Tipping the Velvet
British actress Rachael Stirling, the daughter of actress Diana Rigg, is celebrated for her performance as Nan Astley in “Tipping the Velvet” (BBC, 2002), in which she was handed a Dallas OUT TAKES Award. She recalled, “It was horrendous after I appeared in 'Tipping the Velvet.’ I didn't work for eight months because I kept being sent scripts, the details of which I'll spare you.”
Stirling is also known for playing Young Rebeccah in “In the Beginning” (2000), Griselda Clement in “Marple: The Murder at the Vicarage” (2004) and Veronica Burton in “Boy Meets Girl” (2009). On the wide screen, Stirling has acted in a number of films since her debut in 1998's “Still Crazy.” Her film credits include “Maybe Baby” (2000), “The Triumph of Love” (2001), “Freeze Frame” (2004), “Dangerous Parking” (2007), “The Young Victoria” (2009) and “Centurion” (2010). Stirling kicked off her career on stage with the role of Desdemona in “Othello” (1996). She has since appeared in the stage productions “A Woman of No Importance,” John Osborne's “Look Back in Anger,” “Theater of Blood” and “Anna in the Tropics.”
Stirling lived with her DJ boyfriend, John Lycett-Green, until September 2003. They are no longer together. She mentions Bob Dylan's “Lay Lady Lay” as her favorite song because it reminds her of her mother.
Diana Rigg's Child
Childhood and Family:
“It's such a boring cliché to be the daughter of an actress. I'm a living, walking, breathing, smoking cliché!” Rachael Stirling
The only child of actress Diana Rigg and Scottish millionaire businessman Archibald Stirling, Rachael Atalanta Stirling was born on May 30, 1977, in London, England. Her parents divorced in 1990. The marriage broke up when her father had an affair with actress Joely Richardson. Her father is the nephew of Colonel Sir David Stirling, the founder of the Special Air Service (SAS). She is the descendant of Charles II Stuart, King of England and Scotland, and a distant relative of Sir Winston Churchill and Rupert Everett. Rachael spent her childhood in London and Scotland. She attended Wycombe Abbey School in Buckinghamshire, where she spent time in theater, and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, from which she earned a BA in art history.
Rachael is very close to her half brothers William, a writer, and Ludovic, a designer, from her father's marriage to his first wife Charmian Montagu Douglas Scott.
Rachael can speak Russian and is an accomplished equestrian.
Boy Meets Girl
Rachael Stirling began her stage career with the U.K.'s National Youth Theatre in the mid 1990s. Her first major role arrived when she was cast as Desdemona in a revival of “Othello” (1996), which starred Chiwetel Ejiofor. She then portrayed Olive in a female version of “The Odd Couple” (1997) and Kate in “Dancing at Lughnasa” (1998). Stirling made her feature acting debut alongside Stephen Rea, Billy Connolly, Timothy Spall and Jimmy Nail in the British movie “Still Crazy” (1998). Directed by Brian Gibson, the film was nominated for Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical and Best Original Song - Motion Picture. On her first film role, she commented, “I got this film 'Still Crazy.' I was so green that I didn't even know what they meant when they said 'You're wrapped.' I went back to my caravan. They found me when they were going round to lock up.”
In the new millennium, Stirling played the supporting role of Joanna in “Maybe Baby” (2000), a comedy written and directed by Ben Elton based on his novel “Inconceivable.” She then worked with Jonny Lee Miller, Brian Cox, Keeley Hawes and Paul Higgins in the thriller “Complicity” (2000), an adaptation of Iain Banks' novel of the same name. She made her American television debut with the NBC adventure “In the Beginning” (2000), opposite Alan Bates, Jacqueline Bisset, Martin Landau, David Warner and her mother, Diana Rigg. In the film, she played young Rebeccah. Also in 2000, she portrayed Frankie in “Helpless” at Donmar Warehouse in London.
Stirling was next cast as Becky in the comedy “Redemption Road” (2001), starring Tony Bluto and Stephen Marcus, co-starred with Ioan Gruffudd, Natasha Little, Nick Moran, Imelda Staunton and Tom Wilkinson in the U.K. independent murder mystery “Another Life” (2001), written and directed by Peter Goodhew, and played Corine in the big screen adaptation of Marivaux's play “The Triumph of Love” (2001), opposite Mira Sorvino and Ben Kingsley. Still that year, she was cast as Lulu in a modern TV movie adaptation of Shakespeare's “Othello.” The production was directed by Geoffrey Sax and scripted by Andrew Davies.
