When Nighy became a star with his wickedly funny turn as a boozy and blunt rock star in 2003's Love Actually, he was an overnight success 30 years in the making. Although he had consistently turned in stellar work on stage and screen in his homeland, few folks stateside knew his name. Initially harboring ambitions to become a writer, a teenage Nighy twice ran away from his native England, only to end up penniless in France. At the suggestion of a girlfriend, he turned to performing in the '70s and immediately found his calling, working as a member of Liverpool's Everyman Theatre Company and the traveling troupe Van Load. In the '80s, he forged a fruitful relationship with playwright David Hare, earning raves for his performances in Pravda, Skylight and 1982's A Map of the World, which introduced Nighy to longtime companion Diana Quick, with whom he later had a daughter, Mary. Although his star rose on stage, on screen he was only landing bit parts, mostly on British TV. Nighy's breakthrough came with the 1998 rock-and-roll comedy Still Crazy. While Nighy was just shy of 50, his turn as a washed-up rocker trying to make a comeback struck a chord and turned him into something of an unlikely sex symbol, with his lank frame clad in skin-tight black duds. Five years later, he expanded on this archetype in the ensemble romantic comedy Love Actually, effortlessly stealing every scene he was in and winning a BAFTA award for his work. That same year, Nighy appeared as a veteran vampire in Underworld, and while it wasn't a critical favorite, it did introduce his distinctive, pale mug to the youth set. A plethora of parts followed, in projects both prestigious (the TV-movie Gideon's Daughter, which won him a Golden Globe award) and popular (his villainous turn in the Pirates of the Caribbean flicks), but Nighy continued to approach all his roles with the same dedication and skill.
- At age 15, ran away from home, intending to write a book; got as far as the South of France and, starving, turned to the British consul for help. His father wired him money so he could return home.
- Came to prominence in England starring in the 1991 BBC2 drama The Men's Room.
- Won BAFTAs for his work in Love Actually and the British miniseries State of Play (both 2003).
- Made his Broadway debut opposite Julianne Moore in 2006's The Vertical Hour.
- Is a huge Rolling Stones fan.
- Suffers from Dupuytren's contracture, a hereditary condition that has left the two last fingers on both hands permanently bent toward the palms.
- Provides narration for the popular Animal Planet series Meerkat Manor.
- 2012, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actor in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television: Nominee
- 2012, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture: Nominee
- 2015, Tony — Actor (Play): Nominee
- 2001, Olivier Awards — Best Actor: Nominee
- 2006, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actor in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television: Nominee
- 2007, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actor in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television: Winner
- 2004, BAFTA Film Awards — Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Winner
- 2004, Critics' Choice Awards — Best Acting Ensemble: Nominee
- Mary Nighy — Daughter
- Catherine Nighy — Mother
- Alfred Nighy — Father
- Diana Quick — Ex-significant Other
- Birth Name: William Francis Nighy
- Birth Place: Caterham, Surrey, England
- Profession: Actor
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