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Nighy at the 32nd Goya Awards in February 2018
William Francis Nighy
12 December 1949
|Partner(s)||Diana Quick (1980–2008)|
William Francis Nighy (//; 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 Professor Mark Carleton.
Nighy became widely known for his performance as Billy Mack in Love Actually. Other notable roles in cinema include his portrayal of Davy Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean film series, 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.
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 took a job as a messenger with 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, alongside 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 which launched his career. 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, 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. Nighy had his first starring role in 1997 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 (a role foreshadowed by his Still Crazy character). 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.
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.
Nighy had a 27-year-relationship with English actress Diana Quick, with whom he has a daughter, actress Mary Nighy. The couple separated amicably 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 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.
|1979||The Bitch||Flower Delivery Boy||Uncredited|
|1980||Death Watch||Man in 'Harriet scene'||Uncredited|
|1981||Eye of the Needle||Squadron Leader Blenkinsop|
|1983||Curse of the Pink Panther||ENT Doctor|
|1984||The Little Drummer Girl||Al|
|1985||Hitler's SS: Portrait in Evil||Helmut Hoffmann|
|1985||Thirteen at Dinner||Ronald Marsh|
|1989||The Phantom of the Opera||Martin Barton|
|1996||True Blue||Jeremy Saville|
|1997||FairyTale: A True Story||Edward Gardner|
|1998||Still Crazy||Ray Simms|
|1999||Guest House Paradiso||Mr. Johnson|
|2001||Blow Dry||Raymond "Ray" Robertson|
|2001||Lucky Break||Roger "Rog" Chamberlain|
|2002||AKA||Uncle Louis Gryffoyn|
|2003||Ready When You Are, Mr. McGill||Phil Parish|
|2003||Love Actually||Billy Mack|
|2003||I Capture the Castle||James Mortmain|
|2004||Shaun of the Dead||Philip|
|2005||The Magic Roundabout||Dylan (voice)||(UK version)|
|2005||The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy||Slartibartfast|
|2006||Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest||Davy Jones|
|2005||The Constant Gardener||Sir Bernard Pellegrin|
|2006||Flushed Away||Whitey (voice)|
|2006||Notes on a Scandal||Richard Hart|
|2007||Hot Fuzz||Ch. Insp.|
|2007||Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End||Davy Jones|
|2008||A Fox's Tale||The Ringmaster|
|2009||Underworld: Rise of the Lycans||Viktor|
|2009||The Boat That Rocked||Quentin||Released as Pirate Radio in the United States|
|2009||Astro Boy||Professor Simon Elefun/Robotsky (voice)|
|2009||Statuesque||Mr. Jellaby||Short film|
|2009||Glorious 39||Sir Alexander|
|2010||Wild Target||Victor Maynard|
|2010||Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1||Rufus Scrimgeour|
|2011||Rango||Rattlesnake Jake (voice)|
|2011||Arthur Christmas||Santa Claus XIX / Grandsanta||Voice|
|2011||The Man with the Stolen Heart||Narrator|||
|2012||The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel||Douglas Ainslie|
|2012||Wrath of the Titans||Hephaestus|
|2012||Total Recall||Matthias Lair|
|2013||Great White Shark 3D||Narrator (voice)|||
|2013||Jack the Giant Slayer||Fallon (voice)|
|2013||The World's End||The Network (voice)|
|2013||About Time||James Lake|
|2015||The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel||Douglas Ainslie|
|2016||Dad's Army||Sergeant Wilson|
|2016||Norm of the North||Socrates (voice)|
|2016||Their Finest||Ambrose Hilliard / Uncle Frank|
|2016||The Limehouse Golem||John Kildare|
|2017||The Bookshop||Mr. Edmund Brundish|
|2018||Sometimes Always Never||Alan||Post-production|