In 2002, Stirling became famous for her portrayal of Nancy Astley in a BBC three part television drama series titled “Tipping the Velvet,” which was adapted from the bestselling novel by Sarah Waters. The show received several awards and nominations, including a Television and Radio Industries Club (TRIC) award for TV Drama Program, a BAFTA nomination for Best Original Television Music and a GLAAD Media nomination for Outstanding Television Movie or Mini-Series. For her good acting, the actress won the Best Actress Award at the 2003 Dallas OUT TAKES. Costars of the show included Keeley Hawes, Anna Chancellor and Jodhi May. The same year, she also costarred with John Hurt in the television thriller “Bait,” for director Nicholas Renton and writer Daniel Boyle.
From 2003 to 2004, Stirling was seen in an episode of “Agatha Christie: Poirot” called “Five Little Pigs,” the psychological thriller “Freeze Frame,” which was written and directed by John Simpson and starred comedian Lee Evans, and the made for television film “Marple: The Murder at the Vicarage,” in which she memorably played Griselda Clement. In ITV's film “The Final Quest,” she portrayed Young Annabelle. In addition, Stirling performed in various stage productions. She played Hester Worsley in Oscar Wilde's “A Woman of No Importance” (Theatre Royal Haymarket, 2003) and Conchita in “Anna in the Tropics” (2004, Hampstead Theatre). She went on to play Miranda Lionheart in a stage adaptation of “Theater of Blood” (National Theatre, 2005), Zenocrate in “Tambulaine” (Bristol Old Vic Theatre and Barbican Theatre, 2005) and Helena in John Osborne's “Look Back In Anger” (Theatre Royal, 2006).
Stirling returned to television in 2005 when she landed the role of Marie Rambert in the based on balled TV film “Riot at the Rite,” opposite Adam Garcia, Alex Jennings and Aidan McArdle. The following year, she appeared as Guilean Hade in an American TV series pilot titled “Beyond,” starred as Julia Jugg in “The Haunted Airman,” a BBC TV film adapted from the 1948 psychological novel “The Haunting of Toby Jugg” by Dennis Wheatley, and guest starred as Nina Bailey in the BBC television series “Hotel Babylon.” 2006 also saw her play Martha in “The Truth,” a comedy directed and co-written by George Milton that starred William Beck, Amelia Bullmore, David Cann, Elaine Cassidy, Stephen Lord and Elizabeth McGovern.
The talented thespian next teamed up with Peter Howitt, Saffron Burrows, Sean Pertwee, Alice Evans and Tom Conti for the 2007 drama “Dangerous Parking,” adapted from Stuart Browne's novel of the same name. The film was scripted and directed by Peter Hewitt, who won the Best Director Award at the 2007 Tokyo International Film Festival for his effort. Meanwhile on stage, she performed in Shakespeare's “The Taming of the Shrew” (as Kate) and Chekhov's “The Cherry Orchard” (as Yelena, both produced at Wilton's Music Hall in London).
After playing Zoe Kenneth in an episode of ITV's detective series “Lewis,” called “Life Born of Fire,” Stirling portrayed Eve Cornell on a “Minder” episode titled “Thank Your Lucky Stars” (2009). She then starred as Veronica Burton, opposite Martin Freeman as Danny Reed, in the British miniseries “Boy Meets Girl,” which ran for most of May 2009. On the big screen, she was seen as the Duchess of Sutherland on “The Young Victoria” (2009). The film was directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, written by Julian Fellowes and co-produced by Martin Scorsese. It starred Emily Blunt as Queen Victoria and Rupert Friend as Prince Albert. At the 2010 Academy Awards ceremony, “The Young Victoria” was nominated for Best Achievement in Art Direction, Best Achievement in Makeup and Best Achievement in Costume Design and won the latter category. Blunt received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama for her work.
Recently, in 2010, Stirling portrayed Drusilla in the British action movie “Centurion,” which was written and directed by Neil Marshall. She also served as a makeup artist for the 15 minute short film “Mosa,” directed and co-penned by Ana Moreno. The film was screened at the 24th BFI London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival on March 21, 2010.
Dallas OUT TAKES: Best Actress, “Tipping the Velvet,” 2003