Theater
Major Barbara Peter Hall Company Stephen Undershaft (also on radio)
The Misanthrope Peter Hall Company 1998 Clitandre
Pygmalion Nottingham 1994 Freddie Eynsford-Hill
Diary of a Madman Finborough Theatre London
 
Director
Three Birds Alighting on a Field LAMDA 2005
Habeus Corpus LAMDA 2005
Deja Vu Operating Theatre Company 2005
The Treatment LAMDA 2005
The Holes in My Skin Operating Theatre Company and East 15 Drama School 2005
The Wooden Breeks East 15 Drama School 2005
One Glass Wall Bridewell Theatre London 2004
Edible Oils and Fats East 15 Drama School 2004
Stealing Sweets and Punching People Latchmere Theatre London 2003
New Directions Season 4 public readings of new plays 2003 London
The Caucasian Chalk Circle Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts 2003
Translations Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art 2003
Major Barbara Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art 2003
Hedgehog Play East 15 Drama School 2003
This is Our Youth West End 2002 (assistant director)
Mother Clap's Molly House National and West End 2002 (director/staff director)
Nicholas Nickleby Rose Bruford College 2002
Sophocles's Electra British American Drama Academy 2002
Lucifer and the Lord Young Vic 2001 (Jerwood Young Directors Award)
Gamblers Camden People’s Theatre 2000
Four Dogs and a Bone Etcetera Theater Club 1999
 
Television
Ghostboat 2006 Redding
The Walk 2005 Robin
Richard and Judy Book Club 2005 reader of "The Jane Austen Book Club"
Rosemary and Thyme, ep. “The Gongoozlers” 2004 Gavin (with Christopher Staines)
“Auf Wiedersehen, Pet,” eps. “Our Men in Havana” and “The End of the Affair” 2004 Stuart Sherman
Peter in Paradise 2003 Alexander Menshikov
Family 2003 Mike
The Project 2002 Charles
ER, ep. “Chaos Theory” 2002 passenger
The Relic Hunter, eps. “Fountain of Youth,” and “The Royal Ring,” 2001 and 2002 Preston Bailey
Absolutely Fabulous, ep. “Fish Farm” 2001 Jago Balfour (with Julia Sawalha and Tim Wylton)
Victoria and Albert 2001 Frederick Standish (with Victoria Hamilton)
Mind Games 2001 DC Terry Beale
Murder Rooms: The Kingdom of Bones 2001 Reuben Proctor
Urban Gothic 2000 Bruce
Wuthering Heights 1999 Edgar Linton
Coronation Street 1999 Robert
The Gift 1998 Dr. Hill
Game On! 1998 Archie Glennister (with Lucy Briers)
Cadfael: The Rose Rent 1996 Miles Coliar
Accused 1996 Ralph
Rag Nymph 1995 Bernard Thompson
Full Throttle 1993 Michael Burn
Honey for Tea 1993 Charlie Chadwick
Highlander, ep. “The Immortal Cimoli” 1992 Danny Cimoli
The Scarlet and the Black 1992 Comte de Croisenois
Brighton Bubble Robert
 
Film
Bridget Jones’s Diary 2001 Greg (with Colin Firth)
Basil 1998 Ralph
Annie: A Royal Adventure 1995 Rupert Hogbottom
Howards End 1992 Col. Fussell
 
Radio
Book At Bedtime: The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers reader
Major Barbara Stephen Undershaft
 
Music Video
Westlife’s “Uptown Girl”
 
Coronation Street, with Simon Gregson, Chloe Newsome, Julie Goodyear, and Ken Morley
 
Interview with Crispin Bonham-Carter

Taking a Gamble on the Family Name

 

Crispin Bonham-Carter portrait
 
Crispin Bonham-Carter
Charles Bingley
 

Crispin Bonham-Carter is a man of the theater. It’s where he likes to be, and it doesn’t matter to him whether he’s on stage or behind the scenes, for he has a parallel career as an actor and as a director. “Maybe I'll never play Hamlet, but I can direct Hamlet,” he has said. “That would be every bit as good, particularly if I thought that person was better cast than I was.”

 
 
The Misanthrope, with Elaine Page and John Elmes

As an actor, however, he has not done a great deal of theater. Most of his work has come in television, often as cheerful upper-class types not too dissimilar from Mr. Bingley. Unlike many actors, he doesn’t complain about being typecast. “If I'm playing them well and they are well written then I don't care. People are right for parts or not right for parts. It's as simple as that, really, and I'm sure that there are lots of parts I'm not right for.”

In fact he almost landed the role of Wickham in Pride and Prejudice, but the producers liked the contrast he presented with Colin Firth and so hired him for Bingley instead. Wickham would have been a more interesting role psychologically, Bonham-Carter has said, but he was just thrilled to get the biggest role he had had until then. “Mr. Bingley was a rather naive gentleman growing up; an almost direct parallel to myself at the time,” he says. “But I have to say that there were times when I just seemed to be hearing the director saying, ‘smile, smile, smile.’” Nonetheless, he enjoyed the five-month shoot. His favorite scenes were the big ones, such as the one in which Bingley and Darcy ride into Meryton. The production crew took over the village of Lacock and all the townspeople watched the scene being shot. “That helped, because it was a bit like being on stage then.”

 
  Crispin Bonham-Carter in Victoria & Albert
Victoria and Albert, with Rachel Pickup

Despite his aristocratic-sounding name, Crispin Bonham-Carter comes from the professional upper middle class: his grandfather was in the navy and his father worked in marketing. He did spend most of his boyhood at boarding schools, including seven years at Glenalmond, a boys’ public school in the remote Scottish Grampians. “It was so secluded,” he remembered in a 2005 interview. “For a long time after I left, I felt self-conscious, shy and awkward; an outsider. Being an actor, you don't want to feel those things. Or maybe I became an actor to try to overcome them.” In fact his mother, Clodagh, is an amateur actress and director, and at Scotland’s University of St. Andrews, while nominally studying classics, he spent most of his available time with the school’s theater group. Before he had even graduated he landed his first professional job, a one-line cameo (“Here’s your hat, Father”) in the film Howard’s End, which starred his third cousin twice removed, Helena Bonham-Carter. (The two had never even met until Crispin walked up to her during the filming and introduced himself.) He is modest about his break. “I think it was James Ivory thinking, ‘How amusing, to put this other Bonham-Carter in as well.’”

 
Crispin Bonham-Carter in Cadfael:  The Rose Rent  
Cadfael, with Margery Mason

With television work paying the bills, Bonham-Carter can concentrate on the theater. “Directing is a way of taking control, of seeing something through from beginning to end,” he said in 2000. “Actors are always the last people to be informed.” He has slowly been building a CV in directing, with work at drama schools and in fringe venues, and in 2001 won the Jerwood Young Directors Award. In 2003 he directed a new play called Stealing Sweets and Punching People by Phil Porter, and received laudatory reviews—critics called his production “vivid,” “darkly beguiling,” and “surreal and poetic.” I’m part of a tiny community of theatre nerds,” he says with a smile. “It's probably good that Katie’s not an actor, or I’d waffle on about nothing else.” Katie, his wife, is in fact a teacher. They met at the University of St. Andrews and were married in 1996. They live in the Muswell Hill section of London with their three sons, Arthur, Kit, and Stanley.

 
Crispin Bonham-Carter in Absolutely Fabulous
Absolutely Fabulous
 
 
Mindgames, with Fiona Shaw
Basil, with Jared Leto
 
 
 
Photo credits: top—Peter Simpkin; Misanthrope and Coronation Street—Starstock/Photoshot