The Sixth Sense
Starting out on stage as a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, British actress Olivia Williams caught the attention of Kevin Costner while touring the U.S. in a production of “Richard III” in 1995, which eventually led her to a Hollywood film acting debut in Costner's disappointing action adventure “The Postman” (1997). Her popularity on the international market increased significantly in the late1990s thanks to her starring roles in Wes Anderson’s “Rushmore” (1998, as Rosemary Cross) and M. Night Shyamalan’s blockbuster thriller “The Sixth Sense” (1999, as the wife of Bruce Willis). She went on to give memorable performances in such film as “The Man from Elysian Fields” (2001), “Below” (2002), “Peter Pan” (2003), “X-Men: The Last Stand “(2006) and “The Ghost Writer” (2010). She took home an Empire nomination for her work on “Lucky Break” (2001), a British Independent Film Award for “The Heart of Me” (2002) and nominations at the London Critics Circle Film and Screen Actors Guild Awards for “An Education” (2009). On the small screen, Williams is known for starring in the TV films “Jason and the Argonauts” (2000, as Hera), “Agatha Christie: A Life in Pictures” (2004, as Agatha Christie) and “Miss Austen Regrets” (2008, as Jane Austen) as well as with her regular role on the Fox short lived series “Dollhouse” (2009-2010).
Off screen, Williams is the mother of two and has been married to Rhashan Stone since 2003. She was briefly engaged to British character actor Jonathan Cake (born on August 31, 1967) before the couple split up in 1998. She was also romantically linked to a Canadian man named Peter McCalmack and Radosław Sikorski, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland, whom she dated for approximately four years.
Williams practices yoga and is known for riding bicycles to sets when working on films. After she wrapped up “The Postman” (1997), she went to Bolivia to study bears in the rainforest. She occasionally writes travel reports for the “Independent Traveler,” which is part of the British newspaper “The Independent on Sunday.”
Childhood and Family:
The daughter of lawyers, Olivia Haigh Williams was born on July 26, 1968, in Camden Town, London, England. After graduating from the University of Cambridge with a degree in English literature, she studied drama at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School for two years and spent three years with the Royal Shakespeare Company. She worked with RSC in both Stratford-upon-Avon and London.
In 2001, Olivia's father had a heart attack. At the time, she was filming “The Body.”
On November 2, 2003, Olivia married American stage actor and accomplished singer/musician Rhashan Stone (born on November 3, 1969). They have two daughters, Esme Stone (born on April 6, 2004) and Roxana Stone (born in 2007).
Olivia Williams made her television acting debut in a 1992 episode of the British series “Van der Valk” called “Still Waters,” where she played Irene Kortman. Later that same year, she appeared as Jennifer Norris in the episode “The Speaker of Mandarin: Part One” of ITV's mystery series “The Ruth Rendell Mysteries.” She began gaining notice in America when she toured the U.S. in a Royal Shakespeare Company production of “Richard III” (1995), which starred Ian McKellen.
Williams returned to television in 1996 when she received a role in a British TV movie adaptation of Jane Austin's “Emma,” which was directed by Diarmuid Lawrence and scripted by Andrew Davies. The production, which starred Kate Beckinsale, was broadcasted in the U.S. on A&E. Spotted by Kevin Costner while working on “Richard III,” she landed the supporting role of Abby on her feature film debut “The Postman” (1997), an adaptation of David Brin's award winning post-apocalyptic themed novel that was directed by and starred Costner. The film received negative reviews from critics and was a major box office flop. Also in 1997, she portrayed Nicky in the film “Gaston's War,” which premiered in the Netherlands on October 23, 1997.
After making her Hollywood TV debut with a guest spot in the NBC hit series “Friends” (1998), Williams starred as Rosemary Cross, a widowed first grade teacher who becomes the object of affection of Max Fischer (played by Jason Schwartzman) and Herman Blume (played by Bill Murray), in the movie “Rushmore” (1998), which was directed, co-written and co-produced by Wes Anderson. Although it was a favorite of critics at several festivals, the film was a minor success at the box office. Williams first experienced a huge commercial victory with “The Sixth Sense” (1999), a thriller from writer/director M. Night Shyamalan. The story of a boy who can see and communicate with the dead (played by Haley Joel Osment) and a psychologist (played by Bruce Willis), the film grossed over $293 million at the domestic market and over $672 million worldwide, well surpassing its production budget of $40 million. It was also well received by critics and nominated for six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. She played Willis' wife, Anna Crowe, in the film.
