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Hugh Bonneville

Hugh Bonneville MingFilmFest 2011 n1.jpg
Bonneville at the 2011 Minghella Film Festival
Hugh Richard Bonneville Williams

(1963-11-10) 10 November 1963 (age 60)
Paddington, London, England
Alma mater Corpus Christi College, Cambridge (BA)
Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art
Occupation Actor
Years active 1990–present
Known for Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham in Downton Abbey
Lucinda Evans
(m. 1998)
Children 1

Hugh Richard Bonneville Williams DL (born 10 November 1963) is an English actor. He is best known for portraying Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham, in the ITV historical drama series Downton Abbey. His performance on the show earned him a nomination at the Golden Globes and two consecutive Primetime Emmy Award nominations, as well as three Screen Actors Guild Awards. He reprised his role in the feature films, Downton Abbey (2019), and Downton Abbey: A New Era (2022). He also appeared in the films Notting Hill (1999), Iris (2001), The Monuments Men (2014), and the Paddington films (2014-2023).

Early life and education

Hugh Richard Bonneville Williams was born on 10 November 1963 in Paddington, London. His mother was a nurse and his father was a urological surgeon. He was educated at Dulwich College Preparatory School and at Sherborne School, an independent school in Dorset.

Following secondary education, Bonneville read theology at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. He graduated from Cambridge with a 2:2 in theology. He then went on to study acting at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London.

Bonneville is also an alumnus of the National Youth Theatre.



Bonneville's first professional stage appearance was at the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park. In 1987, he joined the National Theatre where he appeared in several plays, then the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1991, where he played Laertes to Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet (1992–1993). He played Valentine in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Kastril and later Surly in The Alchemist.

In 1994, Bonneville made his television debut, billed as Richard Bonneville in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes episode "The Dying Detective". His debut film was 1994's Mary Shelley's Frankenstein with Robert De Niro and Kenneth Branagh. His early roles were usually good-natured bumbling characters like Bernie in Notting Hill (1999) and Mr Rushworth in Mansfield Park (1999).


In the BBC television series, Take a Girl Like You (2000) and Armadillo (2001), he played more villainous characters, leading up to the domineering Henleigh Grandcourt in Daniel Deronda (2002) and the psychopathic killer James Lampton in The Commander (2003) series. In Love Again, he played the poet Philip Larkin.

In Iris (2001), he played the young John Bayley opposite Kate Winslet, with his performance lauded by critics and receiving a BAFTA nomination for Best Supporting Actor. In 2004, Bonneville played Sir Christopher Wren in the docudrama Wren – The Man Who Built Britain. Bonneville also works extensively in radio. He played the role of Jerry Westerby in the BBC Radio 4 dramatisation of the John le Carré novel The Honourable Schoolboy, first broadcast in January 2010. Earlier, he appeared in the surreal parallel universe comedy Married.


From 2010 until 2015, he appeared in the ITV period drama Downton Abbey, as Robert, Earl of Grantham, a role he repeated in the 2019 film.

In early 2010, he appeared in the comedy film Burke and Hare. In 2011 and 2012, he starred as Ian Fletcher in the award-winning BBC comedy series Twenty Twelve, and reprised the role in the 2014 BBC comedy series W1A. In December 2012, he appeared on BBC Two with co-star Jessica Hynes in World's Most Dangerous Roads, travelling through Georgia. He also appeared in the much-delayed film Hippie Hippie Shake with Cillian Murphy and Sienna Miller.

From 2011 until 2014, Bonneville was the narrator of the Channel 4 show The Hotel.

Bonneville played Mr. Brown in the 2014 film Paddington and its 2017 sequel Paddington 2. He has appeared in the singing comedic role of The Pirate King in the ABC fairy tale-themed musical comedy extravaganza series Galavant during its 2015 and 2016 seasons. He also narrated the ITV series The Cruise.

Bonneville has also narrated several Paddington stories available as audio books.

