theatre and Screen Actor Guild Awards.

Bailey began his career as a child actor in Royal Shakespeare Company productions when he was seven years old, and by eight was performing as Gavroche in a West End production of Les Misérables.[3] He has since starred in the play South Downs for which he was nominated at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards as Outstanding Newcomer in 2012, the Royal National Theatre's Othello in 2013 where he played Cassio, the London revival of musical The Last Five Years in 2016, the West End revival of The York Realist in 2018, the West End gender-swapped revival of Company for which he won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical in 2019,[4] and the West End revival of Cock in 2022.

On screen, Bailey starred in the CBBC action-adventure series Leonardo (2011–12) and Disney Channel musical-comedy Groove High (2012–13) before becoming known for his roles in ITV crime drama Broadchurch (2013–15), BBC satire W1A (2014–17), and Channel 4 comedy Crashing (2016). In 2020, Bailey began playing Anthony, Viscount Bridgerton in the Netflix Regency romance drama Bridgerton. The role garnered him critical acclaim and international recognition.[5][6]

Early life[edit]

Born in the Oxfordshire village of Benson, Bailey is the youngest of four siblings and the only son.[7] His mother worked as an audiologist and his father was a former Rowse Honey managing director.[1][8] He described being brought up by "a co-operative of four brilliant women and a dad who has an incredible work ethic".[7] Bailey decided that he wanted to be an actor at the age of five after his grandmother took him to see a production of Lionel Bart's Oliver! in London.[2]

He attended The Oratory School while taking ballet lessons, and later studied at Magdalen College School, Oxford under a music scholarship, playing the piano and clarinet.[8][9] After securing a talent agent at 15 years old and booking acting roles, he eventually declined his university place and opted not to go to drama school,[3][10] later saying that this kept him grounded in the performing arts: "I've never gone in as the overdog, and that's liberating and I don't want that to ever change. I just want to allow my own experiences to come through."[11][12]

Career[edit]

Beginnings as a child actor (1995–2010)[edit]

Through a dance club in Henley-on-Thames of which he was a member, Bailey auditioned for and landed the alternating roles of Tiny Tim and Young Scrooge in the 1995 Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) production of A Christmas Carol at the Barbican Theatre in London at seven years old.[13][14] The following year, he made his television debut in the Victorian era period drama Bramwell.[15] He also played Little Baptiste in the RSC's 1996 production of Les Enfants du paradis. By eight years old, he was performing as Gavroche in a West End production of Les Misérables.

In 2001, Bailey played Prince Arthur for the RSC's King John.[16] He made his feature film debut in 2004 in Five Children and It, a film adaptation of E. Nesbit's fantasy novel of the same name.[17] In 2006, on the day of his last A levels, he started rehearsing for a revival of a Beautiful Thing in London, taking over the lead role from Andrew Garfield.[12] The Telegraph wrote that Bailey "memorably lit up" the production.[18] This was followed by guest roles in long-running British television staples like Doctors and The Bill.[19] His first leading role on television was in the 2009 BBC sitcom Off the Hook about a group of university freshers.[20]

Rising popularity and breakthrough (2011–2017)[edit]

In 2011, he played the titular Leonardo da Vinci in the 2011 CBBC action-adventure series Leonardo, which follows a young Leo and his friends in 15th century Florence.[11] The show ran for two series, spawned an online game,[21] and received four KidScreen Awards.[22][23] The same year, he starred in the comedy Campus, a semi-improvised sitcom in which he played Flatpack, a student athlete with Olympic potential.[24]

Bailey led the Disney Channel musical-comedy Groove High as the popstar Tom which ran from 2012 to 2013 for 26 episodes and was a mixture of live action and animation where Bailey sang and also did the voiceover of his character's animated form.[25] He was nominated for Outstanding Newcomer at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards in 2012 for his performance in David Hare's well-received play South Downs at Minerva Theatre, and its later transfer to Harold Pinter Theatre.[26][27]The Telegraph described him as a future star and one of "the brightest up-and-coming actors currently starring on the West End stage."[28]

Bailey in October 2014

In 2013, Bailey rose to popularity for playing the local journalist Olly Stevens in the first two series of the hit crime-drama Broadchurch on ITV.[29][30] On stage, he was cast by then Royal National Theatre's artistic director Nicholas Hytner as Cassio in his production of William Shakespeare's Othello at the Olivier Theatre in 2013.[31] The production was shown to cinemas via National Theatre Live. His "likable, open-faced",[32] and "smoothly ambitious"[33] Cassio was "splendid",[34] per The Washington Post. Hytner also directed Bailey in one of the vignettes for National Theatre Live: 50 Years On Stage where he played Valentine Coverly from Tom Stoppard's Arcadia.[35]

Bailey joined his first musical theatre production playing Tim Price in Duncan Sheik's London run of American Psycho directed by Rupert Goold at the Almeida Theatre.[36][37] He then guest starred in the Doctor Who episode "Time Heist" in 2014.[38] The episode was described by The Independent as "a fast-paced caper" with Bailey stealing the show with his compelling performance as augmented human Psi.[39] He also had a supporting role in the 2014 period film Testament of Youth based on the First World War memoir of Vera Brittain.[40] Bailey returned to comedy in the 2014 satirical show W1A as BBC employee Jack, a role he would play for three series.[41]

