Veteran, British-born actress Vanessa Redgrave was often recognized for her role of Julia, the title role in the 1977 movie based on Lillian Hellman’s memoir. For her notable performance in the movie, Redgrave reaped an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award and a Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award. The five-time Oscar nominee also picked up critical recognition after carrying out her roles in Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment (1966), Isadora (1968), the historical drama Mary, Queen of Scots (1971), The Bostonians (1984) and Howards End (1992).
On stage, the co-founder of the Moving Theater (with brother Corin) first gained eminence with the role in “The Aspern Papers” (1984, won a Laurence Olivier Theatre Award). She later won two London Evening Standard Theatre Awards, two London Critics Circle Theatre Awards and a Tony Award for other stage performances.
Apart from her proud acting history, Redgrave is also known for her social and political awareness. She was a keen opponent to the Vietnam War and nuclear disarmament and a supporter of the independence for Northern Ireland and the freedom for Soviet Jews. She also provided aid for Bosnian Muslims and co-founded the Artists Against Racism. Additionally, the UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador was a longtime member of Britain’s Workers Revolutionary Party.
The title-holder of CBE (1967), who allegedly refused her naming of Dame of the order of the British Empire (1999), set up a political party in the UK called the Peace and Progress Party, in November 2004. The speaker at the Scottish Parliament in 2005 recently had a feud with the Romanian mining company Gabriel Resources over her opposition to the open-air gold mine in the country.
The ex-wife of Tony Richardson (1962-1967) formerly had long-term relationships with actor Franco Nero and Timothy Dalton (1980-1994). Redgrave is the mother of actresses Natasha Richardson and Joely Richardson and filmmaker Carlo Gabriel Nero.
Dynasty of Thespians
Childhood and Family:
Born on January 30, 1937, in London, Vanessa Redgrave is the daughter of actors Sir Michael Redgrave and Rachel Kempson (Lady Redgrave). Her brother, Corin Redgrave, and her sister, Lynn Redgrave, also followed in their parents’ footsteps.
After graduating from Queensgate, Vanessa pursued her inherited flair for acting by attending the Central School of Speech and Drama in London for 2 years. She then made her theatrical debut in 1957. A year later, Vanessa briefly tried acting on screen.
Vanessa was formerly married to fellow actor Tony Richardson from 1962 to 1967. The couple shares two daughters, Natasha Richardson and Joely Richardson, both of whom are also actresses. She later gave birth to a son named Carlo Gabriel Nero (filmmaker), from her seven-year relationship with actor Franco Nero. Vanessa was also known for her longtime partnership with James Bond actor Timothy Dalton (1980-1994).
If These Walls Could Talk
In 1957, Vanessa Redgrave launched her acting career with a role in the staging of “The Reluctant Debutante” at the Frinton Summer Theatre, in Essex. She then tasted performing on screen, along with father Michael Redgrave, in the drama Behind the Mask (1958). Redgrave also shared the stage with her father in the production of “A Touch of the Sun” (1958) before working on her acting skills with a distinguished British theater company.
For the next three years, Redgrave delivered a beautiful performance as Rosalind in the revival of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” (1961, recreated the role in the 1963 TV movie version) and Nina, the landowner’s daughter, in Anton Chekov’s “The Seagull” (1964, reprised the role in the 1968 movie). The newcomer also guest performed in the series “Armchair Theatre” (1964) and “Love Story” (1965), before having the supporting role of Catherine Barkley in the miniseries “A Farewell to Arms” (1966).
Redgrave began catching the public’s eye with her turn as Leonie Delt, the wife of the titular role, in Karel Reisz’ drama comedy Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment (1966). For her striking performance, the actress won a Cannes Film Festival award, as well as received an Oscar, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA Film nomination. Redgrave, who staged the title role in “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” (1966) in London, also scored success in her first American film, Camelot (1967), which was adapted from Alan Jay Lerner’s musical. Her lovely turn as Guinevere in the movie soon brought in a Kansas City Film Critics Circle award and a Golden Globe nomination.
Rejoining director Reisz, Redgrave stood proud with the titular role of a groundbreaking dancer in the biopic Isadora (1968), in which she took home a second Cannes Film Festival award and a National Society of Film Critics award. In addition, she was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe for Best Actress. The victory was ensued by her appearance as Sylvia Pankhurst in Oh What a Lovely War (1969) and her acting alongside Franco Nero in Drop-out (1970).
Redgrave collected her third Best Actress Oscar nomination after carrying out the title role in the historical drama Mary, Queen of Scots (1971), opposite Glenda Jackson, Timothy Dalton and Patrick McGoohan. Furthermore, she netted a David di Donatello’s Special award and a Golden Globe nomination for the role. The versatile actress next took on the titular Egyptian queen in the London production of “Antony and Cleopatra” (1973) before making an L.A. performance in “Macbeth” (1974), opposite Charlton Heston.
Redgrave was also seen in the adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express (1974, as Mary Debenham), Out of Season (1975, costarred with Cliff Robertson) and the Sherlock Holmes movie The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976, starred as Lola Deveraux). Still in 1976, the performer made her Broadway debut in Ibsen’s “The Lady from the Sea.”
Redgrave was applauded even more for her luminous and richly detailed portrayal of the titular woman murdered by the Nazi regime in Julia (1977), based on Lillian Hellman’s memoir. Before long, she swept up an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a Kansas City Film Critics Circle award and a Los Angeles Film Critics Association award for Best Supporting Actress. Subsequent to the adventure thriller Bear Island (1979), Redgrave won her first Emmy for the turn of Nazi prisoner Fania Fenelon in the TV movie Playing for Time (1980). She next appeared in the TV drama My Body, My Child (1982) and the series “Wagner” (1983, as Cosima von Bulow).
