Scottish actress Lindsay Duncan first made an impact with her Tony nominated portrayal of the Marquise de Merteuil in Pierre Cholderlos de Laclos's “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” (1987), from which she also took home a Laurence Olivier Theatre Award and a Theatre World Award. She eventually picked up the prestigious Tony Award for the 2002 Broadway revival of “Private Lives,” where she starred as Amanda. Under the direction of Howard Davies, the role also brought the Shakespearean actress a Drama Desk Award, a Variety Club Showbusiness Stage Actress Award, a Laurence Olivier Theatre Award, and an Evening Standard nomination. Other notable stage credits include Harold Pinter's “Incident at Tulse Hill,” “Ashes to Ashes,” “The Homecoming,” “Celebration/The Room,” Tennessee Williams' “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” (won a 1988 London Evening Standard Theatre Award), David Mamet's “The Cryptogram” and Shakespeare's “A Midsummer Night's Dream.”
On television, Duncan is probably recognized by American audiences for playing Julius Caesar's former love interest, Servilia of the Junii, on the HBO original series “Rome” (2005-2007), which was also a ratings success in the U.K. Also a staple on British television, Duncan was nominated for BAFTA Awards for her work in the TV films “Shooting the Past” (1999, also earned a RTS Television nomination) and “Perfect Strangers” (2001) and the miniseries “G.B.H.” (1991). She also starred in other TV miniseries like “Traffik” (1989), “A Year in Provence” (1993), “The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling” (1997), “Oliver Twist” (1999) and “Criminal Justice” (2008) and in many TV films, including “Agatha Christie's 'Poirot: The Mystery of the Blue Train'” (2005), “Longford” (2006) and “Margaret” (2009).
One of the most interesting character actresses in modern day British cinema, Duncan is known for having roles in such movies as “Prick Up Your Ears” (1987), “Body Parts” (1991), “City Hall” (1996), “An Ideal Husband” (1999), “Mansfield Park” (1999), “Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace” (1999, as the voice of TC-14), “Under the Tuscan Sun” (2003), “Starter for 10” (2006) and “Burlesque Fairytales” (2008). She won a Sitges - Catalonian International Film Festival Award for “The Reflecting Skin” (1990) and a Bratislava International Film Festival Award for “AfterLife” (2003). Moviegoers will see her as Alice's mother in the Tim Burton upcoming adventure “Alice in Wonderland” (2010).
Duncan has an 18-year-old son with her actor husband, Hilton McRae.
Mother of 1
Childhood and Family:
Lindsay Vere Duncan was born on November 7, 1950, in Edinburgh, Scotland. Her father served in the army for more than two decades. She attended the Central School of Speech and Drama in London.
Lindsay is married to fellow Scottish actor Hilton McRae (born on December 28, 1948). In 1991, she gave birth to her first child, a son named Cal.
Making her debut playing Charlotte/Violetta in “Don Juan” (1976), Lindsay Duncan got her feet wet with theater performances after her stint at London's Central School of Speech and Drama. She worked with such companies as the National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal Court Theatre, the Hampstead Theatre, and Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre. In 1978, she was cast as Dorcas in the National Theater production of “Plenty,” a new play by David Hare. She next acted in Vanbrugh's “The Provok'd Wife” (1980, as Belinda), Harold Pinter's “Incident at Tulse Hill” (1981, as Rosemary) and several other productions before making her American debut as Lady Nijo in the off-Broadway play “Top Girls” (1982).
By 1983, Duncan had hit British cinema with the independent comedy “Loose Connections,” directed by Richard Eyre. She also appeared in a small role in the BBC television movie “Further Up Pompeii!” (1975) and in guest spots in shows such as “ITV Playhouse” (1979), “Dick Turpin” (1980), “Muck and Brass” (1982) and “Reilly: Ace of Spies” (1983). Her first American TV role was Helen Hale in PBS' Masterpiece Theatre’s “On Approval” (1983), where she acted alongside Penelope Keith and Benjamin Whitrow.