Bailey starred as Sam, a sex-obsessed and sexually confused estate agent in Phoebe Waller-Bridge's first television project Crashing in 2016, which W magazine described as a "twisted version of Friends."[42] The same year, he headlined the London production of the musical The Last Five Years as Jamie with music, lyrics and direction by Jason Robert Brown at St. James Theatre. The Stage's Mark Shenton called the production "poignant" turning "each song into a masterclass of storytelling" with Bailey "a real vocal surprise with his haunting renditions of 'If I Didn’t Believe in You' and 'Nobody Needs to Know'."[43] He also played Herod in the 2016 American biblical drama film The Young Messiah, based on a novel by Anne Rice.[44]

In 2017, he appeared alongside Ian McKellen in the acclaimed production of King Lear at Chichester Festival Theatre in 2017.[45] He received raved reviews[7] for his performance as Edgar which the Evening Standard described as "a touching study of transformation".[46] Bailey also made a guest appearance in series two episode two of Michaela Coel's sitcom Chewing Gum in 2017 where he played Ash, a romantic interest to Coel's character Tracey.[47][48] He followed this up with a role in the 2017 biographical film The Mercy directed by James Marsh.[49]

Acclaim and worldwide recognition (2018–present)[edit]

From February to April 2018, Bailey starred in Donmar Warehouse-Sheffield Theatres co-production of Peter Gill's The York Realist. The Evening Standard,[50] The Arts Desk,[51] and Sunday Express[52] gave the production five stars, with The Independent calling it "a pitch-perfect, impeccably acted production" in its own five-star review.[53]

"It's thrilling from beginning to end. And the last scene of Act I (which is now two guys) will completely shatter you, as well as it being one of the funniest scenes on record. All due to [Jonathan Bailey], the guy who plays Jamie, the Amy-equivalent."

Stephen Sondheim after watching the widely acclaimed performance of Bailey in the 2018 gender-swapped revival of his musical Company in the West End[54]

Bailey subsequently joined the second West End revival of Stephen Sondheim's Company in April 2018 playing the gender-swapped role of Jamie which was originally written as a female character, directed by Marianne Elliot.[55][56] Per The Times, he "received an ovation every night after completing the infamous 'Getting Married Today' a rat-tat-tat, mile-a-minute technical feat, lyrically, about marriage jitters."[57] His "lightning-fast, show-stopping rendition of the song became a must-see West End event" according to Variety, and won him the 2019 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical.[58]

Since 2020, Bailey has starred in the Shonda Rhimes-produced Netflix series Bridgerton, an adaptation of Julia Quinn's Regency romance novels, as Anthony, Viscount Bridgerton.[59] The role garnered him critical acclaim and international recognition.[60][61][62] The second series, which he led, became the most watched English-language television series on Netflix with 656.16 million hours viewed in its first 28 days of release,[63][64] and debuted number one in 92 countries on the platform on 25 March 2022.[65] Kevin Fallon of The Daily Beast elaborating on Bailey's "exquisite lead performance", wrote that "he has an exceptional ability to carry his angst, pain, and guilt with him without bogging down things into a somber drag."[66]

Bailey headlined the acclaimed[67] 2022 West End revival of Mike Bartlett's play Cock at the Ambassadors Theatre, reuniting him with his Company director Elliot.[68][69] The Observer's Kate Kellaway called it an "immaculate production",[70] with The Arts Desk writing that it was "brutal, bruising, and brilliant".[71] In the lead role, Bailey's "terrific performance"[72] was "utterly captivating",[73] with Variety's David Benedict writing that his "whiplash comic timing lifts his character from self-obsessed to scintillating, a quality he uses both artfully and artlessly."[74]

Public image[edit]

Bailey has been described as a sex symbol whose fans, according to the Los Angeles Times, span "all genders and orientations".[75][76]

TIME magazine included Bailey in its annual class of Next Generation Leaders in 2022, writing that he is "redefining Hollywood" as a "quietly radical" heartthrob.[77][78] Attitude featured him in their inaugural list of "LGBTQ+ trailblazers changing the world" in 2020.[79][80] GQ described him as "one of the few gay British actors working onscreen whose roles don't seem defined wholly by their sexuality."[81] Pride declared that he is proof gay actors can convincingly play straight roles,[82] with Out writing that Bailey's visibility is inspiring LGBTQ+ performers to come out.[83]

Personal life[edit]

Bailey is gay.[41][80] Although wary of discussing his sexuality as he thinks it "becomes a commodity and a currency",[84] he is keen about representation stating, "there's absolutely no way I'm not going to be visibly out",[57] and "if I can fill spaces that I didn't have growing up, then I feel like that's a really brilliant thing."[10][81]

Acting credits[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Awards and nominations received by Jonathan Bailey
Award Year Category Nominated work Result Ref.
Evening Standard Theatre Awards 2012 Outstanding Newcomer South Downs Nominated [85]
BroadwayWorld UK Awards 2018 Best Supporting Actor in a New Production of a Musical Company Nominated [86]
WhatsOnStage Awards 2019 Best Supporting Actor in a Musical Nominated [87]
Laurence Olivier Awards 2019 Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical Won [88]
Gold Derby Awards 2021 Drama Supporting Actor Bridgerton Nominated [89]
Screen Actors Guild Awards 2021 Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Nominated [90]

References[edit]

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  6. ^ Kelsie, Gibson (25 March 2022). "Everything to Know About Bridgerton Star Jonathan Bailey". PEOPLE.com. Archived from the original on 16 April 2022. Retrieved 24 April 2022. Jonathan Bailey has gained critical acclaim for his role as Anthony on Netflix's Bridgerton.
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External links[edit]