An American-born South African actress, Embeth Davidtz had carved a successful career in South Africa before finding a home in Hollywood. Starting acting professionally at age 21 in a National Theatre Company production of “Romeo and Juliet,” which won her positive feedback, the dark-haired performer went on to collect extensive appreciations with her outstanding performances in plays “A Chain of Voices” and “Stille Nag” (Silent Night) as well as in the movies A Private Life (1989, TV) and Nag van die 19de/Night of the 19th (1992).
Soon after moving to Los Angeles, Davidtz gained a number of accolades with her poignant portrayal of Helen Hirsch on the Steven Spielberg-helmed Schindler’s List (1993). Roles in such movies as Feast of July (1995), Murder in the First (1995), Matilda (1996), the Denzel Washington vehicle Fallen (1998), Bicentennial Man (1999), Thir13en Ghosts (2001), Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001), The Emperor’s Club (2002) and Junebug (2005), as well as in the television series “Citizen Baines” (2001) further confirmed Davidtz’s success in the United States. Her forthcoming projects include a thriller film by Gregory Hoblit, Fracture (2007).
Privately speaking, Davidtz is the best friend of screenwriter and author Lucy Dahl, daughter of Roald Dahl. She is married to entertainment attorney Jason Sloane and has two children, five-year-old girl Charlotte and two-year-old boy Asher. Before the marriage, Davidtz had long-term relationships with actors Ben Chaplin, whom she met on the set of 1995’s Feast of July, and Harvey Keitel.
Childhood and Family:
Daughter of South Africans John and Jean, Embeth Jean Davidtz was born on August 11, 1965 in Lafayette, Indiana, while her father was studying chemical engineering at Purdue University. Embeth later relocated to Trenton, New Jersey with her family, but moved back to South Africa when she was 9 years old, when her father took up a teaching post at the University of Potchefstroom. Embeth has a younger sister, Jennifer.
Raised, educated, and theatrically trained in South Africa, Embeth attended The Glen High School in Pretoria and graduated in 1983. She received a degree (cum laude) in Drama and English Literature from Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa. Embeth moved to Los Angeles in 1992 to further pursue her acting career.
In June 22, 2002, Embeth was married to entertainment lawyer Jason Sloane. The couple had their wedding ceremony in Jewish. She gave birth to her first child, daughter Charlotte Emily, in 2002 and welcomed her second child, son Asher Sloane, three years later, on October 7, 2005.
Feast of July
A graduate of South Africa’s Rhodes University, Embeth Davidtz made her professional theatrical debut at age 21 with the country’s National Theater Company, as Juliet in a production of Shakespeare’s classic romantic tragedy “Romeo and Juliet, ” in which her fine performance won Davidtz sizeable accolades. Performing in contemporary and classical drama in both English and Afrikaans, she was later nominated for the South African equivalent of the Tony Award for her bright acting in “Stille Nag” (Silent Night) and “A Chain of Voices.” In 1989, Davidtz kicked off her screen career when she landed a role in the South African-filmed, American horror film, Mutator, and subsequently distinguished herself with her role as Karen, the daughter of an interracial pair, in 1989’s A Private Life, a politically sensitive South African made-for-television film directed by Francis Gerard. She further gained notices with her role as a rape victim who becomes deaf and mute in the psychologically intense Afrikaner film Nag van die 19de/Night of the 19th (1992), where she received a South African equivalent of an Oscar nomination.
After encountering with an agent in London, Davidtz headed to Los Angeles in 1992 and quickly landed important roles in two NBC projects, the true crime television film Til Death Us Do Part (1992), opposite Arliss Howard and Treat Williams, and the crime/drama miniseries “Deadly Matrimony” (1992), along side Willims and Brian Dennehy. Her first US released feature was Sam Raimi’s Army of Darkness (1992), where she was cast as the female lead of the gorgeous maiden Sheila and her demonic alter ego. It was in 1993 that Davidtz was eventually put on the limelight when the impressed director Steven Spielberg had her play the role of the abused Jewish maid Helen Hirsch in the history film Schindler’s List, starring Liam Neeson. The touching performance won her rave reviews.
Next up for Davidtz was a prestigious leading role in the fact-based drama Murder in the First (1995), opposite Christian Slater, Kevin Bacon and Gary Oldman, but she fared better as a young woman who, in seeking out the lover who neglected her, ultimately brings tragedy to the family that offered her protection in the Merchant Ivory production Feast of July (also 1995). Her adroit portrayal again won Davidtz shimmering critical reviews. Davidtz further showcased her versatility with her roles as the lovable, sympathetic teacher, Miss Honey, in the movie adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s fantasy Matilda (1996) and a theology professor involved in a slaughter investigation the supernatural mystery Fallen (1998), with Denzel Washington. She went on to play a femme fatal linked to Kenneth Branagh in Robert Altman’s adaptation of John Grisham’s The Gingerbread Man (1998), a 19th-century woman of the world, Mary Crawford, in the movie version of the Jane Austen comedy Mansfield Park (1999) and a dual role Little Miss Amanda Martin/Portia Char in the futuristic fable Bicentennial Man (1999), along side Robin Williams and Sam Neill.
Entering the new millennium, Davidtz could be seen as an arrogant villain for a change in the movie adaptation of Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001), Dr. Philippa Horwood in the Thora Birch vehicle The Hole (2001) and Kalina Oretzia in the haunted house thriller Thir13en Ghosts (2001). She demonstrated even greater adaptability that same year by portraying the daughter of a conquered United States Senate serving (James Cromwell) on the CBS drama series “Citizen Baines.” In 2002, she appeared with Kenneth Branagh in the historical miniseries “Shackleton” and with Kevin Kline and Emile Hirsch in The Emperor’s Club, a drama film by Michael Hoffman. After a guest role in a 2004 episode of “Scrubs,” she starred an outsider art dealer and Alessandro Nivola’s wife on the Sundance-premiered drama Junebug (2005). She returned to TV with a guest spot on an episode of the hit ABC drama series “Grey’s Anatomy” (2006), playing Dr. Derek Shepherd’s sister Nancy.
The multifaceted performer is scheduled to have a supporting role on the thriller film Fracture (2007). Directed by Gregory Hoblit, the forthcoming project stars Anthony Hopkins, David Strathairn, Billy Burke and Rosamund Pike. On the small screen, she will appear with Gabriel Byrne in the drama film In Treatment, based upon a triumphant Israeli TV show.