- Category : Actor
- Type : GE
- Profile : 1/3 - Investigating / Martyr
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Maya 3
Benjamin John "Ben" Whishaw (born 14 October 1980) is an English actor. He is known for his breakthrough stage role as Hamlet, as well as his roles in the television series Criminal Justice and The Hour and film roles including Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, I'm Not There, Brideshead Revisited, and Cloud Atlas. He played the role of Q in the James Bond film Skyfall.
Whishaw was born and brought up in Clifton, Bedfordshire, the son of Linda (née Hope), who works in cosmetics, and Jose Whishaw, who works in information technology. He has a fraternal twin brother, James, and 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. During his time with the group, he first rose to prominence during collaborations with their offshoot theatre company, Big Spirit. He graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 2003.
Whishaw was involved in many productions with Big Spirit, perhaps most notably 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 the 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.
As the lead in Trevor Nunn's 2004 production of Hamlet at the Old Vic, he 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.
Whishaw's 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.
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 Pawel 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. 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 also 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. He portrayed a younger Q than in previous films; Peter Burton and Desmond Llewelyn both received the role when they were in their 40s, while Llewelyn and John Cleese played the role into their 80s and 60s, respectively.
On stage, Whishaw is set to star alongside Judi Dench in the world premiere of a new play by John Logan, at the Noel Coward Theatre, from March to June 2013.
Whishaw guards his personal life, having stated: "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."