Bill Nighy

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Bill Nighy
Bill Nighy Pride TIFF 2014.jpg
BornWilliam Francis Nighy
(1949-12-12) 12 December 1949 (age 65)
Caterham, Surrey, England, UK
Years active1976–present
Partner(s)Diana Quick (1980–2008)
ChildrenMary Nighy
SignatureBill Nighy's signature.JPG
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This article is about the British actor. For the American scientist, see Bill Nye.
Bill Nighy
Bill Nighy Pride TIFF 2014.jpg
BornWilliam Francis Nighy
(1949-12-12) 12 December 1949 (age 65)
Caterham, Surrey, England, UK
Years active1976–present
Partner(s)Diana Quick (1980–2008)
ChildrenMary Nighy
SignatureBill Nighy's signature.JPG

William Francis "Bill" Nighy (pronounced /n/;[1] born 12 December 1949) is an English actor. He worked in theatre and television before his first cinema role in 1981, and made his name in television with The Men's Room in 1991, in which he played the womaniser Prof. Mark Carleton, whose extramarital affairs kept him "vital".[2]

Nighy became known internationally for his performance in Love Actually. Other notable roles in cinema include his portrayal of Davy Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, as well as Viktor in the Underworld film series.

He is also known for his roles in the films Lawless Heart, I Capture the Castle, Shaun of the Dead, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Notes on a Scandal, Hot Fuzz, Valkyrie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1, Rango and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. His performances were also acclaimed in the State of Play series 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[edit]

Nighy was born on 12 December 1949 in Caterham, Surrey. His mother, Catherine Josephine Nighy (née Whittaker), was a psychiatric nurse who was born in Glasgow,[3] and his English-born father, Alfred Martin Nighy, managed a car garage after working in the family chimney sweeping business.[4] Also of part Irish descent, Nighy was brought up as a Roman Catholic, serving as an altar boy.[5]

He has two elder 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. He left the school with two O-levels and then took a job with the Croydon Advertiser as a messenger boy.[6] He went on to train at the Guildford School of Acting.[7]


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, and went on 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, alongside John Shea and Tony Randall.

He 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 which launched his career.[8] More recently he has featured in the thriller State of Play (2003) and 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 alongside Stephen Moore and Lesley Sharp in the acclaimed short radio drama Kerton's Story 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. Taking the role of Bernard Nightingale, an unscrupulous university don, in Tom Stoppard's Arcadia (1993), he engaged in witty exchanges with Felicity Kendal, playing the role of Hannah Jarvis, an author; and 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.

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 and returned in the same role for 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 shameless, washed-up rocker Billy Mack in Love Actually (a role foreshadowed by his Still Crazy character) and followed this up at the BAFTA Television Awards in April with 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 role of the Ninth Doctor in the 2005 revival of the BBC television series Doctor Who.[9] 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 featured in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, where he played the principal villain, Davy Jones, although his face was entirely obscured by computer-generated makeup and 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 has starred in the film Wild Target.[10]

In July 2009, he announced that he would play Rufus Scrimgeour in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1.[11] 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.[11]

Nighy voiced Grandsanta in the 2011 CGI animated film Arthur Christmas.[12] In 2012, he starred in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Wrath of the Titans, and the remake of Total Recall.[13] 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.[14]

Personal life[edit]

Nighy had a 27-year-relationship with English actress Diana Quick, with whom he has a daughter, actress Mary Nighy. The couple amicably separated in 2008.[15]

He is a supporter of Crystal Palace and is the Patron of the CPFRIS (Crystal Palace F.C. Fast Results & Information Service) Disabled Children's Club, and of the Ann Craft Trust.[16] He is also one of the Honorary Patrons of the London children's charity Scene & Heard.[17] He suffers from Dupuytren's contracture, a condition which causes the ring and little finger of each hand to be permanently bent inwards towards the palm.[7]

Nighy is also a patron for the Milton Rooms, a new arts centre in Malton, North Yorkshire, along with Imelda Staunton, Jools Holland and Kathy Burke.[18]

Nighy is known for his bespoke navy suits; he was listed as one of the fifty best-dressed over 50s by The Guardian in March 2013.[19]



