William Francis "Bill" Nighy 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 for his critically acclaimed 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, Hot Fuzz, Valkyrie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1, and Rango. His performances were also acclaimed in the State of Play series and in the TV movies 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 in Caterham, Surrey. His mother, Catherine Josephine Nighy (née Whittaker), was a psychiatric nurse who was born in Glasgow, and his father, Alfred Martin Nighy, managed a car garage after working in the family chimney sweeping business. Of part Irish descent, Nighy was raised Roman Catholic, serving as an altar boy. 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. He went on to train at the Guildford School of Acting, known at the time as The Guildford School of Dance and Drama.
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. 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 outside the Music Box Theatre on Broadway following a performance of The Vertical Hour, 15 January 2007
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. 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 Movie 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.
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 three times, and with the majority of the Harry Potter cast in previous movies. 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 movie Arthur Christmas. In 2012, he starred in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Wrath of the Titans, and the remake of Total Recall, and in 2013, he will appear in Jack the Giant Killer.
Bill Nighy: 'If you ever see me in a social setting wearing any sort of sportswear, then you know I'm in crisis
Bill Nighy: five things I know about style The actor on sporting a kilt, feeling relaxed naked, and women wearing Chanel
By Shahesta Shaitly
The Observer, Sunday 4 July 2010
1 My mother was born in Glasgow. She and my grandmother tried to measure me for a kilt when I was 10. I was so violently opposed to wearing what I thought was a skirt, they gave up. Years later I wore a kilt – it is a deeply satisfying garment.
2 If I ruled the world, every woman would have a Chanel suit in her wardrobe. The Parisian ideal: little or no make-up, great hair, no stockings with heels, and a Chanel suit with no handbag. The recklessness of the look appeals to me.
3 I'm relaxed naked as long as there is no one else there. I speed up past mirrors. One of the reasons I like a suit is because I've never been that keen on my body. The shape a suit presents is always going to be better than anything I can do.
4 When it comes to casual clothing my enthusiasm for clothes starts to waver. I'd kill myself before wearing a pair of tracksuit bottoms. If you ever see me in a social setting wearing any sort of sportswear, then you know I'm in crisis.
5 There are only three men in the world who are licensed to wear shorts: Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp and Tom Cruise. And don't even get me started on three-quarter-length trousers