Jim Broadbent

Jim Broadbent is an Academy Award-winning British actor known for his work with Mike Leigh, Woody Allen and Terry Gilliam. His film credits include Topsy-Turvy, Iris and Moulin Rouge!.


Jim Broadbent was born on May 24, 1949, in Lincolnshire, England. After attending the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, Broadbent launched a stage career, performing with British directors such as Trevor Nunn and Mike Leigh. He also delivered notable performances in film, including parts in Terry Gilliam's Brazil, Bullets Over Broadway and Topsy-Turvy. Broadbent won an Academy Award for best supporting actor for his performance in Iris, released in 2001. That same year, he played Harold Zidler, owner of the Moulin Rouge theater, in the musical Moulin Rouge!.

Early Career

Born on May 24, 1949, in Lincolnshire, England, Broadbent attended the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art in London before launching a distinguished stage career in the 1970s, performing. He performed with several acclaimed British directors, including Trevor Nunn, Richard Eyre and Mike Leigh, whose long and fruitful professional association with Broadbent began with the plays Ecstasy (1979) and Goosepimples (1981).

Broadbent made his feature film debut in 1978 with a small role in the British film The Shout. He worked steadily on stage and on television, appearing in the 1977 science-fiction TV miniseries Illuminatus, Leigh's 1982 television feature Birth of a Nation, and a 1985 BBC adaptation of Silas Marner. He also had small roles in two films by the eccentric but acclaimed director Terry Gilliam, Time Bandits (1981) and Brazil (1985). In 1986, Broadbent landed his biggest film role to that date, receiving second billing to Anthony Hopkins in Mike Newell's feature directorial debut, The Good Father (1987).

Career Highlights

While Broadbent's first American film, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) was a somewhat inauspicious beginning, he continued to do high quality work in his native England. His first leading role in a film came in Mike Leigh's Life is Sweet (1990), a comedy about an offbeat family that won three awards from the National Society of Film Critics (U.S), including Best Film. In Newell's well reviewed Enchanted April (1992), Broadbent appeared alongside Miranda Richardson and Joan Plowright, among others, and in the highly controversial The Crying Game (1992), he played a kindly bartender.

In 1994, Broadbent appeared as a highly successful stage actor with a tendency to overeat in Woody Allen's acclaimed comedy Bullets Over Broadway, also starring John Cusack and Dianne Wiest. His talent for fine supporting and character roles was honed over the next several years, as he appeared in such films as Richard III (1995), also starring Ian McKellen; Smilla's Sense of Snow (1997); and most notably Little Voice (1998), also starring Michael Caine, for which he earned rave reviews for his performance as a nightclub owner.

In Topsy-Turvy, Mike Leigh's 1999 film about the legendary composers Gilbert & Sullivan, Broadbent turned in what many said was his finest performance, playing the blustery, ambitious William Gilbert. He won widespread acclaim for his performance in the film, including a London Film Critics' Circle Award for best British actor, and a British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award for best actor.

Later Work

Broadbent was everywhere on film in 2001, it seemed, as he had featured roles in three of the year's most impressive films. In the outlandish musical romance Moulin Rouge, starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor and directed by Baz Luhrmann, Broadbent played Zidler, the scheming owner of the cabaret of the film's title, with scene-stealing bravado. The role earned him BAFTA honors for Best Supporting Actor. In Bridget Jones' Diary, Broadbent toned down the flamboyance of the former role to play the dowdy father of the title character, played by Renee Zellweger.

Broadbent's most notable role, however, was as John Bailey, the writer and devoted husband of novelist and philosopher Iris Murdoch (played by Judi Dench) in Iris, Richard Eyre's 2001 film based on Bayley's memoir, Elegy for Iris. Broadbent's portrayal of the long-suffering Bayley, who adores his wife's brilliant mind and struggles with her through the ravaging force of her Alzheimer's disease, earned him long-awaited recognition, including a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for best supporting actor.

In 2002, Broadbent appeared in Martin Scorsese's period epic Gangs of New York, playing the notorious 19th century New York politician Boss Tweed.

Broadbent is married to artist Anastasia Lewis.

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