James Nesbitt

(William James Nesbitt)

James Nesbitt
James Nesbitt
  • Born: January 15, 1965
  • Nationality: Irish
  • Profession: Actor









William James Nesbitt, OBE is an actor and presenter from Northern Ireland. Born in Ballymena, County Antrim, Nesbitt grew up in the nearby village of Broughshane, before moving to Coleraine, County Londonderry. He wanted to become a teacher like his father, so he began a degree in French at the University of Ulster. He dropped out after a year when he decided to become an actor, and transferred to the Central School of Speech and Drama in London. After graduating in 1987, he spent seven years performing in plays that varied from the musical Up on the Roof (1987, 1989) to the political drama Paddywack (1994). He made his feature film debut playing talent agent Fintan O'Donnell in Hear My Song (1991).

Quotes About
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A lot of people of my Ulster Protestant background would have been very suspicious of the notion of a film about Bloody Sunday. Our fear would have been that it would be terribly anti-Britain and anti-soldiers: a piece of nationalist propaganda.
Acting is something you didn't do in Ireland.
Acting was a godsend. I found myself because I loved acting.
Actually, I played Pontius Pilate as nice. An actor spends his life thinking he is Christ, and then he gets to play the character that killed him. Life
All my adult life, there was the Troubles. That was the backdrop of my life. Life
Although surgeons know how to deal with bits of the brain, they don't really know how it works.
As fabulous as technology is, it can also make us very anxious. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
As I flew back from New Zealand to bury my mother, it occurred to me that no matter how harrowing her loss was and how keenly it will always be felt, there was, nevertheless, a sense of relief that my father, sisters and I could say a final goodbye after the longest goodbye and relief that my mum had finally been released.
As I told Piers Morgan, 'Catholics have confession, whereas Northern Irish Protestants only have interviews.'
Because I grew up with women, I have a certain amount of charm, and I'm all right to get on with, kind enough, funny enough, blah blah blah. Women ;Humor
Before I read the 'Bloody Sunday' script, I have to admit I hadn't thought about it that much. There was probably even part of me which assumed there was no smoke without fire. That the Catholics who were shot must have done something to provoke such a response from the army. I was extremely ignorant of the whole situation.
Belfast is a city which, while not forgetting its past, is living comfortably with its present and looking forward to its future. Future
Brain surgeons are dealing with the very last thread of life, and they have to be very confident, but I think they tend to remember their failures rather than their successes, and that must be very hard. Who do you share that failure with? That's why their personal lives are often disastrous. Life ;Failure
Brain surgery is a fairly aggressive process. There's a lot to get through. There's the beautiful, delicate shaving first, which is really lovely. There's a wonderful ceremony of putting all the covers on, so only the little bit you're operating on is revealed. But once they make the incision and tear the skin back, the drill comes out.
Drama asks some uncomfortable questions at times... It goes to pretty dark places.
Ever since I left Northern Ireland, I've always been pretty comfortable on my own, which contradicts a lot of people's perceptions of me.
Funnily enough, Northern Ireland is a great example of where politics can win over conflict. The decision to down arms and follow a political path would have been unthinkable once. It shows just what is possible. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
I actually started out on the stage as a singer.
I am in the public eye, and I accept that my actions may be open to question.
I didn't much like Las Vegas. The noise of the place and the whole 24-hour, 'let's play the slot machines all night' culture of the place just left me cold.
I do commercials, but I also go to Sudan as an ambassador for UNICEF.
I don't know a single person who doesn't regret the things that they did to hurt their parents, or the things they didn't say to them.
I don't think I'll be doing a lot more commercials.
I feel old and vulnerable. I now realise that I knew nothing and know nothing, but back when my career was beginning, I thought I was a man when, in fact, I was a dewy-eyed boy who'd not seen an avocado or eaten a tomato.
I get an awful lot of people coming up and saying they went to school with me. There must have been 80,000 pupils at that school!
I grew up loving women and without misogyny, rancour or prejudice, totally loved and loving. And no matter what has happened since, I don't think I have treated women in my life very badly. Life ;Women
I have three older sisters who, when we were children, used to hold me down on a bad day and put make-up all over me, so I've had an aversion to it all my life and hate sitting down in the make-up chair. Life
I lived a dual life, and when my dual life exploded, I began to feel much happier. Life
I love nothing more than going to eat by myself with a newspaper. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
I loved my time growing up in Northern Ireland doing youth drama, that is where it all began for me. Time
I never forget that I'm extremely fortunate.
