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Ben Whishaw
Whishaw in 2018
Benjamin John Whishaw

(1980-10-14) 14 October 1980 (age 43)[1]
Alma materRoyal Academy of Dramatic Art
Years active1999–present
PartnerMark Bradshaw (2012–2022)

Benjamin John Whishaw (born 14 October 1980) is an English actor. After winning a British Independent Film Award for his performance in My Brother Tom (2001), he was nominated for an Olivier Award for his portrayal of the title role in a 2004 production of Hamlet. This was followed by television roles in Nathan Barley (2005), Criminal Justice (2008) and The Hour (2011–12) and film roles in Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006), I'm Not There (2007), Brideshead Revisited (2008), and Bright Star (2009). For Criminal Justice, Whishaw received an International Emmy Award and received his first BAFTA Award nomination.

In 2012, Whishaw played the title role in a BBC Two adaptation of Richard II, broadcast as part of The Hollow Crown series of William Shakespeare adaptations, for which he won the British Academy Television Award for Best Actor. The same year, he appeared as Q in the James Bond film Skyfall (2012), going on to reprise the role in Spectre (2015) and No Time to Die (2021). He has voiced Paddington Bear in Paddington (2014), its sequel Paddington 2 (2017) and the follow-up television series. His other film roles in the 2010s have included Cloud Atlas (2012), The Lobster (2015), Suffragette (2015), The Danish Girl (2015), and Mary Poppins Returns (2018). In 2020, he had a leading role as Patrick "Rabbi" Milligan in the fourth season of the black comedy crime drama Fargo. In 2022, he starred in the BBC medical drama series This Is Going to Hurt, and in 2023 led the comedy-drama short film Good Boy, which was shortlisted for Best Live Action Short Film at the 96th Academy Awards.[2]

Whishaw received a third BAFTA Award nomination for the leading role in London Spy (2015) and, for his portrayal of Norman Scott in the miniseries A Very English Scandal (2018), won the British Academy Television Award for Best Supporting Actor, the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film and the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie.

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Early life

Whishaw was born on 14 October 1980 in Clifton, Bedfordshire, and was brought up there and in neighbouring Langford. He is the son of Linda (née Hope), who works in cosmetics, and Jose Whishaw who works in sports with young people.[3] He has a fraternal twin, James.

His mother is of English ancestry, while his father is of French, German and Russian descent.[4] The family's original surname was not Whishaw but Stellmacher, a German occupational name for a wheelwright.[4][5] Whishaw's paternal grandfather, born Jean Vladimir Stellmacher and living in Kassel, Germany[6] changed his name to John Victor Whishaw after World War II during which he served as a British spy in the German army. He was born in Istanbul in 1922 to a Russian mother and German father.[5]

Whishaw was a member of the Bancroft Players Youth Theatre, 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.[7]


Whishaw was involved in many productions with Big Spirit Youth Theatre, 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.[8] 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.[9]

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

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 much attention for his role as a drug dealer in the world premiere of Philip Ridley's controversial stage play Mercury Fur.[10]

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.[11] 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.[12]

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.[13][14] 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.[15]

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.[16] 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.[17] 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.[18][19] From October 2013 to February 2014, Whishaw appeared on stage in the revival of Jez Butterworth's play Mojo, also starring Rupert Grint, Brendan Coyle, Daniel Mays and Colin Morgan.[20] He was nominated for a WhatsOnStage Award for Best Actor for both roles.[21] In the summer of 2015 he appeared as Dionysos in Euripides' tragedy Bakkhai at the Almeida Theatre in London.[22]

Whishaw's Paddington Bear designed statue—"Special Delivery"—in Covent Garden, London, auctioned to raise funds for the NSPCC

In 2014, Whishaw starred in the independent film Lilting as well as voicing Paddington Bear in the film Paddington.[23] 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;[24] 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.[25][26]

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 parliamentarian Jeremy Thorpe, and also starred as Michael Banks in Mary Poppins Returns. In 2020, Whishaw had a lead role in the fourth season of the critically acclaimed FX black comedy crime drama Fargo, portraying Patrick "Rabbi" Milligan, alongside Chris Rock, Jason Schwartzman, Jessie Buckley and Jack Huston.

