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I Could Watch Bill Nighy Read the Phone Book

October 14, 2008 at 8:21 pm

Because Bill Nighy could probably make anything entertaining. He's just that good.

I watched the BBC series State of Play this weekend. Wow. I think it's one of the best dramas I've seen in a long time. Exciting, riveting, tense-- after the first twenty minutes of episode 1, I knew I'd be mainlining the remaining 5 hours and 40 minutes over the course of the weekend. I love a drama that pulls me in, excites me, wakes me up and sets my mind racing, rather than relaxing or (in the worst cases) boring me.

I gulped down 3 hours in one go, and then made the mistake of trying to go to bed while my mind was spinning like a top. I had strange dreams that night. Half the cast of State of Play was in one sequence; we had to get a piece of information to Bill Nighy, who had been painted blue for reasons that seemed perfectly logical at the time, but our progress was hampered because China had put my neighborhood under martial law.

When I grow up, I want to be an investigative journalist at a major British newspaper just so that Bill Nighy can be my boss. How cool would that be?

If you haven't seen it, and if you enjoy a tense, riveting drama, I recommend State of Play. Nighy stands out, but the rest of the cast is excellent-- every performance is terrific. John Simm, Kelly Macdonald, James McAvoy, and David Morrissey all shine.

Simm starred in the original Life on Mars, which is currently on my Netflix queue. I'm eager to see it. (He also played The Master in the BBC's new Doctor Who series, which is just another level of awesome.) I hear the original version of this show was brilliant; I don't have high hopes that the American retread will be as good. (But I liked the pilot episode quite a lot-- more than I thought I would.)

And speaking of American retreads of excellent British series, I hear they're planning to make a 2-hour version of State of Play starring Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck. Hmmm... I'm not sure about this. I can't imagine that it will have anything more than a vague resemblance to the original series. How do you compress 6 riveting hours down to 2? By chopping out, well, just about everything. Then again, Jason Bateman will also have a role, so maybe there's hope for it.


Richard October 15, 2008 at 1:52 pm
He was also the vampire elder from the movie 'Underworld', a personal favorite of mine. Mostly because of Kate Beckinsale, but also Bill. He just doesn't fill out leather and latex the way she does.
Ian October 15, 2008 at 1:59 pm
Forgot? No, my good sir, I deliberately omitted that one. I've seen both Underworld and Underworld 2, thanks to Netflix. The second one I found nearly incomprehensible; the first Underworld is only slightly better, imho. Having said that, though, I really love the fact that Bill Nighy isn't the least bit snobby about the roles he takes on. (He's going to be in Underworld 3, as well.) And he played Slartibartfast in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which is kind of neat if you watch some of the outtakes.
ChiaLynn November 2, 2010 at 12:09 pm
That's one of the things I love about REALLY GOOD British actors - their willingness to star in absolute crap, and be awesome doing it. (I think a lot of them fund their theatre habits with their film careers.) State of Play duly Netflixed, though I won't be watching it until next month.
Ian November 2, 2010 at 1:32 pm
I hope you enjoy it! I'll feel badly if I steered you wrong. You're right about British actors-- so many of the good ones are willing to take roles that American actors wouldn't bother to sneer at. I wonder if it's a different acting culture overseas. Here, I know, it's considered a huge step down to go from films to television (though that is changing, maybe). But Brit actors seem to go back and forth more easily. Wasn't Dame Judi Dench on a sitcom for a long time?
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