Living writer Kazuo Ishiguro recalls ‘eureka’ Bill Nighy moment ahead of 2023 Oscars

Kazuo Ishiguro how a “eureka moment” in the back of a London taxi resulted in Oscar nominations.

The author of books including Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go adapted Akira Kurosawa’s Japanese film Ikiru into a London-set drama titled Living, which was released in 2022.

Ishiguro wrote the script, which has been nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay at this year’s Oscars, which take place on Sunday (12 March).

The film follows a bureaucrat who is diagosed with terminal cancer, and is spurred on to finally embrace life after dedicating his life to his work.

For Living to succeed, he required an actor who was up to the task of playing the lead role – and he found that person in Bill Nighy.

He revealed that, one night, while in a taxi with Nighy, he had a brainwave – what if the Love, Actually star should play the role?

The author told Sydney Morning Herald how he told the actor: “I know a great part for you.”

However, Ishiguro’s wife, Lorna MacDougall, told her husband: “Just leave Bill alone – he’s got enough work.”

Nighy decided to sign up to Living, and the result led to his first ever Oscar nomination.

“I’m really proud of our film, partly because of Bill,” Ishiguro told the outley, adding: “I think it will have real longevity.

Bill Nighy in ‘Living’ (Sundance)
Bill Nighy in ‘Living’ (Sundance)

“In England, there is a tremendous affection for Bill. He’s a national treasure. When people think about Bill Nighy’s career, they’re always going to think about this film.”

In the Adapted Screenplay category, Ishiguro faces competition from Sarah Polley (Women Talking), Edward Berger, Ian Stokell and Lesley Paterson (All Quiet on the Western Front), Rian Johnson (Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery) as well as Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer, Christopher McQuarrie, Peter Craig and Justin Marks (Top Gun: Maverick).

Meanwhile, also nominated in Nighy’s category are Brendan Fraser (The Whale), Austin Butler (Elvis), Colin Farrell (The Banshees of Inisherin) and Paul Mescal (Aftersun).

Find the full list of nominations here.