Entering the new millennium, Williams portrayed Hera in the NBC miniseries “Jason and the Argonauts” (2000), opposite Jason London as Jason, Frank Langella as King Aeëtes, Natasha Henstridge as Hypsipyle and Derek Jacobi as Phineas. Directed by Nick Willing, the show was nominated for Emmys for Outstanding Makeup for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special and Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special. She then starred with Balthazar Getty and George Lazenby in the movie “Four Dogs Playing Poker” (2000, directed by Paul Rachman), supported Paul Bettany in the British comedy “Dead Babies” (“Mood Swingers,” 2000) and was cast with Craig Ferguson, Ian Hart and Jane Harrocks in the comedy “Born Romantic” (2000). After starring with Antonio Banderas in the thriller “The Body” (2001), based on the 1983 novel of the same title by Richard Sapir, she portrayed Annabel Sweep/Lady Hamilton in the British comedy “Lucky Break” (2001), opposite James Nesbitt, and was nominated for an Empire Award in the category of Best British Actress for her performance. 2001 also saw the actress play Andrea, opposite Andy Garcia, Mick Jagger, Juliana Margulies, Michael Des Barres and James Coburn, in George Hickenlooper's “The Man from Elysian Fields,” which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 13, 2001, have an unaccredited part in director Brian Helgeland's “A Knight's Tale,” which starred Heath Ledger and Mark Addy, and appear in the episode “Help” of the British sitcom “Spaced.”
Williams next costarred with Helena Bonham Carter and Paul Bettany in the British period drama “The Heart of Me” (2002), adapted from Rosamond Lehmann's novel “The Echoing Grove” and won a 2003 British Independent Film for Best Actress for her portrayal of Madeleine. She stated, “There is quite a bit of Madeleine in me, in that I'm impatient with people who refuse to behave in a way that's appropriate to the situation. I think that people who behave histrionically when they shouldn't should learn to restrain themselves.”
The Cambridge University grad next played Claire in the American horror film “Below” (2002), opposite Bruce Greenwood, Matthew Davis, Holt McCallany, Scott Foley and Zach Galifianakis, Lady Anne Fairfax in the Mike Barker directed drama “To Kill a King” (2003), with Tim Roth and Dougray Scott, and Mrs. Darling in P.J. Hogan's live action adaptation of “Peter Pan” (2003), opposite Jeremy Sumpter, Ludivine Sagnier, Rachel Hurd-Wood and Jason Isaacs. Williams returned to the London stage in 2003 to portray The Princess in Shakespeare's “Love's Labour's Lost” and Annie in John Osborne's “The Hotel in Amsterdam.”
After a brief return to TV with the 2004 BBC made for TV film “Agatha Christie: A Life in Pictures,” where she starred as Agatha Christie, Williams provided the voice of Victoria in the failed computer animated film “Valiant” (2005), which starred the voices of Ewan McGregor, Ricky Gervais, Tim Curry, John Cleese, John Hurt, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Laurie and Rik Mayall, starred with Andie MacDowell in “Tara Road” (2005), a drama film adapted from Maeve Binchy's novel of the same name, and played the mother in the short film “Mockingbird” (2005). In 2006, she had an unaccredited part in the blockbuster hit “X-Men: The Last Stand,” the third film in the X-Men franchise, costarred with Rupert Penry-Jones in the BBC docudrama “Krakatoa: The Last Days” (2006), which was nominated for a 2007 Emmy for Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Miniseries or a Movie, and portrayed Beatrice-Joanna in a London production of “The Changeling,” a play by Thomas Middleton and William Rowley. The following year, she starred as Michelle Cahill in the TV film “Damage,” which was written and directed by Aisling Walsh.
Williams offered a notable portrayal as English writer Jane Austen on the British TV film “Miss Austen Regrets” (2008), based on the last few years of Jane Austen's life. In the U.S., the film was broadcasted on February 3, 2008, by the PBS Masterpiece television series as part of “The Complete Jane Austen,” the American version of “The Jane Austen Season.” She then landed a supporting role in the British drama film “Flashbacks of a Fool” (2008), which starred Daniel Craig, Felicity Jones, Harry Eden, Claire Forlani, Emilia Fox, Eve, Jodhi May and Miriam Karlin, was reunited with Paul Bettany for the U.K. drama “Broken Lines” (2008), which was directed by Sallie Aprahamian, and received recognition as Miss Stubbs in the Academy nominated dramatic film “An Education” (2009), opposite Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard, Emma Thompson and Dominic Cooper. Under the direction of Lone Scherfig, she was nominated for a London Critics Circle Film's ALFS Award for British Supporting Actress of the Year and jointly nabbed a Screen Actors Guild nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture for her work in the film.
From February 2009 to January 2010, Williams portrayed Adelle DeWitt on the Fox series “Dollhouse,” which was created by Joss Whedon of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fame. Costars of the series included Eliza Dushku, Harry Lennix, Fran Kranz, Tahmoh Penikett, Enver Gjokaj and Dichen Lachman.
Recently, Williams played Betty in the biopic “Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll” (2010), based on the life of Ian Dury (played by Andy Serkis). She was then cast as the wife of Pierce Brosnan, Ruth, in Roman Polanski's “The Ghost Writer” (2010), adapted from the novel “The Ghost” by Robert Harris. The cast also included Ewan McGregor, Jon Bernthal, Kim Cattrall, James Belushi, Timothy Hutton, Tom Wilkinson and Eli Wallach.
Williams will play Emma Stiles in the upcoming film “Longfellow” (2010), from director/writer Martin Donovan.
British Independent Film: Best Actress, “The Heart of Me,” 2003