I spend an awful lot of time by myself and enjoy that. Time
I spend my money on holidays and eating out, and it allows me to be generous. Money, Coins & Minting
I started a French degree at university, but packed it in when I realised I really wanted to be an actor.
I think a lot of us who grew up in Northern Ireland weren't politicised enough, frankly.
I think often there is great rivalry between neurosurgeons and cardiac surgeons. I think I maybe have a bit of bias with neurosurgeons' opinion that nothing tops neurosurgery! But that makes for a quite interesting conflict between the two.
I think teaching should be a vocation, and they should be paid more for it.
I thought I was God's gift to mankind and the greatest Irishman since George Best. Religion & God
I want to beat up Michael Fassbender in a movie. I was with him at the beginning of his career when he did an episode of 'Murphy's Law.' He's a proper superstar and enormously talented, but I want to do a scene where I properly duff him up.
I was one of the many kids in Northern Ireland who grew up in the countryside and had an idyllic childhood well away from the Troubles.
I went to India with UNICEF in connection with Manchester United to raise money for children's education. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training ;Money, Coins & Minting
I'd be a very easy therapist's subject.
If I get to the end of my life, and people say, 'He was in 'Cold Feet,' well, I was, and it was great. I thought the fourth series wasn't great. I thought there were weak episodes throughout. Overall, I thought it was a good show, it had an impact, it dealt with a lot of issues, and it was a great part. Life
If you are a Northern Irish actor, maybe subconsciously more than consciously, you do have an instinctive responsibility at some point to tackle the recent history of where we have come from. It's not only a responsibility, but a privilege. History
If you are going to tell a story about a child going missing, it's going to have similarities with a real life child going missing. Life
I'm an actor, learning lines and saying them in the right order. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
I'm increasingly realising our consciousness and subconsciousness are extremely different, and our subconsciousness motivates us, but so far, I don't know what drove or motivates me.
I'm no pin-up.
I'm not an actor who is often asked to be in period things.
I'm not strong-willed enough or unkind enough... or maybe simply not wise enough to tell a journalist that a subject is out of bounds.
I'm not very good at standard English.
I'm Ulster Presbyterian. We understand the need to work hard from an early age. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
Improvising political dialogue is not easy.
In my life, I have made the occasional catastrophic choice, and it's just a case of moving on and learning from it. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training ;Life
It's a complicated relationship with the place one grows up in, particularly if it's Northern Ireland.
It's easier to act in your own accent.
It's easy to get carried away with yourself.
It's hard to make a film in Britain. It's hard to raise money. The best stuff that is shot on film in Britain is usually shot on film for television. Money, Coins & Minting
It's ridiculous, but it's horrible going bald. Anyone who says it isn't is lying.
I've always been a family man and count myself as one of those who are lucky to have the comfort of a family. Families, Children & Parenting
I've got a history in my life of difficult times. Life ;History
I've heard some duff Irish accents. The worst must be Mickey Rourke.
I've never felt that acting was my vocation - never had that tortured thing. I love acting, but it doesn't feed my soul. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
I've never thought of myself as a classic leading man. I'm a character actor who happens to play leading roles. Come on, look at me. I'm really Desperate Dan.
Kids at a certain age don't necessarily want to be dragged to the other side of the world.
Like the character I played in 'Jekyll', we all have different masks we put on for different occasions. As much as we all want to lead decent lives, we're also attracted by the idea that something dark may lurk within us.
Love your parents, but don't have them as your mates. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
My agent Sue realised after 'Cold Feet' that I could have spent the rest of my life doing similar roles. So she was instrumental in moving me away from that. Life
My best friends are still the ones I first attached myself to when I went to school because, all of a sudden, I was leaving the rather pampered and occasionally very annoying world of having three older sisters to go to a male-dominated world.
My early ambitions were the same as they are now - to play for Manchester United. I was, and still am, football mad.
My mother certainly doesn't think I'm charming!
My mother taught me what it is to have a sense of humour; my dad, who was a headmaster, everything you need to know about hard work. My dad is the most decent man you could come across. Families, Children & Parenting ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
My nightmare is that I don't want to be OK.
My preference is for good writing. It doesn't matter if it's for film or TV. Whatever. It starts with the writing. Even though I've had problems with writers, it doesn't matter how great of an actor you are. If the writing is bad, you're going to struggle.
My wife is a very strong woman.
My wife would say I'm more Hyde than Jekyll!
New Zealand is a place where you can get well.
No one wanted to own Bloody Sunday.
Northern Ireland has treated me well, you know?
