- NAME: Hugh Bonneville
- OCCUPATION: Actor
- BIRTH DATE: November 10, 1963 (Age: 49)
- EDUCATION: Sherborne School, University of Cambridge, Corpus Christi College
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Blackheath, London, England, United Kingdom
- Full Name: Hugh Richard Bonneville Williams
- AKA: Hugh Bonneville
- ZODIAC SIGN: Scorpio
Best Known For
Hugh Bonneville is a British actor chiefly known for playing Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham, on the hit TV series Downton Abbey.
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Starting his acting path at the famed Webber Douglas Academy, Hugh Bonneville began acting professionally in 1986. His stage career flourished for nearly 10 years, and in the mid-1990s Bonneville began a transition to TV and films. His first film role was in Kenneth Branagh's Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, in 1994, and he appeared in a string of films to round out the decade. TV became Bonneville's real wheelhouse, though,
and he made more than 50 television appearances before landing the role that has come to define him: that of Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham, on Downton Abbey.
Born Hugh Richard Bonneville Williams on November 10, 1963, in Blackheath, London, England, actor Hugh Bonneville was educated at the Sherborne School and then at Corpus Christi College at the University of Cambridge. He began serious acting efforts with the National Youth Theatre and studied theology at Cambridge before embracing acting for good and moving on to the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London.
Bonneville made his professional acting debut with a small role in A Midsummer's Night Dream at the Open Air Theatre in 1986, also serving as an understudy for Ralph Fiennes's Lysander. Bonneville spent several seasons with the National Theatre, appearing in such plays as Entertaining Strangers, Juno and the Paycock and The School for Wives, and landing the title role in The Devil's Disciple. He joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1991, where his string of appearances grew as he worked on such plays as Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Alchemist, 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, and The Virtuoso. One notable part Bonneville took on during this period was the difficult role of Laertes in Hamlet, opposite Kenneth Branagh.
In the mid-1990s, Bonneville expanded his oeuvre while remaining firmly in the dramatic world, co-producing Beautiful Thing and co-writing Half Time, which he also directed onstage. He also began to garner notice for his acting work, earning a nomination for the Ian Charleson Award, a British theater award recognizing the best performances by actors under the age of 30. During this period Bonneville also appeared in Sam Mendes's Habeas Corpus and Cloaca, directed by Kevin Spacey.
Working with individuals in the film industry perhaps gave Bonneville a leg up when he decided to move off the stage and onto the big screen, and he made his feature film debut in Branagh's Mary Shelley's Frankenstein in 1994. He went on to appear in 15 British TV movies and series before the end of the decade, among them EastEnders, The Vet and Married for Life, and several big-screen releases, such as the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), Notting Hill (1999), and Mansfield Park (1999).
Despite ongoing film work, Hugh Bonneville never strayed far from TV, appearing again and again on British shows such as The Cazalets, Midsomer Murders and Daniel Deronda (miniseries) and in TV movies such as Madame Bovary (2000), The Gathering Storm (2002) and Doctor Zhivago (2002). Always impressing both critics and audiences, in 2002 Bonneville won the New Talent Award at the Berlin Film Festival and was nominated for a BAFTA for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Iris.
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Explore the on-screen family heritage of Lord Crawley, the cast of the popular British period drama series Downton Abbey, including Maggie Smith, Shirley Maclaine, Elizabeth McGovern, Hugh Bonneville, Jessica Brown Findlay, Michelle Dockery, Dan Stevens, Laura Carmichael and more.
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