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Imelda Staunton

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Imelda Staunton

Imelda Staunton (2011).jpg
Staunton at the world premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 in 2011
Imelda Mary Philomena Bernadette Staunton

(1956-01-09) 9 January 1956 (age 64)
Alma materRoyal Academy of Dramatic Art
Years active1976–present
Jim Carter (m. 1983)

Imelda Mary Philomena Bernadette Staunton, CBE (born 9 January 1956)[1] is an English stage and screen actress. After training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Staunton began her career in repertory theatre in the 1970s before appearing in various theatre productions in the United Kingdom.

Staunton has performed in a variety of plays and musicals in London, winning four Olivier Awards; three for Best Actress in a Musical for her roles in the plays Into the Woods, Sweeney Todd, and Gypsy, and one for Best Supporting Performance for her work in both A Chorus of Disapproval and The Corn is Green. Her other appearances on stage includes The Beggar's Opera, The Wizard of Oz, Uncle Vanya, Guys and Dolls, Entertaining Mr Sloane, and Good People. She has been nominated for thirteen Olivier Awards throughout her stage career.

On film, Staunton drew widespread critical acclaim for her performance in the title role in Mike Leigh's Vera Drake, for which she won the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role and the Venice Film Festival Volpi Cup for Best Actress, in addition to being nominated for the Academy Award, the Golden Globe and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actress.

On television, Stuanton starred in the sitcoms Up the Garden Path and Is it Legal?. Her performance in My Family and Other Animals earned her a nomination for the International Emmy Award for Best Actress, while her roles in Return to Cranford and The Girl earned her BAFTA TV Award nominations for Best Supporting Actress. For the latter, she was also nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie.

Early life

Staunton was born in Archway, North London, the only child of Bridie (née McNicholas), a hairdresser, and Joseph Staunton, a road-worker and labourer.[2] The family lived over Staunton's mother's salon.[3] Her parents were first-generation Catholic immigrants from County Mayo, Ireland; her father from Ballyvary and her mother from Bohola.[4] Staunton's mother was a musician who could not read music, but could master almost any tune by ear on the accordion or fiddle and had played in Irish showbands.[5]

As a pupil at La Sainte Convent,[6] she took drama classes with her elocution teacher and starred in school productions of plays, including the role of Polly Peachum in a school production of The Beggar's Opera.[5][7] Encouraged by an elocution teacher at her school, Staunton auditioned for drama schools and got into the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) at the age of 18.[4][8] She also auditioned for the Central School of Speech and Drama and Guildhall School of Music and Drama, but was rejected by both schools.[7]



Staunton graduated from RADA in 1976,[9][10] then spent six years in English repertory theatre, including a period at the Northcott Theatre, Exeter, where she had the title role in Shaw's Saint Joan (1979). She then moved on to roles the National Theatre, including Lucy Lockit in The Beggar's Opera (1982), which earned her Olivier Award nominations for Best Actress in a Musical and Most Promising Newcomer of the Year in Theatre.[11] She also appeared in two revivals of Guys and Dolls at the National Theatre; the first in 1982 in which she met her husband Jim Carter[12] and the second in 1996 in which she played Miss Adelaide and was nominated for the Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical.[13]

In 1985, Staunton won her first Laurence Olivier Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role for her work in both The Corn Is Green and at The Old Vic and A Chorus of Disapproval at the National Theatre.[14] She also played Dorothy in the Royal Shakespeare Company's 1987 revival of The Wizard of Oz at the Barbican Centre,[15][16] which earned her another Olivier nomination for Best Actress in a Musical.[17] Staunton won her first Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical for playing the Baker's Wife in the original London production of Into the Woods (1990).[18]

In the ensuing 20 years, Staunton mainly had roles in plays, including Sonya in Uncle Vanya (1988), Kath in Entertaining Mr Sloane (2009) and Good People (2014), for which she received Olivier nominations for Best Actress in a Play. She also appeared in two productions at the Almeida Theatre, firstly in the premiere of Frank McGuinness's There Came a Gypsy Riding in 2007 and secondly in a revival of Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance in 2011.