Ours was a very progressive Protestant family, but my parents were God-loving rather than God-fearing. We went to church, and I still go with my mum and dad when I return home - it's a family thing. I played flute in my dad's marching band, but I had an integrated upbringing. We had a lot of Catholic friends. Families, Children & Parenting
People don't watch TV only to relate to stuff. They also watch to find out about a world they can't relate to.
People love watching medical dramas - they also love watching documentaries about the workings of the brain. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex ;Health, Healthcare & Medicine
Perhaps not being very self-aware in the past masked depression. I think I was confused. I think I was immature. I think I probably was quite depressed.
Perhaps our imagination needs crime stories to fulfill some craving we have, as a way to assuage a darkness in ourselves.
Producers get very jittery about things.
Richard Armitage is very good at the old horse riding because of course he did it in 'Robin Hood,' so he's very good at that.
Several years ago, I began losing my hair, and like a lot of men, it was a major concern to me, in fact it was practically an obsession. But, also I'm an actor, so I'm in the public eye a lot and I really felt that my hair loss could affect my career prospects.
Some actors can distance themselves from the parts they play, but I fall into the category who use bits of themselves.
Something about theatre perhaps scared me.
'Spoilt' is a euphemism for 'loved.'
Supporting drama for young people is close to my heart.
That thing of briefly losing sight of a child happened to me when the kids were younger, and you can't see them in the supermarket or wherever. It's a terrible, terrible moment... the most unimaginable horror.
The best way of enjoying your money is to spend it on other people. I don't need much. Money, Coins & Minting
The reality of life in Northern Ireland is that if you were Protestant, you learned British history, and if you were Catholic, you learned Irish history in school. Life ;History
The thing to remember is that the work comes first, and not to get distracted by anything else. If you keep focused on the work, everything else will fall into place. That's my mantra now. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
The whole process of making 'Bloody Sunday' was difficult but extraordinary.
Theatres, along with the likes of the Ulster Orchestra, for example, are the cultural heartbeats of our towns and cities, and without them, we are much poorer for it.
There will only ever be 13 dwarves in 'The Hobbit' - and I was one of them. If I had my time again, would I do it? Yeah, I would. Time
There's no such thing as unwanted attention for an actor.
There's some irony in playing a journalist after some of the stuff that has been written about me, but it's a great profession, particularly investigative journalism.
Tumours can come out of nowhere.
Unification is less important than the fact Ireland is now conflict-free.
We have to get behind the scientists and push for a dementia breakthrough. It could be that we fear dementia out of a sense of hopelessness, but there is hope, and it rests in the hands of our scientists. Hope
What I discovered all over Ireland is that people living simple lives by the sea or in the remote countryside seem a lot calmer than city folk with their iPads and their Android phones.
When I did the film 'Hear My Voice' a few years ago, I disappeared fully up my own backside for a while. Because I thought my career was taking off, I became a bit of an egomaniac and a pain in the neck. I thought I was God's gift to mankind and the greatest Irishman since George Best. Religion & God
When I turned 40, subconsciously, life was a blank sheet. Before, it was disjointed, and I was very displaced and quite mad, but it was a brilliant time. Everyone thinks I must have been unhappy. Life ;Time
When I was at drama school, I was totally broke, and a lot of my mates had jobs and were financially very good to me, so if, for example, I take them away on a trip to a football match in Europe, it means that I can pay them back a bit.
When I was growing up, Belfast City Hall was surrounded by security, and we had no access to it. But now, people come in and out of it all the time. On a nice day, office workers and students sit on the lawn outside and have lunch. It's great to see how Northern Ireland has changed. To be part of that is fantastic. Time
When I went to university, I was already working professionally with the Ulster Actors.
When people say, 'You're perceived as a sex symbol,' I love the idea of that because it's so absurd. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
When you see a tumour in the brain, it's an ugly looking thing. It's kind of black, grisly and messy. Or it can be white. To see it taken away is just amazing.
When you suddenly become successful, the change is enormous, both financially and in terms of recognition and the way people treat you. I found that hard to deal with. I got very guilty about it, and I think I put up obstacles to prevent myself enjoying it.
When you're brought up in a Unionist culture, you can't help but feel Unionist.
While I've never 'phoned in' a performance, I think I have given some performances where I could have been a bit braver.
Who am I to pass judgment? Judgment has been passed on me, but I adhere to, 'Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.'
You can get a bit world-weary in this job, and 'The Passion' reminded me of what a fantastic job acting is and how lucky I am to be doing it.
You don't learn charm. It's not something that you can acquire. I have used it much in my life with great success, but it's not necessarily what makes me an actor. It became a very easy label to attach to me. It also feels a bit dismissive. People go, 'You're so lovely and charming', but it's a wee bit, 'That's all you are.' Life ;Success