British Icon of the Week: Bill Nighy, Dapper Actor Who Charms Everyone He Meets
Bill Nighy is a wonderful actor who was hilarious as an aging rock star in Love, Actually, supremely poignant as an imploding PR guru in Gideon's Daughter, and a general delight to watch in everything from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. But this week, he's been trending on Twitter for something a little more mundane – quite simply, a lot of people seem to have bumped into him on the street and taken selfies with him.
It seems like the perfect excuse to make him our British Icon the Week and revisit some of his most adorably Bill Nighy-ish moments.
1. Literally, every time he posed for a selfie with a fan
Seriously, does Bill Nighy ever leave the house looking anything less than the perfect gentleman?
Oh, and the one time he was a little bit grumpy with a fan, he made amends straight away.
2. When he revealed that he got "busted" at Heathrow Airport for trying to smuggle, um, Marmite onto a plane
Nighy is a big fan of Marmite, a yeast-based sandwich spread with a strong, distinctive flavor that some Brits really can't stand, and says in this amusing red carpet interview that he tries to take jars of the stuff overseas with him.
He also says that he's tried introducing Marmite to some of his American costars, but sadly, they don't tend to develop a taste for it. "They just don't understand it," he says. "You've got to be born into Marmite, I think."
3. When he moonlighted as a museum tour guide
Nighy calls London's historic Courtauld Institute of Art "one of the most beautiful and peaceful buildings in the city," and there's definitely something soothing about watching him peruse its collection of impressionist and post-impressionist works by the likes of Monet, Renoir, and Degat.
Memo to program makers: Can we have a Bill Nighy Visits the World's Great Galleries series once it's safe to travel again?
4. When he kept it real about acting
Though he has a Golden Globe and a couple of BAFTA awards at home, Nighy is no vainglorious luvvie. "Acting is kinda scary," he says in this sweetly self-deprecating acting masterclass. "You have to operate whilst your head is attacking you – if you're me, anyway. I never watch anything I'm in, if I can possibly help it, because I find it takes too long to recover and I have to go to work."
5. When he absolutely killed it at the London premiere of his 2016 film Their Finest
Co-stars Gemma Arterton and Richard E. Grant are clearly enjoying Nighy's perfectly judged introduction, which includes jokes about himself and, of course, his beloved Marmite.
6. When he and Daniel Mays had an amazing-sounding impromptu road trip
Actor Daniel Mays (Vera Drake, Line of Duty) has shared his own Bill Nighy story this week, and it's making us wish there was iPhone footage of them singing Mark Morrison's "Return of the Mack" together.
7. And finally, when he reassured fans that it's okay to ask for a selfie
"Everyone's got a camera all of the time now, but it's fine," Nighy says in this U.K. daytime TV interview. "I know I should buy a car, but I'm not really a motorist. I love to walk, and I just like to wander about London. I realized the other day that I make almost no concessions to the fact that I might be visible [to people] in that way."
So, there you have it: if you spot Nighy wearing a fabulous suit while having coffee in London's Soho, it's definitely cool to say "hello."
Do you have a favorite Bill Nighy role... and have you ever bumped into him on the street?