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The List: Top 10 Hugh Bonneville film or TV roles

Elizabeth McGovern (from left), Hugh Bonneville, Maggie Smith and Michelle Dockery star in "Downton Abbey" on PBS' "Masterpiece." (PBS)Elizabeth McGovern (from left), Hugh Bonneville, Maggie Smith and Michelle Dockery star in “Downton Abbey” on PBS’ “Masterpiece.” (PBS)
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Fans of the hit British series "Downton Abbey" are eagerly awaiting new episodes in January on PBS. Mr. Bonneville achieved global fame as the lead character Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham in "Downton Abbey," somewhat late in his career. Mr. Bonneville, who turned 50 on Sunday, has appeared in numerous films and TV series, including George Clooney's World War II film "The Monuments Men," now scheduled for release in February.  The List this week looks at some other notable and quirky performances in Mr. Bonneville's TV and film career.

  • 10. Conspiracy Of Silence (2003) — In this award-winning film, a can of worms is opened within the Irish Catholic Church following the suicide of a priest and expulsion of a young trainee priest from a nearby seminary. Mr. Bonneville plays the liberal Father Jack Dowling in this disturbing thriller.
  • 9. From Time to Time (2009) — Mr. Bonneville starred in this British ghostly, time travel film with Maggie Smith, written and directed by "Downton Abbey" creator Julian Fellowes. Mr. Fellowes and Mr. Bonneville had small roles in the 1997 James Bond film "Tomorrow Never Dies."
  • 8. Shanghai (2010) — Western audiences still haven't been able to see this thriller set in China prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor attack starring John Cusak, Chow Yun-Fat, Gong Li and Mr. Bonneville. The $50 million-budgeted movie had to be filmed in Bangkok after the Chinese government revoked the production's film permits. It was released in China in June 2010 but has never been released in the United States.
  • 7. Doctor Who (2012) — Mr. Bonneville starred in two episodes of this hugely popular sci fi series, which has been running since 1963. He played Henry Avery based on a real pirate, called Henry Avera, a naval officer in the 1690s who became a pirate and hid treasure in the crypt of a church in a Cornish village.
  • 6. Ben Hur (2010) — In this ABC-TV series based on Lew Wallace's 1880 novel "Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ," Mr. Bonneville played Pontius Pilate. It was an interesting role for a man who studied theology at the elite Corpus Christi College at Cambridge University.
  • 5. Chancer (1990) — After graduating from Cambridge and studying at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art, Mr. Bonneville became a prolific stage actor. His first credited screen role was as Jas in two episodes of the hit British TV series "Chancer" in which British actor Clive Owen of "Closer" and "Duplicity" fame made his name.
  • 4. "Twenty Twelve" (2011) — Mr. Bonneville won high praise as Ian Fletcher, an incompetent PR consultant who heads up the fictional Olympic Deliverance Commission, the body tasked to organize the 2012 London Summer Olympics, in this BBC "mockumentary." It won the best sitcom category at the British Comedy Awards in 2011.
  • 3. Iris (2001) — Mr. Bonneville starred alongside Kate Winslet as young literary academics John Bayley and famed novelist Iris Murdoch at leafy Oxford University in the mid-50s. The film was based on true story about the lifelong romance between Bayley and Murdoch. The role got Mr. Bonneville noticed in Hollywood.
  • 2. Notting Hill (1999) — In this popular Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts film set in London, Mr. Bonneville plays Bernie, the nerdy and likable bumbler stockbroker. In a scene-stealing performance, Mr. Bonneville's character fails to recognize Miss Roberts as the world-famous actress she plays in the film.
  • 1. Downton Abbey (2010-present) — This costume drama about the an aristocratic English family beginning in 1912 first appeared on PBS on Jan. 2, 2011. Mr. Bonneville was nominated for a Golden Globe and two Emmy awards for his leading role in the series. By its third season in 2013, The New York Times reported that "Downton Abbey" had become one of the most widely watched television shows in the world. First lady Michelle Obama is a big fan, and Mr. Bonneville was invited for dinner at the White House last year. "To go to the White House is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Mr. Bonneville said. "In fact, the building is not that big. It's just a modest 20-up, 20-down!"

Did you know that one of Mr. Bonneville's hobbies other than sailing is needlepoint, which he took up to help cut down his smoking?


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