Thursday, January 10, 2013

One to Watch: Ben Whishaw

Continuing my occasional series ”One to Watch,” highlighting up-and-coming actors who have caught my interest lately, here’s a new entrant:


You may know him from: "Skyfall,” as the new Q

I first noticed him in: "Bright Star,” as the young, doomed, tubercular Keats

Other noteworthy work: “The Hour,” BBC America’s fantastic TV series about a fictional BBC news show in the 1950s - sort of a cross between “Mad Men” and “The Newsroom,” only better than both (pleeeeze renew, BBC!); “Cloud Atlas”; “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer.” He also played Sebastian Flyte in the recent film adaptation of Brideshead Revisited, Ariel in Julie Taymor's gender-bending take on Shakespeare's The Tempest, and, most recently, Richard II in the BBC's TV-movie production of the Henriad (which hasn't yet crossed the pond but was well received in Britain).

Upcoming big break: Well, I think he just got it as Q.

When I knew he had me: Season 1, Episode 4 of “The Hour.” Wherein Freddie Lyon – the spiky, scrappy, maddening yet oddly magnetic reporter played by Whishaw – accidentally discovers on his birthday that his best friend & the love of his life is having an affair with his chief rival at work. At the moment he finds out, something quietly dies in his eyes, even as he conceals his shock so well the bearer of the bad news doesn’t even realize he didn’t know; later, at his own birthday party, he flirts drunkenly and charmingly with his beloved, showing he knows it’s hopeless but it doesn’t matter—he’ll always love her anyway. Wonderful stuff, to break the heart.

Why he’s swoonworthy: He’s a runt, so skinny he looks like you could snap him in half, scruffy, at first glance unprepossessing. And yet there’s a spark in his eyes—intelligence, a little impishness, and despite flecks of vulnerability, a will of steel—that forces you to take a second look, and then a third. Ok, maybe I’m just describing his character on “The Hour.” But damned if he doesn’t steal your heart on that show, despite the proximity of his much more conventionally heartthrobby co-star, Dominic West. Plus he has great hair.

Yes, it's another Brit: Let's face facts - when it comes to compelling actors, no one does it better than the good ol’ UK.


Blogger EC said...

The part of Ben Whishaw that I'm most obsessed with is his voice. In Cloud Atlas, his voice was the most beautiful sound.


On a separate note, what did you think of the Hour S2 Finale?


Given, what transpired in S2, it makes sense that Freddie's dead, that he sacrificed himself for the story. I don't want Freddie to be dead, but given that Whishaw's bright star is rising, the open-ended ending gives him room to move on, in case his movie career distracts him from The Hour.

2:29 PM  
Blogger lylee2 said...

I liked the S2 finale - I think one review had it right when it said it's full-on *operatic* but somehow that works. I'm in total agreement with you about Freddie, though. I can't imagine the show with him, and yet it's only too fitting that that he would die to save a story. But with that ending, it could definitely still go either way.

Anyway, the issue may be moot since it's not clear the show will even be renewed for a third season - apparently British ratings for S2 were mediocre at best. :-(

8:05 PM  

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