The Info List - Ben Whishaw

Benjamin John Whishaw (born 14 October 1980) is an English actor. He has played on stage Hamlet; on television Nathan Barley, Criminal Justice, The Hour, and London Spy; and 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), and The Danish Girl (2015).[1] He played Q in the James Bond films Skyfall (2012) and Spectre (2015).[2] He voiced Paddington Bear in Paddington (2014) and Paddington 2 (2017).[3]

Early life

Whishaw was born in Clifton, Bedfordshire, and was brought up there and in Langford, the son of Linda (née Hope), who works in cosmetics, and Jose Whishaw, who works in information technology.[4] His father is of French, German and Russian descent, and his mother is of English background.[5][6] He has a fraternal twin, James. "Whishaw" is not the family's original surname;[6] the family was originally named Stellmacher, a German occupational name for a cartwright.[7]

He 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 Shefford. He graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 2003.[8]


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 survivor of Auschwitz concentration camp. It was adapted into a physical theatre piece by the group and taken to the 1995 Edinburgh Festival, where it garnered five-star reviews and great critical acclaim.[1]

Whishaw with Judi Dench in Peter and Alice, at the Noël Coward Theatre in May 2013

As the lead in Trevor Nunn's 2004 production of Hamlet at the Old Vic, Whishaw received highly favourable reviews and was nominated for the Olivier Award for Best Actor and the Ian Charleson Award. The role was shared with Al Weaver in an unusual arrangement that saw Whishaw playing 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. It was Whishaw, however, who featured most prominently in the marketing materials and in the majority of reviews.[citation needed]

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, and in 2005 he was nominated as best actor in four award ceremonies 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.[citation needed]

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 US theaters in December 2006. In the same year, Whishaw worked on Paweł Pawlikowski's abandoned The Restraint of Beasts.[9] 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.[10]

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.[11][12] 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.[13]

In 2012 Whishaw appeared as Richard II in the television film Richard II, a part of the BBC Two series The Hollow Crown, for which he received the British Academy Television Award for Leading Actor.[14]

Also in 2012, he appeared as part of the ensemble cast of the science-fiction drama film Cloud Atlas.

Whishaw appeared in the 23rd James Bond film, Skyfall, in the role of Q.[15] 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.[2][16] From October 2013 to February 2014 he again 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.[17] He was nominated for a WhatsOnStage Award for Best Actor for both roles.[18] In the summer of 2015 he appeared as Dionysos in Euripides' tragedy Bakkhai at the Almeida Theatre in London.[19]

In 2014, Whishaw starred in the independent film Lilting as well as voicing Paddington Bear in the film Paddington.[20]

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;[21] 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.[22][23]

In 2017, Wishaw reprised his role as Paddington Bear in Paddington 2, and in 2018, he will play Michael Banks in Mary Poppins Returns.

Personal life

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."[24] 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."[25]

Whishaw entered into a civil partnership with Australian composer Mark Bradshaw in August 2012.[26][27] In 2014, he publicly discussed his coming out, saying that it was a tense experience for him but "everyone was surprisingly lovely."[28]



Year Title Role Notes
1999 Trench, TheThe Trench Pte. James Deamis
1999 Escort, TheThe Escort Jay
2001 Baby Little Joe Short film
2001 My Brother Tom Tom British Independent Film Award for Most Promising Newcomer
Sochi International Film Festival Award for Best Actor
2002 Spiritual Rampage Short film
2003 Ready When You Are Mr. McGill Bruno
2003 Booze Cruise, TheThe Booze Cruise Daniel
2004 77 Beds Ishmael Short film
2004 Enduring Love Spud
2004 Layer Cake Sidney
2005 Stoned Keith Richards
2006 Perfume: The Story of a Murderer Jean-Baptiste Grenouille Bambi Award for Best Film – National (shared with Bernd Eichinger and Tom Tykwer)
Nominated – British Academy Film Award for Rising Star
Nominated – European Film Award for Best Actor
2007 I'm Not There Arthur Independent Spirit Award for Best Cast
2008 Brideshead Revisited Sebastian Flyte
2009 The International Rene Antall
2009 Bright Star John Keats
2009 Love Hate Tom Short film
2010 Tempest, TheThe Tempest Ariel
2012 Skyfall Q
2012 Cloud Atlas Cabin Boy
Robert Frobisher
Store Clerk
2013 Beat[29] Unknown Short film
2013 The Zero Theorem Doctor 3
2013 Teenage[30] Narrator Documentary
2013 Days and Nights Eric[31][32]
2014 Lilting Richard[31]
2014 Paddington Paddington Bear Voice
2015 The Muse[33] Edward Dunstan Short film
2015 The Lobster Limping Man Nominated – BIFA Award for Best Supporting Actor
2015 Unity[34] Narrator Documentary
2015 Suffragette Sonny
2015 The Danish Girl Henrik
2015 Spectre Q
2015 In the Heart of the Sea Herman Melville[22]
2016 A Hologram for the King Dave
2017 Paddington 2[35] Paddington Bear Voice
2018 Mary Poppins Returns Michael Banks Post-production
2019 Bond 25 Q


Year Title Role Notes
2000 Black Cab Ryan Episode: "Work"
2000 Other People's Children Sully 4 episodes
2005 Nathan Barley Pingu 6 episodes
2008 Criminal Justice Ben Coulter 5 episodes
International Emmy Award for best actor
Royal Television Society Award for Best Actor
Nominated – British Academy Television Award for Best Actor
2011–12 Hour, TheThe Hour Freddie Lyon 12 episodes
Nominated – Broadcasting Press Guild Best Actor (2013)
2012 Richard II Richard II of England Television film
Nominated – Broadcasting Press Guild Best Actor
British Academy Television Award Leading Actor
2014 Playhouse Presents Ezra Episode: "Foxtrot"
2015 London Spy Danny 5 episodes
Nominated – British Academy Television Award for Best Actor
2017 Queers Perce Episode: "The Man on the Platform"
BBC4 TV monologue written by Mark Gatiss
2018 A Very English Scandal Norman Scott


