Ben Whishaw is no stranger to our TV screens, and the award-winning actor is no stranger to rave reviews either.
His latest role, playing obstetrics doctor Adam Kay in Kay’s memoir of life on an NHS ward – This Is Going to Hurt – saw him praised for his complex portrayal of a young doctor trying to juggle long hospital shifts, difficult patients and needy colleagues with his busy personal life.
“Whishaw’s performance is a superbly judged high-flying act,” wrote Boyd Hilton in his five star empire review of the seven-part BBC One drama.
“His relentless sarcasm softened with an infusion of charm when dealing with patients, but turns into something meaner, bordering on intimidation, when he’s ‘mentoring’ his new junior colleague.”
Whishaw, 41, has built up an extensive stage and screen resume since his early hits such as My Brother Tom in 2001, which won him a British Independent Film Award and an Olivier Award nomination in 2004 for his portrayal of Hamlet.
Her screen career mixes Shakespeare with independent films, blockbusters and family favorites, as well as starring roles in major television series. We pick 10 movies and series starring Whishaw that you can watch right now.
This is going to hurt
In his final starring role, Whishaw plays young doctor Adam Kay in an adaptation of Kay’s memoir about the stresses and strains of working in an NHS hospital in the mid-2000s.
The comedy-drama, now showing on BBC One and iPlayer, has been hailed for its down-to-earth depiction of life on an NHS ward and for being unafraid of the physical and emotional hardships faced by even the most well-meaning doctors.
Ambika Mod, Alex Jennings, Michele Austin Ashley Maguire and Kadiff Kirwan also appear in the seven-episode series.
Watch This Is Going to Hurt on BBC One and iPlayer.
The Paddington movies
You won’t see Whishaw in his title roles alone, but he leaves his paw prints all over Paddington’s two films as he lends his sweet voice to the curious marmalade-loving bear.
Whishaw was recruited to record Paddington’s voice after filming for the first film was completed. Colin Firth originally voiced Paddington but dropped out when the studio decided his voice was unsuitable.
Whishaw made a more physical contribution to the sequel as his every little facial expression was captured to help produce the CGI bear in the finished product. “I just see Paddington as me,” Whishaw said of the role.
A third Paddington film begins filming later in 2022, and Whishaw also voiced the bear in the Adventures of Paddington animated series.
Watch Paddington on Netflix, Prime Video and Sky Cinema with a NOW Cinema subscription.
Watch Paddington 2 on Sky Cinema with a NOW Cinema subscription.
Watch The Adventures of Paddington, the animated series, on My5.
A very English scandal
Whishaw has reunited with Paddington 2’s nemesis Hugh Grant in live action in the 2018 BBC One drama A Very English Scandal.
The three-part series is a dramatization of the Jeremy Thorpe scandal of the late 1970s, in which then-Liberal Party leader Thorpe (played by Grant) was accused of conspiring to assassinate the former disgruntled lover Norman Scott (Whishaw).
The absorbing series was a critical success and Whishaw – who met Scott while preparing for the role – won four awards for his performance, including Primetime Emmy, Bafta and a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor.
Watch A Very English Scandal on BBC iPlayer.
James Bond movies
Whishaw’s most prominent film role to date is as Secret Service Quartermaster Q in three of Daniel Craig’s 007 outings, Skyfall, Specter and No Time to Die.
Whishaw followed in the footsteps of John Cleese and the legendary Desmond Llewellyn as the franchise’s gadget master in 2012, making him the first Q to be younger than the 007 he works with.
In taking on the role, Whishaw said at the Skyfall premiere that the director and lead actor helped lift the weight of Bond’s story off his shoulders.
“It doesn’t seem intimidating. You have to forget there’s something in the past about James Bond and do your best, but I know what I’m part of. I wasn’t overwhelmed because Sam [Mendes] is such a brilliant director and Daniel is such a great actor to work with that everyone was put at ease.
“I’m not a gadget geek – they delivered the Omega watch you get when you’re in a James Bond movie and I couldn’t even open the box!
Watch Skyfall, Specter and 007’s latest release, No Time to Die, on BT Player.
Whishaw played restless news producer Freddie Lyon in the 1950s BBC drama The Hour. At first overlooked for a starring role on BBC current affairs show The Hour, Freddie finds himself uncovering a spy scandal that could transform his career while putting him in life-threatening danger.
Dominic West, Juliet Stevenson, Tim Pigott-Smith, Anna Chancellor, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Peter Capaldi all appear alongside Whishaw in two series of this award-winning period drama created by Abi Morgan.
Watch seasons 1 and 2 of The Hour on Prime Video.
The story of the fight for women’s suffrage was understandably a female-led film, but Whishaw was certainly one of the most prominent male actors, playing Sonny Watts, husband of Carey Mulligan’s protagonist Maud.
When Maud joins the Suffragettes against her husband’s wishes, Sonny kicks her out, but this only radicalizes her further.
Whishaw praised the 2015 film’s “powerful” message, while stressing that there was still work to be done.
“From what my friends tell me, this fight – although improved for 100 years – is still going on,” he said. The big problem.
“There are inequalities. I have a lot of friends in the theater industry who are extremely angry at the state of things.
Watch Suffragette on Netflix.
Mary Poppins Returns
The long-awaited sequel to the 1964 family favorite brought us back to the Banks family 25 years after Julie Andrews’ practically perfect nanny floated through the sky.
Children Jane and Michael had grown up but fallen on hard times, only for Mary Poppins, now played by Emily Blunt, to bring the fun back to the family home.
Whishaw played Michael, now a widower, father of three, and struggling artist under pressure from his bank to maintain mortgage payments or deal with foreclosure.
Emily Mortimer plays Jane and Lin-Manuel Miranda is Jack Cockney.
Watch the return of Mary Poppins on BT player.
Trapped in a soulless job in airport security, anxious loner Joseph (Whishaw) races on his life and his parents and recklessly rampages around London, first breaking social norms and committing small transgressions before take part in a crime that puts his freedom and life in danger.
Whishaw won the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Acting at the Sundance Film Festival for his role in Aneil Karia’s directorial debut, which also stars Ellie Haddington, Ian Gelder and Jasmine Jobson (Top Boy).
Watch Surge on Netflix.
This sci-fi epic written and directed by Lana and Lilly Wachowski (The Matrix) and Tom Tykwer is set in six different eras from 1849 to 2321. The main cast takes on a different role in each era, with each section telling the story of a main character.
Whishaw’s featured segment is set in 1936 Britain. He plays Robert Frobisher, a composer whose working arrangement with another composer, Vyvyan Ayrs, breaks down when Ayrs requests credit for one of Frobisher’s works.
Whishaw also appears in four other intertwining parts of the film, adapted from David Mitchell’s novel of the same name, alongside Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent and Jim Sturgess.
Watch Cloud Atlas on Prime Video.
Whishaw stars alongside Emily Beecham and Kerry Fox in this sci-fi drama about plant breeder Alice who creates a delicate flower – the title Little Joe – that will bring happiness to its owner.
When Chris (played by Whishaw) inhales some of Little Joe’s pollen, he attempts to kiss a reluctant Alice. Meanwhile, other people who have come into contact with the plant are also starting to behave in unusual ways…
Little Joe is available to watch on iPlayer until February 25, 2022.
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