Most recently, Staunton has appeared in two Chichester Festival Theatre productions, taking on the role of Mrs Lovett in a revival of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd between 2011 and 2012, starring opposite Michael Ball, before starring as Rose in a revival of Gypsy between 2014 and 2015.[19] Both productions transferred to London for critically and commercially acclaimed runs.[20] Staunton won her second and third Olivier Awards for Best Actress in a Musical for the two productions in 2013 and 2016 respectively.[21]

Staunton returned to the Harold Pinter Theatre in London West End in 2017 as Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, starring alongside Conleth Hill, Luke Treadaway and Imogen Poots at the Harold Pinter Theatre.[22] This play was broadcast in National Theatre Live on 18 May 2017.

Staunton performed the role of Sally in the 2017 National Theatre revival of Stephen Sondheim's Follies, alongside Janie Dee as Phyllis, and Philip Quast as Ben.[23][24] The show was broadcast through the National Theatre Live initiative on 16 November 2017.


Staunton's first big-screen role came in a 1986 film Comrades. She then appeared in the 1991 film Antonia and Jane, and in the 1992 film Peter's Friends. Other film roles include performances in Much Ado About Nothing (1993), Deadly Advice (1993), Sense and Sensibility (1995) Twelfth Night (1996), Chicken Run (2000), Another Life (2001), Bright Young Things (2003), Nanny McPhee (2005), Freedom Writers (2007) and How About You (2007).

Staunton shared a Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Performance by a Cast in 1998 for Shakespeare in Love. In 2004, she received the Best Actress honours at the European Film Awards, the BAFTAs, and the Venice Film Festival for her performance of the title role in Mike Leigh's Vera Drake, which also won Best Picture. For the same role, she received her first nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress, the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role.

Staunton portrayed Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007), a performance described as "coming close to stealing the show."[25] She was nominated in the "British Actress in a Supporting Role" category at the London Film Critics Circle Awards.[26] Staunton reprised her role as Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One in 2010.

Recent film roles include the 2008 movie A Bunch of Amateurs, in which she starred alongside Burt Reynolds, Derek Jacobi and Samantha Bond, and the character of Sonia Teichberg in Ang Lee's Taking Woodstock (2009). Staunton provided the voice of the Talking Flowers in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (2010), and played one of the lead roles in the ghost film The Awakening in 2011.[27] In 2014, she co-starred in Maleficent as well as the British comedy-drama Pride.

In late 2014, she had a voice role in Paddington, a film based on the Paddington Bear books by Michael Bond. Staunton and her Harry Potter co-star Michael Gambon voiced Paddington's Aunt Lucy and Uncle Pastuzo, respectively.

An August 2018 announcement revealed that Staunton would be among the new cast to join the original actors in Downton Abbey (film) which started principal photography at about the same time.[28]


In 1993, she appeared on television alongside Richard Briers and Adrian Edmondson in If You See God, Tell Him. Staunton also played the wife of Detective Burakov in the 1995 HBO movie, Citizen X, which recounted the pursuit and capture of Russian serial killer Andrei Chikatilo. She has had other television parts in The Singing Detective (1986), Midsomer Murders, and the sitcom Is It Legal? (1995–98), as well as A Bit of Fry and Laurie. She was a voice artist on Mole's Christmas (1994). She had a guest role playing Mrs. Mead in Little Britain in 2005, and in 2007 played the free-thinking gossip, Miss Pole, in Cranford, the five-part BBC series based on Mrs Gaskell's novels. In 2011, she played Grace Andrews in the second series of Psychoville.

In 2011, she was the Voice of the Interface in the highly acclaimed and nominee for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) episode of Doctor Who – "The Girl Who Waited". In 2012, she portrayed Alma Reville, the wife of Alfred Hitchcock, in the HBO television movie The Girl, which also starred Toby Jones and Sienna Miller. Her performance saw her nominated for a BAFTA Television Award and a Primetime Emmy Award.

