Bill Nighy: I Would Go To 30 Auditions A Year & Get Rejected 25 Times

The British actor on his acting process and breaking into Hollywood

Sneha Menon Desai

December 10, 2016

Bill Nighy: I Would Go To 30 Auditions A Year & Get Rejected 25 Times

Bill Nighy who is at The Dubai International Film Festival where his film Their Finest is showing, spoke to a roundtable of journalists on his acting process, his struggle to stardom and the one film he’d recommend that everyone watch. Excerpts from that conversation.

On His Method on Set
When I was younger I used jump violently up and down before a shot- really violently. I used to also run around the set really fast. But I don’t suppose for a moment it improved my performance. I just appeared slightly out of breath!

On Shooting in India
We had a wonderful time in India! As you know, I shot two movies there. We made a lot of friends and worked with a great group of people. We were in Jaipur and Udaipur. Trust me when I say, none of this is PR, and it’s all for real. I do hope they make another one (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) because I’d love to do that.

On Breaking Into Mainstream Hollywood
Love Actually opened doors for me and it meant that people outside of the UK might actually know how to pronounce my name and put a face to it. There were many rejections before that.
Like most English actors, I would go to around 30 auditions a year and get rejected around 25 times. I once had to do a monologue in somebody’s office, where I was pretending to be riding a horse and sword fighting at 9 0-clock in the morning! I didn’t get the gig. That was tough on me- it was kind of exposing.

On the Role He’s Most Proud Of
On the sets of Pirates of the Caribbean 2, they put me in a pair of computer pajamas with white bobbles all over them, a skullcap with a white bobble on top and trainers, which also had bobbles on them.
To top that, I had 250 white dots all over my face, which looked like I had a skin condition. Then they put me on a big film set and people would actually avert their eyes when they saw me in the corridor. It was so sad and I was so lonely. Those couple of days I’m particularly proud of myself for.

A Film He Recommends To Everyone
One of my favourite films is Punch Drunk Love. I think the performances in it are tremendous and there is a love story that is enchanting. Performance is another film I greatly admire. It stars Mick Jagger and Anita Pallenberg. I think I may have watched it five times and I more or less know it by heart. I even own it.