Born and raised in Northern Ireland, James Nesbitt followed the advice of his school teacher and attended drama school in London. Starting his career on stage, Nesbitt has appeared in numerous plays including Paddywack, Translations, As You Like It, Philadelphia Here I Come, and Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay and most recently Shoot The Crow in the West End.
His first major tv roles included Ballykissangel and Playing The Field but it was playing Adam in the BAFTA award winning Cold Feet that brought him to the attention of a wider audience. Based around the lives of three thirty-something couples, this critically-acclaimed drama won James a British Comedy Award in 2000 and a UK National Television Award in 2003. BAFTA
His range of TV roles since then has included the title role of Tommy Murphy in Murphy’s Law. This was specially written for James by writer Colin Bateman. The first season aired in 2001 and the fifth series aired in 2007.
In 2002, he played the leading role, Ivan Cooper, in the film Bloody Sunday which won him a BAFTA nomination and Best Actor award at the British Independent Film Awards and the Stockholm Film Festival. The film itself won a Golden Berlin Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival.
In 2003 BBC Drama produced a modern re-working of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales with James playing the main lead, Nick in The Miller’s Tale – airing on BBC AMERICA in January 2005.
In early 2004 he played the lead in Passer By – a drama directed by David Morrisey (State of Play) and written by Tony Marchant (Canterbury Tales, Crime & Punishment)
In 2007 he starred in the critically acclaimed BBC series Jekyll which gained him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture made for Television, and a Rose D’Or nomination for Best Actor.
James worked on his first film, Hear My Song in the early 1990s. He then worked extensively with director Michael Winterbottom on the films Jude (1996) and Welcome To Sarajevo (1997). He gained wider recognition in the film Waking Ned Devine (1998), playing the lovable pig farmer, Pig Finn. He starred in Danny Boyle’s movie Millions, and appeared in Woody Allen’s Match Point.
In 2008 he played Pontius Pilate in BBC 1’s The Passion and starred in Midnight Man for ITV1. In 2009 James starred in BBC Films Five Minutes of Heaven and BAFTA award winning Occupation for BBC1, as well as co-starring with Martin Sheen as an Irish writer who joins a bereaved father undertaking a pilgrimage in Emilio Estevez’s The Way, set for release in 2011.
2010 saw James appear in the TV mini-series The Deep and the film Matching Jack. He has recently finished filming Coriolanus, alongside Ralph Fiennes and Gerard Butler and is currently working on Monroe, a drama series for ITV written by Peter Bowker.
James has hosted the British Independent Film Awards (BIFA) for the past six years. He has hosted the Irish Film and Televison Awards twice, the Go Awards in Belfast in 2007 & 2008 and the Travel Trade Gazette Awards, the T3 Awards and Music Week Awards in 2008. He is an accomplished after dinner speaker.