Ben Whishaw: Paddington actor to star in Waiting for Godot

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By Steven McIntosh

Entertainment reporter

Paddington star Ben Whishaw is to appear in a new West End production of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.

The actor, 43, credits the play with encouraging him to drop out of university more than two decades ago and study acting instead.

He will star opposite Lucian Msamati, who has previously appeared in Game of Thrones and Gangs of London.

Whishaw told BBC News he was “unbelievably thrilled and excited – and a little terrified too”.


The production, directed by James MacDonald, will open at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in September 2024.

“When I was 18 I was doing an art foundation course in Bedford and went one night with a friend to London to see a play that was part of a season of plays by Samuel Beckett at the Barbican Theatre. The play was Waiting for Godot,” Whishaw recalled.

“The next day I dropped out of my art course, having decided I wanted to study acting instead. I am unbelievably thrilled and excited – and a little terrified too – to be having this chance to perform Beckett’s utterly radical and incredibly beautiful play.

“It has haunted me since that night 25 years ago. And to get to do it with Lucian Msamati and James Macdonald… well, that’s just a dream.”

Beckett wrote Waiting For Godot in the late 1940s and it went on to become one of the most acclaimed plays of the last century.

It focuses on two men who meet under a tree, both waiting for someone named Godot. The play consists of a series of discussions between the men, neither of whom can leave.

Image caption,

Lucian Msamati has appeared in TV series including Doctors, Luther, Kiri and His Dark Materials

Whishaw will take on the role of Vladimir while Msamati will play Estragon.

The last time Waiting For Godot was staged in the West End was in 2009, in a production starring Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen.

Whishaw has previously played gadget guru Q in the James Bond films opposite Daniel Craig, and starred in This is Going to Hurt, the adaptation of Adam Kay’s medical memoir.

He will reprise his role as the voice of the titular bear in the forthcoming Paddington in Peru.

Msamati played Salladhor Saan in Game of Thrones and is also known for roles in Luther, Gangs Of London and His Dark Materials.

Speaking about Waiting For Godot, he said: “The wait has been worth it!

“I look forward making merry mischief with James Macdonald for the first time and a too long overdue reunion with the creative brilliance and genuine spirit that is Ben Whishaw.”

Tickets for the production will go on sale in February, and producers said further casting would be announced in the coming months.