Whishaw reprised his role of Q in No Time to Die, the 25th James Bond film, which released worldwide on 30 September 2021.[27] As of 2022, Whishaw stars in the BBC and AMC medical drama This Is Going to Hurt, an adaptation of comedian Adam Kay's memoir recalling his time as a junior NHS doctor in 2006. Whishaw is also credited as an executive producer.[28] Whishaw appeared in Sarah Polley's Women Talking, the film adaptation of Miriam Toews' novel of the same name, for which he was nominated for several acting awards for his performance.[29] In 2023, he appeared in Passages for which he received a nomination for Best Supporting Performance at the 39th Film Independent Spirit Awards.[30]

He will portray Russian writer and ultranationalist Eduard Limonov in Limonov, the Ballad of Eddie, directed by Kirill Serebrennikov.[31][32][33]


Whishaw's regular dubbing voice for the French-speaking world is Yoann Sover who has dubbed his performances in seven films and four TV series as of 2021.[34]

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."[35] 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."[36]

In August 2012, Whishaw entered into a civil partnership with Australian composer Mark Bradshaw, whom he had met in 2009.[37] In 2014, he publicly discussed his coming out, saying that it was a tense experience for him but "everyone was surprisingly lovely".[38] He split from Mark Bradshaw in 2022.[39]

Acting credits


Year Title Role Notes
1999 The Trench Pte. James Deamis
The Escort Jay
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
Enduring Love Spud
Layer Cake Sidney
2005 Stoned Keith Richards
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
2010 The Tempest Ariel
2011 The Prodigies Gil Yepes Irish and UK dub
2012 Skyfall Q
Cloud Atlas Cabin Boy
Robert Frobisher
Store Clerk
2013 Beat Unknown Short film[40]
The Zero Theorem Doctor 3
Teenage British Boy (voice) Documentary[41]
Days and Nights Eric [42][43]
2014 Lilting Richard [42]
Paddington Paddington Bear Voice and Facial Motion Capture
2015 The Muse Edward Dunstan Short film[44]
The Lobster Limping Man
Unity Narrator (voice) Documentary[45]
Suffragette Sonny
The Danish Girl Henrik
Spectre Q
In the Heart of the Sea Herman Melville[25]
2016 A Hologram for the King Dave
2017 Paddington 2 Paddington Bear Voice[46]
Family Happiness Short film
2018 National Theatre Live: Julius Caesar Brutus
Palo Santo Palo Santo Hologram Short film
Mary Poppins Returns Michael Banks
2019 Little Joe Chris
The Personal History of David Copperfield Uriah Heep
2020 Surge Joseph
2021 No Time to Die Q
2022 Women Talking August Epp
2023 Bad Behaviour Elon Bello
Passages Martin
Good Boy Danny Short film[47]
2024 Limonov: The Ballad Eduard Limonov [32][31]
Paddington in Peru Paddington Bear Voice; post-production


Year Title Role Notes
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
2011–2012 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
2019–present The Adventures of Paddington Paddington Bear Voice[48]
2020 Fargo Rabbi Milligan 7 episodes[49]
2022 This Is Going to Hurt Adam Kay 7 episodes[50]
Platinum Party at the Palace Paddington Bear Queen Elizabeth II sketch[51]


Year Title Role Theatre Notes
2003 His Dark Materials Brother Jasper Royal National Theatre
2004 Hamlet Hamlet Old Vic
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
2015 Bakkhai Dionysus Almeida Theatre
2016 The Crucible John Proctor Walter Kerr Theatre
2017 Against Luke Almeida Theatre
2018 Julius Caesar Brutus Bridge Theatre
2019 Norma Jeane Baker of Troy Marilyn Monroe The Shed
2024 Bluets he/him Royal Court Theatre
Waiting for Godot Vladimir Theatre Royal Haymarket


