Bill Nighy Has a Charming Way of Shutting Down Personal Questions

Jan 25, 2023

Bill Nighy gets a fair amount of questions about his personal life, given his occasional nights out with Vogue editor Anna Wintour and the desire to project romantic ideas on him given his role in Love Actually.
“I’d love to answer that,” he recently said, responding to a personal question in The Daily Telegraph. “But if I did, I’d be involving the readers in something very close to gossip, and I know they’d never forgive me for that.”
And… that’s it. The New York Times noted Nighy’s clever stock reply in a lengthy profile in which he also discusses his new film Living, about a man who decides to start doing just that after receiving a cancer diagnosis. Nighy has received a slew of award nominations for the film, including at the Critics Choice Awards and the Golden Globes. (Elvis star Austin Butler beat him in the Globes’ lead dramatic actor category.) He looks like a likely Oscar nominee.
The Times profile notes that Nighy isn’t what you’d call fiercely private — he just doesn’t engage with celebrity silliness. He’s known for going out in public in London, where he lives, and visiting bookstores or cafes, where he likes to sit alone reading a book. He doesn’t own a car, he tells the Times, because “I’m not a natural motorist. I have a hard time paying attention.”
Nighy, 73, has appeared in more than 70 films, but is receiving some of his best reviews for Living, which is directed by Oliver Hermanus from a screenplay by Kazuo Ishiguro and is a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Ikuru, the story of a Japanese bureaucrat who breaks out of his somber and repetitive routine in his final days. (Hermanus also directed the excellent 2021 film Moffie, which we discussed with him here.) Both Living and Ikuru are set in the years after World War II, and Ishiguro found similarities between two countries that were on opposite sides of the war. He wrote the film envisioning Nighy in the lead.
“There’s that kind of depressed, repressed rigorous constraint that we insist on living under,” Nighy told the Times, referring to traditional Englishmen. “Having met me, Mr. Ishiguro suddenly thought that I might be the link. I don’t know why. I don’t read anything about myself and I don’t get around much anymore, but I’m aware that I am seen to be a certain kind of Englishman. It must be the result of certain parts I’ve played, I suppose.”
Still, he was delighted that whatever Ishiguru knew about him made him think he was right for the role: “I thought this is like Christmas, you know, that someone as distinguished and eminent and brilliant as Mr. Ishiguro should consider me that way,” Nighy told the Times.
Living, starring Bill Nighy, is now in theaters.
Main image: Bill Nighy has no time for goofy personal questions. Here he is in Living.

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