1981Eye of the NeedleSquadron Leader Blenkinsop
1983Curse of the Pink PantherENT Doctor
1984The Little Drummer GirlAl
1985Hitler's SS: Portrait in EvilHelmut Hoffmann
1985Thirteen at DinnerRonald Marsh
1989The Phantom of the Opera: The Motion PictureMartin Barton
1994Being HumanJulian
1996True BlueJeremy Saville
1997FairyTale: A True StoryEdward Gardner
1998Still CrazyRay Simms
1999Guest House ParadisoMr. Johnson
2001Blow DryRaymond "Ray" Robertson
2001Lawless HeartDan
2001Lucky BreakRoger "Rog" Chamberlain
2002AKAUncle Louis Gryffoyn
2003Ready When You Are, Mr McGillPhil Parish
2003Love ActuallyBilly Mack
2003I Capture the CastleJames Mortmain
2004Shaun of the DeadPhillip
2004Enduring LoveRobin
2005The Magic RoundaboutDylanVoice only (UK version)
2005The Hitchhiker's Guide to the GalaxySlartibartfast
2006Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's ChestDavy Jones
2005The Constant GardenerSir Bernard Pellegrin
2006Underworld: EvolutionViktor
2006StormbreakerAlan Blunt
2006Flushed AwayWhiteyVoice only
2006Notes on a ScandalRichard Hart
2007Hot FuzzCh. Insp. Kenneth
2007Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's EndDavy Jones
2008ValkyrieFriedrich Olbricht
2009Underworld: Rise of the LycansViktor
2009The Boat That RockedQuentin
2009G-ForceLeonard Saber
2009Astro BoyProfessor Simon Elefun/RobotskyVoice only
2009StatuesqueMr. JellabyShort film
2009Glorious 39Sir Alexander
2010Wild TargetVictor Maynard
2010Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1Rufus Scrimgeour
2011RangoRattlesnake JakeVoice only
2011Chalet GirlRichard
2011Arthur ChristmasGrandsantaVoice only
2011The Man with the Stolen HeartNarratorVoice only[20]
2012The Best Exotic Marigold HotelDouglas Ainslie
2012Wrath of the TitansHephaestus
2012Total RecallMatthias Lair
2013Great White Shark 3DNarrator[21]Voice only
2013Jack the Giant SlayerFallon (Big Head)Voice only
2013The World's EndThe NetworkVoice only
2013About TimeJames Lake
2014I, FrankensteinNaberius
2015The Second Best Exotic Marigold HotelDouglas AinsliePost-production


1981AgonyVincent FlashSeason 2
1982MinderOatesEpisode: "Looking for Micky"
1985The Last Place on EarthCecil Meares
1991The Men's RoomMark CarletonBBC miniseries
1991BergeracEpisode: "All for Love"
1994WycliffeDavid CleeveEpisode: "The Four Jacks"
1995Llety Piod
1997Kavanagh QCGiles Culpepper QCEpisode:"Ancient History"
1998Kiss Me KateCameron
2000LongitudeLord Sandwich
2002Auf Wiedersehen, PetJeffrey GraingerSeason 3
2002The Inspector Lynley MysteriesEpisode: "Well Schooled in Murder"
2003State of PlayCameron Foster
2003The Lost PrinceArthur Bigge, 1st Baron Stamfordham
2004He Knew He Was RightColonel Osborne
2005The Girl in the CaféLawrence
2005Gideon's DaughterGideon Warner
2010Doctor WhoDr. BlackUncredited; Episode: "Vincent and the Doctor"
2011Page EightJohnny Worricker
2014Turks & CaicosJohnny Worricker
2014Salting the BattlefieldJohnny Worricker
2014Adventure TimeSanta ClausVoice only; Episode: "Christmas Time"

Video games[edit]

2009G-ForceLeonard Saber
2013Disney InfinityDavy Jones
2014The Elder Scrolls OnlineKing Emeric
2014DestinyThe Speaker[22]

Awards and nominations[edit]

