January 26, 2020
Famous for his languid charm, Bill Nighy is anything but relaxed. He talks acting, anxiety – and the dreadful challenge of casual dressing
Bill Nighy: ‘It takes me a long time to recover if I see myself on screen
The first time I interviewed Bill Nighy was in 2004. Sixteen years ago! He has barely changed. He is a remarkably consistent person, in taste and personality, and because of this, he seems ageless. Perhaps a little slimmer and greyer than he used to be, but that’s it. His hair is styled in the same way it has been for several decades – longer on the top, slicked back from his forehead – and no matter what year, what month, what day you catch him, he will be dressed in what he calls “a decent lounge suit”, in navy, with appropriate shirt and shoes. Heavy-rimmed specs nestle in his pocket or on his nose.
As familiar as his outfit is his charm. Nighy is always charming, whether to fans, an interviewer, a waiter. We meet in a hotel bar around the corner from his apartment in Piccadilly and the first thing he does is inquire about me and my life. And he listens to the answer: a nice trait not evident in every successful actor. He bothers to entertain – his stories are delivered well, whether they’re about famous people or someone he met out and about. He still works very hard – often making four or five films a year – and he takes pleasure in his job and is happy to talk about it. In fact, the only major change in Nighy in the years I’ve known him is that he is no longer with his long-term partner, Diana Quick (they separated in 2008, after 28 years together). They remain on good terms and, he tells me, they had a jolly Christmas with lots of people around the table. His daughter, Mary, is married to a Frenchman. “There were charades,” he says. “We sang the Marseillaise. It was great.”
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