Richardson, Miranda 1958–

views updated Jun 08 2018

RICHARDSON, Miranda 1958–


Full name, Miranda Jane Richardson; born March 3, 1958, in Southport, Lancashire, England; daughter of William Alan (a marketing executive) and Marian Georgina (a homemaker; maiden name, Townsend) Richardson; married Rowan Atkinson (an actor; divorced). Education: Trained for the stage at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, 1977–79.

Addresses: Manager— Kerry Gardner Management, 15 Kensington High St., London W8 5NP, England; Parseghian/Planco Management, 23 E. 22nd St., Suite 3, New York, NY 10010. Agent— William Morris Agency, 151 El Camino Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90212; International Creative Management London, Oxford House, 76 Oxford St., London W1N OAX, England.

Career: Actress. Manchester Library Theatre, Manchester, England, member of repertory company and assistant stage manager, 1979–80; worked in repertory at Derby Playhouse, Duke's Playhouse, Lancaster, England, Bristol Old Vic Theatre, and Leicester Haymarket Theatre, 1982–83.

Awards, Honors: Evening Standard Award, best actress, Variety Club Award, most promising artiste, and City Limits Award, best film actress, 1985, for Dance with a Stranger; Royal Television Society Award, 1987, for Sweet As You Are; Television Award nomination, best actress, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 1988, for After Pilkington; New York Film Critics Circle Award, best supporting actress, 1992, and Film Award nomination, best actress in a supporting role, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 1993, for The Crying Game; Golden Globe Award nomination, best performance by an actress in a supporting role in a motion picture, 1992, Academy Award nomination, best supporting actress, Film Award, best actress in a supporting role, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, both 1993, New York Critics Circle Award, best supporting actress, ALFS Award, British actress of the year, London Critics Circle Film Awards, National Board of Review Award, best actress, all 1994, all for Fatale; Golden Globe Award, best comedy actress, 1993, for Enchanted April; Film Award nomination, best leading actress, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 1994, Academy Award nomination, best leading actress, Golden Globe Award nomination, best actress in a drama, 1995, for Tom and Viv; Golden Globe Award, best supporting actress in a series, miniseries, or motion picture made for television, 1995, for Fatherland; Golden Satellite Award nomination, best performance by an actress, 1997, for The Evening Star; Independent Spirit Award nomination, best supporting female, 1998, for The Apostle; Royal Television Society Award, best actor—female, Television Award nomination, best actress, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 1998, for A Dance to the Music of Time; Golden Globe Award nomination, best performance by an actress in a miniseries or motion picture made for television, 1999, for Merlin; Golden Globe Award nomination, best performance by an actress in a supporting role, 2000, for The Big Brass Ring; Saturn Award, best supporting actress, Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, Blockbuster Entertainment Award, favorite supporting actress—horror, 2000, for Sleepy Hollow; San Francisco Film Critics Circle Award, best supporting actress, 2002, Sant Jordi, best foreign actress, Toronto Film Critics Association Awards, best supporting performance, Golden Satellite Award nomination, best performance by an actress in a supporting role, 2003, all for Spider; Screen Actors Guild Award nomination (with others), outstanding performance by a cast of a theatrical motion picture, 2003, for The Hours; Australian Film Institute Award nomination, best actress in a supporting role, Film Critics Circle of Australia Award nomination, best supporting actress, 2003, for The Rage In Placid Lake; Television Award nomination, best actress, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 2004, for The Lost Prince.


Film Appearances:

Mary Turner, The Innocent, TVS/Curzon, 1984.

Ruth Ellis, Dance with a Stranger, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1985.

Oriel, Underworld (also known as Transmutations and RawHeadRex), Limehouse/Green Man, 1985.

DHSS blond, Eat the Rich, New Line Cinema, 1987.

Mrs. Victor, Empire of the Sun, Warner Bros., 1987.

Marilyn, The Mad Monkey (also known as Twisted Obsession, El sueno del mono loco, El mono loco, and Le eve du singe), IVE, 1989.

Frederica/Widow, The Bachelor (also known as Mio caro dottor Graesler), 1990.

