Irish actor loyal to homeland
James Nesbitt may live in London but his heart still belongs to Northern Ireland.
Indeed, the 56-year-old star of “Bloodlands,” a four-part Irish thriller currently streaming on Acorn TV, is a native of County Antrim, belongs to Royal Portrush Golf Club (which is one of the host venues of the British Open) and does charity work for a nonprofit that helps people traumatized by The Troubles, the 30 years of sectarian violence that plagued that country in the late 20th century.
Which is why the series’ portrayal of Belfast and surrounds as they are today was a big draw for him
“(Viewers are) going to see Belfast in a kind of a new, cosmopolitan, post-conflicts, vibrant, sophisticated, diverse place …,” the actor explains. “I am very keen that people, not just in Northern Ireland but globally, get to see the beauty and the majesty of it but also try and understand the complex past of it and to see how important and fragile the peace is. So the responsibility to kind of tackle The Troubles or the legacy of The Troubles even in a fictionalized drama is something I wear quite proudly and carefully. So that was the job to undertake.”
In “Bloodlands,” Nesbitt plays Tom Brannick, a veteran Northern Ireland police investigator who sees a connection between a current case and an infamous one from 20 years ago that is linked to a still-at-large assassin, the disappearance of his wife and Northern Ireland’s dark history. The role was a grueling one for Nesbitt, requiring him to work bad hours in bad weather and play painful scenes, such as one where Tom has a meltdown at the site of a shallow grave where he thinks his wife may be buried.
Naturally, Nesbitt needed a coming-down period after filming wrapped.
“You can’t help but get involved in these characters and I lived with Tom for quite a while. But I feel for him and I felt for him that day,” he says with a laugh.
Full name: William James Nesbitt
Birth date: Jan. 15, 1965
Birthplace: Coleraine, Northern Ireland
Family ties: Divorced; has two daughters
Education: A graduate of London’s Central of School of Speech and Drama
Other TV credits: “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles,” “Covington Cross,” “Lovejoy,” “Touching Evil,” “Ballykissangel,” “Jekyll,” “Murphy’s Law,” “The Passion,” “Occupation,” “Babylon,” “Cold Feet,” “Stay Close” (forthcoming)
Movie credits include: “Welcome to Sarajevo” (1997), “Resurrection Man” (1998), “Waking Ned Devine” (1998), “Women Talking Dirty” (1999), “Bloody Sunday” (2002), “Match Point” (2005), “Blessed” (2008), “Cherrybomb” (2009), “The Way” (2010), “Coriolanus” (2011), “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” (2012), “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” (2013), “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” (2014)