January 2, 2017


Jim Broadbent (1949-) b. Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England.

Jim Broadbent

Born in 1949 in Lincolnshire, England, Jim Broadbent was the son of a furniture maker and keen amateur actor. He spent his early education at a Quaker boarding school in Reading, after leaving school, he studied art for a year before giving in to the lure of the stage, graduating from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts in 1972. At first he played small roles in regional theatres, but after four years he struck out on his own, and helped set up the National Theatre of Brent. His career went on from strength to strength, and he got his big break in 1976, when he appeared in Ken Campbell’s 12-hour sci-fi play Illuminatus, in which he played a dozen characters.

His stage, film and TV career began to take off, and he went on to appear in Kafka’s Dick by Alan Bennett, and The Government Inspector at the Royal National Theatre. Broadbent made his film debut in with a small part in Jerzy Skolimowski’s The Shout (1978). He famously turned down the role of Del Boy Trotter in the BBC series Only Fools and Horses; yet he still managed to join the cast as Del Boy’s arch-enemy Roy Slater. His stage work with writer-director Mike Leigh began a collaboration that encompassed such plays as Ecstasy and Goosepimples and films including Life Is Sweet (1990). He worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company for Our Friends in the North, and made more associations while doing TV work with young directors like Mike Newell and Stephen Frears. He also starred in BBC comedy series The Peter Principle, as an over-promoted bank manager with little talent or brains, as well as the first series of Blackadder with Rowan Atkinson.

Broadbent continued to play both large and smaller supporting roles in The Borrowers (1997), Smilla’s Sense of Snow (1997), and The Avengers (1998). Then came Little Voice (1998), starring as a seedy nightclub owner in opposite Jane Horrocks and Michael Caine. Chiefly a character actor until then, he finally took centre and won a Best Actor award at the Venice Film Festival for his performance as the librettist W.S. Gilbert in Mike Leigh‘s film, Topsy Turvy (1999). He once again took on a supporting role as Renee Zellweger’s father in Bridget Jones’ Diary (2001). He starred as Zidler in Baz Luhrmann’s spectacular Moulin Rouge (2001) opposite Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman. Broadbent earned both an Oscar and a Golden Globe for his portrayal of husband and biographer John Bayley in Iris (2002). In 2007, he appeared as an amiable chief of police in Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright’s action parody, Hot Fuzz (2007).

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