Since May 2020, Staunton stars in the Apple TV+ comedy series Trying. The first season premiered on 1 May 2020 and a second season has already been commisioned by Apple.[29] On 31 January 2020 it was announced that she would be portraying Queen Elizabeth II in the fifth and final season of the critically acclaimed Netflix series The Crown.[30]


On radio, she has appeared in the title role of the detective drama series Julie Enfield Investigates, as the lead "Izzy Comyn" in the comedy Up the Garden Path (which later moved to ITV with Staunton reprising the role), in Diary of a Provincial Lady (from 1999), as "Courageous Kate" in Series 1 of Elephants to Catch Eels and as "Xanthippe" in Series 2 of Acropolis Now.

She starred opposite Anna Massey in the post-World War II mystery series Daunt and Dervish, and opposite Patrick Barlow in The Patrick and Maureen Maybe Music Experience. She played the role of a schoolboy as the lead character in the five part (15 minutes each): "The Skool Days of Nigel Molesworth" for BBC Radio 4.

Other work

Staunton has narrated unabridged audio-book versions of many of Julia Donaldson's children's books, including The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo's Child, Monkey Puzzle, The Snail and the Whale, Stick Man and Zog, as well as other children's books. In 2014 she collaborated with her husband, Jim Carter, and Show of Hands on Centenary: Words and Music of the Great War, an album of songs and poetry from and inspired by World War One.

Staunton is also a patron for the Milton Rooms, a new arts centre in Malton, North Yorkshire along with Bill Nighy, Jools Holland and Kathy Burke.[31]

Personal life

Staunton and husband, English actor Jim Carter, have a daughter, Bessie, born in 1993. In 2007, the three appeared in the BBC series Cranford (Carter was Captain Brown and Bessie a maid).[32]

Staunton was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2006 New Year Honours[33] and Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2016 New Year Honours, both for services to drama.[34][35]

Staunton owns a dog (Molly) who appeared in Gypsy at the Chichester Festival Theatre from 6 October 8 November as "Chowsie" the dog. Staunton played the leading role, Madame Rose.[36]

Theatre work

Repertory theatre:

Two seasons at the Northcott Theatre, Exeter:

Two seasons at the Nottingham Playhouse (1980–81?):

Touring (1981–82?):

Two seasons at Chichester Festival Theatre (2011–14):

  • Sweeney Todd (Mrs Lovett, 2011), Chichester Festival Theatre
  • Gypsy (Rose, 2014), Chichester Festival Theatre

Theatre roles in London:



Year Title Role Notes
1986 Comrades Betsy Loveless
1989 A Sleeping Life Polly Flinders
1990 Yellowbacks Cheryl Newman
1990 They Never Slept The Producer
1991 Antonia and Jane Jane Hartman
1992 Peter's Friends Mary Charleston
1993 Much Ado About Nothing Margaret
1993 Deadly Advice Beth Greenwood
1994 Mole's Christmas Village Mother (voice) Short film
1995 Sense and Sensibility Charlotte Jennings Palmer Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
1996 Twelfth Night: Or What You Will Maria
1996 The Snow Queen's Revenge (voice)
1997 Remember Me? Lorna
1997 The Ugly Duckling Scruffy Voice only
1998 Shakespeare in Love Nurse Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2000 Chicken Run Bunty (voice)
2000 Rat Conchita
2000 Jack and the Beanstalk Dilly (voice)
2000 Victoria Wood With All The Trimmings Mrs. June Cottisloe
2001 Another Life Ethel Graydon
2001 Crush Janine
2002 Ready Naomi
2003 The Virgin of Liverpool Sylvia, Conlon
2003 Bright Young Things Lady Brown
2003 Blackball Bridget
2003 I'll Be There Dr. Bridget Jackens
2004 Vera Drake Vera Drake BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
British Independent Film Award for Best Actress
Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
European Film Award for Best Actress
Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Actress
Iowa Film Critics Award for Best Actress
London Film Critics Circle Award for Actress of the Year
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress
New York Film Critics Online Award for Best Actress
San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress
Toronto Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Vancouver Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress
Venice Film Festival Volpi Cup for Best Actress
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Empire Award for Best British Actress
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
Nominated—Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated—Southeastern Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Utah Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
2005 Nanny McPhee Mrs. Joan Blatherwick
2005 A Midsummer Night's Dream Polly
2005 My Family And Other Animals Louisa Durrell (Mother) Nominated—International Emmy Award for Best Actress
2006 Shadow Man Ambassador Cochran
2007 Freedom Writers Margaret Campbell
2007 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Dolores Jane Umbridge Nominated—London Film Critics Circle Award for British Supporting Actress of the Year
Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress
2007 How About You Hazel Nightingale
2008 Three and Out Rosemary Cassidy
2008 A Bunch of Amateurs Mary
2009 Taking Woodstock Sonia Teichberg
2010 White Other Lynne McDermott
2010 Alice in Wonderland Tall Flower Faces (voice)
2010 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 Dolores Jane Umbridge
2010 Another Year Janet Nominated—San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
2011 The Awakening Maud Hill
2011 Arthur Christmas Margaret Claus (voice)
2012 The Pirates! Band of Misfits Queen Victoria (voice) Nominated—Annie Award for Voice Acting in a Feature Production
2014 Maleficent Knotgrass
2014 Pride Hefina Headon BIFA Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
2014 Paddington Aunt Lucy (voice)
2017 Paddington 2 Aunt Lucy (voice)
2017 Finding Your Feet Sandra
2017 The Actor's Apprenticeship Herself Documentary
2019 Downton Abbey Maud, Lady Bagshaw
2019 Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Knotgrass


