The Constant Gardener (2005)

Bill Nighy, as Sir Bernard Pellegrin, a member of the British High Commission
Bill Nighy as Sir Bernard Pellegrin, a member of the British High Commission.

In a remote area of Northern Kenya, the region’s most dedicated activist, the brilliant and passionate Tessa Quayle (Rachel Weisz), has been found brutally murdered. Tessa’s traveling companion, a local doctor, appears to have fled the scene, and the evidence points to a crime of passion. Sandy Woodrow (Danny Huston), Sir Bernard Pellegrin (Bill Nighy) and the other members of the British High Commission assume that Tessa’s widower, their mild-mannered and unambitious colleague Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes), will leave the matter to their discretion. They could not be more wrong…


Awards and nominations

Bill Nighy is nominated for a British Independent Film Award as Best Supporting Actor for his role as Sir Bernard Pelligrin in The Constant Gardener.

Bill Nighy about Sir Bernard Pellegrin

After being cast as mentally fragile and battered individuals in films such as Still Crazy, I Capture the Castle and Love Actually, Nighy takes great satisfaction in portraying what he calls “a nobby toff”.

“I don’t come from that background at all, so it’s very nice to be playing an upper-middle-class Englishman,” laughs the 55-year-old actor who, after 30 years of stage, small-film and television work, is suddenly near the top of filmmakers’ want-lists.

The Critics about Bill Nighy in The Constant Gardener

There is a superb, understated performance by Bill Nighy – not quite typecast as an evil head of an embassy complicit in the most culpable way with the darkest evil. It’s hard to tell whether the producers imagined that Nighy’s manner was posher than it is but in any case the pure cold-heartedness of the character is brilliantly represented.

And Bill Nighy is fabulously insincere as the minister who tries to pin the murder on an infatuated doctor. “Albert is homosexual,” says Justin. “Well, I’ve known one or two savage queens in my time,” quips Nighy.

» If ever a face was made for villainy, it’s Bill Nighy’s.
Nighy’s decadently long jaw and narrow, sneaky eyes serve him well as an oily politician in “The Constant Gardener,” opening Wednesday.

Nighy is like a coiled snake as he watches Fiennes’ mild-mannered hero put together the mystery. He gives the kind of slow-burn, slime-and-smile per-formance that actors like Claude Rains and Robert Shaw used to give in classic supporting roles, and he stands out for his lack of scenery-chewing. «
Ny Daily News

The other characters are just as important to the story. Bill Nighy leads the supporting cast, diverging from his normal nice-guy roles to play Justin’s boss Sir Bernard Pelegrin. His shady character is such a dramatic departure from his role in the HBO film “The Girl in the Café”, in which he played the Fiennes role in a similar relationship between a British diplomat and an activist. Although Nighy isn’t in much of the film, his scenes are all riveting and exceptional.

Supporting roles are also admirably played by Hubert Koundé (Arnold Bluhm), Danny Huston (Sandy Woodrow) and Bill Nighy (Sir Bernard Pellegrin). Indeed, this is another good addition to Nighy’s recent run of interesting diverse characters that range from the eccentric ageing rock star of Love Actually and the ultra conservative diplomat of The Girl in the Café.

a magnificent portrayal of overbred swinishness by Bill Nighy
the Silicon Valley paper in California.

Bill Nighy is deliciously funny appraising Justin’s lunch order with a regretful “You should have had the meunière.
The Fort Worth, Texas paper

the superb Bill Nighy portrays a government official who seems to wield an unfortunate amount of power.
The Bremerton Sun

their frighteningly Perfect British Boss, played with high gloss by Bill Nighy.

a Machiavellian dandy of a British lord.
The Boston Globe

the incomparable Bill Nighy shows a knack for soft-spoken villainy that makes you wish for a dozen sequels.
The Bosh (New York, NY) states

Cult actor Bill Nighy (Love Actually, Shaun of the Dead) turns up in a small, but refreshingly snarky role as one of Quayle’s colleagues.
Combustuble celluloid

Smaller roles are filled by a plethora of talent from the shifty Danny Huston to perpetual scene-stealer Bill Nighy.
Palo Alto weekly

There is something simplistic about the oversize portraits drawn: tin-pot dictator, thuggish corporate enforcers and duplicitous diplomats, the latter deliciously played by Danny Huston and with a campy malevolence by Bill Nighy.

Reliable British veterans Nighy, Donald Sumpter, Pete Postlethwaite and Gerard McSorley are playing le Carre archetypes — politicians, spies, bureaucrats and other dedicated professions — and give texture to the piece.

The rest of cast are also excellent, including Huston (Silver City), as the slippery Sandy, and Bill Nighy (Love Actually), as the main British mucky muck, whose morals are certainly compromised.

Though its in London that Justin lunches with the desiccated, ominously evasive High Commissioner Sir Bernard Pellegrin, whos wonderfully underplayed by the great Bill Nighy in what is one of the movies funniest and most insidious scenes.
La Weekly

Bill Nighy has a few terrifically dry moments as a senior British official .
The Daily news

Bill Nighy, as the aristocratic and self-serving Sir Pellegrin, is an intricate and underdeveloped character, worthy of more attention. It is his biting comment that drives the allegory of the film, “Some very nasty things can be found under rocks, especially in foreign gardens.”
The Trinity Tripod


See some very (very!) short clips of Bill in the trailer:
Trailer : The Constant Gardener
Trailer 2 of The Constant Gardener ( a better one !)


Article : A Brazilian let loose in the British world of Le Carré
IMDB: The Constant Gardener
The Constant Gardener : official website

IndieLondon : The Constant Gardener review



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