|2019||Pokémon: Detective Pikachu||Post-production|
|2019||The Kindness of Strangers||Post-production|
|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|
|1980||Fox||Colin Street||2 episodes|
|1980||BBC2 Playhouse||Bruno||Episode: "Standing in for Henry"|
|1982||Minder||Oates||Episode: "Looking for Micky"|
|1982||Play for Tomorrow||Connor Mullen||Episode: "Easter 2016"|
|1983||Reilly, Ace of Spies||Goschen||Episode 3: "1905: The Visiting Fireman"|
|1983||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|
|1989||Storyboard||Sam||Episode: "Making News"|
|1990||Making News||Sam Courtney|
|1990||Screenplay||Howard Nash||Episode: "Antonio and Jane"|
|1990||TECX||Brill||Episode: "Writing on the Wall"|
|1991||The Men's Room||Mark Carleton||BBC serial|
|1991||Bergerac||Barry||Episode: "All for Love"|
|1991||Boon||Steve Reeves||Episode: "Pillow Talk"|
|1991–1993||Performance||Roger Maitland/Hugh Marriner||2 episodes|
|1992||Chiller||Tom Dickenson||Episode: "The Cat Brought It In"|
|1992||A Masculine Ending||John Tracey||Television film|
|1993||Eye of the Storm||Tom Frewen||6 episodes|
|1993||Peak Practice||Alan Sinclair||Episode: "Growing Pains"|
|1993||Don't Leave Me This Way||John Tracey||Television film|
|1993||The Maitlands||Roger Maitland||BBC TV production of Ronald Mackenzie's 1930s play|
|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"|
|1997||Kavanagh QC||Giles Culpepper QC||Episode: "Ancient History"|
|1998||Kiss Me Kate||Ian|
|1998–2000||The Canterbury Tales||The Merchant||2 episodes|
|1999||People Like Us||Will Rushmore||Episode: "The Photographer"|
|2000||Animated Tales of the World||Tiger (Voice)||Episode: "A Story of Taiwan: Aunt Tiger"|
|2002||Auf Wiedersehen, Pet||Jeffrey Grainger||Season 3|
|2002||The Inspector Lynley Mysteries||Alan Lockwood||Episode: "Well Schooled in Murder"|
|2003||State of Play||Cameron Foster|
|2003||Ready When You Are, Mr. McGill||Phil Parish||Television film|
|2003||The Lost Prince||Arthur Bigge, 1st Baron Stamfordham||Television film|
|2003||The Canterbury Tales||James||Episode: "The Wife of Bath"|
|2003||The Young Visiters||Earl of Clincham||Television film|
|2003||Life Beyond the Box: Norman Stanley Fletcher||Narrator (voice)||Television film|
|2004||He Knew He Was Right||Colonel Osborne|
|2005||The Girl in the Café||Lawrence||Television film|
|2005||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|
|2014||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|
|2013||Disney Infinity||Davy Jones|
|2014||The Elder Scrolls Online||High King Emeric|
|2015||Disney Infinity 3.0||Davy Jones|
|2017||Destiny 2||The Speaker|
|1998||Still Crazy||Satellite Award||Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical||Nominated|
|2001||Lawless Heart||Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award||Best Supporting Actor||Won|
|2001||Lawless Heart||BIFA Award||Best Performance by an Actor in a British Independent Film||Nominated|
|2002||AKA||Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award||Best Supporting Actor||Won|
|2003||Love Actually||BAFTA Award||BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role||Won|
|2003||Love Actually||Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award||Best Supporting Actor||Won|
|2003||Love Actually||Evening Standard British Film Awards||Peter Sellers Award for Comedy||Won|
|2003||Love Actually||Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award||Best Ensemble||Won|
|2003||Love Actually||Phoenix Film Critics Society Award||Best Cast||Nominated|
|2003||Love Actually||Satellite Award||Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical||Nominated|
|2003||I Capture the Castle||Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award||Best Supporting Actor||Won|
|2003||State of Play||British Academy Television Award||Best Actor||Won|
|2003||The Lost Prince||Satellite Award||Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film||Won|
