Vanessa Redgrave

Vanessa Redgrave

Date of birth: 30 January 1937

Place of birth: London,UK

Academy Award®-winning actress Vanessa Redgrave has long been noted for her uncompromising approach to difficult and even controversial roles.

She recently starred in her third Merchant Ivory film “The White Countess,” having previously starred in “The Bostonians” and “Howard’s End,” both of which earned her Oscar nominations.

Redgrave trained for the stage at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London.  In her first major theatrical role, “A Touch of the Sun” (1958), she played the daughter of a school headmaster (played by her own father, Sir Michael Redgrave).  She made her screen debut that year in Brian Desmond Hurst’s “Behind the Mask”.  In 1959, she became a member of the Stratford-Upon-Avon Theatre Company, where she worked with some of the most distinguished talents of the British stage, including her future husband, director Tony Richardson.

After successfully negotiating Shakespearean roles, Redgrave easily moved into film work, winning her first international notices for her role in Michelangelo Antonioni’s landmark “Blow Up” (1966). The same year, she played Anne Boleyn in Fred Zinnemann’s “A Man for All Seasons” and was nominated for her first Best Actress Academy Award® for her work in Karel Reisz’ “Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment.”

She was a charming Guinevere in Joshua Logan’s “Camelot” (1967), and was again Oscar-nominated for her performance as famed dancer Isadora Duncan in Karel Reisz’ “Isadora” (1968). Redgrave aroused the ire of the Vatican for her portrayal of a sexually delirious Mother Superior in Ken Russell’s scandalous “The Devils” (1971), and captured yet another nomination for her superbly nuanced portrayal of “Mary, Queen of Scots” (Charles Jarrott, 1971).  In 1978, Redgrave won an Academy Award® for her haunting work in the title role in Fred Zinnemann’s “Julia” as the woman who inspires writer Lillian Hellman (played by Jane Fonda). 

Among her many other memorable film appearances are Sir Richard Attenborough’s “Oh! What a Lovely War” (1972); Michael Cacoyannis’ “The Trojan Women” (1974); Sidney Lumet’s “Murder on the Orient Express” (1976); Michael Apted’s “Agatha” and Herbert Ross’ “The Seven Percent Solution” (1979); Tony Palmer’s “Wagner” (1985); Stephen Frears’ “Prick Up Your Ears” (1987); David Hare’s “Wetherby” (1988); Armando Acosta’s “Romeo-Juliet” (1991); Simon Callow’s “The Ballad of the Sad Café” (1993); James Gray’s “Little Odessa” and John Irvin’s “A Month by the Lake” (1995); Brian De Palma’s “Mission Impossible” (1996); Bille August’s “Smilla’s Sense of Snow”; Marleen Gorris’ “Mrs. Dalloway” (1997), Brian Gilbert’s “Wilde” (1997); James Mangold’s “Girl, Interrupted” (1999) and many others. She will soon appear in Richard Claus’ “The Thief Lord” and Ryan Murphy’s “Running With Scissors.”

Vanessa Redgrave has done some of her best work in high-profile television films such as “Playing for Time”, for which she won an Emmy in 1980 playing a Jewish concentration camp survivor. In 1986 she starred as transsexual tennis star Renee Richards in “Second Serve”, and a 1991 TV remake of “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” paired her, for the first time, with sister Lynn. Vanessa Redgrave: An Autobiography was published by Random House in 1994.