Duncan landed her first regular role in the U.K. in the short-lived series “Travelling Man” in 1984 and played Alice Nankervis in Mark Peploe's film adaptation of D.H. Lawrence's novella, “Samson and Delilah” in 1985. She then starred as Dana in the controversial 4-part drama series “Dead Head” (BBC), played the regular role of Pamela Scott in the brief-lived comedy series “Kit Curran” (both 1986), supported Gary Oldman, Alfred Molina and Vanessa Redgrave in the Stephen Frears directed “Prick Up Your Ears” (1987), worked with Eric Stoltz, Gabrielle Anwar and (again) Molina in the Toronto premiered “Manifesto” (1988), and costarred as Helen Rosshalde in the applauded British miniseries “Traffik” (1989), opposite Bill Paterson, Julia Ormond and Ronan Vibert. On stage, Duncan portrayed the Marquise de Merteuil in the Royal Shakespeare Company, West End, and Broadway production of “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” (1986-1987) and was handed a 1987 Laurence Olivier Theatre for Best Actress in a New Play, a Theatre World Award and a Tony nomination for her work in the play. Adapted from the Choderlos de Laclos novel of the same name, the play marked her first collaboration with costar Alan Rickman. In addition, she won praise for her portrayal of Maggie in the National production of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” (1988). The role brought her a 1988 London Evening Standard Theatre award for Best Actress.
In 1990, Duncan costarred with Viggo Mortensen in “The Reflecting Skin,” a thriller movie directed and written by Philip Ridley. For her portrayal of Dolphin Blue, she received a Best Actress Award at the 1990 Sitges - Catalonian International Film Festival, where the film also won the Best Cinematography Award. “The Reflecting Skin” also won three awards at the 1990 Locarno International Film Festival and the FIPRESCI Prize at the 1990 Stockholm Film Festival. The following year, she joined Robert Lindsay, Michael Palin and Julie Walters to star in the seven part British television drama “G.B.H.” (1991), penned by Alan Bleasdale. Cast as Barbara Douglas, she was nominated for a 1992 BAFTA TV award for Best Actress for her fine acting job.
After a costarring role opposite Jeff Fahey and Kim Delaney in the U.S. horror film “Body Parts” and a notable performance in the “Jim Henson's 'The Storyteller: Greek Myths'” episode “Theseus & the Minotaur” (both 1991), Duncan played Annie in the TV miniseries “A Year in Provence” (1993), opposite John Thaw. Based on the 1989 Peter Mayle bestselling autobiographical novel of the same name, the show aired in the U.K. on BBC and in the U.S. on A&E and was a big hit. She then played Monica in the British miniseries “Jake's Progress” (1995), was cast alongside Al Pacino, John Cusack, Bridget Fonda, Danny Aiello, David Paymer and Martin Landau in Harold Becker's drama feature “City Hall” (1996), and portrayed Lady Bellaston in the TV miniseries “The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling” (1997).
Still an active stage performer, Duncan played Donny in the U.K. premiered “The Cryptogram” (1994) by David Mamet, at the Ambassadors Theatre in London. In the play, she costarred with Eddie Izzard. She returned to Broadway in the dual role of Titania/Hippolyta in “A Midsummer Night's Dream” and reprised her role when the successful production was adapted into film in 1996 with Adrian Noble directing. She also acted in Harold Pinter's “Ashes to Ashes” (1996, as Rebecca) at the Royal Court Theatre in London and in New York City and “The Homecoming” (1997, as Ruth) at the National Theater.
After a starring role in the short-lived British sitcom “Get Real” (1998), Duncan enjoyed success with Stephen Poliakoff's television film “Shooting the Past” (1999). Costarring with Timothy Spall, she earned a 2000 BAFTA TV nomination for Best Actress and a RTS Television nomination for Best Actor - Female for her portrayal of Marilyn Truman in the film. Still on TV, she could also be seen playing Elizabeth Leeford, Oliver's unforgiving stepmother, in the miniseries version of Charles Dickens's “Oliver Twist” (1999), with David Ross, Julie Walters, Keira Knightley and others. Duncan gained additional triumph on the wide screen with noted supporting roles in Oliver Parker's “An Ideal Husband,” based on the play by Oscar Wilde, and Patricia Rozema's “Mansfield Park,” loosely based on Jane Austen's novel of the same name (both 1999). She also provided the voice for TC-14 in “Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace” (1999), which was directed and written by George Lucas.