In 2017, Bonneville portrayed Lord Mountbatten in director Gurinder Chadha's film Viceroy's House, which depicted the tumult and violence surrounding the Partition of India during the final days of British rule. Also in 2017, he portrayed the voice of Merlin in the movie based on the children's TV series Thomas & Friends, Journey Beyond Sodor. Also that year, he narrated the documentary A Return to Grace: Luther's Life and Legacy and it was announced that Bonneville would play Roald Dahl in an upcoming biopic about the author.

In 2018, Bonneville succeeded Julie Andrews as host and narrator of the annual "From Vienna: The New Year's Celebration" episode of Great Performances, broadcast on New Year's Day on PBS in the United States. Also in 2018, he returned to voice Merlin in one of the episodes of the twenty-second series of Thomas & Friends.

In 2019, Bonneville portrayed C. S. Lewis at the Chichester Festival Theatre's production of Shadowlands, along with actors Liz White and Andrew Havill.

Personal life

Bonneville married Lucinda "Lulu" Evans in 1998. Together they live with their son, Felix, in West Sussex.

In 2009, Bonneville was the voice of Justice Fosse in Joseph Crilly's British premiere of Kitty and Damnation for the Giant Olive Theatre Company at the Lion & Unicorn Theatre in Kentish Town. Shortly thereafter he became Giant Olive's first patron. Bonneville is also a patron of the London children's charity Scene & Heard and an ambassador for WaterAid.

On 8 October 2019, Bonneville was appointed as a Deputy Lieutenant of the County of West Sussex. This gave him the post-nominal letters "DL" for Life.


Not yet released Denotes works that have not yet been released


Year Film Role Notes
1994 Mary Shelley's Frankenstein Schiller
1997 Tomorrow Never Dies Air Warfare Officer – HMS Bedford
1999 Notting Hill Bernie
1999 Mansfield Park Mr Rushworth
2001 Blow Dry Louis
2001 High Heels and Low Lifes Farmer
2001 The Emperor's New Clothes Bertrand
2001 Iris Young John Bayley
2003 Conspiracy of Silence Fr. Jack Dowling
2004 Piccadilly Jim Lord Wisbeach
2004 Stage Beauty Samuel Pepys
2005 The Commander: Virus James Lampton Uncredited
2005 The Commander: Blackout James Lampton Uncredited
2005 Man to Man Fraser McBride
2005 Asylum Max Raphael
2005 Underclassman Headmaster Felix Powers
2006 Scenes of a *** Nature Gerry
2007 Four Last Songs Sebastian Burrows
2007 Hola to the World Painter Short film
2008 One of Those Days Mr Burrell Short film
2008 French Film Jed
2009 Knife Edge Charles Pollock
2009 Glorious 39 Gilbert Williams
2009 From Time to Time Captain Oldknow
2010 Critical Eye Brian
2010 Shanghai Ben Sanger
2010 Third Star Beachcomber
2010 Burke & Hare Lord Harrington
2010 Hippie Hippie Shake John Mortimer Unreleased
2011 Third Star Beachcomber
2014 The Monuments Men Lieutenant Donald Jeffries
2014 Muppets Most Wanted Irish Journalist
2014 Paddington Mr Henry Brown
2015 Stick Man Santa Clause Voice
2015 Silent Hours Commander William Calthorpe
2017 Viceroy's House Lord Mountbatten
2017 Paddington 2 Mr Henry Brown
2017 Journey Beyond Sodor Merlin Voice
2017 Breathe Teddy Hall
2017 A Return to Grace: Luther's Life and Legacy Narrator
2017 Secrets of the Magna Carta Narrator Documentary
2019 Downton Abbey Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham
2020 Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey Mr. Delacroix
2021 To Olivia Roald Dahl
2022 Downton Abbey: A New Era Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham
2022 I Came By Sir Hector Blake
2022 The Amazing Maurice Not yet released The Mayor Voice, in production
TBA Paddington in Peru Not yet released Mr Henry Brown


