Ben Whishaw married his boyfriend in Sydney last year.
Picture: Ben Whishaw – UK film premiere of ‚Cloud Atlas‘ held at the Curzon Mayfair – Arrivals – London, United Kingdom – Monday 18th February 2013
Ben Whishaw, the British actor who began his role as gadget guru Q in the latest Skyfall, has confirmed he is gay and married to boyfriend Mark Bradshaw. Whishaw, 32, tied the knot with Bradshaw 30, in Sydney last August though has only just gone public with the details.
A spokesperson for the actor said: „Ben has never hidden his sexuality, but like many actors he prefers not to discuss his family or life outside of his work.
„Due to speculation, I can confirm that Ben and Mark entered into a civil partnership in August 2012. They were proud to do so and are very happy.“
Whishaw and Bradshaw met on the set of Jane Campion’s 2009 movie Bright Star, which Ben starred in and Mark composed the score for.
The James Bond actor had attracted speculation about his sexuality in a previous interview when asked whether it was important for young gay people to have positive role models. He replied, „I feel in my heart that it’s important, but I don’t quite know yet the way to go about that. Maybe that’s the transitional thing I feel I’m in the middle of at the moment“.
However, the actor is notoriously private about his personal life and never confirmed his sexuality.
Widely regarded as one of the most naturally gifted British actors, Whishaw was cast as the youngest-ever Hamlet at the Old Vic in 2004 and went on to score impressive reviews. He wowed as plucky journalist Freddie Lyons in the BBC2 newsroom drama The Hour and went public with his disappointment when the show was surprisingly axed.
However, the biggest role of his career came in 2012, playing the role of Q in Sam Mendes‘ Skyfall – the highest grossing British movie in history. Critics praised Whishaw for bringing a new dimension to the character, which had previously been played by older actors. Peter Burton and Desmond Llewelyn both received the role when in their 40s, while John Cleese played the role into his 60s.
The actor will next star in Terry Gilliam’s movie The Zero Theorem and drama Lilting. He is rumored to play Herman Melville in Ron Howard’s In the Heart of the Sea.
Who is the Husband of Ben Whishaw? Whom he married to? Is he gay?
Ben Whishaw appeared in Q’s role in the 23rd James Bond movie, Skyfall, as well as with 007 in the forthcoming 2020 movie “No time to die.” He directed at the acclaimed A Very English Scandal last year. He starred in London Spy in 2015 which earned him a nomination for Bafta. Ben Whishaw appears to be gay and not bisexual. He spoke about his coming-out experience in 2014 saying it was “intense,” but that all around him was supportive in the end. Let’s read about who is the Ben Whishaw husband Mark Bradshaw?
He is creepy, annoying, and overrated. He’s the Timothy Chalamet of wherever the fuck he comes from (I think England).
Really talented actor. Loved him in Perfume: The Story of a Murderer.
Because that play he did with Renee Fleming in the Shed was god awful!
Among my favorites — He’s been in Perfume, A Very English Scandal, and the movie remake of Brideshead Revisited. Great job Ben.
OP, he is everything that you said! Except he’s not handsome.
That performance was brilliant. He outshone every other lead in the rest of The Hollow Crown series, including Rory Kinnear as Bolingbroke, Jeremy Irons as Henry IV, Hiddleston as Prince Hal and Henry V, Tom Sturridge as Henry VI, and Cumberbatch as the worst Richard III I have ever seen. And except for Cumberbatch, the rest of those named were very, very good.
No, he isn’t handsome but he’s very intense. First came across him in „The Hour“. I think frankly that he’s probably one of the five best actors of his generation.
He’s not particularly good-looking but he did go nude in some film and looked good au naturel.
At one point he was attached to the role of Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody but eventually it fell through. I can’t help but wonder what he would’ve done with the role. I think he would’ve been perfect. He’s such a great actor.
My favorite actor of his generation, and I’d marry him in the parallel universe of infinite possibility.
You’ll never meet him, don’t worry about, yankee R17
Ben is great, probably one of the best actors of his generation. Bright Star came out when I was in high school and I truly fell in love with him for a moment lol.
With a beard for when he did The Crucible on Broadway a few years back
Whishaw plays a guy who targets beautiful virgins to murder and use their vagina fat to make perfume. Would virginal vages smell better than nonvirginal? And do vages on beautiful virgins smell better than those of ugly virgins? Apparently, yes.
I thought he was married. Maybe it’s just a partner. Or maybe I have him confused with someone else. It is going to rain, after all.
We love him, but besides being a fantastic talented actor he’s kind of boring in real life? Which I appreciate, it makes me respect him more than desperate insta-whores posing in speedos for paps like Luke Evans. I think he could be the first openly gay actor to win a Best Actor Oscar if the right role comes along (Freddie Mercury SHOULD have been it) and if Sir Ian doesn’t get there first
He’s a jobbing actor in that he takes on anything. Nothing is too big or too small for him. Considering he’s in the James Bond franchise, and he’s won BAFTAs and an Emmy (or was it the Golden Globe?) he still does short films that play in film fests and he’s still the voice of Paddington for the Nickelodeon series. He’ll be in the next season of Fargo for FX and he’s doing another BBC series.
R27 I would read it if the intoxicating-smelling vag belonged to an ugly, fat but slutty frau, instead of beautiful virgins. That would be subervsive!
He was handsome for like 2 minutes 7 seconds. We’ve moved on.
I like him as an actor, saw him on Broadway in ‚The Crucible‘, and enjoyed the Amazon series he did with Hugh Grant.
He has nice red lips. I like red lips. I now realize that sounds weird when I type it out, but it’s true.
