Sir Nigel Hawthorne

Definition

Theater

  • (1929 - 2001) British actor.Hawthorne was born in the English Midlands but educated at Catholicschools in South Africa. Having become a professional actor in 1950,he returned to Britain and appeared in supporting roles for over 25years without attracting special attention. This changed in 1978,when his performance in Peter Nichols's Privates on Paradeearned several awards. Stardom followed with his depiction of thesenior civil servant Sir Humphrey in BBC television's Yes, Minister(1980 - 83, 1985 - 86) and Yes, Prime Minister (1986 - 87).This clever but mostly rather gentle satire had the distinction of beingMargaret Thatcher's favourite programme (Hawthorne was appointed CBE in 1987).

    Owing to his new celebrity, Hawthorne was able to claim hisfirst leading roles in the theater. In 1983 - 84 he took the leadin both Peer Gynt and Tartuffe with the RSC. West Endsuccesses include Hapgood (1988) and Shadowlands (1989),in which he played the writer C. S. Lewis; the latter transferredto Broadway a year later, earning Hawthorne a coveted Tony Award.In 1992 Hawthorne enjoyed a personal triumph in the theater when hestarred in Alan Bennett's The Madness of George III at theNational. His mastery of this demanding role was recognized with bothOlivier and Evening Standard awards. The production touredin Europe and America and in 1994 was converted into a successfulfilm that earned Hawthorne an Oscar nomination as Best Actor. Otherfilm roles included Clarence in the Ian McKellen Richard III(1995) and Malvolio in Twelfth Night (1996).

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