Columbine, Rosalind, and Ophelia, The Fool, 1990.

Broken Skin, 1990.

Rose Arbuthnot, Enchanted April, Miramax, 1992.

Ingrid Fleming, Damage (also known as Fatale) New Line Cinema, 1992.

Jude, The Crying Game, Miramax, 1992.

Clara, Century, 1993.

Mysterious woman, The Line, the Cross, the Curve, 1994.

Julie, La nuit et le moment (also known as The Night and the Moment and La notte e il momento), 1994.

Vivienne Haigh–Wood, Tom and Viv, Miramax, 1994.

Carolyn Stilton, Kansas City, Fine Line, 1995.

Sarah Maloney, Swann, Norstar Releasing, 1995.

Patsy Carpenter, Evening Star, Paramount, 1996.

Consuelo de Saint–Exupery, Saint–Ex, Bonneville Worldwide Entertainment, 1997.

Toosie, The Apostle, October Films, 1997.

Judy, The Designated Mourner, First Look Pictures, 1997.

(Uncredited) Off the Menu: The Last Days of Chasen's, 1997.

Miss Gilchrist, St. Ives (also known as All for Love), 1998.

Johnny Hit and Run Pauline, 1999.

Miss Fowl, Jacob Two Two Meets the Hooded Fang, 1999.

Voice of Anna Leonowens, The King and I (animated), Warner Bros., 1999.

Lady Van Tassel/Western Woods Crone, Sleepy Hollow, 1999.

Lady Mary Van Tassel/Western Woods Crone, Sleepy Hollow: Behind the Legend, Paramount, 2000.

Voice of Mrs. Tweedy, Chicken Run (also known as C:R–1), 2000.

Gloria, Get Carter, Warner Bros., 2000.

Shiner, 2000.

Secret Passage, 2001.

Yvonne/Mrs. Cleg/Mrs. Wilkinson, Spider, Sony Pictures Classics, 2002.

Vanessa Bell, The Hours, Paramount, 2002.

Magnani, The Actors, Miramax, 2003.

Sylvia Lake, The Rage in Placid Lake, Film Movement, 2003.

Mary Field, Falling Angels, 2003.

Queen Rosalind, The Prince & Me (also known as The Prince and Me), Paramount, 2004.

Eva Braun, Churchill: The Hollywood Years, Pathe, 2004.

Madame Giry, The Phantom of the Opera (also known as Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Phantom of the Opera"), Warner Bros., 2004.

Television Appearances; Series:

Queen Elizabeth I, The Blackadder II, BBC, then Arts and Entertainment, 1986.

Sidonie Reiger, Die Kinder, BBC, then aired on Mystery!, PBS, 1990.

Queen Isabella, The True Adventures of Christopher Columbus, 1992.

Britain's Best Sitcom, 2004.

Television Appearances; Miniseries:

Paula McGill Amory, A Woman of Substance, syndicated, 1984.

Lola, "Sorrel and Son," Masterpiece Theatre, PBS, 1984.

Pamela Flitton, A Dance to the Music of Time, 1997.

Mab, the Queen of Darkness, and the Lady of the Lake, Merlin, NBC, 1998.

Television Appearances; Movies:

Gina, The Dream Lover, 1986.

Daphne Heccomb, The Death of the Heart, Granada, 1986, then broadcast on Masterpiece Theatre, PBS, 1987.

Penny Newhouse, After Pilkington, BBC, 1986, then Arts and Entertainment, 1988.

Julia Perry, Sweet As You Are, 1988.

Queen Elizabeth I/Asphyxia XIX, Blackadder's Christmas Carol, Arts and Entertainment, 1989.

Early Bird, Ball–Trap on the Cote Sauvage, 1989.

Sandra, Mr. Wakefield's Crusade, 1991.

Anna, Old Times, syndicated, 1993.

Charlie Maguire, Fatherland, HBO, 1994.

Dr. Sarah Blakeney, The Scold's Bridle, BBC America, 1998.

Henrietta Blough–Pendleton, Ted & Ralph, 1998.

Queen of Hearts and Society Woman, Alice in Wonderland, NBC, 1999.

Dinah Pellarin, The Big Brass Ring, Showtime, 1999.

Voice of Mary Magdalene, The Miracle Maker, ABC, 2000.

Queen Elspeth, Snow White (also known as Blanche–Neige and Snow White: The Fairest of Them All), ABC, 2001.

Queen Mary, The Lost Prince, BBC, 2003.

Also appeared in The Demon Lover; and The Hard Word.

Television Appearances; Specials:

Hilde Wangel, The Master Builder, Arts and Entertainment, 1990.

The 50th Annual Golden Globe Awards, TBS, 1993.

Saturday Night Live: 25th Anniversary Primetime Special, NBC, 1999.

Interviewee, Poultry in Motion: The Making of Chicken Run, NBC, 2000.

Narrator, The James Bond Story, AMC, 2000.

The Hatching of 'Chicken Run' (also known as HBO's the Hatching of 'Chicken Run'), 2000.

Lady Elizabeth/Queen Elizabeth, Blackadder: Back & Forth, PBS, 2001.

Narrator, Harmony in Hanoi, 2003.

Television Appearances; Episodic:

Gudrun, "From Here to Maternity," Agony, 1981.

Amy Hardwood, "Amy and Amiability," Blackadder III, 1987.

Witch, "The Three Ravens," The Storyteller (also known as Jim Henson's The Storyteller), HBO, 1988.

"The Untouchable Version," Alias Smith & Jones, 1989.

"The Unprepared Version," Alias Smith & Jones, 1989.

"The Undiscovered Version," Alias Smith & Jones, 1989.

Nurse Mary, "Plan E: General Hospital," Blackadder Goes Forth, 1989.

Bride's mother, "Les Dogs," The Comic Strip Presents, 1990.

Miss Straughheim, "Space Virgins from Planet Sex," The Comic Strip Presents, 1993.

Mario Antoinette, "Demonella," The Comic Strip Presents, 1993.

Stella Elsbeth, "Jealousy," The Comic Strip Presents, 1993.

Host, Saturday Night Live, 1993.

The Arsenio Hall Show, 1993.

Bettina, "New Best Friend," Absolutely Fabulous, 1994.

Narrator, "Brave New Babies," Equinox, 1994.

Shooting Stars, 2002.

Hermione, "Comic Relief Special: Harry Potter and the Secret Chamberpot of Azerbaijan," French and Saunders, BBC, 2003.

V Graham Norton, Channel 4, 2003.

Stage Appearances:

Jane Gladwin, Moving, Queen's Theatre, London, 1980–1981.

The Life of Einstein, Lancaster, England, 1984.

Edmond, Royal Court Theatre, London, 1985.

A Lie of the Mind, Royal Court Theatre, 1987.

The Changeling, National Theatre, London, 1988.

Mountain Language, National Theatre, 1988.

Etta Jenks, Royal Court Theatre, 1990.

The Designated Mourner, Royal National Theater, 1996.

Aunt Dan and Lemon, London, 1999.

Also appeared in All My Sons; Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?; and Educating Rita.



International Directory of Films and Filmmakers, Volume 3: Actors and Actresses, St. James Press, 2000.


American Film, December, 1987.

New York Times, August 16, 1985.

Premiere, December, 1987; March, 1995.

Richardson, Miranda

views updated May 23 2018


Nationality: British. Born: Lancashire, England, 3 March 1958. Education: Studied acting at the Bristol Old Vic Drama School. Family: Married to and divorced from the actor Rowan Atkinson. Career: Began her career appearing with a small theater in Manchester, England, late 1970s; toured in repertory, then moved to London and began appearing in stage and TV productions, early 1980s; earned raves for her debut screen role in Dance with a Stranger, 1985; appeared as Queen Elizabeth I on the popular BBC series The Black Adder, 1986; furthered her reputation as a world-class actress by giving three award-caliber performances, in Damage, The Crying Game, and Enchanted April, 1992. Awards: Royal Television Society Best Actress Award, for Sweet as You Are, 1987; Best Supporting Actress British Academy Award, for Damage, 1992; Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture-Comedy/Musical Golden Globe, for Enchanted April, 1992; New York Film Critics Circle Best Supporting Actress, for Damage, Enchanted April, and The Crying Game, 1992; National Board of Review Best Actress, for Tom & Viv, 1994; Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV Golden Globe, for Fatherland, 1994. Agent: Kerry Gardner, 15 Kensington High Street, London W8 5NP, England.

