James Nesbitt

Last updated on the 3 April 2024 by Maeve

James Nesbitt headshot

Mini Biography

Born: 15 January 1965, Broughshane, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. 

James Nesbitt is a Northern Irish actor who has appeared in various television and film roles since the late 1980s. He is best known for his roles as Adam Williams in the comedy-drama series Cold Feet, Ivan Cooper in the historical film Bloody Sunday, Tommy Murphy in the crime series Murphy’s Law, and Bofur in The Hobbit film trilogy.

James Nesbitt was born to a headmaster father and a civil servant mother. He has three older sisters, all of whom became teachers. He grew up in a rural area near Broughshane, where he attended the one room school run by his father. He developed an interest in acting at a young age and joined the Riverside Theatre’s youth group in Coleraine.

James Nesbitt moved to London in 1984 to study at the Central School of Speech and Drama. He graduated in 1987 and began his professional career in theatre, performing in musicals, dramas and comedies. He made his film debut in 1991 in Hear My Song, a comedy about a talent agent who tries to find a legendary Irish tenor. He also appeared in several films directed by Michael Winterbottom, such as Jude and Welcome to Sarajevo.

James Nesbitt’s breakthrough television role came in 1997, when he was cast as Adam Williams, a lovable but immature man who struggles with relationships and fatherhood, in Cold Feet. The series was a critical and commercial success, and Nesbitt won several awards for his performance.

He also starred in the film Waking Ned, a comedy about a group of villagers who try to claim a lottery prize from a dead man. In 2002, he played Ivan Cooper, a civil rights leader who witnessed the Bloody Sunday massacre in Derry in 1972, in the film Bloody Sunday. The film was a departure from his previous roles and earned him acclaim and recognition.

James Nesbitt continued to work in both television and film, taking on more diverse and challenging roles. He played an undercover detective in Murphy’s Law, a modern version of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in Jekyll, a British soldier in Iraq in Occupation, and a grieving father in The Missing. He also played the dwarf Bofur in The Hobbit film trilogy, directed by Peter Jackson, who was a fan of his work.

James Nesbitt married Sonia Forbes-Adam, an actress he met at drama school, in 1994. They have two daughters, Peggy and Mary. The couple separated in 2013 and divorced in 2016. Nesbitt has been open about his hair transplant procedures and his involvement in charitable causes, such as UNICEF and Wave Trauma Centre. He was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2016 for his services to drama and to the community in Northern Ireland.


Suggested viewing


The Missing (2014)

The Missing poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 8.2

“The Missing” is a drama series that follows the heart-wrenching journey of Tony and Emily Hughes. When their young son, Oliver, mysteriously disappears while on holiday in France, it sets off a relentless search that spans eight years. Filled with twists and turns, this emotional rollercoaster explores the depths of loss, grief, and the unyielding determination of a parent searching for their missing child.

Top cast: Keeley Hawes, David Morrissey, James Nesbitt, Abigail Hardingham, Frances O’Connor, Tcheky Karyo, Jason Flemyng, Ken Stott, Arsher Ali, Émilie Dequenne, Anastasia Hille.

Bloody Sunday (2002)

Bloody Sunday poster

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 7.1

“Bloody Sunday” is a film directed by Paul Greengrass. It portrays the events of January 30, 1972, when British soldiers opened fire on unarmed civil rights protesters in Derry, Northern Ireland, resulting in 13 deaths. The film provides a harrowing and visceral account of this tragic incident and its aftermath.

Top cast: James Nesbitt, Allan Gildea, Gerard Crossan, Mary Moulds, Carmel McCallion, Tim Pigott-Smith, Nicholas Farrell, Christopher Villiers, James Hewitt.

Jekyll (2007)

Jekyll poster

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 8.0

“Jekyll” is a television series created by Steven Moffat. It follows the story of Dr. Tom Jackman, who struggles with a split personality disorder. Jackman’s alter ego, Mr. Hyde, is a dangerous and unpredictable entity that threatens his personal and professional life, leading to a thrilling battle for control.

Top cast: James Nesbitt, Gina Bellman, Michelle Ryan, Meera Syal, Denis Lawson, Mark Gatiss, Fenella Woolgar, Paterson Joseph, Linda Marlow.


Cold Feet (1998)

Cold Feet poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 8.2

“Cold Feet” (1998) is a comedy-drama series that revolves around the lives of three couples in Manchester. From the highs and lows of love, friendship, and parenthood, the show captures the joys and struggles of modern relationships. With a blend of humour and genuine emotion, “Cold Feet” explores the complexities of love and the enduring bond of friendship.

Top cast: James Nesbitt, John Thomson, Fay Ripley, Hermione Norris, Robert Bathurst, Helen Baxendale, Kimberley Joseph, Daisy Edgar-Jones, Ceallach Spellman.

Babylon (2014)

Babylon poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 7.0

“Babylon” is a satirical drama that delves into the chaotic world of modern policing in London. It follows the challenges faced by Commissioner Richard Miller, who aims to revolutionise the police force while dealing with media scrutiny, political pressure, and internal conflicts. This sharp and witty series explores the complexities of law enforcement in a rapidly changing society.

Top cast: James Nesbitt, Brit Marling, Ella Smith, Nick Blood, Andrew Brooke, Bertie Carvel, Paterson Joseph, Daniel Kaluuya, Tom Andrews.

Monroe (2011)
Monroe poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 7.6

“Monroe” follows a talented neurosurgeon navigating the complex world of a busy hospital. Facing ethical dilemmas and personal struggles, the show delves into the high-pressure environment of saving lives while dealing with professional challenges. Through intricate medical cases and interpersonal dynamics, the series explores the fragility and resilience of the human condition.

Top cast: James Nesbitt, Tom Riley, Sarah Parish, Susan Lynch, Phoebe Dynevor, Manjinder Virk, Andrew Gower, Matthew Needham.


Full filmography (@Wikipedia)


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