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William Francis "Bill" Nighy ( , rhymes with "sigh," born 12 December 1949) is an English actor and comedian. 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 womanizer, Prof Mark Carleton, whose extra-marital affairs kept him "vital." He became known around the world in 2003 as Bill Mack, the aging pop star in Love Actually—"Hiya kids. Here is an important message from your Uncle Bill. Don't buy drugs. Become a pop star, and they give you them for free!"—and in the same year played James Mortmain, the eccentric husband struggling to keep his family afloat in a decaying English castle, in I Capture the Castle.

He is also known for his roles in Auf Wiedersehen, Pet (2002), Underworld (2003), Shaun of the Dead (2004), Notes on a Scandal (2006), Stormbreaker (2006), Pirates of the Caribbean (2007), Hot Fuzz (2007), and Valkyrie (2008), and for lending his voice to animated films The Magic Roundabout (2005) and Flushed Away (2006). He plays Rufus Scrimgeour, the Minister for Magic, in the upcoming Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.


Early life and education

Nighy was born in Caterhammarker, Surreymarker. His mother, Catherine Josephine (née Whittaker), was a psychiatric nurse who was raised in Glasgowmarker, and his father, Alfred Martin Nighy, managed a car garage and worked as a mechanic. He has two older siblings, Martin and Anna. Nighy attended The John Fisher School, Purleymarker, which he left with two O-levels, and took a job with a magazine as a messenger boy. He went on to train at the Guildford School of Acting, known at the time as The Guildford School of Dance and Drama.

Personal life

Nighy had a 27-year-relationship with British actress Diana Quick, with whom he has a daughter, actress and writer Mary Nighy. The couple split in 2008. He is a supporter of Crystal Palace Football Club 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. 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.


After two seasons at the Everyman Theatremarker, Liverpoolmarker, Nighy made his London stage debut at the National Theatremarker in an epic staging of Ken Campbell and Chris Langham's Illuminatus!, which opened the new Cottesloe Theatremarker on 4 March 1977, and went on to appear in two David Hare premieres, also at the National.

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. 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 dramatization 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 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 Theatremarker 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 Theatremarker 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 in 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 the same role in the prequel Underworld: Rise of the Lycans. 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's was on the short-list for role of the 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, and also 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 Movie in January 2007. Also in 2006, Nighy made his Broadwaymarker 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 provides the narration for the 2007 BBC series Meerkat Manor. Recently, he played the role of Richard Hart in Notes on a Scandal, for which he was nominated for a London Film Critics Circle award. He has twice played burned-out rock stars: Ray Simms in Still Crazy and Billy Mack in Love Actually. 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, which examined, inter alia, the struggle between the SA and the Nazi Party leadership (supported by the SS). In Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, Nighy reprised the role of Viktor. Nighy is also set to star in a film Wild Target alongside Emily Blunt. It will be filmed on Isle of Manmarker and London.

In July 2009, he announced he will play Rufus Scrimgeour in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Nighy had already worked with director David Yates three times, and with the majority of Harry Potter cast in previous movies. He said of his role as Rufus Scrimgeour that it meant he was no longer the only English actor not to be in Harry Potter.

It has also been announced that Nighy will star in the biographical films about the life of Elliot Spoerer, The Rise and Fall of the Real RocknRolla, playing Spoerer's grandfather, Jimmy Makin. The film is currently in pre-production and no date has been set for release.






  1. The Men's Room, The Internet Movie Database, accessed November 23, 2009.
  2. Billy Mack, The Internet Movie Database, accessed November 23, 2009.
  3. Bill Nighy: the thinking woman's bagel The Independent, 19 February 2006; Family Detective The Daily Telegraph.
  4. Roberts, Laura. It's not Love Actually after all as star Nighy splits with partner of 27 years, Daily Mail, August 25, 2008.
  5. Crystal Palace F.C. Disabled Childrens Club accessed 2 Jun 2007; Ann Craft Trust homepage
  6. Bill Nighy, Hello magazine, undated, accessed November 23, 2009.
  7. BBC - Doctor Who (David Tennant and Billie Piper)- News
  8. Bill Nighy Is A Wild Target | Empire
  9. Bill Nighy to star in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

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