DL fave Connor Jessup is a big fan („he’s so hot!“)
BBC cancelling The Hour still hurts my soul a little bit.
He’s not handsome, and so he was pretty cruelly miscast as Sebastian Flyte in the awful film version of „Brideshead Revisited.“
But he is a singular screen presence, and has been terrific in multiple films and TV projects, including „Bright Star,“ „A Very English Scandal,“ and „The Hollow Crown.“ I will say that he does have a pretty narrow range (he’s always playing anxious artsy types), but within that range he is superb.
I find him quite attractive in particular roles and IRL, and he is unafraid to be as ugly as the role calls for, e.g. Uriah Heep.
[quote]BRIGHT STAR is perfect…? Ben Whishaw is perfect…..?
[quote]it’s almost too much. Can’t breathe when he’s on screen
His Richard II in The Hollow Crown was the best I’ve seen. Loved him in English Scandal, too (ditto London Spy until it went flying off the rails in the last episode).
Correcting OP’s highly unflattering mug shot of Ben on a sad bender.
Wishaw’s Richard II (and that entire production) was my first exposure to the play and I fell for it big time. The incredible poetry, the „this happy breed“ speech (among many), the resonant garden embarrassment of riches…I subsequently saw the David Tennant production, which, but for its superb incidental musical score, didn’t have the same impact. I’m curious to see the Fiona Shaw film which is currently on Prime, I believe.
Best actor I know. And he exudes sex in real life, quite unintentionally.
I once stood behind him in the queue for the box office at The Yard, a small artsy theatre space in North London. He has the air of somebody who is slightly burdened by knowing other people always know who he is.
This film hasn’t been mentioned up thread, but Lilting is lovely gay-themed film starring Whishaw.
Briefly mentioned above, but he was wonderful in London Spy.
I know someone that works with him and said he was really odd. Which is expected? Very actory. Said he started jumping around pretending to be a cat!
I don’t say this to be mean, but he seems on the spectrum, even when acting.
He is not traditionally handsome but it has his charm. And he is a very good actor.
Probably DL is not interested in him because he doesn’t expose his life on instagram or he is not a tabloid material, but he has a nice career and a prime example if you are hard working and a good actor coming out is not a problem to find work
He is kind of forgettable, not a bad thing for a character actor I guess
[quote]he is unafraid to be as ugly as the role calls for, e.g. Uriah Heep.
Has that version of David Copperfield been released anywhere yet? It is scheduled for August 28 in the US, but who knows if that will happen? Has anyone here seen it?
Personal History of David Copperfield was released in the UK in 2019. I’ve seen it. It’s wonderful. Whishaw’s role overall is small but he’s great as usual.
R65 The movie is terrible (but the trailer is fantastic).
Cloud atlas was not made for being a film, it’s too complex to translate well into a film. Even a tv show will have problems to adapt. The estructure of the novel, six linked stories (narrated till the middle of the story before going to the next one and going back in inverse order till end in the first story) is not the easies to make it easy to follow when you put that on images.
But even after reading the novel the film is extremelly confusing
Cloud Atlas: I’ve read the book right before the movie came out and saw the movie maybe two weeks after finishing – and actually loved both. Books and movies are different medias and can (and should and need to) tell stories differently.
My most favorite roles of Ben Wishaw are London spy (probably totally underrated) and Q in James Bond/Skyfall. Just love him.
Love him, he’s a fine actor, and I’m surprised to see @ R72 that he’s cut. Not that that’s in any way a deal breaker.
The Hour is great. 2 seasons available on Amazon Prime. Ben stars with a great cast including Dominic West and Romola Garai!
Interesting how Ben beat both Leonardo diCaprio and Orlando Bloom for the lead in Perfume in 2006. He hadn’t really done any major film projects prior to that.
^ He was a hell of a lot better than Bloom or DiCaprio would have been
It’s hard for photographers to disguise the bags under his eyes to get a flattering head shot.
[quote]Interesting how Ben beat both Leonardo diCaprio and Orlando Bloom for the lead in Perfume in 2006. He hadn’t really done any major film projects prior to that.
But he had played Hamlet at the Old Vic so he certainly had the chops for that role.
Ben recorded the audiobook for „Maurice“ during lockdown. A sample clip is at the site.
I don’t know why, but when I see his name it looks almost musical and should be said in hushed, dreamy, reverent tones and repeated twice like how Marge Simpson says “Lowenstein, Lowenstein…” in that episode with Lauren Becall as her therapist and is a take off from Prince of Tides.
He’s talented, but he’s an oddly-proportioned troll.
At 23 Ben was the youngest actor ever to play Hamlet at the Old Vic
Heard his heavenly singing voice in that production at the Shed and THAT made it worth it. What a voice!
Speaking of Ben singing I know everybody hated the Mary Poppins sequel but I loved his simple little song, he gave it so much heart
I love his voice! He should play Cat Stevens. Sorry, Jeremy Sisto but Ben’s got the pipes
Handsome? Ummm, no. He always looks like he needs a shower.
I don’t think he’s handsome but he’s not unfortunate looking either. And as mentioned above, he’s wonderful within his wheelhouse.
He’s a little like McKellan. Never a heartthrob but not unpleasant to look at…
Simon Amstell had Iwan Rheon parody him to good effect.
He carries too much smegma with him for most people’s liking.
There’s something charming about the deliberate way of speaking but the halting quality would grate on me quite quickly. He may not be like that off camera, of course.
I have a thing for short, thin guys with dark hair, so I think he’s gorgeous.
He does a really wonderful job in „Queers (2017) – The Man on the Platform.“ Written and directed by Mark Gatiss. It’s only 20 minutes but he is quite amazing.