YearNominated workAwardCategoryResult
1998Still CrazySatellite AwardBest Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or MusicalNominated
2001Lawless HeartLos Angeles Film Critics Association AwardBest Supporting ActorWon
2001Lawless HeartBIFA AwardBest Performance by an Actor in a British Independent FilmNominated
2002AKALos Angeles Film Critics Association AwardBest Supporting ActorWon
2003Love ActuallyBAFTA AwardBAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting RoleWon
2003Love ActuallyLos Angeles Film Critics Association AwardBest Supporting ActorWon
2003Love ActuallyEvening Standard British Film AwardsPeter Sellers Award for ComedyWon
2003Love ActuallyWashington D.C. Area Film Critics Association AwardBest EnsembleWon
2003Love ActuallyPhoenix Film Critics Society AwardBest CastNominated
2003Love ActuallySatellite AwardBest Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or MusicalNominated
2003I Capture the CastleLos Angeles Film Critics Association AwardBest Supporting ActorWon
2003State of PlayBritish Academy Television AwardBest ActorWon
2003The Lost PrinceSatellite AwardBest Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television FilmWon
2005Pirates of the CaribbeanTeen Choice AwardsChoice SleazebagWon
2005Pirates of the CaribbeanMTV Movie AwardMTV Movie Award for Best VillainNominated
2005Pirates of the CaribbeanSaturn AwardSaturn Award for Best Supporting ActorNominated
2005The Girl in the CaféGolden Globe AwardBest Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for TelevisionNominated
2005Gideon's DaughterGolden Globe AwardBest Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for TelevisionWon
2005Gideon's DaughterSatellite AwardBest Actor – Miniseries or Television FilmWon
2007Pirates of the CaribbeanTeen Choice AwardsChoice SleazebagWon
2011Page EightGolden Globe AwardBest Actor – Miniseries or Television FilmNominated
2011Page EightSatellite AwardBest Actor – Miniseries or Television FilmNominated

Selected performances[edit]



8 March 198130 August 1981The Lord of the RingsSam GamgeeJ.R.R. Tolkien dramatised by Brian Sibley and Michael BakewellJane Morgan and Penny LeicesterBBC Radio 4
18 October 198315 November 1983Yes, MinisterFrank WeiselAntony Jay and Jonathan Lynn adapted for radio by Pete AtkinPete AtkinBBC Radio 4
26 December 1993ArcadiaBernard NightingaleTom StoppardDavid BenedictusBBC Radio 3
30 April 1994Ancient EnemiesElizabeth NorthBBC Radio 4
21 August 1999So Much BloodCharles ParisSimon Brett dramatised by Bert CoulesGaynor MacfarlaneBBC Radio 4 Saturday Play
6 January 2002Blue/OrangeJoe PenhallBBC Radio 4
21 March 2003Baldi: The Book CaseO'ConnorSimon BrettMark LambertBBC Radio 4 Afternoon Play
19 April 2003Turtle DiaryWilliamRussell HobanGaynor MacfarlaneBBC Radio 4 Saturday Play
25 September 2004A Series of MurdersCharles ParisSimon Brett dramatised by Jeremy FrontBBC Radio 4 Saturday Play
29 December 2004All Fingers and ThumbsTomAlan StaffordDirk MaggsBBC Radio 4 Afternoon Play
30 August 200620 September 2006A Charles Paris Mystery: Sicken and So Die[24]Charles ParisSimon Brett dramatised by Jeremy FrontSally AvensBBC Radio 4
19 October 20079 November 2007A Charles Paris Mystery: Murder Unprompted[25]Charles ParisSimon Brett dramatised by Jeremy FrontSally AvensBBC Radio 4
17 July 2008I Wish to Apologise for My Part in the Apocalypse[26]KeithDuncan MacmillanSam HoyleBBC Radio 4 Afternoon Play
10 December 200831 December 2008A Charles Paris Mystery: Dead Side of the Mic[27]Charles ParisSimon Brett dramatised by Jeremy FrontSally AvensBBC Radio 4
26 December 2009Educating Rita[28]FrankWilly RussellKirsty WilliamsBBC Radio 4 Saturday Play
2 January 2010Private Lives[29]ElyotNoël CowardSally AvensBBC Radio 4 Saturday Play
29 January 201019 February 2010A Charles Paris Mystery: Cast in Order of Disappearance[30]Charles ParisSimon Brett dramatised by Jeremy FrontSally AvensBBC Radio 4
22 November 201013 December 2010A Charles Paris Mystery: Murder in the Title[31]Charles ParisSimon Brett dramatised by Jeremy FrontSally AvensBBC Radio 4
20 April 2011The Bat Man[32]ChristopherAmelia BullmoreMary PeateBBC Radio 4 Afternoon Play
26 August 2013Darkside[14]The Witch Finder / Doctor AntrobusTom StoppardBBC Radio 2


