Hugh Richard Bonneville Williams (born 10 November 1963), known professionally as Hugh Bonneville, is an English stage, film, television and radio actor, who is best known for playing Robert Crawley in the ITV period drama series Downton Abbey since 2010.

Early life and education

Bonneville was born in Blackheath, London, to a nurse mother and a urological surgeon father. He was educated at Sherborne School, an independent school in the market town of Sherborne, Dorset.

Following secondary education, Bonneville read Theology at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and studied acting at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London. He left Cambridge with a 2:2 in theology and has since said that he tended to do more acting than academic work.

Bonneville is also an alumnus of the National Youth Theatre.


Bonneville's first professional stage appearance was at the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park. In 1987, he joined the National Theatre where he appeared in several plays, then the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1991, where he played Laertes to Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet (1992â€"1993). He played Valentine in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Bergetto in 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, Kastril and later Surly in The Alchemist.

In 1991, Bonneville made his television debut, billed as Richard Bonneville. His early roles were usually good-natured bumbling characters like Bernie in Notting Hill (1999) and Mr. Rushworth in Mansfield Park (1999). In the BBC television series, Take A Girl Like You (2000) and Armadillo (2001), he played more villainous characters, leading up to the domineering Henleigh Grandcourt in Daniel Deronda (2002) and the psychopathic killer James Lampton in The Commander (2003) series. In Love Again, he played the poet Philip Larkin.

In Iris (2001), he played the young John Bayley opposite Kate Winslet, with his performance lauded by critics and receiving a BAFTA nomination for Best Supporting Actor. In 2004, Bonneville played Sir Christopher Wren in the docudrama Wren â€" The Man Who Built Britain. Bonneville also works extensively in radio. He played the role of Jerry Westerby in the BBC Radio 4 dramatisation of the John le Carré novel The Honourable Schoolboy, first broadcast in January 2010. Earlier, he appeared in the surreal parallel universe comedy Married.

Since 2010, he has appeared in the ITV period drama Downton Abbey, as Robert, Earl of Grantham. In early 2010, he appeared in the comedy film Burke and Hare. In 2011 and 2012, he starred as Ian Fletcher in the award-winning BBC comedy series Twenty Twelve. In December 2012, he appeared on BBC 2 with co-star Jessica Hynes in World's Most Dangerous Roads, travelling through Georgia. He will also appear in the much-delayed film Hippie Hippie Shake with Cillian Murphy and Sienna Miller.

Since 2011, Bonneville has been the narrator of the Channel 4 show The Hotel.

In 2014, Bonneville played Mr. Brown in the film Paddington.

Personal life

Bonneville married Lulu Evans in 1998. The couple have a son, Felix, and live in West Sussex.

In 2009, Bonneville was the voice of Justice Fosse in Joseph Crilly's UK premiere of Kitty and Damnation for the Giant Olive Theatre Company at the Lion & Unicorn Theatre in Kentish Town. Shortly thereafter he became Giant Olive's first Patron. Bonneville is also a patron of the London children's charity Scene & Heard and of the medical relief charity Medical Emergency Relief International.


Further reading

  • Trowbridge, Simon. The Company: A Biographical Dictionary of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Oxford: Editions Albert Creed, 2010. ISBN 978-0-9559830-2-3.


External links

  • Official website of Hugh Bonneville
  • Hugh Bonneville at the Internet Movie Database

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