I’ve already pointed to Bill Nighy‘s Davy Jones performance in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest as unjustly overlooked, and we may as well acknowledge that his acting as Cate Blanchett‘s perplexed husband in Notes on a Scandal (Fox Searchlight, 12.2.7) probably won’t be received with much more than fitting respect. There’s only one way to really appreciate how good Nighy is these days, and that’s coming to Manhattan, plunking down close to $200 bucks (i.e., yourself and a friend) and catching him in David Hare‘s The Vertical Hour at the Music Box. (A tall order but worth it.)
This play “confirms [Nighy’s] exclusive brand of greatness,” John Heilpern wrote not long ago in the N.Y. Observer. “Nighy looks like one of Whistler√ɬ¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√¢‚Äû¬¢s rakish, languid aristocrats lolling about the place. He√ɬ¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√¢‚Äû¬¢s awesomely relaxed, an urbane presence, cultivated, ironic in the light English style, and razor-sharp. His innate, mercurial spontaneity makes it hard to imagine him giving the same performance twice. He possesses the stagecraft and dangerous edge of a Michael Gambon with tics. To watch him in The Vertical Hour nonchalantly responding to [Julianne Moore’s] misguided American earnestness is to appreciate the nature of lethally understated disdain.”