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, London Spy, and A Very English Scandal.
Benjamin John Whishaw
14 October 1980
Clifton, Bedfordshire, England
|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. He earned a Golden Globe and a BAFTA for the role.
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 sports with young people. He has a fraternal twin, James.
His mother is of English ancestry, while his father is of French, German and Russian descent. The family's original surname was not Whishaw but Stellmacher, a German occupational name for a cartwright. Whishaw's paternal grandfather, born Jean Vladimir Stellmacher changed his name to John Victor Whishaw after World War II where he served as a British spy in the German army. He was born in Istanbul in 1922 to a Russian mother and German father.
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 Bond film, and played author Herman Melville in Ron Howard's In the Heart of the Sea.
In 2017 Whishaw reprised his role as Paddington Bear in Paddington 2. In 2018, he portrayed Norman Scott in the BBC One miniseries A Very English Scandal, opposite Hugh Grant as disgraced parliamentarian Jeremy Thorpe, and also starred as Michael Banks in Mary Poppins Returns.
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."
|1999||The Trench||Pte. James Deamis|
|2001||Baby||Little Joe||Short film|
|My Brother Tom||Tom|
|2002||Spiritual Rampage||Short film|
|2003||Ready When You Are Mr. McGill||Bruno|
|The Booze Cruise||Daniel|
|2004||77 Beds||Ishmael||Short film|
|2006||Perfume: The Story of a Murderer||Jean-Baptiste Grenouille|
|2007||I'm Not There||Arthur|
|2008||Brideshead Revisited||Sebastian Flyte|
|2009||The International||Rene Antall|
|Bright Star||John Keats|
|Love Hate||Tom||Short film|
|Cloud Atlas||Cabin Boy
|The Zero Theorem||Doctor 3|
|Days and Nights||Eric|
|2015||The Muse||Edward Dunstan||Short film|
|The Lobster||Limping Man|
|The Danish Girl||Henrik|
|In the Heart of the Sea||Herman Melville|
|2016||A Hologram for the King||Dave|
|2017||Paddington 2||Paddington Bear||Voice|
|Family Happiness||Short film|
|2018||National Theatre Live: Julius Caesar||Brutus|
|Palo Santo||Palo Santo Hologram||Short film|
|Mary Poppins Returns||Michael Banks|
|The Personal History of David Copperfield||Uriah Heep|
|2020||No Time to Die||Q||Filming|
|TBA||O Holy Ghost||Charmaine||Post-production; short film|
|2000||Black Cab||Ryan||Episode: "Work"|
|Other People's Children||Sully||4 episodes|
|2005||Nathan Barley||Pingu||6 episodes|
|2008||Criminal Justice||Ben Coulter||5 episodes|
|2011–12||The Hour||Freddie Lyon||12 episodes|
|2012||Richard II||Richard II of England||Television film|
|2014||Playhouse Presents||Ezra||Episode: "Foxtrot"|
|2015||London Spy||Danny||5 episodes|
|2017||Queers||Perce||Episode: "The Man on the Platform"|
|2018||A Very English Scandal||Norman Scott||3 episodes|
|2020||Paddington||Paddington Bear||Voice role; main|
|2003||His Dark Materials||Brother Jasper||Royal National Theatre|
|2005||Mercury Fur||Elliot||Paines Plough at the Menier Chocolate Factory|
|2006||The Seagull||Konstantin||Royal National Theatre|
|2007||Leaves of Glass||Steven||Soho Theatre|
|2008||...some trace of her||Prince Myshkin||Royal National Theatre|
|2009||Cock||John||Royal Court Theatre|
|2010||The Pride||Oliver||Lucille Lortel Theatre|
|2013||Peter and Alice||Peter Llewelyn Davies||Noël Coward Theatre|
|Mojo||Baby||Harold Pinter Theatre|
|2016||The Crucible||John Proctor||Walter Kerr Theatre|
|2018||Julius Caesar||Brutus||Bridge Theatre|
|2019||Norma Jeane Baker of Troy||Marilyn Monroe||The Shed|
|2006||Look Back in Anger||Jimmy Porter|
Awards and nominationsEdit
|2001||Sochi International Film Festival||Best Actor||My Brother Tom||Won|
|British Independent Film Awards||Most Promising Newcomer||Won|
|2002||Verona Love Screens Film Festival||Best Artistic Contribution||Won|
|2005||Laurence Olivier Awards||Best Actor||Hamlet||Nominated|
|2006||Bambi Awards||Film – National||Perfume: The Story of a Murderer||Won|
|2007||Online Film & Television Association||Best Breakthrough Performance: Male||Nominated|
|European Film Awards||Best Actor||Nominated|
|British Academy Film Awards||Rising Star Award||Nominated|
|2008||Independent Spirit Awards||Robert Altman Award||I'm Not There||Won|
|Crime Thriller Awards||Best Actor||Criminal Justice||Nominated|
|2009||Royal Television Society Programme Awards||Best Actor||Won|
|Broadcasting Press Guild Awards||Best Actor||Nominated|
|British Academy Television Awards||Best Actor||Nominated|
|International Emmy Awards||Best Actor||Won|
|Alliance of Women Film Journalists EDA Awards||Best Depiction of Nudity, Sexuality, or Seduction||Bright Star||Nominated|
|2013||CinEuphoria Awards||Best Supporting Actor – International Competition||Cloud Atlas||Nominated|
|Gold Derby Awards||Best Actor in a TV Movie/Miniseries||The Hour||Nominated|
|Broadcasting Press Guild Awards||Best Actor||Nominated|
|The Hollow Crown: Richard II||Nominated|
|British Academy Television Awards||Best Actor||Won|
|Dorian Awards||We’re Wilde About You! Rising Star of the Year||Nominated|
|2014||BTVA Voice Acting Awards||Best Male Lead Vocal Performance In A Feature Film||Paddington||Nominated|
|Online Film & Television Association||Best Actor in a Motion Picture or Miniseries||The Hollow Crown||Nominated|
|2015||British Independent Film Awards||Best Supporting Actor||The Lobster||Nominated|
|2016||British Academy Television Awards||Best Actor||London Spy||Nominated|
|2018||Washington D.C. Area Filn Critics Association Awards||Best Voice Performance||Paddington 2||Nominated|
|Indiana Film Journalists Association Awards||Best Vocal/Motion Capture Performance||Runner-Up|
|Los Angeles Online Film Critics Society Awards||Best Visual Effects or Animated Performance||Nominated|
|2019||Austin Film Critics Association||Best Motion Capture/Special Effects Performance||Nominated|
|Golden Globe Awards||Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film||A Very English Scandal||Won|
|Critics' Choice Television Awards||Best Supporting Actor in a Movie/Miniseries||Won|
|Dorian Awards||TV Performance of the Year – Actor||Nominated|
|Satellite Awards||Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film||Nominated|
|CinEuphoria Awards||Best Ensemble – International Competition||Mary Poppins Returns||Nominated|
|Palm Springs International Film Festival||Ensemble Cast Award||Won|
|British Academy Television Awards||Best Supporting Actor||A Very English Scandal||Won|
|Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie||Won|
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