One of the most incandescent actresses to grace the British screen and rest of the world, Julie Christie is famous for both her onscreen appeal, which has not weakened as she has grown older, and her so called off-screen solitariness. The English actress gathered wide recognition and appreciation with her Academy Award-winning, starring role of free-thinking social climber Diana Scott in director John Schlesinger’s Darling (1965). Her spectacular performance in the film also garnered Christie a British Academy Award, a Laurel Award, a New York Film Critics Circle Award and a National Board of Review Award. She is also widely recognized for her starring role as former B movie actress Phyllis Mann, opposite Nick Nolte, in Alan Rudolph’s Afterglow (1997), in which she nabbed a number of awards such as an Evening Standard British Film Award, a National Society of Film Critics Award, an Independent Spirit Award, a National Society of Film Critics Award, a New York Film Critics Circle Award, a San Sebastián International Film Festival Award and a Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival Award.
A former co-owner of Katira Productions, along with Warren Beatty, Christie, who came to prominence as the star of the1961 hit British sci-fi series “A for Andromeda” and later achieved further TV credits as Mrs. Shankland/Miss Railton-Bell in the HBO movie Separate Tables (1983), wherein she netted a 1983 Cable ACE Award, has created a reputation for herself as a successful film star with numerous impressive performances in movies like Billy Liar (1963, earned a BAFTA nomination), the box office smash hit Doctor Zhivago (1965, won a David di Donatello Prize Award), Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451 (1967, earned a 1967 BAFTA nomination), Far From the Madding Crowd (1967), Robert Altman’s McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971, received a Best Actress Oscar nomination), Shampoo (1975, earned a Golden Globe nomination), Joseph Losey’s The Go-Between (1970, received a BAFTA nomination, Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now (1973, earned a BAFTA nomination), Maria Luisa Bemberg’s Miss Mary (1986, won a 1986 Havana Film Festival) and Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet (1996). Her more recent significant film credits include the high profile Troy (2004, as Brad Pitt’s mother Thetis), the hit Harry Potter and Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) and the acclaimed film Finding Neverland (2004). Fans should not miss her performance in the upcoming drama Away from Her, co-starring Olympia Dukakis, Michael Murphy, Wendy Crewson and Kristen Thomson.
Off screen, Julie Christie is 5’ 4” and had the measurements 35B-23-36 (as a young ingénue in 1966). She was voted one of Empire magazine’s “100 Sexiest Stars in Film History” (1995) and was once named one of FHM magazine’s “100 Sexiest Women of All Time,” the 5th of Hello Magazine’s “25 British Beauties,” the 34th of Celebrity Skin’s “50 Sexiest Starlets of All Time” and the 29th of Mr.Skin’s “Top 100 Celebrity Nude Scenes.” The tremendously private Christie is also an activist who supports nuclear disarmament and animal rights. As for her romantic life, Christie is known for her much-published relationship with actor/director/producer Warren Beatty (born on March 30, 1937), whom she dated in the late1960s and early 1970s. Commenting about her romance with Beatty, she said, “I’m terribly dependent on him, like a baby to its mother, so we travel backwards and forward to be with each other.”
Her private life has also been liked to Don Bessant, an artist, (together in the late 1960s) and English journalist Duncan Campbell (dated since 1977, no longer together). Aside from her affairs with several men, Christie has never married and has made it obvious that she has no desire to do so.
Childhood and Family:
Daughter of Rosemary Ramsden and Frank St John Christie (an India-based British tea planter, both parents deceased), Julie Frances Christie was born on April 14, 1941, in Chukua, Assam, India. Along with her brother Clive Christie, who is a professor of the South East Asian studies at Cambridge University, she spent time at her parent’s tea plantation until she was sent to England to boarding school at the tender age of seven. Originally wanting to become an artist or a linguist, Julie, who earned the nickname “Sunflower” from director David Lean for her beautiful personality and “Trilby” (after the 19th century novel) by long-term collaborator and filmmaker John Schlesinger, later switched gears to acting and attended the Central School of Speech Training in London. She was also educated at the Brighton Polytechnic College in England, where she majored in art.
India-born, England-raised Julie Christie inspired to be a linguist or artist before changing the goal of her life by attending London’s Central School of Speech Training. Determined she wanted to become a performer at age nine after leaving boarding school and spending the day with a stranger who was an aspirant actor, Christie made her professional stage debut seven years later with the Frinton-on-Sea Repertory, but didn’t find fame until she made her move to TV in 1961 with a title role in the popular British sci-fi series “A for Andromeda.”
Following the TV breakthrough, the new performer kicked off her career with a supporting part in the comedy Crooks Anonymous (1962), which starred Leslie Phillips and Stanley Baxter and was helmed by Ken Annakin. After rejoining Annakin for The Fast Lady (1963), Christie earned some critical reviews for her first major film role as Liz, opposite Tom Courtenay, in the John Schlesinger-directed Billy Liar (1963), where she was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best British Actress. Back to stage, she joined the Birmingham Repertory Company in 1963 and became a member of the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company the next year. With RSC, Christie made her Broadway debut, opposite Paul Scofield, in “The Comedy of E” (1964), a role that allowed her to tour throughout Europe and the USA.