Year Film Role Notes
1990 Chancer Jas 2 episodes
1991 Dodgem Rick Bayne 5 episodes
1993 Paul Merton: The Series Captain Episode: #2.6"
1993 Stalag Luft Barton Television movie
1994 The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes Victor Savage Episode: "The Dying Detective"
Credited as Richard Bonneville
1994 Peak Practice Dominic Kent Episode: "Perfect Love"

Credited as Richard Bonneville

1994 Cadfael Daniel Aurifaber Episode: "The Sanctuary Sparrow"
Credited as Richard Bonneville
1994 Between the Lines Henry Oakes Episode: "Close Protection"
1995 The Vet Alan Sinclair 6 episodes
1995 EastEnders Headmaster Episode: "14 December 1995"
1996 Married for Life Steve Hollingsworth 7 episodes
1996 Bugs Nathan Pym Episode: "Bugged Wheat"
1997 Breakout Peter Schneider Television movie
1997 See You Friday Daniel Episode: "#1.1"
1997 The Man Who Made Husbands Jealous Ferdinand Fitzgerald Episode: #1.1"
1997 Get Well Soon Norman Tucker 4 episodes
1998 Heat of the Sun Edward Herbert Episode: "Hide in Plain Sight"
1998 Mosley Bob Boothby 4 episodes
1998 Holding the Baby Gordon Muir Unknown episodes
1998 The Scold's Bridle Tim Duggan Television movie
1999 Murder Most Horrid Inspector Dawson Episode: "Confessions of a Murderer"
2000 Take a Girl Like You Julian Ormerod 3 episodes
2000 Thursday the 12th Brin Hopper Television movie
2000 Madame Bovary Charles Bovary Television movie
2001 Hans Christian Andersen:
My Life as a Fairytale
Publisher Television movie
2001 The Cazalets Hugh Cazalet 6 episodes
2001 Armadillo Torquil Helvoir Jayne TV film
2002 Midsomer Murders Hugh Barton Episode: "Ring Out Your Dead"
2002 Tipping the Velvet Ralph Banner Episode: "#1.3"
2002 Daniel Deronda Henleigh Grandcourt 3 episodes
2002 Impact Phil Epson Television movie
2002 The Gathering Storm Ivo Pettifer Television movie
2002 Right Under My Eyes James Television movie
2002 The Biographer Eric Television movie
2002 Doctor Zhivago Andrey Zhivago Television movie
2003 The Commander James Lampton Television movie
2003 Love Again Philip Larkin Television movie
2003 Hear the Silence Andrew Wakefield Television movie
2004 Wren: The Man Who Built Britain Christopher Wren TV documentary
2005 The Rotter's Club Voice of Adult Ben 2 episodes
2005 The Robinsons George Robinson 6 episodes
2006 Courting Alex Julian/Charles Carter 10 episodes
2006 Beau Brummell: This Charming Man Prince Regent Television movie
2006 Tsunami: The Aftermath Tony Whittaker Television movie
2007 The Vicar of Dibley Jeremy Ogilvy Episode: "The Vicar in White"
2007 Five Days DSI Iain Barclay 4 episodes
2007 The Replacements Voice Episode: "London Calling"
2007 The Diary of a Nobody Charles Pooter Television movie
2007 Miss Austen Regrets Rev. Brook Bridges Television movie
2007–08 Freezing Matt 3 episodes
2008 Bonekickers Gregory Parton 6 episodes
2008 Lost in Austen Claude Bennet 4 episodes
2008 Filth: The Mary Whitehouse Story Sir Hugh Carleton Greene Television movie
2008–11 Country House Rescue Narrator 24 episodes
2009 Hunter DSI Iain Barclay 2 episodes
2009 Ruth Watson's Hotel Rescue Narrator 6 episodes
2009 Legally Mad Gordon Hamm unaired pilot
2010–15 Downton Abbey Robert Crawley,
Earl of Grantham
52 episodes
2010 Ben Hur Pontius Pilate 2 episodes
2010 Agatha Christie's Poirot Edward Masterman Episode: "Murder on the Orient Express"
2010 The Silence Chris 4 episodes
2010–14 Rev. Roland Wise 3 episodes
2011 Doctor Who Captain Avery Episodes: "The Curse of the Black Spot"
"A Good Man Goes To War"
2011 Marple:
The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side
Inspector Hewitt Television movie
2011–12 Twenty Twelve Ian Fletcher 13 episodes
2011–14 The Hotel Narrator 33 episodes
2012 Turn Back Time: The Family Narrator 5 episodes
2012 Getting On Philip Moore Episode: "#3.6"
2012 World's Most Dangerous Roads N/A Episode: "#3.2"
2012 Mr Stink Mr Stink Television movie
2013 Da Vinci's Demons Duke of Milan Episode: "The Hanged Man"
2014 Top Gear Himself Episode: "Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car"
2014–17 W1A Ian Fletcher 14 episodes
2015–16 Galavant Pirate King 2 Episodes
2015–18 Sofia the First Book Narrator 5 episodes
2016 The Hollow Crown Gloucester Episode: "Henry VI, Part I"
2016 Walliams & Friend Various Episode 7
2017 The Grand Tour Himself Series 2 Episode 3
2017 A Return to Grace:
Luther's Life and Legacy
Narrator Documentary
2018 Countdown to Calvary Host/Narrator Documentary
2018 Thomas & Friends Merlin Voice; Episode: "Seeing is Believing"
2019 Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Narrator 2 episodes
2018–22 Great Performances Host/Narrator Episode "From Vienna: The New Year's Celebration 2018"
Episode "From Vienna: The New Year's Celebration 2019"
Episode "From Vienna: The New Year's Celebration 2020"
Episode "From Vienna: The New Year's Celebration 2021"
Episode "From Vienna: The New Year's Celebration 2022"
2020 Sandylands One-Eyed Man 2 episodes
2020 Amphibia Wigbert Ribbiton Voice; Episode: "Swamp and Sensibility"
2020 DuckTales Santa Claus Voice; Episode: "How Santa Stole Christmas"
2022 The Hidden Lives of Pets Narrator Documentary series
Secrets of the Royal Gardens Narrator Documentary series
The Gold TBC Drama series


