The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Australian actress with a girl-next-door smile Miranda Otto had built a successful career in her native land of Australia with Australian Film Institute nominating performances in The Girl Who Came Late (1991), The Last Days of Chez Nous (1992, also earned Australian Film Institute nod), The Well (1997) and In the Winter Dark (1998) as well as memorable turns in the award-winning Love Serenade (1996) and Time for Patsy Cline (1997) before receiving Hollywood’s attention with her small, but charming, portrayal of Ben Chaplin’s wife in the high profile The Thin Red Line (1998) and for her notable parts in What Lies Beneath (2000) and Human Nature (2001). Her mounting status in America was further established when she director Peter Jackson cast her as Eowyn in the mega-blockbuster films The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) and The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003), where she nabbed a Screen Actors Guild Award, a National Board of Review Award and a Broadcast Film Critics Association Award, as well as received an Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films nod. Her more recent Hollywood credits include Flight of the Phoenix (2004) and the sci-fi blockbuster War of the Worlds (2005). On the small screen, Otto took home a 2005 Logie Award after playing the real-life Lindy Chamberlain in the Australian miniseries “Through My Eyes” (2004). As for stage actor, she won acclaimed for playing roles in “The Bitter Tears Of Petra Von Kan” (1986) and “A Doll's House” (2002), which brought her a 2003 Australian Entertainment Mo Award and a Helpmann nomination.
“Everyone says you should get a photo taken of yourself while you're pregnant. I've got a film (War of the Worlds). It’ll be nice for my daughter, too, to look at one day. She was in it.” Miranda Otto
Off screen, the crimson-haired beauty is the wife of Aussie actor Peter O’Brien, whom she wed in 2003, and has one daughter with her. When Otto gave birth, O’Brien was in Texas and reportedly watched the birth via web cam. But, Otto denied the media reports as being wrong. Though both Otto and O’Brien are busy, they are agreed on to raise their daughter on their own and alternate their working life, with one parent always around to look after their beloved daughter Darcey. As for her personal life, 5’ 9” Otto likes eating milk chocolate and scarf down hamburgers.
Childhood and Family:
Born on December 16, 1967, in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, Miranda Otto was named after the character Miranda in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. She is the daughter of Australian film and stage actor Barry Otto, and ex-actress Lindsay Otto, who quit acting following Miranda’s birth. Miranda grew up in Newcastle and Brisbane, and lived in Hong Kong for short time after her parents’ separation in 1973, before finally settling in Newcastle. She maintained a good relationship with her father by visiting him in Sydney during weekends and holydays.
As the child of actor, Miranda was interested in performing from a young age. Frequently writing scripts and songs as well as designing costumes during her youth, she finally appeared on stage in a production at the Nimrod Theater, an impressive performance that led to a movie career. Aside from acting, ballet also attracted Miranda’s attention. Attending ballet classes as child, she once considered it as a career, but moderate scoliosis was an obstacle. Also a bright student, she gave up pursuing a career in medicine in favor of acting. Miranda is a 1990 graduate of the prestigious Australian theatrical school NIDA.
On January 1, 2003, Miranda tied the knot with Aussie actor Peter O’Brien (born on March 25, 1960), whom she met while in the production of a play called A Doll’s House (2002) in Australia. They welcome a daughter named Darcey on April 1, 2005.
Through My Eyes
The off spring of an Australian successful actor, Miranda Otto made her first public appearance on stage when she performed in the production of “The Bitter Tears Of Petra Von Kan” (1986) for the Sydney Theatre Company. Her performance earned good reviews from critics and she was invited to do more plays with the company. Additionally, the role also put Otto on the radar of filmmakers. Shortly after, she was seen making her film debut with director Clytie Jessop’s drama Emma’s War (1986), starring in the title role of 14-year-old Emma Grange. She then appeared in the 1987 drama/thriller Initiation (1987) and the low-profile, but well-received The 13th Floor (1988) as well as in an episode of “The Flying Doctors” (1988), but Otto didn’t fully focus on acting until graduation in 1990.
After completing a three-year study at NIDA, Otto received critical acclaimed for her roles as Nell Tiscowitz in The Girl Who Came Late (1991) and Annie in Gillian Armstrong’s The Last Days of Chez Nous (1992). Both performances handed Otto Australian Film Institute nominations and the latter also gave the actress a nod from the Australian Film Critics Circle Award. Her next role as Jennie O’Brien, opposite Noah Taylor, in the sexually provocative The Nostradamus Kid (1993) made Otto uncomfortable since she was required to do multiple sex scenes. She recalled, “The first time you do it, though, it’s very technical - do you want my arm there, that’s not working, do you want me to scream louder, that sort of stuff. It’s hard, cos it’s not something you’ve seen other women do, so you’re scared that you’ll do something that gives you away as really strange.”