„Queers“ – Eight short monologues were written for this series in response to the 50th anniversary of the passing of the Sexual Offences Act 1967, which decriminalized homosexual acts in private between two men aged 21 or over.
R72 is that Wishaw? Did he roll his foreskin back? He made a remark on Graham Norton’s show about being left intact when he was born.
Foreskins roll themselves back, especially if there’s been some fluffing before the camera rolls.
On the subject, how do you pronounce „Whishaw“? Is it WHY-shaw or wih-SHAW or something else? I haven’t ever heard him introduced. Yes I’ll Google.
Actors don’t have to be pretty boys or handsome men, but they should not be unpleasant to look at.
Connor Jessup talking about Bright Star and Ben for almost an hour:
He’s a good actor but a little overexposed especially here in the UK.
I would love to suffer from Whishaw overexposure. He’s one of the swellest actors ever. Please, give him a weekly drama series, someone.
He has a Jewish nose which really only looks good on Streisand.
[quote]Please, give him a weekly drama series, someone
He’s one of the stars of the latest season of „Fargo“ on FX. It was due to air in April but was pushed back due to Covid -19.
Has Bond resumed filming? Matrix 4 (starring DL fave Jonathan Groff) is filming in Berlin.
Did Ben comment about Olivia’s death? He seems the type to have had a secret special relationship with her as his own private mentor with special Paris weekend visits quarterly.
Bond wrapped and was slated for release in April. It’s been pushed to November.
Now, that’s a pair I could watch into infinity, r123, Ben and Julian.
Was Ben one of Julian’s „gay friends“ that inspired his Man In An Orange Shirt portrayal?
R72 is not Whishaw. It’s Leo Gregory. The film is 2005’s Stoned.
Okay amaze me. What’s a great performance of his I should watch even if my eyes bleed.
[quote] Connor Jessup talking about Bright Star and Ben for almost an hour:
So, when Connor fucks Miles he is wishing it were Ben?
R128 Ben is best on stage, but watch Perfume, Bright Star, Cloud Atlas, Lilting, The Hour, London Spy and Richard II (The Hollow Crown). He’s really good as Q in the James Bond series as well.
I suggested ‚Queers (2017) – The Man on the Platform‘ above.
I would also suggest ‚London Spy‘ and ‚A Very English Scandal‘. I’m sure others have their favorites.
R2 I don’t see it either, and I like a variety of types.
R128 Well, he won an Emmy for A Very English Scandal
In fairness, OP picked a particularly unflattering pic.
R129 Lol it wouldn’t surprise me. Connor seems insatiably horny and was even thirsting for young Ian McKellen – who looked much like Ben back in the day.
In the Lost in Space reboot, Parker Posey plays Dr. Smith, but I could imagine Ben being Dr. Smith in a future Lost in Space.
He comes across as being on the spectrum in interviews
He comes across as someone who makes me sing „Isn’t he lovely?“
R96, „are you two gonna shag?“ Lol I forgot how hilarious that series was, it’s a shame it never went on longer. I’d prefer Simon over Ben.
I’m sure it’s Ben’s favorite as well. It’s the film where he met his husband.
No, honey hook-up for Ben. His husband was already onboard to compose the film.
If you bitches haven’t seen Grandma’s House, do yourself a favor and watch ASAP. Simon Amstell is a genius.
Whishaw is a terrific actor, but handsome he is not. And way too skinny for my taste.
He’s apparent;y a great example of ‚One man’s meat is another man’s poison.‘
I think he’s a refreshing change from the group of popular actors his age that, to me, all are starting to look interchangeable.
He doesn’t look like anyone else out there. To some of us, that’s an advantage.
He is not everybody’s cup of tea in terms of looks but he is a perfect example of the kind of career an openly gay actor can have if he has talent
But if he were conventionally handsome, it would be a different story.
Everyone has different tastes. I think he’s beautiful and is exactly my type – I like ‚em skinny.
[Quote] If he were handsomer, we’d tear him to shreds.
Who’s the husband? Hope he’s better looking. He’s talented and deserves a hottie. Sadly he himself has no ugly sex appeal like Cumberbatch.
R164 I hope that husband has a hug cock to compensate for his fat ugliness.
R96: „Any good at ‚opping?“ made me laugh out loud.
R165 Imagine if he actually loved him for more than his looks or cock size.
[quote] Imagine if he actually loved him for more than his looks or cock size.
Don’t be so silly. This is real life and not some silly movie.
You’re right, R105 he does look as though he belongs in Darfur.
He reminds me of that other PAINFULLY skinny, weedy Brit named Tom Courtenay who infected his pained presence in Brit movies 50 years ago.
I assume he attracts people who want to mother him, protect him and feed him because he looks as though he definitely needs it.
He’s more McKellen than Courtenay, though Courtenay’s steady sixty-year career, 3 BAFTAs and many other awards/nominations seem to remedy whatever infection lurked.
Did anyone see him in „The Crucible“? He seems wrong for the part.
I saw The Crucible, Whishaw was good, as was Saorsie — it was the staging that was all wrong. Ivo van Hove’s showy shtick can really get in his own way sometimes. He never gave us any reason for setting it in a schoolhouse with everybody in uniforms, it was distracting
He may be a fine actor but he does nothing for me sexually. Too pale. Too skinny, almost anorexic.
Well you got it half right – he IS gay and married.
Ben Whishaw on No Time to Die, Fargo and surviving lockdown
All this „ugly“ talk is ugly. He’s a remarkably talented man, and he’s not a DL fave because he’s not a mess.
