Proclaimed by many critics as one of the best young actors of his generation, Benjamin John Whishaw was born in Clifton, Bedfordshire, to Linda (Hope), who works in cosmetics, and Jose Whishaw, who works in information technology. He has a twin brother, James. He is of French, German, Russian (father) and English (mother) descent. Ben attended Samuel Whitbread Community College where his interest in theatre grew and he became a member of the Bancroft Players Youth Theatre at Hitchin's Queen Mother Theatre. During his time there he rose to prominence in many productions, most notably If This Is a Man, based on the book of the same name by Primo Levi, a survivor of Nazi World War II prisoner of war camp. The play was taken to the Edinburgh Festival in 1995 where it garnered five-star reviews and great critical acclaim with Ben Whishaw getting rave reviews for his portrayal of Levi.