The ultimate late-bloomer, British character player Nigel Hawthorne had nearly 45 years as an actor under his belt when he finally broke through to stardom with his compelling performance in the title role of "The Madness of King George" (1994). On stage, the role earned him an Olivier Award (among other honors), while the film version garnered both a BAFTA Award and a Best Actor Oscar nomination. But were it not for the insistence of playwright Alan Bennett and first-time feature director Nicholas Hytner (who had directed the play "The Madness of George III"), the role probably would have gone to someone with a more prominent Hollywood profile. Hawthorne's ability to be endearing in the part of a pompous, autocratic old bastard moved Bennett to write in the play's preface that "without Nigel's transcendent performance, the King could have just been a gabbling bore and his fate a matter of indifference." Hytner has said of the film: "We wouldn't have been able to do the movie in eight weeks if Nigel hadn't played it."