Devastatingly attractive to me. The eyes, humility, intelligence, expression, lithe and feline.
The year he won his Golden Globe or Emmy for „An English Scandal“ there were rumors that he and his partner broke up, but he thanked him during the speech. Now in The Times interview are hints that there were problems in the relationship.
I tell him about an Instagram live show I did called Love in the Time of Corona, about the problems when the dynamics of relationships suddenly changed and people couldn’t get away from each other. The divorce rate went up. “Yes,” he nods sagely.
Did he survive? “Yes, I’ve survived, but I’m not going to talk about it.” There is no point in meandering around how the dynamic of Whishaw and his partner might have changed – he just looks too done in to talk about it.
He’s one of the best things about this season of „Fargo.“
The WW button next to the comment left by R54 should have been dinging nonstop! VERY witty!
********That should have been R55’s comment I referenced. R55, and his comment deserve multitudes of WWs**********
I find him attractive but I also find Adam Driver attractive.
No question he is a talented actor. He was great in „Spectre“ as Q and thank God they let him out of the office for once. But he never has appealed to me sexually. He looks to me like someone who has trouble smiling. And IMHO he’s way to pale and skinny.
Lucky husband, he’s gorgeous, absolutely my type. Even with the beard he’s lovely, and I dont normally like beards.
Thanks you to those upthread that posted cock pics too.
He was excellent in London Spy. If you haven’t seen it then make sure you do.
I don’t know if I’d call him handsome, but he does have an interesting face, and he’s a very fine actor.
Good thing he’s not American – much harder to make it as an actor when you’re not attractive, no matter how talented you are.
is a talent, not a beauty contest!! Such different dynamics across the pond
Where’s that Shug Avery “You sho is ugly” meme when you need it?
He’s not handsome in the least. He’s homely and slight.
He was awful in A Very English Scandal and gets a BAFTA every time he farts.
Clearly someone has a vendetta against beautiful Ben or is simply blind and brain dead.
Have you met him face-to-face? without makeup-up and photoshopping?
He’d be OK if you were a midget (or a dwarf) but as far as I’m concerned he’s a satisfactory character with a pleasant face and a bird-like physique.
R207 – The entire remake of „Brideshead“ was dismal, but as talented as Whishaw is (and after seeing his Richard II talent is an understatement), following in the footsteps of Anthony Andrews in the part can’t have done him any favours.
In a formidable cast lineup, Andrews, who is quite slight himself but with a surprisingly deep, luscious voce and quite a bit more „beautiful“ than Whishaw, simply walked off with the piece.
Factoid: the young actress who played Cordelia wasn’t as young as all that, as she ended up married to the director, Charles Sturridge.
Their son, Tom, went on to play Henry VI very creditably in The Hollow Crown series in which Whishaw made such a splash as Richard II.
Nice enough guy, just simply not attractive enough or sexy. DL requires only the best.
R213 – Have you never heard the French term „jolie-laide“?
Whishaw isn’t classically handsome, but he has a feral intense look – and in fact can do intensity very well onscreen.
He is not attractive to for those who fancy his looks.
He IS a DL fave. „London Spy“ was much talked about here.
Saw him in an off-broadway play awhile back with Hugh Dancy about a gay relationship in the 50s. He was born to play that period. Great character actor who can play leads.
He has a negligible role as a student in HOPE GAP (now showing on Prime), starring Annette Bening, Bill Nighy and dreamy Josh O’Connor. Not sure why BW is even in this movie, unless it was delayed in its release.
R221 – Ben Whishaw is not in Hope Gap. Finn Bennett plays the student I think
OMG, of course you’re right. I stand corrected. He’s in ENDURING LOVE (with Daniel Craig) as a student named Spud. I watched both movies back to back at 2AM and drunk on me bum.
He was good in the latest, rather disappointing season of “Fargo.”
Hugh Grant discusses gay sex scenes with Ben Whishaw: ‘We just went for it. I got a rash from Ben’s beard’
The drama triumphed over several other nominees (BBC)
Have you heard of Jeremy Thorpe? He was the bisexual British politician who stood trial for murder, but despite his unbelievable story Thorpe’s name is largely forgotten – mention it to younger audiences and you’ll be met with blank stares.
“I think he [Thorpe] was very very tormented,” Grant explained to PinkNews. “When you feel your family’s threatened we’re all capable – however priveleged or genteel – of surprising violence.”
Ben Whishaw and Hugh Dancy are two boyish British actors (the latter married to Claire Danes) cast as lovers in The Pride, Alexi Kaye Campbell’s play, which opens February 16 at the MCC Theater. The story takes place in two very different cultural moments for male-male relationships. In the first scene, set in 1958 London, Whishaw is a writer who becomes entangled with Hugh Dancy’s character, a married man. Then, in 2008 London, he portrays an unfaithful lover and Dancy his monogamy-seeking ex-boyfriend. During the show, doe-eyed Whishaw professes a predilection for acts including (but not limited to) Nazi role-play and simulated rape. Mike Vilensky talked with them about all that—plus Qigong massage.
Did you have any hesitations about taking explicit gay roles? Hugh Dancy: No. Ben Whishaw: I think of it as a very hopeful play. It’s all about people wanting to know themselves better.
Still, Ben, your character says he’s into bondage, rubber, chains. BW: Sure, I have thought about my mom seeing it. [To Dancy] Has that thought crossed your mind? HD: Oh, God, yes. But people seem convinced that after I agreed to do the play, all my agents begged me not to. It’s just not true—not really.
What connections did you make between the show’s two time periods? HD: That the self-loathing in the fifties has perhaps, in some way, remained and informed some element of gay identity.