Entering the new millennium, Duncan appeared on stage in the Harold Pinter “Celebration/The Room” (2000) at the Almeida Theatre. 2001 saw her play Laura in Kevin Elyot's play “Mouth to Mouth,” at the Albery Theatre in London. Under the direction of Ian Rickson, she received a London Critics Circle Theater award for Best Actress and an Evening Standard nomination. The same year, she was also reunited with Alan Rickman in the London stage production of “Private Lives,” for which she picked up a 2002 Laurence Olivier Theatre award for Best Actress and an Evening Standard nomination. “Private Lives” was brought to Broadway in 2002 with Duncan winning the 2002 Tony in the category of Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play, the 2002 Drama Desk for Outstanding Actress in a Play, and the Stage Actress Award at the 2002 Variety Club Showbusiness Awards.
Duncan next teamed up with Michael Gambon, Matthew Macfadyen and Claire Skinner for the acclaimed BBC television film “Perfect Strangers” (2001), where she netted a BAFTA TV nomination for Best Actress, and resumed her film career two years later with the low budget drama “AfterLife” (2003), where she costarred with Kevin McKidd and Shirley Henderson. Playing May Brogan, she was handed the Best Actress Award at the 2004 Bratislava International Film Festival. She then offered a fine supporting turn as Katherine in the big screen adaptation of Frances Mayes's memoir, “Under the Tuscan Sun” (2003), opposite Diana Lane and Sandra Oh, and was cast in Colin Nutley's “The Queen of Sheba's Pearls” (2004) before returning to series television as a regular on the popular HBO/BBC series “Rome” (2005-2007), where she played Servilia of the Junii, the ex-lover of Julius Caesar. Duncan also played Lady Tamplin in the Agatha Christie television adaptation of “Poirot: The Mystery of the Blue Train” (2005), Rose Harbinson in “Starter for 10” (2006), directed by Tom Vaughan and written by David Nicholls (based on his novel), Lady Elizabeth in the television original film “Longford” (2006), and appeared in two episodes of the BAFTA award winning British television drama “Spooks” (2005-2006).
After “Rome,” Duncan portrayed Ice Queen in the British drama “Burlesque Fairytales” (2008) for filmmaker Susan Luciani. She then played Alison Slaughter in the third episode of the five part TV miniseries “Criminal Justice” (2008, BBC) and Lady Catherine de Bourgh in the third and forth episodes of the TV series “Lost in Austen” (2008, ITV). In 2009, she starred as Margaret Thatcher in the made-for-television film “Margaret” (2009, BBC), directed by James Kent and written by Richard Cottan, and Dr Who’s assistant in the TV special “The Waters of Mars” (2009).
The veteran actress is scheduled to play Helen Kingsley, Alice’s mother, in Tim Burton's “Alice in Wonderland,” which is based on the Lewis Carroll novels “Alice's Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking-Glass.” The adventure will be released on March 19, 2010. Among her costars in the film are Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Stephen Fry, Alan Rickman, Michael Sheen, Matt Lucas and Christopher Lee.
Bratislava International Film Festival: Best Actress, “AfterLife,” 2004
Tony: Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play, “Private Lives,” 2002
Drama Desk: Outstanding Actress in a Play, “Private Lives,” 2002
Variety Club Showbusiness: Stage Actress Award, “Private Lives,” 2002
Laurence Olivier Theatre: Best Actress of 2002, “Private Lives,” 2002
London Critics Circle Theater: Best Actress, “Mouth to Mouth,” 2001
Sitges - Catalonian International Film Festival: Best Actress, “The Reflecting Skin,” 1990
London Evening Standard: Best Actress, “Cat On a Hot Tin Roof,” 1988
Laurence Olivier Theatre: Best Actress in a New Play, “Les Liaisons Dangereuses,” 1987
Theatre World: Best Actress, “Les Liaisons Dangereuses,” 1987