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banner Sunday, 24 February, 2002, 21:21 GMT
Broadbent's rise to stardom
BBC One's The Peter Principle
Sitcom role: Appearing in The Peter Principle
British actor Jim Broadbent, who has won widespread praise for his role in Iris, began his successful career in film, TV and theatre more than 30 years ago.

Although Jim Broadbent famously turned down the role of Del Boy Trotter in Only Fools and Horses - a TV series that has gone on to huge success - it does not seem to have dented his acting career.

The 52-year-old has appeared in Moulin Rouge, Topsy Turvy, The Crying Game and Bridget Jones's Diary, to name but a few. And he still managed to join the cast of Only Fools and Horses, as Del Boy's arch-enemy Roy Slater.

David Jason
David Jason took the role of Del Boy Trotter
He also starred in BBC comedy series The Peter Principle, as an over-promoted bank manager with little talent or brains.

"As an actor, I'm quite prepared to look silly," he has said. "I don't mind looking like a complete berk."

Born in 1950 in Lincoln, in the UK, Broadbent was the son of a furniture maker and keen amateur actor.

After leaving school, he studied art for a year before giving in to the lure of the stage, graduating from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts in 1972.

At first he played small roles in regional theatres, but after four years he struck out on his own, and helped set up the National Theatre of Brent.

As an actor, I'm quite prepared to look silly - I don't mind looking like a complete berk

Jim Broadbent
It produced comedies including The Greatest Story Ever Told and The Complete Guide to Sex.

His career went on from strength to strength, and he got his big break in 1976, when he appeared in Ken Campbell's 12-hour sci-fi play Illuminatus, in which he played a dozen characters.

His stage, film and TV career began to take off, and he went on to appear in Kafka's Dick by Alan Bennett, and The Government Inspector at the Royal National Theatre, both for director Richard Eyre, who also directed Iris.

He also worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company for Our Friends in the North, and starred in the film Little Voice with Jane Horrocks and Michael Caine, as well as Blackadder with Rowan Atkinson.

John Bayley, Jim Broadbent, Dame Judi Dench
Judi Dench starred with Broadbent in Iris, based on John Bayley's memoirs
His efforts have been rewarded with many awards, including the Volpi Cup for best actor at the Venice Film Festival for playing the librettist WS Gilbert in Mike Leigh's Topsy Turvy.

The same role also won him the London Evening Standard Film Award for best actor, the London Film Critics Circle Award for British actor of the year and nominations for the part from Bafta, Chicago Film Critics Association Awards and British Independent Film Awards.

Little Voice won him an outstanding performance nomination from the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Gilbert in Topsy Turvy
His role as Gilbert in Topsy Turvy won him many awards
As well as his Golden Globe, Broadbent has won best supporting actor awards for Moulin Rouge and Iris from the National Board of Review and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.

But despite all these accolades, the actor is keen to keep pushing himself in a new direction.

"I wouldn't mind being more of a baddie," he said recently. "I wouldn't mind doing something quite nasty for a change."

See also:

14 Jan 02 | Oscars 2002
Dench's touching elegy for Iris
14 Jan 02 | Film
Stars attend Iris première
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