So the trap that your character faces in 2008 is … BW: Still very specifically about gayness. Or his sexuality. [My character] can feel love for one person, and still have sex with strangers in parks. It’s a problem.
Were you glad to see a mature Nazi fetish depiction in the script? HD: Oh, I’ve been waiting.
Hugh, since you live in New York now, did you give Ben tips on what to do?HD: I did give you the address of that Qigong place on Grand Street. BW: Oh, yeah! That massage place. It was pretty good, but it could have been harder.
What kind of other support do you two give each other? HD: I’ve never felt in great need of emotional support because we get on well. BW: Yeah. If you make a big kind of [whispers nervously] “We’re doing the sex scene today,” you make it a drama. But actually we’re like, “Okay, we’re gonna do the sex scene! [Claps] So pull down your pants.” You have to be matter-of-fact about it. HD: There’s a perception that in the rehearsal room, actors are always hugging each other and checking if they’re okay. I think it’s much more matter-of-fact, usually. BW: But we do sometimes hug.
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Who is he married to? Is he gay?
His husband, Mark Bradshaw, marries Ben. They got married in August 2012, in a civil partnership. Although he is notoriously secretive about his private life, in 2011 he told Out Magazine that actors are entitled to privacy and secrecy. He said, “I don’t see why you need to talk openly about that, because you’re doing something in the public eye. I don’t know why we’re turning actors into celebrities.
The couple met on the Bright Star set around 2009 whereWhishaw played the role of the English poet John Keats.
Who is the Ben Whishaw husband Mark Bradshaw ?
His partner, Mark Bradshaw, is an Australian composer best known for his TV and Film compositions. Once he met his future husband he was working on the film Bright Star. Also known is Mark Bradshaw for Bright Star (2009), O Holy Ghost, and Top of the Lake (2013).
His dressing room, where he spends most of his time away from home in the West Village, is cramped and featureless, but he cheered it up with a pink hyacinth on top of the air conditioner; images of his friend, the musician Mark Bradshaw, and his family; and a collection of Emily Dickinson’s poetry to help put him in the Puritan mindset. There’s a bright purple yoga mat, but little room to unroll it, and a big chunk of smoky quartz that looks wonderfully witchy and sometimes clasps Whishaw. “It’s my rock,” he says. “I’ve just got it around.”
Tags: Ben Whishaw husband Mark BradshawBen Whishaw Qgayhusband Mark Bradshaw
Bond star ‚marries‘ his gay partner – and they are both ’so happy and proud‘
By Charlotte Griffiths for The Mail on Sunday and Elizabeth Sanderson
Published: 22:15, 3 August 2013 | Updated: 18:39, 4 August 2013
Happy couple: Whishaw with his partner Mark Bradshaw, left, an Australian composer. The pair entered into a civil partnership last August in Sydney
Whishaw with Romola Garai in The Hour: Whishaw is widely regarded as one of the most naturally gifted actors of his generation
Legend in the making: Whishaw pictured as Hamlet, with Imogen Stubbs as Gertrude, in a scene from the stage production directed by Trevor Nunn old the Old Vic which was hailed by the critics
Gritty: Whishaw in the play ‚Mercury fur‘ at the Menier Chocolate Factory. He has accomplished the difficult trick of moving effortlessly between stage and screen
Darren Criss has vowed to no longer take on queer roles. Gay actor Ben Whishaw doesn’t believe a performer’s sexuality should limit what characters they play. Alexandra Pollard explores the complicated debate over sexuality on film
Darren Criss has vowed to no longer take on queer roles. Gay actor Ben Whishaw doesn’t believe a performer’s sexuality should limit what characters they play. Alexandra Pollard explores the complicated debate over sexuality on film
‚If we’re honest about sexuality, most people are on a spectrum‘: Actor Ben Whishaw, 38, admits he struggled with being gay in his twenties and ‚hated‘ himself
Published: 16:20, 24 March 2019 | Updated: 16:20, 24 March 2019
British star Ben Whishaw has opened up about his personal life in a candid interview and said that he believes ‚most people are on a spectrum‘ when it comes to sexuality.
The Skyfall actor, 38, who has been in a civil partnership with composer Mark Bradshaw since 2012, admitted that while he is more open about his sexuality now, he struggled with it during his twenties and even ‚hated‘ himself..
In a new interview with the Sunday Times magazine, the star from Bedfordshire spoke hit back at the pigeon-holing of actors, arguing that it wasn’t always straightforward to define sexual orientation.
Actor Ben Whishaw, pictured at the 24th annual Critics‘ Choice Awards in California, has said he believes ‚most people are on a spectrum‘ when it comes to sexuality
Talking about hit singer Freddie Mercury, who he was at one stage being considered to portray in the Bohemian Rhapsody film, he said: ‚If we’re honest about these things [sexuality], perhaps most people are on a spectrum.‘
‚I think it’s very unfair when people say they’re bisexual and they’re accused of being gay really.‘
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Although Whishaw has been in a civil partnership with composer Mark Bradshaw since 2012, he wasn’t always so open about his personal life.
For many years he didn’t like to speak about his private life and he didn’t tell the acting world that he was gay in case he was ‚pigeon-holed‘ into certain roles.
Whishaw, pictured with long term partner Mark Bradshaw at the 68th annual Cannes Film Festival in 2015, also revealed that he struggled with his sexuality in his twenties
However now Whishaw has said that he doesn’t worry about that and has not experienced any ’negative effects‘ since revealing his own sexuality.
However the Spectre and Skyfall star did reveal that he struggled with his sexuality when he was in his twenties.