Year Title Role Notes
1986 The Singing Detective Staff Nurse White 5 episodes
1986 Ladies in Charge Edith Episode: "Double Act"
1988 Thompson Various roles 6 episodes
1990–93 Up the Garden Path Izzy 18 episodes
1990 Screenplay Stephanie Episode: "The Englishman's Wife"
1991 Screenplay Jane Hartman Episode: "Antonia and Jane"
1992 A Masculine Ending Bridget Bennet Television film
1993 Don't Leave Me This Way Bridget Bennet Television film
1993 If You See God, Tell Him Muriel Spry 4 episodes
1994 Frank Stubbs Promotes Susan Episode: "Charity"
1994 Woodcock Edna Television film
1995–98 Is It Legal? Stella Phelps 21 episodes
1995 Citizen X Mrs Burakova Television film
1995 Look at the State We're In! Councillor Johnson Television film
1995 The Adventures of Mole (voice) Television film
1995 A Bit of Fry and Laurie Herself Episode #4.3
1996 Tales From The Crypt Sarah Episode: "About Face"
1998–2000 The Canterbury Tales The Prioress 2 episodes
1999 David Copperfield Mrs. Micawber Television film
1999 Midsomer Murders Christine Cooper Episode: "Dead Man's Eleven"
2002 Murder DCI Billie Dory Television film
2003 Cambridge Spies The Queen 2 episodes
2003 Strange Reverend Mary Truegood Episode: "Incubus"
2003 Let's Write A Story Mrs. Twit Television film
2005 Fingersmith Mrs Sucksby 3 episodes
2005 Little Britain Mrs. Mead 1 episode
2006 Dog Town Gwen Gregson Episode: "1.4"
2006 The Wind in the Willows Barge Lady Television film
2007 Cranford Miss Octavia Pole 5 episodes
Nominated—BAFTA TV Award for Best Supporting Actress
2008 Big & Small Ruby/Twiba 14 episodes
2008 Clay Mary Doonan Television film
2009 Return to Cranford Miss Octavia Pole 2 episodes
2010–11 Psychoville Grace Andrews 7 episodes
2011 Doctor Who The Interface (voice) Episode: "The Girl Who Waited"
2012 The Girl Alma Hitchcock Television film
Nominated—BAFTA TV Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Movie/Miniseries Supporting Actress
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
2014 That Day We Sang Enid Television film
2019 A Confession Karen Edwards Main role
2019 Flesh and Blood Mary Main role
2020–present Trying Penny Main role