Films as Actress:


A Woman of Substance (Sharp—for TV) (as Paula)


Dance with a Stranger (Newell) (as Ruth Ellis); The Innocent (Mackenzie) (as Mary Turner); Underworld (Transmutations) (Pavlou) (as Oriel); The Death of the Heart (Hammond—for TV) (as Daphne Heccomb)


Empire of the Sun (Spielberg) (as Mrs. Victor); Eat the Rich (Peter Richardson) (as DHSS Blond); After Pilkington (Morahan—for TV) (as Penny); Sweet as You Are (Angela Pope—for TV) (as Julia Perry)


Black Adder's Christmas Carol (Boden—for TV) (as Queen Elizabeth/Asphyxia)


El Sueno del Mono Loco (The Mad Monkey; Twisted Obsession) (Trueba) (as Marilyn); Ball-Trap on the Cote Sauvage (Jack Gold—for TV) (as Early Bird)


Mio Caro Dr. Graessler (The Bachelor) (Faenza) (as Frederica/The Widow)


Enchanted April (Newell) (as Rose Arbuthnot); The Crying Game (Neil Jordan) (as Jude); Damage (Malle) (as Ingrid)


Century (Poliakoff) (as Clara); The Line, the Cross, and the Curve (Kate Bush—short) (as mysterious woman); Old Times (for TV) (as Anna)


The Night and the Moment (Tato) (as Julie); Tom & Viv (Gilbert) (as Vivienne Haigh-Wood); Fatherland (Menaul—for TV) (as Charlie Maguire)


Kansas City (Altman) (as Carolyn Stilton); Evening Star (Harling) (as Patsy Carpenter); Swann (Gyles) (as Sarah Maloney)


Saint-Ex (Tucker) (as Consuelo de Saint-Exepury); The Designated Mourner (Hare) (as Judy); The Apostle (Duvall) (as Tootsie); A Dance to the Music of Time (Morahan, Rakoff—TV mini-series) (as Pamela Flitton)


St. Ives (Hook) (as Miss Gilchrist); The Scold's Bride (Thacker) (as Dr. Sarah Blakeney); Merlin (Barron—for TV) (as Queen Mab, Lady of the Lake); Ted & Ralph (Gernon—for TV) (as Henrietta Blough-Pendleton)


The Miracle Maker (Hayes, Sokolov—for TV) (as Mary Magdeline); Johnny Hit and Run Pauline (Lellios); The James Bond Story (for TV) (doc) (as Narrator); Alice in Wonderland (Willing—for TV) (as Queen of Hearts); The King and I (Rich) (as voice of Anna Leonowens); Jacob Two Two Meets the Hooded Fang (Bloomfield) (as Miss Fowl); The Big Brass Ring (Hickenlooper) (as Dinah Pellarin); Sleepy Hollow (Burton) (as Lady Van Tassle)


Blackadder Back and Forth (Weiland) (as Lady Elizabeth/Queen Elizabeth); Chicken Run (Lord, Peck) (as voice of Mrs. Tweedy); Get Carter (Kay)


By RICHARDSON: article—

"New Face: Miranda Richardson: From Bristol Old Vic to Ruth Ellis on Film," interview with N. Robertson, in New York Times, 16 August 1985.

On RICHARDSON: articles—

McAsh, L. F., "Introducing Miranda Richardson," in Photoplay Movies and Video (London), May 1985.

Canby, Vincent, "Spectacular Debuts Create Worry about the Future," in New York Times, 18 August 1985.

Linfield, Susan, "Close-up: Miranda Richardson," in American Film (New York), December 1987.

Ver Meulen, M., "Miranda's Brave New World," in Premiere (New York), December 1987.

Wolf, M., "Miranda Richardson Is at Home with the Extreme," in New York Times, 7 April 1991.