He told the paper: ‚I did not feel very good about myself. It was to do with my sexuality and not knowing how to be myself and hating myself.‘
Whishaw and his partner Mr Bradshaw met on the set of Jane Campion’s 2009 film Bright Star.
The actor has been in numerous films including Paddington, Skyfall, pictured, and Spectre and was worried about being pigeon-holed
The film is about John Keats’s love affair with neighbour Fanny Brawne before his untimely death from TB.
Whishaw played Keats in the film and Bradshaw, now 36, composed the score.
In March 2011 Whishaw gave an interview to gay magazine Out while he was playing a homosexual character in an off-Broadway play, The Pride.
When the interviewer asked whether it was important for young gay people to have positive role models, Whishaw replied: ‘I feel in my heart that it’s important, but I don’t quite know yet the way to go about that.
‚Maybe that’s the transitional thing I feel I’m in the middle of at the moment.’
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Many out LGBT+ actors face the same limiting prejudice, overlooked for queer roles but deemed unsuitable for straight ones. “Honestly, I would not advise any actor necessarily, if he was really thinking of his career, to come out,” said Rupert Everett, who believes his opportunities wilted after he came out as gay, in 2009.
A recent study found that more than half of LGBT+ actors had heard anti-gay comments on set, while almost half of lesbian and gay respondents believed that producers and studio executives considered them less marketable. They were also less likely to have an agent. Speaking to Vice, actor Giovanni Bienne, the chair of Equity’s LGBT+ committee, recalled going up for straight roles and being asked to keep “it” up during the chat afterwards. “Sean Penn didn’t audition for Milk,” said Bienne, “but if he had, they wouldn’t have him blow the casting team away, and then be told that he couldn’t keep the ‘gay’ up afterwards.”
Queer spies reveal homophobic legacy of MI6’s ‘illogical’ LGBT+ ban – and how far things have come
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ince the turn of the century, no fewer than 25 actors have been Oscar nominated for playing LGBT+ roles. Among them, Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger for cowboy romance (2005); Charlize Theron for Aileen Wuornos biopic Monster (2003); Sean Penn for political drama Milk (2008); Benedict Cumberbatch as computer programmer Alan Turing in (2014), and Timothée Chalamet for the woozy, coming-of-age drama (2017). Of those 25 actors, not a single one was openly queer.
The debate over whether that matters has been gaining steam of late. When Jack Whitehall was cast in the forthcoming Disney film Jungle Cruise, as the studio’s “first openly gay character”, the news sparked as much censure as celebration. Meanwhile, actors like Rachel Weisz – who last year played two excellent queer characters, in Disobedience and The Favourite – are facing more scrutiny than they might have done even a decade ago. But it’s a debate with no clear-cut answer.
Darren Criss, who won a Golden Globe for his role as Andrew Cunanan in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, recently vowed to turn down queer roles in the future for fear of being “another straight boy taking a gay man’s role”. But Ben Whishaw wasn’t on board. “I really believe that actors can embody and portray anything,” said the British actor, who is himself gay, “and we shouldn’t be defined only by what we are.“
It’s an argument that has been used time and again. “I see my task as not to tell the story I’ve lived,” Weisz recently told Gay Star News. “When I played Blanche DuBois on the stage, I’m not an alcoholic. And I’m not interested in sleeping with teenage boys! But that’s the character. So I see storytelling as me becoming people that I’m not.” Cate Blanchett, who played the eponymous Carol in Todd Haynes’ beautiful, Fifties-set lesbian romance, agrees. “I will fight to the death,” she said, “for the right to suspend disbelief and play roles beyond my experience.”
This perspective though, however valid, is missing some nuance. For one thing, being queer is an identity in a way that being an alcoholic, or sleeping with teenage boys, is not. It isn’t an experience someone has, or hasn’t had, but an essential facet of their identity – and no amount of research can truly encapsulate that. Growing up, whenever I stumbled upon a film or TV show with a queer female character – My Summer of Love, Kyss Mig, Show Me Love, Hollyoaks (options were limited) – I’d hope, without really knowing why, that the actor’s lived experience might also mirror my own.
“I do really think, ideally, anyone should be able to play a perfect part for them,” Peppermint – the first transgender woman to create a major role in a Broadway musical, Head Over Heels, – told Vice recently. “But right now, gay, trans and queer people need to participate in the telling of their own stories. Hollywood has a terrible history of creating movies and making money off the experiences of marginalised people, without letting them have any input in the process. A lot of the time, Hollywood makes these stories about queer, trans and minority folks and they get it wrong: there’s offensive material, tragic storylines, one-dimensional, stereotypical characters with little depth.”
What’s more, openly LGBT+ actors don’t always get the same opportunities as their straight counterparts. When Emma Stone yelled out, “I’m sorry” at the Golden Globes last week for playing a part-Asian character in the 2015 film Aloha, it wasn’t just an acknowledgement that she had stepped into an identity that isn’t – and never will be – hers, but that she had taken that opportunity from someone else more suitable. Someone else who, because of their identity, would rarely be cast in many of the other roles that are readily available to Stone.
But the idea that queer actors should stay in the closet is a troubling one. “Whether you’re straight or gay, people shouldn’t know anything about your sexuality,” said Matt Damon, who is publicly married to a woman, in 2015. It’s hard not to see a double standard at play.
