Belfast Telegraph

James Nesbitt: He's all over the screen, and winning rave reviews

By Harriet Crawford

Is he the hardest working man on our screens?

There is no escaping James Nesbitt's star turns this year, as he leaps effortlessly from living room TV to high street cinema.

Some might even say that local actor James Nesbitt is enjoying a purple patch.

Millions of TV viewers have been gripped by his wrenching performance as Tony Hughes in BBC1 drama The Missing since it began in October.

And the 7.7m fans who tune in for the compelling abduction drama can be reassured that Nesbitt won't be vanishing either, as the show is expected to return for a second series.

The tense thriller tells the story of Hughes' eight-year search for his five-year-old son Oliver, who disappeared while the family were on holiday in France.

The much remarked-on "twinkle" in Nesbitt's eyes is snuffed out in a haunting and critically-acclaimed performance.

The actor has said that the show's script hooked him from page one. "I just had to do it. The writing is so strong and to imagine what it must be like when this terrible thing happens, you really have to immerse yourself in your character," he said.

The plot of The Missing evokes the real-life experience of the McCann parents and their search for daughter Madeleine who, like the boy in the programme, disappeared on holiday.

"Try imagining that, as a parent, happening to your own children - you don't go there," he said.

The 45-year-old actor has also delivered for fans of his lighter comedy touch.

Nesbitt has taken a turn as the UK's top bobby, the Commissioner of London's police force Richard Miller, in Channel 4's drama comedy-with-an-edge, Babylon.

His cheeky grin will also hit the big screen in the last chapter of The Hobbit this month.

The actor underwent a dramatic makeover for the movie, donning prosthetics and serious facial hair for his role as a Middle Earth dwarf in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, based on JRR Tolkein's fantastical world.

And somehow, the star has still found the time to take up causes close to his heart back home in Northern Ireland.

The Cold Feet star also supported an Arts Council campaign demanding that Stormont stops severe cuts to Northern Ireland's endangered arts sector last month.

What the critics say

“Among the most affecting on TV this year”

The Daily Telegraph

”A masterpiece of agony”

The Times

“Nesbitt was an intelligent piece of casting”

The Observer

“Mercilessly believable”

The Independent

“An amazing performance”

The Mirror

“So very very good at pain; he doesn’t just share it, he forces it on you”

The Guardian

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph