Hugh Bonneville was a member of the National Youth Theatre, studied Theology at Cambridge and made his professional debut at the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park, in 1986, bashing a cymbal in A Midsummer Night's Dream and understudying Ralph Fiennes as Lysander. He then spent several seasons with the National Theatre where he appeared in School For Wives, Yerma, Entertaining Strangers, Juno and the Paycock and played Charles Surface in The School for Scandal and the title role in The Devil's Disciple. He joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1991, appearing in Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Alchemist, 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, The Virtuso and Amphibians. He also played Laertes to Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet. His work at the RSC brought him a nomination for The Ian Charleson Award. Other theatre includes Habeas Corpus at the Donmar, directed by Sam Mendes, and seasons at Colchester, Leicester Haymarket and Chichester. He also appeared in My Night with Reg (Criterion & Playhouse), Us and Them (Hampstead) and Cloaca (Old Vic, directed by Kevin Spacey).
In recent years Hugh has become a familiar face to television audiences, with leading roles in The Cazalets, Take a Girl Like You, Armadillo, Daniel Deronda and The Commander. He appeared in the Emmy award-winning The Gathering Storm and played the poet Philip Larkin in Love Again. Other credits range from comedies like The Robinsons, The Vicar of Dibley, Freezing, Rev, Getting On and Mr Stink to dramas such as Diary of a Nobody, Tsunami: The Aftermath, Miss Austen Regrets, Five Days, Hunter, The Silence and Doctor Who.
Twenty Twelve, a BBC series about the Olympic Deliverance Commission, won Best Sitcom at the British Comedy Awards 2011 and Hugh was nominated as Best Comedy Actor in both 2011 & 2012. He also received a BAFTA nomination as Best Actor in a Comedy.
The third series of Downton Abbey completed its UK run in November 2012. The show has won 2 BAFTAs, 9 Emmys, 2 Golden Globes, as well as Broadcast (2012) and National Television Awards (2012 & 2013). Hugh was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Emmy for his performance as Robert, Earl of Grantham. The cast won Best Ensemble at the Screen Actors Guild Awards 2013, the first non-US show to do so.
Hugh made his feature film debut in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein in 1994, directed by Kenneth Branagh. He has since appeared in more than a dozen films, including Notting Hill, Mansfield Park, Stage Beauty, Asylum, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Man to Man, From Time to Time, Glorious 39, Burke & Hare, Third Star and Shanghai. In 2002 Hugh won the New Talent Award at the Berlin Film Festival and a BAFTA Best Supporting Actor nomination for his portrayal of the young John Bayley in Iris and in 2008 he won Best Actor at the Monte Carlo Film Festival for his performance in French Film.
In the mid 90's, Hugh co-produced Beautiful Thing at the Duke of York's Theatre and wrote Half Time with Christopher Luscombe, which he also directed. With BBC Films, he has been developing his first feature as a Producer from a screenplay by Aschlin Ditta (Scenes of a Sexual Nature, French Film, The Catherine Tate Show), based on Me: The Authorised Biography, the autobiography of journalist Byron Rogers.
He is a patron of the medical charity Merlin and also of Scene & Heard, Giant Olive Theatre Company, The Primary Shakespeare Company and The Centre Stage Academy.
He lives in West Sussex with his wife, Lulu Williams. They have an eleven year old son, Felix.