A staple of the British stage for nearly a quarter of a century before he gained his first significant measure of international notice, Nigel Hawthorne has had one of the acting profession's more slow-burning careers. However, it has been an undeniably distinguished career marked with any number of critical peaks, perhaps most notably his brilliant, Oscar-nominated title performance in Nicholas Hytner's 1994 adaptation of Alan Bennett's The Madness of King George.
Born in Coventry on April 5, 1929, Hawthorne grew up in Cape Town, South Africa, where he moved with his family at the age of four. After attending the University of Cape Town, where he started acting, he returned to England in 1951. Determined to pursue an acting career, Hawthorne slogged away for years in relative obscurity, oftentimes hovering precipitously close to complete bankruptcy. His early career proved to be so disappointing that the actor returned to Cape Town for a time, but he ultimately returned to England to try his luck all over again. His second attempt was thankfully more successful than his first, and although it would be years before he would be duly appreciated, he did enjoy some measure of success in London's West End.