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Bonneville, Hugh (1964-)


Main image of Bonneville, Hugh (1964-)

A reliable character actor who occasionally reveals a darker side to his normally cheerful persona, Hugh Bonneville may be the closest current equivalent to Robert Morley or Dennis Price. He was born on 10th November 1963 in London, and trained at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Arts. Beginning his career under the less upper-class name 'Richard Bonneville', he had small parts in such television shows as Peak Practice (ITV, 1994) and Cadfael (ITV, 1994). He made his film debut in a bit part in Kenneth Branagh's Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (UK/Japan/US, 1994), and had a more substantial appearance in the Jilly Cooper adaptation The Man Who Made Husbands Jealous (ITV, 1997). Although he was not that man, he was nevertheless entertaining and amusing.

After a small part in the Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies (UK/US, 1997), he had his highest-profile role to date as the useless stockbroker Bernie in Richard Curtis' Notting Hill (UK/US, d. Roger Michell, 1999). This was followed by nuanced comic parts in the Jane Austen adaptation Mansfield Park (d. Patricia Rozema, 1999) and Kingsley Amis' Take A Girl Like You (BBC, 2000). He also demonstrated his straight acting credentials in the tricky role of Charles Bovary in Madame Bovary (BBC, 2000).

Although he was the only member of the principal cast of the Iris Murdoch biopic Iris (UK/US, d. Richard Eyre, 2001) not to be Oscar-nominated, this should not overshadow his excellent (and BAFTA-nominated) performance as the young John Bayley, adroitly and wittily capturing his brilliance and shyness. He was atypically villainous in Daniel Deronda (BBC, 2002) as the dastardly Henleigh Grandcourt, and surprisingly convincing, if too young, as a lugubrious and misanthropic Philip Larkin in Love Again (BBC, 2003). His emotionally frozen and ineffectual doctor in the Patrick McGrath adaptation Asylum (UK/Ireland, d. David Mackenzie, 2005) again demonstrated his considerable range.

Alexander Larman

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Thumbnail image of Cazalets, The (2001)Cazalets, The (2001)

Drama about how the wealthy Cazalets are affected by World War II

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