Production Year Book Title Role Notes
2004 Birds Without Wings narrator
2014 Goldfinger narrator
2016 Paddington Takes the Test narrator
2016 Paddington At Large narrator
2016 Paddington Marches On narrator
2016 Paddington Abroad narrator
2016 Paddington Helps Out narrator
2017 Paddington At Work narrator
2017 On the Banks of Plum Creek narrator
2017 Paddington Goes to Town narrator
2017 Farmer Boy narrator
2018 Paddington Takes the Air narrator
2018 Paddington On Top narrator
2021 Absolute Proof narrator
2022 Late Summer On State Street narrator


Year Award Category Project Result
2001 British Academy Film Award Best Supporting Actor Iris Nominated
European Film Award Best Actor Nominated
2002 Berlin International Film Festival New Talent Award Won
2006 Monte-Carlo Television Festival Outstanding Actor in a Miniseries Tsunami: The Aftermath Nominated
2012 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series Downton Abbey Nominated
2013 Nominated
2011 Golden Globe Awards Best Actor - Miniseries or Television Film Nominated
2012 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama Series Won
2013 Nominated
2014 Won
2015 Won
2016 Nominated
2011 Monte-Carlo Television Festival Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series Nominated
2013 Nominated
2011 British Comedy Awards Best TV Comedy Actor Twenty Twelve Nominated
2012 Nominated
2012 British Academy Television Award Best Actor in a Comedy Programme Nominated
2013 Nominated
2015 W1A Nominated
2016 Nominated


Commonwealth honours

Country Date Appointment Post-nominal letters
 United Kingdom 8 October 2019 – Present Deputy Lieutenant of West Sussex DL


Location Date School Degree
 England Corpus Christi College, Cambridge Lower Second Class Honours Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Theology
 England Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art
Honorary degrees
Location Date School Degree Gave Commencement Address
 England October 2019 University of Winchester Doctor of Arts (D.Arts)

See also

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