When Ellen Page first signed on to play Stacie Andree – a gay woman fighting for the right to receive her dying partner’s pension benefits – in 2015’s Freeheld, she was, in her words, “very, very, very closeted”. But as filming approached, she told herself: “There’s no way you cannot be an actively out gay person if you make this film.” And so, in 2014, she came out as gay during a speech at a Human Rights Campaign conference. “There was something about being out, getting to play a gay character, and getting to play a woman who is so inspiring to me,” Page told Time magazine, “it was such an amazing experience.” She’s played straight characters since – in films such as 2016’s Tallulah – but she’s also embraced her role as a trailblazer in an industry that still underrepresents voices like hers. “Honestly, if I played gay characters for the rest of my career, I’d be thrilled.”
Where, though, does sexual fluidity fit into the debate? And what about actors who aren’t yet ready to discuss their own identity? When I interviewed Chloe Grace Moretz last year, for gay conversion therapy drama The Miseducation of Cameron Post, she grew uncomfortable when I mentioned an article citing her as a straight actor playing a gay role. “Well, I think what’s important is don’t assume anyone’s sexuality,” she said. “I mean, across the board, don’t assume.” A few months later, she was photographed kissing model Kate Harrison on the streets of Malibu.
For Desiree AkhavanCameron Post and recently starred in brilliant Channel 4 series The Bisexual, the most important thing is that there’s “a queer hand at the wheel”. “If they cast a straight actor and they have a lot of queer people on the team and they bring dignity to the role, I think it’s cool,” she said.
There is no easy, prescriptive solution here. But what is abundantly clear is that queer voices need to be heard – and not only when they’re spoken through the mouths of straight people.
Ben Whishaw for Another Man 27
Whishaw’s best roles have always been an admixture of the darker and lighter shades of romance, coolly distilled into sharp performances of men who don’t necessarily know the ingredients that make them what they are. It’s this lack of self-awareness that the actor does so well – entering personas who are a mystery even to themselves, who brim beneath the surface of self-revelation. Jean-Baptiste Grenouille in Perfume, Sebastian Flyte in Brideshead Revisited, John Keats in Bright Star, Norman Scott in A Very English Scandal; on stage, John Proctor, Konstantin, Hamlet. All of them unable to find a place in this world which is survivable for them. They’re as much heart as mind.
It’s hard not to attach shadows of those romantic heroes to the image of Whishaw as he trudges along a petal-strewn garden path towards you, with a slight wave. The flora and fauna of Hackney City Farm’s café suit him; partly because it’s so close to his house, partly for its “ramshackle and real” qualities that evidently please him this eerily quiet Friday in July (schools are luckily not out yet). For someone so famously private – as an actor traversing mainstream and independent film with ease, he seems to hide in plain sight – sitting opposite Whishaw has an uncanny feeling of familiarity. That might be because the conversation flickers with physical mannerisms of his performances: he see-saws left and right as he speaks, as though the right phrase is in his periphery vision; when words arrive and he fixes you, his eyes are pale green pools. Whishaw’s pauses are self-assured as opposed to wary, bubbling over with thought; accompanied by a furrowed brow, or the briefest of Jean-Paul Belmondo pouts. His face moves, a lot. Most of all, as our conversation trails in different directions, he’s incredibly receptive: as though this isn’t an interview, as though we are simply here to dig out some useful truths together.
That so much of Whishaw’s acting speaks in receptivity – in the same active listening he shows as an interviewee – is testament to his uniquely unshowy presence in film. Like his characters, his light touch seems out-of-step with his age. He’s been cast as fragile men, insecure men, nerdy men (most iconically as ‘Q’, in the James Bond franchise). But there’s always been steel beneath that gauze, a determination no better channelled than in his most recent appearance on the small screen, A Very English Scandal.
“Norman is an incredible survivor, he has a kind of survivor’s energy,” says Whishaw of his character in the BBC drama, which US viewers were watching for the first time the week we meet. A kind of black comedy-of-errors chronicling the most notorious and idiosyncratic chapter in British political history, the drama recounts the rise and fall of Jeremy Thorpe (craggily perfected by Hugh Grant), a closeted gay man who was leader of the Liberal Party from 1967 to 1976. His career ended when he was charged and tried for his part in conspiring to murder his former lover, Norman Scott, the stablehand-meets-model (this is the 1960s) who had repeatedly attempted to go public with the scandalous information he had on their affair. The show’s acerbic take on the ‘Thorpe affair’, which ended with Thorpe being acquitted despite evidence of his guilt, re-tells the story for a new generation who have little knowledge about this stranger-than-fiction event – including Whishaw himself.
“To be honest, I didn’t realise how complicated it would be when I accepted the role… Everyone who I speak to who was alive then and who remembers the trial remembers how badly Norman was depicted in the press. When you’re dealing with real things, and people who have been wounded, it’s hard” – Ben Whishaw
“I had never heard of Jeremy Thorpe,” admits Whishaw. “He’s lost to history, and that’s one of the interesting things about the show: it really captures a time that has gone.” At once an unflinchingly intimate drama – with the kernel of a tender love story within it, somewhere – and a true crime thriller, the show also demonstrates how the Thorpe affair straddled wider cultural shifts that would define British modernity: when the 60s counterculture rose to threaten the establishment, and the establishment dug new trenches in response. “The trial, which is the culmination of the whole show, is at the same time as Thatcher came into office,” explains Whishaw. “I was born the next year, 1980, and then a different world starts to come to power.”
Whishaw has played living people before – he namechecks Bob Dylan in I’m Not There as a particular challenge – but the decision to take on Norman Scott was something unprecedented (he was able to meet Scott, who is alive and well; Thorpe died in 2014). “To be honest, I didn’t realise how complicated it would be when I accepted the role,” Whishaw says, a little sadly. “I have played people in the public eye. But that’s very different from taking on someone who is not a public figure, though has been observed on some platform at some point. Everyone who I speak to who was alive then and who remembers the trial remembers how badly Norman was depicted in the press. When you’re dealing with real things, and people who have been wounded, it’s hard.”
