James Broadbent (born 24 May 1949) is an English actor. He won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for his supporting role as John Bayley in the feature film Iris (2001), as well as winning a BAFTA TV Award and a Golden Globe for his leading role as Lord Longford in the television film Longford (2006). Broadbent received four BAFTA Film Award nominations and won for his performance in Moulin Rouge! (2001). He was also nominated for two Primetime Emmy Awards and four Screen Actors Guild Awards.
Broadbent played Horace Slughorn in the fantasy films Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011). He joined the cast of the television series Game of Thrones, playing a role of Archmaester Ebrose, in the seventh season (2017). His other notable roles were in Bullets over Broadway (1994), Topsy-Turvy (1999), Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001), Moulin Rouge! (2001), The Gathering Storm (2002), Hot Fuzz (2007), Another Year (2010), The Iron Lady (2011), Cloud Atlas (2012), Brooklyn (2015) and the Paddington films (2014, 2017).
Broadbent was born in Holton cum Beckering, in Lincolnshire, the second son of Doreen "Dee" Broadbent (née Findlay), a sculptor, and Roy Laverick Broadbent, an artist, sculptor, interior designer and furniture maker. Broadbent's parents were both amateur actors who co-founded the Holton Players acting troupe at Holton. The two have been described by the BBC as conscientious objectors who "worked the land" rather than participate in World War II. In Wickenby, a former Methodist Chapel was purchased in 1970 by Holton Players, who converted it into a 100-seat theatre, named Broadbent Theatre in memory of Roy Broadbent, who designed the conversion. In 2005 he played Brian the snail in the remake of The Magic Roundabout aged 55. He played Roy Slater in Only Fools And Horses in 1985 & 1991.
Broadbent had a twin sister who died at birth. Broadbent was educated at Leighton Park School, a Quaker school in Reading, and briefly attended art college before transferring to the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. He graduated in 1972. His early stage work included appearances as Patrick Barlow's assistant in the mock National Theatre of Brent.
Broadbent's early stagework included a number of productions for The National Theatre of Brent as the downtrodden assistant Wallace to Patrick Barlow's self-important actor and manager character Desmond Olivier Dingle. Broadbent and Barlow played many male and female character roles in comically less-than-epic tellings of historical and religious stories, such as The Complete Guide to Sex, The Greatest Story Ever Told, Revolution!!, and All The World's A Globe. These were hits at the Edinburgh Fringe, in London, and on tour. Later stage work included the original productions of Kafka's Dick (1986) and Our Country's Good (1988) at the Royal Court Theatre and work for the Royal National Theatre including "The Government Inspector". Work on the stage with Mike Leigh includes Goosepimples and Ecstasy.
He had worked with Stephen Frears in The Hit (1984) and Terry Gilliam in Time Bandits (1981) and Brazil (1985) before establishing himself in Mike Leigh's Life Is Sweet (1990). He proved his ability as a character actor in films including The Crying Game (1992), Enchanted April (1992), Bullets over Broadway (1994), The Borrowers (1997), and Little Voice (1998) before taking a leading role in another Mike Leigh film, Topsy-Turvy (1999), playing dramatist Sir William S. Gilbert. He played "The Shy Doctor" in the 1999 Comic Relief parody Doctor Who sketch, Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death.
In 2001, Broadbent starred in three of the year's most successful films: Richard Curtis' Bridget Jones's Diary, Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge!, and Richard Eyre's Iris, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance. In 2002, he appeared in Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York and in the film adaptation of Dickens' Nicholas Nickleby.
Broadbent voiced Madame Gasket in the 2005 film Robots. Broadbent also appeared as DCI Roy Slater, an associate character in the enormously popular sitcom Only Fools and Horses. The character appeared in three episodes over an eight-year period. He had originally been offered the lead role of Del Boy in the series, but he turned it down due to other commitments. He has also played a role in the Inspector Morse series. Other comic roles include the lead role in the sitcom The Peter Principle and occasional guest appearances in Not The Nine O'Clock News, Only Fools and Horses, and Victoria Wood As Seen on TV. He portrayed Don Speekingleesh in "The Queen of Spain's Beard" in the first series of The Black Adder in 1983. He also played the role of Prince Albert in Blackadder's Christmas Carol, first broadcast in 1988. He joined Rowan Atkinson in his Spider-Man spoof Spider-Plant Man, as a disgruntled Batman, envious of Spider-Plant Man's success.
Broadbent played the lead role of the TV film Wide-Eyed and Legless. Based on a true story, the drama tells of Deric Longden's wife, Diana, and her fight against a mysterious wasting illness which turned out to be myalgic encephalomyelitis. It began as a type of flu but it grew progressively worse. She was subject to blackouts and became so debilitated that she could barely get out of her wheelchair. It led to years of pain and paralysis that ended in her death.
Broadbent portrayed the title role in the Channel 4 drama Longford in October 2006, earning a BAFTA TV Award, a Golden Globe, and a 2007 Emmy nomination for his performance as Frank Pakenham (1905–2001), Earl of Longford, which was centred on Longford's ultimately unsuccessful campaign for the parole of Myra Hindley from her life imprisonment for the Moors Murders.
Broadbent appeared as Inspector Frank Butterman in Hot Fuzz in 2007.
He appeared in the original radio production of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, playing the character Vroomfondel. Forty years later, he took the role of Marvin in the Hexagonal Phase radio series. He was also a regular in Stephen Fry's radio comedy show Saturday Night Fry, which aired on BBC Radio 4 in 1988. In 2008, he starred as pro-Newtonian physicist Sir Oliver Lodge in the fact-based single drama Einstein and Eddington for the BBC.
Broadbent also briefly appeared in the fourth film in the Indiana Jones series, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) and in The Young Victoria (2009) alongside Emily Blunt as King William IV.
Broadbent joined a long list of British actors by appearing in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, as well as the final movie in the series Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 as Horace Slughorn.
- The Magic Roundabout (2005) - Brian (UK Dub)
- Asterix: The Mansions of the Gods (2014) - Julius Caesar (UK Dub)
- Mary & the Witch's Flower (2017) - Doctor Dee