James Nesbitt (born 15 January 1965) is a Northern Irish actor and has one of the most extensive acting experience of the Hobbit cast to date. Born in Ballymena, County Antrim, Nesbitt grew up in the nearby village of Broughshane, before moving to Coleraine, County Londonderry. Like his father was, he too wanted to be a teacher and began a degree in French at the University of Ulster. He dropped out after a year when he decided to become an actor, and transferred to the Central School of Speech and Drama in London. After graduating in 1987, he spent seven years performing in plays that varied from the musical Up on the Roof (1987, 1989) to the political drama Paddywack (1994). He made his feature film debut playing talent agent Fintan O’Donnell in Hear My Song (1991).
Nesbitt got his breakthrough role when he played Adam Williams in the romantic comedy-drama Cold Feet (1998–2003), which won him a British Comedy Award, a Television and Radio Industries Club Award, and a National Television Award. His first well known film role came when he appeared as pig farmer “Pig” Finn in Waking Ned (1998). With the rest of the starring cast, Nesbitt was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award. In Lucky Break (2001), he made his debut as a film lead playing prisoner Jimmy Hands. For his role as Ivan Cooper in the television film Bloody Sunday, Nesbitt won a British Independent Film Award and was nominated for the British Academy Television Award for Best Actor.
Nesbitt has also starred in Murphy’s Law as undercover detective Tommy Murphy, which was a role that was created specifically for him by writer Colin Bateman. The role twice gained Nesbitt Best Actor nominations at the Irish Film & Television Awards (IFTA). In 2004, he starred in the fact-based drama Wall of Silence as the father of a murdered boy, a role that gained him another IFTA nomination. In 2007, he starred in the dual role of Tom Jackman and Mr Hyde in Steven Moffat’s Jekyll, which earned him a Golden Globe Award nomination in 2008. Nesbitt has since appeared in several more dramatic roles; he starred alongside Liam Neeson in Five Minutes of Heaven (2009), and was one of three lead actors in the television miniseries Occupation (2009) and The Deep (2010). He also has roles in the movies Outcast (2010) and Emilio Estevez’s The Way (2010).
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