Year Title Role Theatre Notes
2003 His Dark Materials Brother Jasper Royal National Theatre
2004 Hamlet Hamlet Old Vic Ian Charleson Award Third Prize 2005
Nominated – Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor
Nominated – South Bank Sky Arts Award for Breakthrough Artist
Nominated – Evening Standard Award for Outstanding Newcomer
Nominated – What's On Stage Theatregoers Choice Awards for Best Actor
2005 Mercury Fur Elliot Paines Plough at the Menier Chocolate Factory
2006 Seagull, TheThe 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 Nominated – WhatsOnStage Award for Best Actor[18]
2013 Mojo Baby Harold Pinter Theatre Nominated – WhatsOnStage Award for Best Actor[18]
2015 Bakkhai Dionysus Almeida Theatre
2016 The Crucible John Proctor Walter Kerr Theatre Theatre World Award
2017 Against Luke Almeida Theatre
2018 Julius Caesar Brutus Bridge Theatre


Year Title Role
2004 Arthur Arthur
2006 Look Back in Anger Jimmy Porter
2011 Cock John

See also


  1. ^ a b Vanessa Thorpe. "Ben Whishaw: impish star steals the show, even from James Bond Observer profile Culture". The Guardian. Retrieved 2018-01-22. 
  2. ^ a b Kellaway, Kate (17 March 2013). "Ben Whishaw: 'I feel I'm always in the dark' – interview". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  3. ^ Yamato, Jen (1970-01-01). "Bear Necessity: Ben Whishaw To Voice CG 'Paddington'". Deadline.com. Retrieved 2014-07-17. 
  4. ^ Curtis, Nick (29 April 2004). "My Hamlet Fears". The Evening Standard. Retrieved 8 September 2010. 
  5. ^ 'I found a part of me that was actually a show-off and actually I'm not at all like in real life': How Ben Whishaw became Britain's next big, Dan Davies, The Guardian 9 February 2013
  6. ^ a b In love with Hamlet, Dylan, Keats . . ., Marianne Gray, The Spectator, 28 October 2009
  7. ^ Bond star Ben Whishaw reveals that his grandfather was a British spy with a double identity
  8. ^ "RADA: The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art - Student". rada.ac.uk. 
  9. ^ Dawtrey, Adam (20 September 2007). "Pawel Pawlikowski takes on Stalin". Variety. 
  10. ^ [dead link] "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 August 2008. Retrieved 28 July 2008. . Royal National Theatre.
  11. ^ Bishop, Caroline (14 August 2009). "Whishaw in Royal Court Autumn". officiallondontheatre.co.uk. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
  12. ^ "Cock at the Royal Court, review". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2018-01-21. 
  13. ^ [1]. BBC.
  14. ^ "2013 Television Leading Actor". awards.bafta.org. Retrieved 4 August 2013. 
  15. ^ "Ben Whishaw Cast as Q in New James Bond Film Skyfall". BBC News. 25 November 2011. 
  16. ^ "Ben Whishaw to Star Alongside Dame Judi Dench". 18 July 2012. 
  17. ^ Spencer, Charles (14 November 2013). "Mojo, Harold Pinter Theatre, review". The Daily Telegraph. London. 
  18. ^ a b c [2] WhatsOnStage Awards
  19. ^ "Ben Whishaw stars in Almeida's Greek season' - whatsonstage.com". 12 Mar 2015. 
  20. ^ "Sundance: Strand Releasing Acquires Hong Khaou's 'Lilting'". Variety. 5 February 2014. 
  21. ^ "Ben Whishaw and Brendan Gleeson Join Suffragette". 20 February 2014. 
  22. ^ a b "Real adventure that inspired Moby-Dick lures film directors". 7 September 2013. 
  23. ^ "Skyfall Writer John Logan Talks Bond 24: 'Build On What We Did On Skyfall, But Make It Its Own Unique Animal'". 18 January 2014. Archived from the original on 21 February 2014. 
  24. ^ Rampton, James (26 October 2012). "Ben Whishaw on playing Q in Skyfall: 'I don't even have a computer'". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 20 August 2013. 
  25. ^ McLean, Gareth (27 March 2011). "Ben Whishaw: Mysterious Skin". Out. 
  26. ^ Griffiths, Charlotte; Sanderson, Elizabeth (3 August 2013). "Bond star 'marries' his gay partner – and they are both 'so happy and proud'". MailOnline. London. Retrieved 4 August 2013. 
  27. ^ Sieczkowski, Cavan. "James Bond Actor Officially Comes Out, Reveals He's Married". Huffington Post. 
  28. ^ Selby, Jenn (4 August 2014). "Ben Whishaw on the 'courage' it takes to come out as gay". The Independent. Retrieved 14 February 2015. 
  29. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 23 July 2013. Retrieved 3 March 2013.  . 59 Productions
  30. ^ [3] teenagefilm.com
  31. ^ a b [4] hamiltonhodell.co.uk
  32. ^ [5] Twitter: Christian Camargo
  33. ^ [6] wearecolony.com
  34. ^ Dave McNary (April 22, 2015). "Documentary 'Unity' Set for 12 August Release with 100 Star Narrators". Variety. Retrieved May 1, 2015. 
  35. ^ "Hugh Grant and Brendan Gleeson Join Paddington 2". ComingSoon.net. 2016-10-18. Retrieved 2017-02-11. 

External links

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