  1. ^ "Imelda Staunton Biography (1956–)". Retrieved 8 December 2015.
  2. ^ Lawley, Sue (15 May 2005). "This Week's Guest: Imelda Staunton". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 6 January 2007.
  3. ^ "BBC Radio 4 – Desert Island Discs, Imelda Staunton". BBC. Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  4. ^ a b "Imelda Staunton Biography". Tiscali Film and TV. Archived from the original on 10 August 2007. Retrieved 16 July 2007.
  5. ^ a b "Imelda Staunton: My Career Is Not About Looks" The Telegraph, 8 December 2008
  6. ^ Jeffries, Stuart (24 April 2014). "Imelda Staunton: 'It's in my DNA to duck and dive'". The Guardian.
  7. ^ a b Mark Shenton (8 March 2015). "The Big Interview: Imelda Staunton". The Stage. Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  8. ^ "Irish News UK – News from the Irish Community in Britain". Archived from the original on 22 September 2012. Retrieved 11 July 2007.
  9. ^ "Interview: actress Imelda Staunton". Financial Times. Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  10. ^ "RADA".
  11. ^ "Olivier Winners 1982". Archived from the original on 5 October 2017. Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  12. ^ London Theatre Direct Limited. "In Retrospect: A Look At The History Of 'Guys And Dolls'". Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  13. ^ "Olivier Winners 1997". Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  14. ^ "Olivier Winners 1985". Archived from the original on 12 October 2017. Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  15. ^ Raymond, Kurt. "We're Off To Stage The Wizard of Oz". Beyond the Rainbow to Oz website. Retrieved 15 July 2007.
  16. ^ "Wizard of Oz (MUNY 1945)". Tams–Witmark Music Library, Inc. 2005. Archived from the original on 10 February 2013. Retrieved 15 July 2007.
  17. ^ "Olivier Winners 1988". Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  18. ^ "Olivier Winners 1991". Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  19. ^ Editorial Staff (2 March 2015). "Full West End Gypsy cast announced". Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  20. ^ Billington, Michael (21 March 2012). "Sweeney Todd – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 April 2012.
  21. ^ Shenton. Mark. "Winners of 2016 Olivier Awards Announced: 'Gypsy', 'Kinky Boots', 'In the Heights' Emerge Victorious" Playbill, 3 April 2016
  22. ^
  23. ^ "Imelda Staunton to Star in London Follies | Playbill". Playbill. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  24. ^ Shenton, Mark (11 October 2016). "National Theatre Announces Additional Casting for Angels in America and Follies". Playbill.
  25. ^ McCurry, Justin (29 June 2007). "Japan goes wild about Harry". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 17 May 2008.
  26. ^ Dawtrey, Adam (13 December 2007). "London critics love 'Control,' 'Atonement'". Variety. Retrieved 15 December 2007.
  27. ^ "Ghostly Art From 'The Awakening' -". Bloody Disgusting!. Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  28. ^ Imelda Staunton, Geraldine James Join 'Downton Abbey' Movie
  29. ^ "Trying's Esther Smith confirms series 2 filming could be affected by coroanvirus". Metro. 1 May 2020. Retrieved 3 May 2020.
  30. ^ Ravindran, Manori (31 January 2020). "'The Crown' Will End After Season 5 With Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth". Variety. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  31. ^ "What's on at The Milton Rooms, Malton". Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  32. ^ "Imelda Staunton on acting naturally" The Sunday Times, 21 June 2008
  33. ^ "New Year Honours—United Kingdom". The London Gazette (57855): N12. 31 December 2005.
  34. ^ "No. 61450". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 2015. p. N10.
  35. ^ "New Year's honours 2016: the full list". The Guardian. 30 December 2015.
  36. ^ Chichester Festival Theatre "Gypsy A Musical Fable" 2014 Official Program.
  37. ^ Imelda Staunton and Her Big Band Archived 5 November 2013 at the Wayback Machine (1–5 September 1998) Donmar Warehouse
  38. ^ Billington, Michael (13 May 2011). "A Delicate Balance". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 23 June 2011.

External links

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