Ben Whishaw
Birth Date:
October 14, 1980
Birth Place:
Clifton, Bedfordshire, England, UK
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Perfume: The Story of a Murderer


“I don't have any ambition to make lots of money or win an Oscar or anything like that. It's not about that for me. I'm very lucky to have found the thing that makes me tick.” Ben Whishaw

Ben Whishaw is an English actor of  film, television and stage. He is best known for playing Jean-Baptiste Grenouille in the film “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer” (2006), for which he netted a Bambi Award as well as nominations at the European Film and the British Academy Film Awards. He also picked up a Sochi International Film Festival Award, a British Independent Film Award and a Verona Love Screens Film Festival Award in “My Brother Tom” (2001) and Independent Spirit's Robert Altman Award and a Boston Society of Film Critics Award for playing one of the Bob Dylan reincarnations in “I'm Not There.” (2007). Other notable film roles include “Enduring Love” (2004),  “Layer Cake” (2004),  “Stoned” (2005), “Brideshead Revisited” (2008), “Bright Star” (2009) and “Skyfall” (2012). He is also notable for portraying Ben Coulter in the BBC series “Criminal Justice” (2008), where he took home a Royal Television Society Television Award, an International Emmy Award and a BAFTA nomination for his performance. On the stage, Whishaw is well recognized for his  bravura performance in “Hamlet” (2004), from which he received an Ian Charleson nomination, an Laurence Olivier nomination, a South Bank  nomination, an Evening Standard nomination and a What’s On Stage Theatregoers Choice nomination.  

Whishaw keeps his private life as a private. He currently lives in London and enjoys reading, painting and gardening in his spare time. His favorite film is “Vertigo” (1958) and his favorite actor is James Stewart. He is good friends with actor Matthew Goode.     


Childhood and Family:

Benjamin John Whishaw, who would later be popular as Ben Whishaw, was born on October 14, 1980, in Clifton, Bedfordshire, England, to a computer engineer father (Jose Whishaw) and a sales person mother (Linda). He has a fraternal twin brother named James. Ben was educated at Henlow Middle School and then Samuel Whitbread Community College, in which he developed his interest in theater. Prior to attending The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, he performed on stage as a member of the Bancroft Players Youth Theatre at Hitchin's Queen Mother Theatre. He graduated from RADA in 2003.



Ben Whishaw began acting on stage with the Bancroft Players Youth Theatre at the Queen Mother Theatre in Hitchin. During his time there, he appeared in a number of productions, maybe most remarkably “If This Is a Man,” adapted from the book of the same title by Primo Levi, a survivor of Nazi World War II prisoner of war camp. The play was brought to the Edinburgh Festival in 1995  where it received five-star reviews and outstanding critical acclaim. As for Whishaw, he gained positive reviews fro his portrayal of Levi.

In 1999, Whishaw made his feature film debut as Pte. James Deamis in the war drama “The Trench,” which was directed and written by William Boyd and starred Daniel Craig, Danny Dyer, Paul Nicholls, Julian Rhind-Tutt, James D'Arcy. It was followed by another important supporting role, as Jay, in the French drama “Mauvaise passe” (1999), starring Daniel Auteuil. Whishaw hit the small screen in 2000 with a role in the episode “Work” of “Black Cap,” a collection of short films by different writers that all revolve around taxi drivers working the black cabs in London. The same year, he also appeared as Sully in “Other People's Children,” a four episodes British television drama adapted by Leigh Jackson from Joanna Trollope's 1998 novel of the same name.      

In 2001, Whishaw played the title character in the British drama film “My Brother Tom,” which was directed and co-written by Dom Rotheroe. The role brought him the Best Actor Award at the 2001 Sochi International Film Festival and the Most Promising Newcomer Award at the 2001 British Independent Film Awards. He also shared the Best Artistic Contribution Award at the 2002 Verona Love Screens Film Festival. The actor went on to appear in the short films “Spiritual Rampage” and “77 Beds” and the TV films “Ready When You Are Mr. McGill” and “Cheers and Tears” (all 2003).  

However, it was in theater that Whishaw really made his name. He debuted at the West End with the Royal National Theatre adaptation of “His Dark Materials,” based on the works of British fantasy novelist, Phillip Pullman. The play ran from December 20, 2003 until March 27, 2004 and was directed by Nicholas Hytner. There Whishaw played the role of Brother Jasper.

Whishaw's breakthrough stage role arrived when he won the title role in Trevor Nunn's 2004 production of “Hamlet” at the the legendary Old Vic Theatre. His performance was critically applauded, and Whishaw was nominated for the Ian Charleson Award, an Laurence Olivier for Best Actor, a South Bank Award for Breakthrough Artist, an Evening Standard Award for Outstanding Newcomer and a What’s On Stage Theatregoers Choice Award for Best Actor.

