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Perfume: The Story of a Murderer - profile of Ben Whishaw

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Name Ben Whishaw

Born 14 October 1980, Bedfordshire.

Background Whishaw grew up in Bedfordshire where he attended the Bancroft Players Youth Theatre before transferring to RADA. He first started making waves on the London stage, first in His Dark Materials and then, when he became the youngest actor, aged just 23, to play Hamlet in a major West End production. The reviews for the spindly actor were phenomenal. His first leading movie role was in My Brother Tom and he has also appeared in Enduring Love and Layer Cake. Others will recognise him as bullied technogeek Pingu from Nathan Barley.

What’s he up to now? He plays Jean-Baptiste Grenouille in Tom Twyker’s adaptation of Patrick Suskind’s bestseller Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. He spent the past summer on stage at the National Theatre in London, in a new adaptation of The Seagull before heading to Montreal to play one of the many Bob Dylans in Todd Haynes’ bizarre sounding Dylan biopic I’m Not There. Obviously he’s getting used to playing rock stars having played Keith Richards in Stoned.

What he says about his serial killer character in Perfume ‘To be honest, because this character is very odd there wasn’t really any option but to read the book. I felt I needed more information because he says so little and the screenplay is quite sparse in terms of the usual bits of information that you’d extract from it as an actor, so for me it was essential to read and draw out as much as I could. Eventually there comes a point where you put it to one side and say “this is our interpretation”, I found it useful.’

Interesting fact Whishaw doesn’t like the smell of perfume. He prefers people’s natural smell - unadorned.

Perfume is on general release from Tue 26 Dec.

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