Renowned British actor Bill Nighy visited the Players Theatre on November 16, where he treated a small audience to over an hour and a half of anecdotes and advice. Nighy entered the packed theatre to applause before interviewer Miles Duncan began quizzing him. But while discussing his Irish roots Nighy set the tone for the evening by announcing mid-story, “I’ve just discovered my fly is open.”
After securing his trousers, Nighy then recounted how it was a girl he “was completely enthralled with” who had ignited his acting career. After mentioning his stint at drama school where he “didn’t really learn a great deal”, Nighy talked at length about working for celebrated writers David Hare and Tom Stoppard in a series of landmark productions. In particular it is Stoppard’s play Arcadia that Nighy still feels to be “one of the greatest achievements of my life”.
Nighy discussed his breakthrough into film that came with his roles in Still Crazy and Love Actually but it was his droll recounting of the first day on the Pirates of the Caribbean set that got the most laughs. “It was a nightmare,” he said.
“They made me wear these computer pyjamas with white trainers and a skullcap and they were all covered by these white fluffy bobbles … and then they introduced me to Johnny Depp. To cope I just went around repeating my fee in my head”. Nighy also went on to tell numerous other anecdotes from the sets of films like Shaun of the Dead, The Boat that Rocked and Underworld.
Nighy also engaged in very frank discussion about his life and career. “I have a gift for undermining myself,” Nighy said, reflecting on the nerves he still feels before each performance, “there’s always this naked fear that someone is going to walk over and say ‘Bill, it’s just not working out.’ I can still get wound up and enter a semi-paralysis because of this fear.” One such example came when Nighy described how he had watched his first television performance and “was so disgusted by the sight and sound of myself that I retired on the spot.”
But when pressed about reports that he was being considered for the role of Doctor Who, Nighy remained tight-lipped. He did, however eventually reveal that he would be playing a “small role” in a new series of the show written by his friend Richard Curtis.
The actor also remained silent about his playing Rufus Scrimgeour in the upcoming two final Harry Potter films, although when Miles Duncan mistakenly called the role “a minister” Nighy broke his silence and corrected him: “I’m the fucking minister.”
After taking questions from the audience, Nighy was awarded honorary membership of the DU Players and, after striking his trademark pose, left the theatre to more applause.