  1. ^ Bill Nighy – Nighy Accepts Surname Mispronunciation. 30 June 2006. Retrieved 10 February 2010.
  2. ^ The Men's Room, The Internet Movie Database, accessed 23 November 2009.
  3. ^ Shaitly, Shahesta (4 July 2010). "Bill Nighy: five things I know about style". The Observer (UK). Retrieved 7 October 2010. 
  4. ^ Bill Nighy: the thinking woman's bagel The Independent, 19 February 2006; Family Detective The Daily Telegraph.
  5. ^ Wills, Dominic. "Bill Nighy – Biography". TalkTalk. Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  6. ^ Blackhall, Sue (1 February 2010). Bill Nighy The Unauthorised Biography. John Blake Publishing. ISBN 1-84454-867-8. 
  7. ^ a b Bill Nighy, Hello magazine, undated, accessed 23 November 2009.
  8. ^ Schiff, Amanda (2 December 2008). "Laura Lamson Obituary". The Guardian (UK). Archived from the original on 5 December 2008. Retrieved 3 December 2008. 
  9. ^ BBC – Doctor Who (David Tennant and Billie Piper)- News at the Wayback Machine (archived April 8, 2008)
  10. ^ "Bill Nighy Is A Wild Target | Empire". Empire. Retrieved 11 March 2012. 
  11. ^ a b "Bill Nighy to star in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows". BBC. 6 July 2009. Retrieved 6 July 2009. 
  12. ^ "James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton and Ashley Jensen join the cast of "Arthur Christmas"". Retrieved 23 November 2011. 
  13. ^ "Bill Nighy". 
  14. ^ a b "Pink Floyd album inspires Sir Tom Stoppard radio play". BBC. 28 March 2013. Retrieved 24 August 2013. 
  15. ^ Roberts, Laura. It's not Love Actually after all as star Nighy splits with partner of 27 years, Daily Mail, 25 August 2008.
  16. ^ Crystal Palace F.C. Disabled Childrens Club accessed 2 Jun 2007; Ann Craft Trust homepage
  17. ^ "Scene & Heard – Who We Are". 2010. Retrieved 19 June 2010. 
  18. ^ "The Milton Rooms homepage". Retrieved 11 March 2012. 
  19. ^ Cartner-Morley, Jess; Mirren, Helen; Huffington, Arianna; Amos, Valerie (28 March 2013). "The 50 best-dressed over 50s". The Guardian (London). 
  20. ^ "The Man With The Stolen Heart". Charlotte Film Festival. Retrieved 9 August 2012. 
  21. ^ "Great White Shark 3D". Retrieved November 1, 2013. 
  22. ^ Destiny - End Credits - IGN Video. IGN Video. 2014-09-11. 4:30 (Voice and Motion Performers). Retrieved 2014-12-04. 
  23. ^ National Theatre archive cast and production listing.
  24. ^ "BBC – A Charles Paris Mystery – ''Sicken and So Die''". BBC. 3 March 2008. Retrieved 11 March 2012. 
  25. ^ "BBC – A Charles Paris Mystery – ''Murder Unprompted''". BBC. Retrieved 11 March 2012. 
  26. ^ "BBC – Afternoon Play – ''I Wish to Apologise for My Part in the Apocalypse''". BBC. Retrieved 11 March 2012. 
  27. ^ "BBC – A Charles Paris Mystery – ''Dead Side of the Mic''". BBC. Retrieved 11 March 2012. 
  28. ^ "BBC – Saturday Play – ''Educating Rita''". BBC. 26 December 2009. Retrieved 11 March 2012. 
  29. ^ "BBC – Saturday Play – ''Private Lives''". BBC. 2 January 2010. Retrieved 11 March 2012. 
  30. ^ "BBC – A Charles Paris Mystery – ''Cast in Order of Disappearance''". BBC. Retrieved 11 March 2012. 
  31. ^ "BBC – A Charles Paris Mystery – ''Murder in the Title''". BBC. 22 November 2010. Retrieved 11 March 2012. 
  32. ^ "BBC – Afternoon Play – ''The Bat Man''". BBC. 20 April 2011. Retrieved 11 March 2012. 

External links[edit]