Bill Nighy on Why ‘Living’ Resonates With Audiences, and the One British Thing He Always Brings With Him

Bill Nighy has not seen his latest feature, the Sony Pictures Classic release, “Living.” In fact, he hasn’t seen any of his films. “It’s not because I’m vain,” the actor says. “I gave up watching myself very early on because it undermined me to such a degree, that it made it harder for me to go to work again. I don’t learn anything, and it’s not helpful in any way. It’s probably a form of professional dysmorphia or something.”

Nighy has been earning rave reviews for “Living” ever since the film screened at Sundance last year. The praise has been pouring in, first from British audiences, and now international audiences. The actor is considered a frontrunner to land a best actor nod when Oscar nominations are announced on Jan. 24.

All Nighy knows is that the film, and his performance, has resonated.

On this episode of the award-winning Variety Awards Circuit Podcast, we sit down with Nighy. He says “You know you’re in a hit when you get messages from people you haven’t heard from for 35 years. Or people say, ‘I can’t get into the cinema,’ which is, of course, music to my ears.” Listen below!

In “Living,” Nighy plays Mr. Williams, a civil servant who decides to seize life after receiving a terminal cancer diagnosis. But contrary to popular belief, “Living” is anything but a depressing film about a man facing death. In fact, it’s the opposite. And that’s where the film is resonating with those who watch it.

Says Nighy: “It touches people. It discusses a couple of universal themes, one of which is mortality, and the other is procrastination. It’s about a guy who works in an institution dedicated to making sure that things don’t happen for most of his life, and then is given a diagnosis which triggers a huge transformation.”

As a Brit, the stiff upper lip is innate, so, was it easy for Nighy to navigate? “Yeah, I’m very interested in that. I’m fascinated by that,” he says. “I kind of admire it. I know it’s not healthy, and I know that there are many drawbacks. I don’t want to go back to the 1930s when it was extreme, but it wasn’t difficult for me to slip into that.”

Nighy, who is currently in production on another project, has been flying back and forth between Los Angeles and Europe. And like most Brits, he loves a good cuppa tea. “I smuggle Yorkshire tea into America, and every other country because if I run out, the game is up,” he laughs.

What else does he smuggle? “I used to smuggle Marmite, but I got busted a couple of times in the airport. I was greedy and I took too big of a jar. The guy said, ‘You can’t take that.”

Finally, Nighy confirms what audiences know: “‘Love Actually’ is a Christmas movie.” The actor, who starred in the 2003 film, talks about how audiences still come up to him and sing the first lines to “Christmas is all Around.”

Also in this episode, Variety’s Clayton Davis chats with the stars of “RRR.”  In addition, the Roundtable discusses the Golden Globes awards winners and SAG Awards nominations.

Variety’s “Awards Circuit” podcast, produced by Michael Schneider, who also co-hosts with Clayton Davis, is your one-stop listen for lively conversations about the best in film and television. Each week “Awards Circuit” features interviews with top film and TV talent and creatives; discussions and debates about awards races and industry headlines; and much, much more. Subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or anywhere you download podcasts. New episodes post weekly.

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