Still in 2004, Whishaw had a supporting role the film adaptation of Ian McEwan's novel, “Enduring Love,”  which was helmed by Roger Michel and starred Daniel Craig, Rhys Ifans, Samantha Morton and Bill Nighy, and portrayed Sidney, the idiotic nephew of a low level gangster named The Duke, in the Matthew Vaughn directorial debut, “Layer Cake,” which based on the novel of the same name by J. J. Connolly. The latter film also starred Daniel Craig, along with Colm Meaney, Sienna Miller and Michael Gambon. In 2005, Whishaw played the role of Keith Richards in “Stoned,” a film about Brian Jones, one of the founding members of The Rolling Stones. The same year, he landed a plum supporting role of Pingu,  one of Barley's close circle of friends, in the British television comedy series “Nathan Barley” (ITV), starring Nicholas Burns as the title character.

Whishaw's career gained significant boost when he was cast in his first leading role in the thriller movie “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer” (2006), based on the 1985 novel Perfume by Patrick Süskind, Under the direction of Tom Tykwer, Whishaw received a European Film nomination for Best Actor, a British Academy Film nomination for Rising Star and a Bambi Award for Film-National, thanks to his fine portrayal of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille.

Whishaw Arthur portrayed Arthur in the biographical musical film “I'm Not There.” (2007), inspired by American singer/songwriter Bob Dylan. Directed by Todd Haynes, the film premiered at the  34th Telluride Film Festival on August 31, 2007 and was then shown at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2007. For his work on the film, Whishaw jointly picked up the Independent Spirit Robert Altman Award and the  Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Ensemble Cast (2nd place).

In 2008, Whishaw was cast as Ben Coulter in the first series of BBC's “Criminal Justice,” penned by Peter Moffat. Brightly playing a young man who is accused of murder after a night out, he won the Royal Television Society Television Award for Best Actor (Male) and an International Emmy for Best Performance by an Actor as well as was nominated for a BAFTA TV Award and a Broadcasting Press Guild Award in the category of Best Actor.  

Whishaw next portrayed Sebastian Flyte in the period drama film “Brideshead Revisited” (2008), opposite Matthew Goode, Rene Antall in “The International” (2009), John Keats in the biopic “Bright Star” (2009), directed by Jane Campion, and the film adaptation of William Shakespeare's  “The Tempest” (2010), directed by Julie Taymor. He also starred in the TV pilot “ All Signs of Death” (2010), based on the 2009 novel “The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death” by Charlie Husto. In 2011, Whishaw  began his starring role as Freddie Lyon in the BBC series “The Hour,” opposite Dominic West and Romola Garai.

Whishaw was cast as Q in the James Bond movie “Skyfall” (2012), featuring Daniel Craig's third performance as James Bond. Directed by Sam Mendes, the film has been a critical and commercial success.  2012 also saw him appear in the German film “Cloud Atlas,” with Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent and Hugo Weaving, and star as King Richard in the TV adaptation of Shakespeare's “Richard II.”

Apart from his screen job, Whishaw has continued on performing on stage. Since his praiseworthy performance in 2004's “Hamlet,” the RADA alum has starred in such productions as “Mercury Fur” (2005, as Eliot) at the Paines Plough, “The Seagull” (2006) at National Theatre, “Leaves of Glass” (2007, as Steven) at the Soho Theatre, “...some trace of her” (2008, as Prince Myshkin) at the National Theatre, “Cock” (2009, as John) at the Royal Court Theatre  and “The Pride” (2010, as Oliver Lucille) at the Lortel Theatre. Recently, in 2013, he starred as Peter in “Peter And Alice” at the Noel Coward Theatre.        

Whishaw will star opposite Christoph Waltz and Matt Damon in the Terry Gilliam drama “The Zero Theorem,”  which is set to be released in theaters in Italy on December 19, 2013. He is also set to star in the upcoming British drama film “Lilting” (2014), written and directed by Cambodian-born British director Hong Khaou.


Royal Television Society (RTS): Television Award, Best Actor (Male), “Criminal Justice,” 2009
International Emmy: Best Performance by an Actor, “Criminal Justice,” 2009
Independent Spirit: Robert Altman Award, “I'm Not There,”  2008
Boston Society of Film Critics (BSFC): 2nd place, Best Ensemble Cast, “I'm Not There.,” 2007
Bambi : Film – National, “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer,” 2006
Verona Love Screens Film Festival: Best Artistic Contribution, “My Brother Tom,” 2002
British Independent Film : Most Promising Newcomer, “My Brother Tom,” 2001
Sochi International Film Festival: Best Actor, “My Brother Tom,” 2001 Show Less
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