Given the immense gaps left by the prejudice of the media flurry at the time, what Whishaw does with that space is thrilling: investing the character with a tangible strength as well as a sweet naivety, and cutting loose with a sexy, troubled, ultimately redeeming depiction. Scott’s powerful speech in court, where he describes how “all the history books get written without people like (him) in”, offers a poignant moment of hope for a time when being gay won’t have to mean being sidelined. Whishaw, however, feels the show’s success lies in its evenhandedness – its sympathy for all these humans making the worst possible choices. “It’s not anti-anybody, neither does it let anyone off the hook,” he explains. “There is something humane about it. Of course, things haven’t changed and probably don’t change…”
That’s a sentiment that rings true for many openly gay actors who find themselves frequently typecast. Whishaw, however, has been able to tell his own story. Married to his husband, composer Mark Bradshaw, since 2012, the actor has eschewed obviously award-baiting parts while allowing for a personal kind of activism to express itself in his choices. In Lilting (2014), he played a young man trying to connect with the elderly Chinese mother of his late boyfriend, who does not know that her son was gay; in London Spy (2015), a lonely nighthawk whose new relationship with a secretive man spirals into forbidden territory. Roles like these seem to express something of the stories Whishaw wants to tell about LGBTQ lives, which emerge like a secret fault line in his work. But for him, acting is instinct: nothing to do with his real life, everything to do with his fundamental beliefs. “The older I get the more I really feel that acting is my expression,” he says. “That there must be a reason why I need to get these things out; these kinds of stories and these kinds of characters. For me, it’s never straightforwardly, ‘This happened to me, therefore I can do it’.”
“The older I get the more I really feel that acting is my expression. That there must be a reason why I need to get these things out; these kinds of stories and these kinds of characters. For me, it’s never straightforwardly, ‘This happened to me, therefore I can do it’” – Ben Whishaw
“I’m really interested in how you can know something, even though you don’t know it,” he continues, musing intensely on an empty spot three seats along. “How you can inhabit something, even though you’ve never experienced it. There’s something that we share that we don’t know: a collective human consciousness, or past lives, or literally in our genetics. It’s bigger than the circumstances of your own life. I feel that when I’m acting. There’s something else that comes in. It’s like dreams – where are they coming from? They come from somewhere else.”
Continuing the thought, Whishaw draws out the parallels between his compulsion to act and the compulsion to love: both involve a desire to make the unknown known, but sparks are only given off in the pursuit. The moment you become self-aware, it’s impossible. “When I was younger, starting out in acting, I was obsessed with love and trying to find it,” he smiles. “But I feel we’re not living in very romantic times, don’t you think?”
“Because we’re not living in a time where people value not knowing something,” he expands, citing the social media platforms that he, publically at least, avoids. “They value everything being laid out and advertised. And that’s how people get a sense of self worth – of being seen and being known. The demonstration of your individuality is everything.” For Whishaw’s part, he values the mystery at the heart of all things, and trusts in what nature has in store for him: he only knows that winter is horrible and summer will eventually come, a theatre performance might go terribly but tomorrow, you do it again. “Everything is cyclical,” he says. “We wake up and we go to sleep, but I don’t find that hopeless or nihilistic.”
It’s on stage where Whishaw feels he has grown the most as an actor; where he first appeared in the public consciousness as a wunderkind Hamlet (at the Old Vic, in 2004), and has appeared regularly since. But while he blazed onto the boards as an instant prodigy, as the actor matures, he feels he only gets better. “For me it’s really important that artists are allowed to grow,” he says. “Not to say that Timothée Chalamet isn’t amazing. I get that. That kind of blithe ignorance and innocence is very exciting – raw, and powerful.”
Before stage and screen, Whishaw’s first love was London; having grown up just outside, like most children of the Commuter Belt, he feels “very passionately” about the city. His next project is as London as it comes: a bitingly satirical film adaptation of Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield by provocateur Armando Iannucci, which he is mid-filming when we meet. “It’s very much Dickens but it’s very much Armando too,” he enthuses. “And joyously not very faithful to the book. I’m playing Uriah Heep, the archvillain. I love Dickens and I love his love of people, eccentricity, and that celebration of human oddity – just gorgeous. But what we’re exploring is what is it about this world – this society that these people are living in – that makes them do the things they do?”
The Iannucci project appeals to Whishaw’s gleefully dark streak, which extends to the confrontational reading on his bookshelves. Today he takes Nabokov’s Speak, Memory and Edouard Louis’ latest book History of Violence out of his Fjallraven backpack (the latter, he says, “writes with this amazing honesty and fantastically uncensored, brutal, beautiful clarity about things”.) For Whishaw, “art should be transgressive. It should push, and be uncomfortable, and offer another perspective on things. We’ve got to protect that. Otherwise…” He needn’t fill in the gap: with today’s post-Trump political chaos and ever-narrowing media filter bubbles, making art which breaks through held opinion is more vital than ever. “We mustn’t be allowed to be smoothed away. We don’t all have to agree. I feel very strongly on this at the moment – difference is really great.”
When nuance, ambiguity and the value of taking one’s time is overtaken by a culture obsessed with seeing things in black and white, going to the cinema becomes close to a political act. Where else do you have solitude-in-community, switched-off phones and new worlds to wash over you and hold close? Endless opportunities to fall in love. Whishaw knows this – and he’s happy to scramble around in the dark like the rest of us. “Sometimes the characters feel more real than my life, if that makes any sense,” he says. “Because you can see them. They’ve got a beginning, and an end.”