Specter, M., "Miranda Richardson: Running from Typecasters," in New York Times, 27 December 1992.

Kroll, Jack, and others, "Inheriting the Crown," in Newsweek (New York), 4 January 1993.

Current Biography 1994, New York, 1994.

Biskind, Peter, "Viv a Little," in Premiere (New York), March 1995.

* * *

Nineteen ninety-two certainly was Miranda Richardson's year. She dazzled movie audiences by giving eye-popping performances as three very different characters. Any actress would have been delighted to earn attention for any one of these roles. The fact that she scored a trifecta is especially impressive.

Richardson is blessed with the chameleon-like ability to completely transform her appearance from role to role; if you look at stills from her various films, you will find it hard to connect all of the characters depicted in each as being played by the same person. Richardson can play characters out of different eras, characters who are victims and victimizers, characters who are soft or tough, all with equal aplomb. Her three 1992 releases are Neil Jordan's The Crying Game, in which she plays a cold-blooded Irish Republican Army terrorist; Mike Newell's Enchanted April, in which she is an emotionally repressed Englishwoman who is one of a quartet who rents a picturesque Italian villa for a month; and Louis Malle's Damage, in which she is the wife of a high-powered member of Parliament, who is betrayed when he enters into a liaison with their son's girlfriend. Richardson might have earned Oscar nominations for any one of these roles but she was cited for Damage, in the Best Supporting Actress category. In this film, she has never been better as her character reacts upon realizing the full extent of her husband's infidelity.

Prior to 1992, Richardson was best-known to moviegoers for her star-making performance in Newell's Dance with a Stranger. This based-on-fact melodrama is set during the 1950s, with the actress playing Ruth Ellis, a divorcee and prostitute turned nightclub manager who was found guilty of murdering her lover and became the last woman ever to be hanged in England. And she has offered fine performances in films not nearly as hyped as her 1992 releases. In The Bachelor, a subtle, thoughtful story of repressed emotion, Richardson even plays two roles. The first is Frederica, the unmarried longtime companion of her staid, middle-aged doctor-brother (Keith Carradine). As the film opens, Frederica seems bored, even disturbed. It is no surprise, then, that she promptly commits suicide. Richardson reappears later in the story as the last of several women with whom the doctor comes in contact. She is The Widow, a tactless, gossipy woman with the brattiest of daughters this side of The Children's Hour—and a character totally unlike Frederica.

Richardson was to further her standing as an actress willing to play fiercely complicated characters, picking up another Oscar nomination, this one as Best Actress, for Tom & Viv. The film is an austere, up-close-and-personal drama detailing the relationship between two deeply intertwined personalities: the writer-poet T. S. Eliot (Willem Dafoe) and his deeply troubled wife, Vivienne Haigh-Wood (Richardson). The two meet in 1914, and court in what seems like record time. But none of Viv's relatives informs Tom that she suffers from what her concerned brother calls "women's troubles . . . a shameful family secret." She is a fragile, delicate soul who actually is afflicted with a hormonal imbalance. Tom & Viv may love each other passionately, but end up being akin to two trains speeding down two vastly different tracks.

The second half of the 1990s found Richardson busily appearing in television and theatrical films. Among her highest-profile roles was the kidnapped socialite in Robert Altman's Kansas City; this easily was her best part of the period. She made an all-too-brief appearance as a radio station receptionist in Robert Duvall's The Apostle, and was a wealthy Texas divorcee in Robert Harling's The Evening Star, an ill-advised sequel to Terms of Endearment. She played Lady Van Tassel in Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow, and was one of three characters in David Hare's The Designated Mourner, more a filmed reading of Wallace Shawn's play than a full-blown screen adaptation. While a welcome presence in all these films, none of her parts matched those she played earlier in the decade.

All of Richardson's best roles have been united in that they are psychologically complex. She is at her strongest when playing individuals who, either because of their own inner demons or the manner in which they have been treated by others, are forced to deal with deep, unrelenting emotion. One hopes that, in the future, she will find similar parts that fully utilize her considerable talent.

—Rob Edelman

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