Mary Nighy is an actress and filmmaker from England. Born to respected actors, Bill Nighy and Diana Quick, expectations weighed heavily on Mary Nighy from the start of her career in showbiz. Though she graduated with a degree in English Literature, she decided to pursue a career in acting and carry forward the rich legacy of her parents. She has already appeared in several popular films and TV series, including ‘Marie Antoinette’, ‘Tormented’ and ‘Rosemary & Thyme’. She won the David Lean scholarship to study Direction at the National Institute of Film and Television. Before Mary even graduated in 2011, she had already directed several short films and plays and had been a member of the National Youth Theatre where she cut her teeth acting in several productions. She came into prominence in 2011 after directing the play, ‘Shallow Slumber’, with established actors. Since then, Mary has dedicated herself to direction and now has four short film and a documentary under her belt, which won several awards. Most recently, Mary helmed two episodes of the long-running BBC television series, ‘Silent Witness’, and continues to actively work in British theatre.
Born to prominent actors, Mary Nighy was naturally attracted to films and filmmaking as a child. She soon started acting in plays at school and even made her first film when she was 11. Mary was an industrious actor and often went to audition for the scripts she found interesting. She made her debut with ‘The Lost Prince’ in 2003 as the Young Mary alongside her father Bill Nighy. She continued to act and study at the same time. She was next seen in an episode of ‘Rosemary & Thyme’ as Fern in 2004 and as Hidalla in the drama mystery movie, ‘The Fine Art of Love: Mine Ha-Ha,’ in 2005. This movie was premiered at the Venice Film Festival and received positive reviews. In the same year, she was named among the ‘Breakthrough Brits’ by the UK Film Council. However, her biggest acting breakthrough came in 2006 when she was cast as Princesse de Lamballe in the drama, ‘Marie Antoniette,’ directed by Sofia Coppola. She starred alongside Kirsten Dunst and Jason Schwartzman in the critically acclaimed movie. A guest appearance in the series ‘Marple’ followed before Mary directed her own short film titled, ‘Player,’ in 2008.
Around the same time, she graduated with honors from University College, London in English Literature and decided to pursue a career in directing. In 2009, she directed the documentary ‘Convoy to Cape Town’, which focused on the lives of eight musicians who travelled to Cape Town. Her last appearance as an actress was in 2009 when she starred as Helena in the comedy horror film, ‘Tormented’. Mary has been focusing on writing and directing films since then, and she soon released another short film titled, ‘Into the Night,’ which established her standing as a director. Subsequently, Mary’s perseverance won her the David Lean scholarship to the National Film and Television School where she studied Directing Fiction before graduating in 2011.
Since 2011, Mary has been actively working behind the scenes and branched into theatre direction. She directed ‘Shallow Slumber’, a play starring Alexandra Gilbreath and Amy Cudden, in 2012, and it premiered at the Soho Theatre, London. Her next work as a director was the adaption, ‘A Miracle’, a play in the Royal Court by Molly Davies. Mary did not restrict herself to theatre as she wanted to explore herself as a director. She directed campaigns for Vogue, City of London, Karen Millen and River Island. In 2014, she directed the film ‘Handprint’ for Livia Firth and The British Fashion Council. The movie focused on the lives on garment workers and encouraged the viewers to pay attention to the sweat and toil that goes behind their fashion. The film went on to win many prizes, including the Young Director's Award at the Cannes Lions for Best Charity Film. It was subsequently screened at Aesthetica and Berlin Fashion Film Festival. In 2017, she directed ‘Unseen’, a film commissioned by Thomson Reuters that focused on ending child slavery and starred James D’arcy.
She recently directed two episodes for the BBC series, ‘Silent Witness’, which released in January 2019. Mary is currently working on an adaptation of the novel ‘The Girl in the Red Coat’ by Kate Hamer and another film titled ‘Lie with Me’. In the future, she wants to direct a web series in Europe. She is currently represented by Independent Talent Agency.
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Family & Personal Life
Mary Nighy was born as Mary Bing Jamie Alfreda Leonara Quick Kit Nighy on July 17, 1984 in London, England to veteran actors Bill Nighy and Diana Quick. She hasn’t revealed any information about her personal life and rarely makes public appearances. She loves watching movies, travelling and watching non-commercial plays.
Her favorite films are Katell Quillévéré’s ‘Suzanne’, Celine Sciamma’s ‘Girlhood’, Jonathan Glazer’s ‘Under the Skin’ and Andrew Haigh’s ‘Weekend’.