“We saw a lot of girls for the role, but Jodie sort of ticks all the boxes. She has this sort of wonderful thing of being very plain at the beginning of the film and very gorgeous at the end of the film. That’s something transformative that she performs, that she acts. It’s not done through prosthetics or make-up. She’s also very close to this girl in terms of where she comes from and her age, but (it would) be wrong to suggest that what you’re seeing on screen is just Jodie. She’s a very good actress and she has a kind of natural ease with the camera.” Director Roger Mitchell (on Jodie Whittaker)
A fresh graduate from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, with a handful of stage and television credits to her name, British actress Jodie Whittaker won the significant role of Jessie in Roger Mitchell's critical successful “Venus” (2006). Cast opposite veterans like Peter O’Toole and Leslie Phillips, she held her own and received nominations at the 2006 British Independent Film Awards, the 2006 Satellite Awards and the 2007 London Critics Circle Film Awards for her performance. She has since acted in such movies as “St. Trinian's” (2007, with Rupert Everett and Colin Firth), “Good” (2008, with Viggo Mortensen) and the South African-produced “White Wedding” (2009). Her TV credits include “Dalziel and Pascoe” (2 episodes, 2006), “Tess of the D'Urbervilles” (3 episodes, 2008), “Wired” (3 episodes, 2008) and “Consuming Passion” (2008).
Childhood and Family:
Jodie Auckland Whittaker was born on January 1, 1982, in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, England. She left school at age 16 with the hope of becoming an actress. After taking various odd jobs around London, she applied and was accepted to London's prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She graduated in 2005 with the gold medal for acting.
Coming from a family with no acting background, Jodie Whittaker fell in love with theater and decided to quit school to pursue acting. Following a transformation period, during which time she traveled across the U.K. and worked odd jobs, she attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where she appeared in “I Capture the Castle” and “Cressida” before making her professional debut as Ampelisca in a production of “The Storm” at Shakespeare’s Old Globe Theater in 2005. She soon broke into the small screen with guest roles in the BBC series “The Afternoon Play” and “Doctors” (both 2006), playing Sam and Louise Clancy, respectively.
In June 2006, Whittaker played the role of Nadya in the play “Enemies” at the Almeida Theater in London. Her big break arrived months later when she portrayed Jessie, a young woman who meets and befriends an old man (played by Peter O’Toole), in the drama “Venus,” which was directed by Roger Michell and written by Hanif Kureishi. Premiering at the Telluride Film Festival on September 2, 2006, the film went on to play at various festivals like the Toronto Film Festival, the London Film Festival, the Seville Film Festival, the AFI Film Festival and the Gijón International Film Festival before receiving a limited release in the U.S. on December 21, 2006. The relatively newcomer won praise for her performance and took home the British Independent Film nomination for Most Promising Newcomer, the London Critics Circle Film nomination for British Newcomer of the Year and the Satellite nomination for Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical.
Whittaker next appeared in two episodes of the British series “Dalziel and Pascoe” (2006), which was based on the Dalziel and Pascoe books by Reginald Hill. She then costarred with Jack Davenport, Amita Dhiri and Jason Hughes in the television movie “This Life + 10” (2007) and made her second big screen appearance in the comedy “St. Trinian's” (2007), alongside Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Lena Headey and Russell Brand. Oliver Parker and Barnaby Thompson directed the film, which was nominated for Best Comedy at U.K.'s National Movie Awards. Also in 2007, she was discovered on stage playing Sue in “A Gaggle of Saints,” a segment of “Bash” by Neil La Bute, at the Trafalgar Studios in London. She then portrayed Hennie in Clifford Odets' “Awake and Sing!” at the Almeida Theatre.
In 2008, Whittaker was cast with Viggo Mortensen and Jason Isaacs for the drama film “Good,” adapted from a play by C.P. Taylor. The film debuted at the Toronto Film Festival on September 8, 2008, and received a limited release in the U.S. on December 31, 2008. Talking about the film, she said, “It’s basically about the rise of the Nazi party and how Germans got fooled into thinking this was the right way of things. It’s scary to realize how people can get swept up in something like that, especially in the moment where we are politically. I play a 19-year-old student who’s very pro-Nazi.”
Also that year, Whittaker played Izzy Huett in the TV miniseries “Tess of the D'Urbervilles,” Sophie in the made-for-TV film “The Shooting of Thomas Hurndall” and was a regular cast member on the short-lived series “Wired,” where she starred as Louise Evans, a single mother and bank employee who is blackmailed. She also costarred with Emilia Fox, Olivia Colman and Daniel Mays in the British television drama “Consuming Passion,” which was written by Emma Frost and directed by Dan Zeff.
Recently, Whittaker portrayed Ellie in “Svengali” (2009), a five-minute satirical short about the music industry. She also played Rose in “White Wedding,” a comedy released in South Africa in April 29, 2009. The 27-year-old actress will star as Bridget Byrne in “Occi vs. The World” (2009) for director/writer Conor McDermottroe, and support Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson and Jim Broadbent in “Perrier's Bounty” (2009), which is being directed by Ian Fitzgibbon.