Christie returned to the big-screen in 1965 when Jack Cardiff cast her in the small role of Daisy Battles in the biopic Young Cassidy. Her career soon skyrocketed when she was re-teamed with Billy Liar’s director Schlesinger in the seminal swinging sixties film Darling (1965). Starring as Diana Scott, the open-minded social climber, Christie’s performance was widely praised and she was handed an Oscar for Best Actress. In addition to the Academy Award, she picked up a British Academy Award for Best British Actress, a Laurel for Best Dramatic Performance, as well as a National Board of Review and a New York Film Critics Circle in the category of Best Actress.
Her mounting star was further confirmed with memorable roles in the blockbuster David Lean-directed Doctor Zhivago (1965), starring as the beautiful Lara, opposite Omar Sharif, for which she won a David di Donatello Prize for Best Actress and received a BAFTA nomination for Best British Actress, Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451 (1967, earned a 1967 BAFTA nomination as Clarisse/Linda Montag) and John Schlesinger’s acclaimed adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd (1967), co-starring Alan Bates and Terrence Stamp.
Relocating to Los Angeles, Christie had a successful movie career by collaborating with her lover (and later friend) Warren Beatty in three high profile projects. She was first offered a bright starring turn as Beatty’s business associate, Constance Miller, in Robert Altman’s Western McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971, received a Best Actress Oscar nomination), and then stared as Jackie Shawn in the Hal Ashby ensemble Shampoo (1975, earned a Best Motion Picture Actress - Musical/Comedy Golden Globe nomination) before portraying the girlfriend Betty Logan in Warren Beatty’s remake of “Here Comes, Mr. Jordan,” Heaven Can Wait (1978). Aside from her fruitful partnership with Beatty, the appealing actress also gave other notable performances during the 1970s, as Marian - Lady Trimingham, along with Alan Bates, in Joseph Losey’s The Go-Between (1970, nominated for a Best Actress at BAFTA) and Laura Baxter in Nicolas Roeg’s blatant scary, yet erotic, thriller Don’t Look Now (1973, opposite Donald Sutherland).
The 1980s saw roles in movies like Memoirs of a Survivor (1981), The Return of the Soldier (1982), Quarantièmes rugissants, Les (1982), Heat and Dust (1983), The Gold Diggers (1983), Champagne amer (1986), the mainstream Hollywood Power (1986, directed by Sidney Lumet) and Maria Luisa Bemberg’s Miss Mary (1986). For her bright starring turn as the strict English governess in the latter, she was garnered the 1986 Havana Film Festival Best Actress Award. In addition to film, Christie was also seen on the small screen playing Charlotte Deutz in the miniseries “Fathers and Sons” (1986) and was seen in the made-for-cable movie Dadah Is Death (1988), but it was her partnership with Schlesinger and repeat co-star Alan Bates in the HBO remake of Separate Tables (1983) that won the actress additional attention for her starring role as Mrs. Shankland/Miss Railton-Bell. The role also garnered a 1983 Cable ACE for Best Actress in a Theatrical or Non-Musical Program.
After finishing Fools of Fortune (1990) and the British TV movie The Railway Station Man (1992), Christie took a break from the cinematic industry and didn’t make a film until Rob Cohen tapped her to play the small role of Queen Aislinn in Dragonheart (1996), starring Dennis Quaid and David Thewlis. It was followed by another supporting part in Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of Hamlet (1996), wherein her good performance as Gertrude earned her a great deal of appreciation. The same year, she portrayed an affluent woman demoralized by her spouse in Dennis Potter’s TV miniseries “Karaoke.”
A big fan of legendary actor Marlon Brando, Christie once again attracted the attention of the public with her third Academy-Award nominated performance, as Phyllis Mann, the ex-B movie actress, in the Alan Rudolph-directed Afterglow (1997, also starring Nick Nolte). Christie’s outstanding performance in the romantic film was critically applauded and she was handed countless awards like an Evening Standard British Film, a National Society of Film Critics, an Independent Spirit, a National Society of Film Critics, a New York Film Critics Circle and a San Sebastián International Film Festival for Best Actress, as well as a Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival for Best Ensemble Cast.
The British actress took another hiatus after the much-talk-about performance and moved to the west coast of the United States in the late 1990s. Her silver screen comeback was marked by the 2000 animated movie The Miracle Maker, opposite Ralph Fiennes as Jesus and Michael Bryant, who provided the voice of God/the Doctor. Christie returned to acting with supporting parts in such movies as writer-director Hal Hartley’s mythic No Such Thing (2001), Rudolf van den Berg’s touching Snapshot (2002) with Burt Reynolds, and Jon Sherman’s little-seen romantic comedy I’m with Lucy (2002). She was next hired to play Thetis, the mother of Brad Pitt’s Achilles, in the action-oriented version of Homer’s epic poem about the Trojan War, Troy, for director Wolfgang Petersen. She then was featured as Madame Rosmerta in the Harry Potter franchise, Harry Potter and Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), based on the famed novel by J.K Rowling, before taking a supporting role opposite Johnny Depp, Dustin Hoffman and Kate Winslet in the Oscar-winning Finding Neverland, portraying Mrs du Maurier, the grandmother of the Llewelyn Davies boys who were the real-life inspiration for Peter Pan.
In 2005, Christie could add the French-production Vida secreta de las palabras, La to her acting resume. She will soon costar with Olympia Dukakis, Michael Murphy, Wendy Crewson and Kristen Thomson in the forthcoming Away from Her, a drama directed and written by Sarah Polley.