|2005||The Girl in the Café||Golden Globe Award||Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television||Nominated|
|2006||Gideon's Daughter||Golden Globe Award||Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television||Won|
|2006||Gideon's Daughter||Satellite Award||Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film||Won|
|2006||Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest||Teen Choice Awards||Choice Movie: Villain||Won|
|2006||Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest||MTV Movie Award||MTV Movie Award for Best Villain||Nominated|
|2006||Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest||Saturn Award||Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor||Nominated|
|2007||Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End||Teen Choice Awards||Choice Movie: Villain||Won|
|2011||Arthur Christmas||Annie Award||Voice Acting in a Feature Production||Won|
|2011||Page Eight||Golden Globe Award||Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film||Nominated|
|2011||Page Eight||Satellite Award||Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film||Nominated|
|2015||Skylight||Tony Award||Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play||Nominated|
|8 March 1981 – 30 August 1981||The Lord of the Rings||Sam Gamgee||J.R.R. Tolkien dramatised by Brian Sibley and Michael Bakewell||Jane Morgan and Penny Leicester||BBC Radio 4|
|18 October 1983 – 15 November 1983||Yes, Minister||Frank Weisel||Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn adapted for radio by Pete Atkin||Pete Atkin||BBC Radio 4|
|26 December 1993||Arcadia||Bernard Nightingale||Tom Stoppard||David Benedictus||BBC Radio 3|
|30 April 1994||Ancient Enemies||Elizabeth North||BBC Radio 4|
|21 August 1999||So Much Blood||Charles Paris||Simon Brett dramatised by Bert Coules||Gaynor Macfarlane||BBC Radio 4 Saturday Play|
|6 January 2002||Blue/Orange||Joe Penhall||BBC Radio 4|
|21 March 2003||Baldi: The Book Case||O'Connor||Simon Brett||Mark Lambert||BBC Radio 4 Afternoon Play|
|19 April 2003||Turtle Diary||William||Russell Hoban||Gaynor Macfarlane||BBC Radio 4 Saturday Play|
|25 September 2004||A Series of Murders||Charles Paris||Simon Brett dramatised by Jeremy Front||BBC Radio 4 Saturday Play|
|29 December 2004||All Fingers and Thumbs||Tom||Alan Stafford||Dirk Maggs||BBC Radio 4 Afternoon Play|
|30 August 2006 – 20 September 2006||A Charles Paris Mystery: Sicken and So Die||Charles Paris||Simon Brett dramatised by Jeremy Front||Sally Avens||BBC Radio 4|
|19 October 2007 – 9 November 2007||A Charles Paris Mystery: Murder Unprompted||Charles Paris||Simon Brett dramatised by Jeremy Front||Sally Avens||BBC Radio 4|
|17 July 2008||I Wish to Apologise for My Part in the Apocalypse||Keith||Duncan Macmillan||Sam Hoyle||BBC Radio 4 Afternoon Play|
|10 December 2008 – 31 December 2008||A Charles Paris Mystery: Dead Side of the Mic||Charles Paris||Simon Brett dramatised by Jeremy Front||Sally Avens||BBC Radio 4|
|26 December 2009||Educating Rita||Frank||Willy Russell||Kirsty Williams||BBC Radio 4 Saturday Play|
|2 January 2010||Private Lives||Elyot||Noël Coward||Sally Avens||BBC Radio 4 Saturday Play|
|29 January 2010 – 19 February 2010||A Charles Paris Mystery: Cast in Order of Disappearance||Charles Paris||Simon Brett dramatised by Jeremy Front||Sally Avens||BBC Radio 4|
|22 November 2010 – 13 December 2010||A Charles Paris Mystery: Murder in the Title||Charles Paris||Simon Brett dramatised by Jeremy Front||Sally Avens||BBC Radio 4|
|20 April 2011||The Bat Man||Christopher||Amelia Bullmore||Mary Peate||BBC Radio 4 Afternoon Play|
|26 August 2013||Darkside||The Witch Finder / Doctor Antrobus||Tom Stoppard||BBC Radio 2|
|9 March 2016 – 30 March 2016||A Charles Paris Mystery: A Decent Interval||Charles Paris||Simon Brett dramatised by Jeremy Front||Sally Avens||BBC Radio 4|
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