Following a small part in the low-budget Sex is a Four-Letter Word (1995), Otto once again earned notice with a starring turn opposite Rebecca Frith and George Shevtsov in director/writer Shirley Barrett’s comedy Love Serenade (1996) that won the Camera d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. The gifted actress continued to make impression when she teamed up with filmmaker Samantha Lang and actress Pamela Rabe for drama film The Well (1997). Finely playing Katherine, the woman against whom Rabe’s character missions her dreams of freedom, Otto nabbed her next Australian Film Institute nomination. In Doing Time for Patsy Cline (1997), she had another challenging and complex role as Patsy, the object of male fantasy and was nominated for another Australian Film Institute for her supporting part as Ronnie in In the Winter Dark (1998), a drama by James Bogle. She also appeared in the critical hit Dead Letter Office (1998).
Armed with such impressive resume, Otto tried to break Hollywood scene when she landed the small role of Ben Chaplin’s wife Marty Bell in an Oscar-nominating film by Terrence Malick, The Thin Red Line (1998). Although very small, her role opposite bankable stars like George Clooney, Sean Penn and Adrien Brody grew Otto’s popularity in Hollywood. Next up for Otto, she had high-profile supporting turns in such films as the HBO Western The Jack Bull (1999, with John Cusack), the Robert Zemeckis-helmed thriller What Lies Beneath (2000, starred Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer) and the notable comedy Human Nature (2001, opposite Patricia Arquette, Tim Robbins and Rhys Ifans). Otto took on a small turn in British miniseries “The Way We Live Now” (2001) before appearing in remarkable movies the Goran Visnjic horror vehicle Doctor Sleep (2002) and the drama Julie Walking Home (2002, starred in the title character as the determined wife).
Three years after breaking to Hollywood industry, Otto delivered a big breakthrough when she joined the ensemble cast of Peter Jackson’s last two sequels The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) in the supporting role of beautiful, battle-ready Eowyn. The films were phenomenal hits all over the world, and as for Otto, her strong acting in the latter brought her an Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Additionally, sharing with other costars, she picked up a Screen Actors Guild, a National Board of Review and a Broadcast Film Critics Association for Best Ensemble Performance in 2003. In between, the actress played a role in the Australian wacky movie Danny Deckchair (2003) for writer-director Jeff Balsmeyer and opposite Rhys Ifans.
While on stage, Otto starred as Nora Helmer in the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of the Henrik Ibsen classic “A Doll's House” (2002). Offering bravura acting, she netted a 2003 Australian Entertainment Mo for Best Actress and a Helpmann nomination for Best Female Actor in a Play.
In 2004, Otto went back starring in the low-budget film with the New Zealand-made mystery In My Father’s Den, along with Matthew Macfadyen. Her star once again shone when she was cast in the starring role of Lindy Chamberlain in the Australian mini “Through My Eyes” (2004). Costarring with Craig McLachlan and husband Peter O’Brien, she won a 2005 Logie for Most Outstanding Actress In A Drama Series for her brilliant turn as the real-life woman alleged in her baby’s loss after she declared a dingo carried the child off.
Returning to Hollywood, Otto worked with Dennis Quaid and Giovanni Ribisi in the remake of Flight of the Phoenix (2004) which cast her as an oil engineer named Kelly. In 2005, renowned director Steven Spielberg had her play Tom Cruise’s former wife in the sci-fi blockbuster War of the Worlds, based on a H.G. Wells novel. Otto then decided to take hiatus from major film roles following her daughter’s birth on order to concentrate on motherhood and theatre work in her native land of Australia.
Her most recent theatrical credit include the 2005 production of “Boy Gets Girl,” in which she portrayed a New York magazine journalist named Theresa. The play also marked Otto’s sophomore partnership with father Barry Otto.
- Logie: Most Outstanding Actress In A Drama Series, Through My Eyes, 2005
- Broadcast Film Critics Association: Best Acting Ensemble, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, 2003
- National Board of Review: Best Ensemble Performance, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, 2003
- Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, 2003
- Australian Entertainment Mo: Best Actress, A Doll’s House, 2003