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

Awards and nominations

See also


  1. ^ "Ben Whishaw". 15 May 2018. Archived from the original on 4 September 2018. Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  2. ^ Hammond, Pete (21 December 2023). "Oscar Shortlists In 10 Categories Announced: 'Barbie', 'Oppenheimer', 'Maestro' & More". Deadline. Retrieved 5 January 2024.
  3. ^ Iley, Chrissy (24 March 2019). "The Interview: actor Ben Whishaw on coming out, being a twin and life inside the 007 circus". The Times. Retrieved 5 May 2019.
  4. ^ a b In love with Hamlet, Dylan, Keats . . . Archived 3 April 2015 at the Wayback Machine, Marianne Gray, The Spectator, 28 October 2009
  5. ^ a b Stellmacher, Ingrid; Foster, Patrick (23 October 2015). "Bond star Ben Whishaw reveals that his grandfather was a British spy with a double identity". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 15 October 2018. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  6. ^ "Adreßbuch von Kassel und Umgebungen: Einwohnerbuch der Stadt Kassel und des Landkreises Kassel mit 47 Ortschaften". 1936.
  7. ^ "RADA: The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art – Student". Archived from the original on 3 March 2014. Retrieved 15 February 2014.
  8. ^ 'On the scent of the elusive Mr Whishaw'The Guardian 23 December 2006
  9. ^ Vanessa Thorpe (24 October 2015). "Ben Whishaw: impish star steals the show, even from James Bond | Culture". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
  10. ^ Spencer, Charles (5 March 2005). "A vicious kick in the guts". The Daily Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Archived from the original on 11 January 2022. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  11. ^ Dawtrey, Adam (20 September 2007). "Pawel Pawlikowski takes on Stalin". Variety. Archived from the original on 29 December 2008. Retrieved 19 April 2008.
  12. ^ [dead link] "...some trace of her". Archived from the original on 28 August 2008. Retrieved 28 July 2008.. Royal National Theatre.
  13. ^ Bishop, Caroline (14 August 2009). "Whishaw in Royal Court Autumn" Archived 19 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
  14. ^ "Cock at the Royal Court, review". The Telegraph. 19 November 2009. Archived from the original on 22 January 2018. Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  15. ^ [1] Archived 13 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine. BBC.
  16. ^ "2013 Television Leading Actor". Archived from the original on 9 July 2013. Retrieved 4 August 2013.
  17. ^ "Ben Whishaw Cast as Q in New James Bond Film Skyfall". BBC News. 25 November 2011. Archived from the original on 14 August 2018. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  18. ^ Kellaway, Kate (17 March 2013). "Ben Whishaw: 'I feel I'm always in the dark' – interview". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 24 October 2013. Retrieved 18 March 2013.
  19. ^ "Ben Whishaw to Star Alongside Dame Judi Dench". 18 July 2012. Archived from the original on 27 October 2014. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
  20. ^ Spencer, Charles (14 November 2013). "Mojo, Harold Pinter Theatre, review". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 23 January 2018. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  21. ^ "The full 2014 WhatsOnStage Awards shortlists". whatsonstage. 6 December 2013. Retrieved 3 April 2014.
  22. ^ "Ben Whishaw stars in Almeida's Greek season' –". 12 March 2015. Archived from the original on 3 April 2015. Retrieved 24 March 2015.
  23. ^ "Sundance: Strand Releasing Acquires Hong Khaou's 'Lilting'". Variety. 5 February 2014. Archived from the original on 22 June 2017. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  24. ^ "Ben Whishaw and Brendan Gleeson Join Suffragette". 20 February 2014. Archived from the original on 21 February 2014. Retrieved 21 February 2014.
  25. ^ a b "Real adventure that inspired Moby-Dick lures film directors". 7 September 2013. Archived from the original on 16 December 2016. Retrieved 11 December 2016.
  26. ^ "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.
  27. ^ Geisinger, Gabriella (11 November 2020). "Bond movie No Time to Die pushed back to April 2021". Digital Spy. Retrieved 21 December 2020.
