Hon. Patron: Sir Nigel Hawthorne KB, CBE (1929-2001)

Respected British stage and screen actor, multiple BAFTA nominee and winner and Oscar® Nominee Sir Nigel Hawthorne, graciously accepted the position of Honorary Patron for Incognita Enterprises in September of 1997.

Through his encouragement and belief in our ideals and work during the four years we had the privilege of his support, until his passing in December 2001, we had the honour of enjoying a patron of enormous talent and dedication.

His personal support of Creative Director, Sally McLean was unstinting and his influence from this time continues to both enrich and help shape the creative work we do and direction we take, now and into the future.

Known for his roles in Yes Minister, Yes Prime Minister, The Madness of King George, Gandhi, The Fragile Heart, Amistad, The Object of My Affection, King Lear, Madeleine, Demolition Man and Richard III, to name but a few, his advice, support, generosity and kindness formed the foundation for our work, ethics and aspirations. He was an invaluable ally and we are grateful and humbled to have had his stamp of approval.

A shining example to all as an actor and a man, he is truly missed, but his memory lives on in our work and our thoughts, and in the many roles he played so beautifully.

His name continues to be listed as our Honorary Patron, to honour his support and guidance of our work in the early stages of the company and out of respect for his great capacity to care for, encourage and support those just starting out in the industry, of which Sally was but one of many.

Sir Nigel Hawthorne Remembered

This insightful documentary was produced for the Omnibus strand of programs on the BBC not long after Nigel's death, and broadcast on BBC2 on February 3rd, 2002.  It follows Nigel's journey during his time rehearsing for the title role of "King Lear" for the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in 1999.  It is a touching, funny, fascinating look into the the life of one of our greatest actors.  Enjoy.


A staple of the British stage for nearly a quarter of a century before he gained his first significant measure of international notice, Nigel Hawthorne has had one of the acting profession's more slow-burning careers. However, it has been an undeniably distinguished career marked with any number of critical peaks, perhaps most notably his brilliant, Oscar-nominated title performance in Nicholas Hytner's 1994 adaptation of Alan Bennett's The Madness of King George.

Born in Coventry, England on 5 April 1929, Nigel Hawthorn was raised in South Africa where he lived until his early 20's before returning to the UK in the 1950s. His career mainly focused on theatre work from the 1960s to 1980s. All that changed when he was cast as "Sir Humphrey Appleby" in the BBC comedy Yes, Minister (1980), aged 52, and the subsequent Yes, Prime Minister, both of which won him international acclaim, awards and a new  and prestigious career in screen.

His work on the political satire earned him a number of BAFTA awards and such fame in his native country that he was on occasion mistaken for being an actual politician, even, reportedly, by Queen Elizabeth herself.

Sir Nigel Hawthorne with Dame Helen Mirran in The Madness of King George

The actor went on to establish himself as one of Britain's greatest performers, winning a 1991 Tony Award for his performance in the Broadway production of Shadowlands and a 1992 Olivier Award (as well as an Evening Standard Award and a host of other honors) for his title role in the Royal National Theatre's production of The Madness of George the Third. His work in the latter play was adapted to the screen in 1994 with Nicholas Hytner's widely acclaimed The Madness of King George. Again, Hawthorne enjoyed great critical praise for his portrayal of the mentally unbalanced king, earning an Oscar nomination and a BAFTA award for his manic, didactic, yet ultimately heartrendingly dignified performance.

Nigel, who had been appearing onscreen since 1972's Young Winston, subsequently gaining starring and supporting work in a number of high profile films, including Richard Loncraine's Richard III opposite Sir Ian McKellen (1996), Steven Spielberg's Amistad opposite Morgan Freeman, Anthony Hopkins and Matthew McConaughey (1997), The Object of My Affection opposite Jennifer Anniston and Alan Alda (1998), and David Mamet's acclaimed adaptation of Terence Rattigan's The Winslow Boy opposite Gemma Jones and Jeremy Northam (1999), which cast Nigel as the father of the title character.  Other roles for Hollywood included Demolition Man opposite Sylvester Stallone (1993) and his final film Call Me Claus opposite Whoopi Goldberg (2001).

He supported many theatrical and non-theatrical ventures and charities, and as a result of his active community work, he was appointed Deputy Lieutenant of the Hertfordshire county, where he lived with long-time partner, Trevor Bentham. Nigel also held an honourary MA from Sheffield University and two honourary doctorates - one from the University of Hertfordshire and the other from Keele University.

Sir Nigel Hawthorne in Richard III
Sir Nigel Hawthorne in Richard III

Nigel earned additional recognition for his contributions to film, television, and the theatre when he was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in 1987. In 1999, he was further recognized in the Queen's 1999 New Year's Honours List when he received a much-deserved knighthood. That same year, he played the title role in King Lear for the Royal Shakespeare Company, which would be his last role for the stage.

Nigel passed away on the 26th of December, 2001, aged 72, as the result of a heart attack after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Tributes poured in from around the world from his colleagues, friends and legion of fans. As a result of these tributes, it soon came to light that Nigel had been extraordinarily generous with his time, energy as well as his money. Stories came in from around the globe about Nigel's inspirational generosity to a large group of individuals from many walks of life, which only highlighted and confirmed what a great loss his passing truly was.

An exquisite actor, with a wry sense of humour and a wealth of knowledge that he openly shared, Nigel was a huge talent and a true gentleman. And he is sorely missed by all of us who had the good fortune to know him.

NIGEL'S IMDB.COM PROFILE: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001329/