Benjamin John Whishaw (born 14 October 1980) is an English actor. In 2004, he played the title role in an Old Vic production of Hamlet, earning an Olivier Award nomination. On television, Whishaw has appeared in Nathan Barley, Criminal Justice, The Hour and London Spy.
Benjamin John Whishaw
14 October 1980
|Alma mater||Royal Academy of Dramatic Art|
|Home town||Langford, Bedfordshire|
|Partner(s)||Mark Bradshaw (2012–present)|
His film roles including Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006), I'm Not There (2007), Bright Star (2009), Brideshead Revisited (2008), Cloud Atlas (2012), The Lobster (2015), Suffragette (2015), The Danish Girl (2015), and Mary Poppins Returns (2018). He played Q in the James Bond films Skyfall (2012) and Spectre (2015). He voiced Paddington Bear in Paddington (2014) and Paddington 2 (2017). In 2018, Whishaw portrayed Norman Scott in the BBC One miniseries A Very English Scandal, opposite Hugh Grant as disgraced parliamentarian Jeremy Thorpe.
Whishaw was born in Clifton, Bedfordshire, and was brought up there and in Langford. He is the son of Linda (née Hope), who works in cosmetics, and Jose Whishaw, who works in information technology. His father is of French, German and Russian descent; his mother is of English ancestry. He has a fraternal twin James. ‘Whishaw’ is not the family's original surname; the family was originally named Stellmacher, a German occupational name for a cartwright.
Whishaw first rose to prominence as a member of the Bancroft Players Youth Theatre, Big Spirit, at Hitchin's Queen Mother Theatre. He attended Henlow Middle School and then Samuel Whitbread Community College in Clifton. He graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 2003.
Whishaw was involved in many productions with Big Spirit, including If This is a Man (also performed as The Drowned & The Saved), a piece devised by the company based on the book of the same name by Primo Levi, a chemist, writer, and survivor of Auschwitz concentration camp. It was adapted as a physical theatre piece by the group and taken to the 1995 Edinburgh Festival, where it garnered five-star reviews and great critical acclaim.
As the lead in Trevor Nunn's 2004 production of Hamlet at the Old Vic, Whishaw received highly favourable reviews, was nominated for the Olivier Award for Best Actor, and received third prize at the Ian Charleson Awards. The role was shared with Al Weaver in an unusual arrangement. Whishaw played all nights except for Mondays and matinées. Nunn is reported to have made this arrangement due to the youth of the two actors playing the lead, to relieve some of the pressure on each.
His film and television credits include Layer Cake and Chris Morris's 2005 sitcom Nathan Barley, in which he played a character called Pingu. He was named "Most Promising Newcomer" at the 2001 British Independent Film Awards for My Brother Tom. In 2005 he was nominated as best actor in four award programs for his portrayal of Hamlet. He also played Keith Richards in the Brian Jones biopic Stoned. In the spring of 2005, Whishaw received lots of attention for his role as a drug dealer in Philip Ridley's controversial stage play Mercury Fur.
In Perfume, Whishaw played Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, a perfume maker whose craft turns deadly. The film was released in Germany in September 2006 and in America in December 2006. In the same year, Whishaw worked on Paweł Pawlikowski's abandoned The Restraint of Beasts. Whishaw appeared as one of the Bob Dylan reincarnations in I'm Not There in 2007, in the BBC's Criminal Justice in 2008, in a new adaptation of Brideshead Revisited, and in a stage adaptation of The Idiot at the National Theatre called ...some trace of her.
At the end of 2009 he starred in Cock, a new play by Mike Bartlett at the Royal Court Theatre, about a gay man who falls in love with a woman. In 2009 he also starred as the poet John Keats in the film Bright Star. In February 2010, Whishaw made a successful off-Broadway debut at MCC Theater in the American premiere of the awarding-winning play The Pride by Alexi Kaye Campbell. He played Ariel in Julie Taymor's 2010 film adaptation of The Tempest, and was featured in The Hour, a BBC Two drama series.
In 2012 Whishaw appeared as Richard II in the television film Richard II, a part of the BBC Two series The Hollow Crown. He received the British Academy Television Award for Leading Actor. Also in 2012, he appeared as part of the ensemble cast of the science-fiction drama film Cloud Atlas, adapted from the novel of the same name.
Whishaw appeared in the 23rd James Bond film, Skyfall, in the role of Q. He portrayed a younger Q than in previous films; Peter Burton and Desmond Llewelyn both received the role when they were in their forties, while Llewelyn and John Cleese played the role into their eighties and sixties, respectively. In addition, he was teamed a fourth time with Daniel Craig after they starred in the films The Trench, Enduring Love, and Layer Cake.
In spring 2013, Whishaw starred on stage alongside Judi Dench in the world premiere of Peter and Alice, a new play by John Logan, inspired by the lives of Alice Liddell and Peter Llewelyn Davies. From October 2013 to February 2014 Whishaw appeared on stage in the revival of Jez Butterworth's Olivier-award-winning play Mojo, also starring Rupert Grint, Brendan Coyle, Daniel Mays and Colin Morgan. He was nominated for a WhatsOnStage Award for Best Actor for both roles. In the summer of 2015 he appeared as Dionysos in Euripides' tragedy Bakkhai at the Almeida Theatre in London.
In 2015, Whishaw co-starred in The Lobster, a romantic science fiction drama from Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos; appeared in Suffragette, a story of the early feminist movement written by Abi Morgan and also starring Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Meryl Streep and his The Hour co-star, Romola Garai; reprised his role of Q in Spectre, the 24th James Bond film, and played author Herman Melville in Ron Howard's In the Heart of the Sea.
For several years Whishaw refused to answer questions about his personal life, saying: "For me, it's important to keep a level of anonymity. As an actor, your job is to persuade people that you're someone else. So if you're constantly telling people about yourself, I think you're shooting yourself in the foot." In 2011, he told Out magazine: "As an actor you have total rights to privacy and mystery, whatever your sexuality, whatever you do. I don't see why that has to be something you discuss openly because you do something in the public eye. I have no understanding of why we turn actors into celebrities."
Whishaw entered into a civil partnership with Australian composer Mark Bradshaw in August 2012. In 2014, he publicly discussed his coming out, saying that it was a tense experience for him but "everyone was surprisingly lovely."
|2006||Look Back in Anger||Jimmy Porter|
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