PROFILE
Name:
Alex Kingston
Birth Date:
March 11, 1963
Birth Place:
London, England, UK
Nationality:
British
Famous for:
Her role as Dr. Elizabeth Corday in ER (1997-2004)
BIOGRAPHY
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ER's Corday

Background:

"I didn't have any qualms. I'm used to taking my clothes off in front of strangers. I've done it since I was 14 with my mother's adult education art classes. She liked to paint and I went along as a life model." Alex Kingston (on her nude scenes)

English-born actress Alex Kingston, who was classically trained at London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and the famed Royal Shakespeare Company, was popular among American audiences while playing the icy British trauma surgeon Elizabeth Corday (1997-2004) on the hit NBC medical drama series "ER."

Making her film debut in the feature "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989), Kingston has played prominent roles in such films as "Carrington" (1995, as Frances Partridge), “The Fortunes and Misfortunes of Moll Flanders” (1996; TV; as Moll Flanders), and the acclaimed "Croupier" (1998; as gambler Jani de Villiers). She was also seen in the films "Sweet Land" (2005) and "Alpha Dog" (2006) and will star in the upcoming film "Sordid Things" and the miniseries "Lost in Austen."

The 5' 7" wide-eyed, curly-haired performer was once married to fellow English actor Ralph Fiennes and is now the wife of a German writer and freelance journalist named Florian Haertel, whom she married in 1998. The couple has one daughter.


Butcher’s Daughter

Childhood and Family:

The eldest of three daughters of a butcher and his German wife, Alexandra Kingston was born on March 11, 1963, and grew up in Epsom, on the outskirts of London. She has two younger sisters, Susie, who has severe physical and mental disabilities as a result of being deprived of oxygen at birth, and Nicola, who appeared in the 1996 British television production of “The Fortunes and Misfortunes of Moll Flanders,” which starred Alex in the title role.

Alex speaks German, French, English, and "American" English. After watching her uncle, actor Walter Renneisen, perform on stage, she became interested in acting and was inspired to pursue the craft by one of her teachers at the all-girls grammar school, Rosebery School. She later completed a two-year program at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), in London, England, and went on to join the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company.

While sharpening her craft at RADA, Alex met English actor Ralph Fiennes (born on December 22, 1962). Together for ten years, they married in 1993. The couple separated on October 13, 1995, and divorced on October 28, 1997, after Fiennes left her for actress Francesca Annis, 18 years his senior. Alex, who reportedly considered and nearly attempted suicide after her split up with Fiennes, married her second and present husband, German writer and freelance journalist Florian Haertel, on December 29, 1998. The two met the previous year on a blind date arranged by friends.

With Haertel, Alex has one daughter, Salome Violetta Haertel (born on March 28, 2001), who was conceived through IVF (in vitro fertilization). She once played Alex's on-screen daughter Ella Green in "ER’s" (1994) Season 8 episode "On the Beach."

In 2004, Alex, who discovered that she had fertility problems while trying to conceive a child with former husband Ralph Fiennes, became a supporter of HER Trust, a United Kingdom charity who promotes the health and safety of women undergoing fertility treatments.


The Fortunes and Misfortunes of Moll Flanders

Career:

Bit by the acting bug after seeing her uncle perform on stage, Alex Kingston landed her very first role at the age of five, playing the Angel Gabriel in a Nativity Play, and went on to appear in a number of school productions. While attending an all-girls grammar school in Epsom, she was inspired by her English teacher to pursue an acting career and at age 15, she got her first professional acting job playing Jill Harcourt, a judo-trained school bully, on the popular British television series “Grange Hill.”

The aspiring actress subsequently relocated to London where she attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. She successfully completed their two-year program and began performing in repertory theatres across England. She joined the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company where she performed in plays like “Much Ado About Nothing,” “King Lear,” “Love's Labors Lost,” “The Curse of the Starving Class,” and “The Bright and Bold Design.”

Kingston made her film debut in writer/director Peter Greenaway's dark comedy "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover" (1989), starring Richard Bohringer, Michael Gambon, Helen Mirren and Alan Howard in the titular roles. After playing Hippolyta/Titania in Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield and portraying Dolores in "Bad Blood" at the Gate Theatre in London (both in 1992), she returned to the screen to play the title role in the fairy-tale-like drama TV movie based on a 1904 short story by American poet and feminist author Rene Vivien, "Woman of the Wolf" (1994), and portrayed Frances Partridge in Christopher Hampton's biographical drama film "Carrington" (1995), with Emma Thompson in the title role. She also starred in the miniseries version of Daniel Defoe's classic novel, “The Fortunes and Misfortunes of Moll Flanders” (1996), which aired in the U.S. on PBS' "Masterpiece Theatre" and earned her a BAFTA TV Award nomination for Best Actress.

Kingston became a household name in 1997 when she joined the cast of the hit NBC medical drama series "ER" as the icy British trauma surgeon Elizabeth Corday. She stayed on the show until 2004 and earned four Screen Actors Guild Award nominations for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, which she won two in 1998 and 1999.

"It's funny. I'm now in a more senior position and yet those feelings of sheer utter excitement of going to work just don't exist any more." Alex Kingston (on “ER”)

During her "ER" stint, Kingston appeared in the HBO movie "Weapons of Mass Distraction" (1997), starring Gabriel Byrne and Ben Kingsley. She also co-starred with Clive Owen, playing a gambler who seduces and encourages him to join her associates in a planned heist at the casino he works, in Mike Hodges' neo-noir film "Croupier" (1998). The film was not successful in England upon initial release, but when it opened in the United States in 2000, it became an art-house success.

Entering the new millennium, Kingston appeared as a flighty rich woman in Matthew Leutwyler's touching romantic comedy feature, “This Space Between Us,” alongside Jeremy Sisto. After leaving “ER,” she co-starred with Elizabeth Reaser, Tim Guinee, Lois Smith, Ned Beatty, John Heard, and Alan Cumming in the Ali Selim-directed independent film, "Sweet Land" (2005), which was based on Will Weaver's 1989 short story "A Gravestone Made of Wheat."

"Certainly, since Anthony Edwards left "ER,” 1994), I would say that my work on the show has diminished in terms of the challenges I face as an actress and what I am getting to do creatively on the show. If it continues to be diminished, then I am not going to be very happy." Alex Kingston

The following year, from late March to early June, she returned to the stage playing Nurse Ratched, opposite Christian Slater's Randle McMurphy, in the West End revival of Dale Wasserman play based on the novel by Ken Kesey, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."

Moviegoers could recently catch Kingston in the films "Alpha Dog" (2006), a crime drama film written and directed by Nick Cassavetes starring Emile Hirsch, Justin Timberlake, Shawn Hatosy, Ben Foster, and Anton Yelchin, and "Crashing" (2007), a drama by Gary Walkow starring Campbell Scott. Meanwhile, TV viewers could watch her guest-starring in two 2008 episodes of the BBC science fiction drama series "Doctor Who."

Next, Kingston will star in her new film, "Sordid Things," a drama written and directed by Andrew Bloomenthal. She will soon complete "Lost in Austen," a romantic drama miniseries featuring Gemma Arterton and Jemima Rooper.

"I do get annoyed with myself. I wish I was more focused and pushy as an actress. I suppose I should be out there more saying 'I want to do this role' or 'Get me seen by this person.' But that's just not me." Alex Kingston


Awards:

  • Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, "ER," 1999

  • Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, "ER," 1998

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