  28. ^ Kanter, Jake (14 June 2020). "Ben Whishaw & AMC Board BBC Adaptation Of Adam Kay's Medical Memoir 'This Is Going To Hurt'". Retrieved 16 February 2022.
  29. ^ Abdulbaki, Mae (18 September 2022). "Women Talking Review: Polley's Riveting Adaptation Boasts Great Performances [TIFF]". Screen Rant. Retrieved 5 April 2023.
  30. ^ Lang, Brent; Moreau, Jordan (5 December 2023). "Spirit Awards 2024 Nominations List: 'Past Lives,' 'May December,' 'American Fiction' Lead With 5 Noms Each". Variety. Retrieved 19 January 2024.
  31. ^ a b Vivarelli, Nick (11 May 2022). "Russian Director Kirill Serebrennikov Talks 'Limonov, the Ballad of Eddie' With Ben Whishaw (Exclusive)". Variety. Retrieved 12 May 2022.
  32. ^ a b Goldbart, Max (11 May 2022). "Ben Whishaw To Lead 'Limonov, The Ballad Of Eddie' From Russian Director Kirill Serebrennikov". Deadline. Retrieved 12 May 2022.
  33. ^ Times, The Moscow (12 May 2022). "Celebrated Russian Director to Make Eduard Limonov Biopic". Moscow Times. Retrieved 12 May 2022.
  34. ^ "Doublage". Yoann Sover (in French). Retrieved 2 February 2023.
  35. ^ Rampton, James (26 October 2012). "Ben Whishaw on playing Q in Skyfall: 'I don't even have a computer'". The Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 2 September 2013. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
  36. ^ McLean, Gareth (27 March 2011). "Ben Whishaw: Mysterious Skin". Out. Archived from the original on 4 June 2012. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
  37. ^ Sieczkowski, Cavan. "James Bond Actor Officially Comes Out, Reveals He's Married". HuffPost. Archived from the original on 10 November 2013. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  38. ^ Selby, Jenn (4 August 2014). "Ben Whishaw on the 'courage' it takes to come out as gay". The Independent. Archived from the original on 15 February 2015. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  39. ^ "Ben Whishaw 'splits from husband Mark Bradshaw' after 10 years of marriage". 23 April 2022.
  40. ^ "Beat". Archived from the original on 23 July 2013. Retrieved 3 March 2013. . 59 Productions
  41. ^ [2] Archived 24 April 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  42. ^ a b [3] Archived 29 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  43. ^ [4] Twitter: Christian Camargo
  44. ^ [5] Archived 25 May 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  45. ^ Dave McNary (22 April 2015). "Documentary 'Unity' Set for 12 August Release with 100 Star Narrators". Variety. Archived from the original on 1 September 2015. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  46. ^ "Hugh Grant and Brendan Gleeson Join Paddington 2". 18 October 2016. Archived from the original on 19 October 2016. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  47. ^ Goldbart, Max (19 May 2023). "Ben Whishaw Unveils First Project Since BAFTA TV Win; Toby Jones ITV Drama; 'Back To Reality' Boarded; Pact Retirement – Global Briefs". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 3 January 2024.
  48. ^ Press Release (14 February 2020). "STUDIOCANAL AND NICKELODEON ANNOUNCE GLOBAL DEAL FOR ALL-NEW "PADDINGTON" TELEVISION SERIES". Archived from the original on 15 February 2019. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  49. ^ Thorne, Will (18 July 2019). "Jack Huston, Jason Schwartzman, Ben Whishaw Among 12 Joining 'Fargo' Season 4 Cast". Variety. Retrieved 18 July 2019.
  50. ^ Otterson, Joe (14 June 2020). "Ben Whishaw to Star in BBC Two, AMC Series 'This Is Going to Hurt'". Variety. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  51. ^ Green, Jessica (5 June 2022). "Queen's sketch with Paddington was a 'surprise to her family'". MSN. Mailonline. Retrieved 5 June 2022.

External links

Acting roles
Preceded by
Frank MacCusker
Uriah Heep actor
from David Copperfield

Most recent
Preceded by Michael Banks actor
from Mary Poppins Returns

Preceded by Paddington Bear actor
Preceded by Q actor
Preceded by Richard II actor
Most recent
Preceded by
Katrina Gourley
Ariel actor
from The Tempest

Succeeded by
Preceded by Sebastian Flyte actor
from Brideshead Revisited

Most recent
New title Daniel actor
from The Booze Cruise

Succeeded by
This page was last edited on 18 May 2024, at 20:39
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