On stage, Redgrave delivered a celebrated performance in her father’s production of “The Aspern Papers” (1984, opposite Christopher Reeve) and nabbed a Laurence Olivier Theatre award for Best Actress in a Revival. She gained even more recognition after playing Arkadina in another revival of “The Seagull” (1985), where her superb acting was given a London Evening Standard Theatre award and a London Critics Circle Theatre award.
Meanwhile, re-teaming with Christopher Reeve, Redgrave enchanted her audience with the leading turn of Olive Chancellor in The Bostonians (1984) and collected a National Society of Film Critics award, as well as an Oscar and a Golden Globe nomination. The multitalented actress earned another National Society of Film Critics award thanks to her magnificent portrayal of Jean Travers in the intriguing drama Wetherby (1985).
Next up for Redgrave, she received praise for her role in the miniseries “Peter the Great” (1986, was nominated for an Emmy for starring as Sophia), the TV biopic Second Serve (1986, earned an Emmy and a Golden Globe nomination for her part as Richard Radley/Renee Richards), the drama comedy Prick Up Your Ears (1987, accepted a New York Film Critics Circle award, a Golden Globe nomination and a BAFTA nomination for playing Peggy Ramsay) and the TV remake A Man for All Seasons (1988, had the Golden Globe-nominated turn of Lady Alice More). The performer, who won a London Critics Circle Theatre award for her supporting turn in “A Touch of the Poet,” also presented an all-out acting performance as Lady Torrance in the revival of Tennessee Williams’ “Orpheus Descending” (1988, reprised the role in the 1991 TV film). Following her gig in Martin Sherman’s “A Madhouse in Goa” (1989) and “Three Sisters” (1990), Redgrave added a London Evening Standard Theatre award to her shelf by taking the role of Isadora Duncan in Martin Sherman’s play “When She Danced” (1991).
After having the Emmy-nominated turn as Empress Elizabeth in Young Catherine (1991, TV) and the Oscar-nominated role of Ruth Wilcox in Howards End (1992), Redgrave worked on several international films, including Un Muro de silencio (1993, as Kate Benson). The actress continued her triumphant journey with the part of Irina Shapira in Little Odessa (1994), which gave her a Venice Film Festival’s Volpi Cup and an Independent Spirit award nomination.
Redgrave astonished many by taking part in the TV drama A Month by the Lake (1995, earned a Golden Globe nomination for playing Miss Bentley), Mission: Impossible (1996), the TV drama Bella Mafia (1997, earned a Golden Globe for the role of Graziella Luciano), Deep Impact (1998) and Girl, Interrupted (1999). Amid her screen projects, the recipient of the 1995 Boston Film Festival’s Film Excellence award was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Theatre award after starring in the play “John Gabriel Borkman” (1996).
Again, Redgrave proved her versatility with the role of homosexual Edith Tree in the “1961” segment of the acclaimed TV drama If These Walls Could Talk 2 (2000), where she harvested an Emmy, a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild award. The cinematic triumph was followed by her stage roles in “The Tempest” (2000, as Prospero) and “The Cherry Orchard” (2001).
Redgrave, who in 2001 was given a Screen Idol award from the L.A. Outfest, had a featured role in the Sean Penn’s thriller The Pledge (2001) before costarring as Clemmie Churchill, alongside Albert Finney, in the TV drama The Gathering Storm (2002). For her brilliant acting in the latter, she won a Broadcasting Press Guild award, as well as brought in an Emmy, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, BAFTA TV and a Golden Satellite nomination. She was then seen in the role of Esther Huish in The Locket (2002, TV), which gave her a Character and Morality in Entertainment’s Camie award.
To continue her accomplishments, Redgrave was handed a Tony after appearing in the Broadway production of “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” (2003). This led to her guest performance as Dr. Erica Noughton in several episodes of the hospital-set drama “Nip/Tuck” (2004, 2005) and her appearance in the family movie The Thief Lord (2006).
The prolific actress will entertain her fans in the TV romantic drama The Shell Seeker (2006), the horror movie Cowboys for Christ (2006) and the animated sequel The Magic Snowman II (2006, will voice Gustella). Redgrave, who will star in the one-woman stage adaptation of Joan Didion’s bestseller, “The Year of Magical Thinking” (2007), is also set to play Roberta Elliot in the drama thriller The Riddle (2007), act with Keira Knightley and James McAvoy in Atonement (2007) and share the screen with daughter Natasha Richardson in Lajos Koltai’s drama Evening (2007).
- Tony: Best Actress (Play), “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” 2003
- Character and Morality in Entertainment: Camie, The Locket, 2003
- Broadcasting Press Guild: Best Actress, The Gathering Storm, 2003
- L.A. Outfest: Screen Idol Award – Female, If These Walls Could Talk 2, 2001
- Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries, If These Walls Could Talk 2, 2001
- Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV, If These Walls Could Talk 2, 2001
- Emmy: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie, If These Walls Could Talk 2, 2000
- Boston Film Festival: Film Excellence Award, 1995
- Venice Film Festival: Volpi Cup for Best Supporting Actress, Little Odessa, 1994
- London Evening Standard Theatre: Best Actress, “When She Danced,” 1991
- London Critics Circle Theatre: Best Supporting Actress, “A Touch of the Poet,” 1988
- New York Film Critics Circle: Best Supporting Actress, Prick Up Your Ears, 1987
- National Society of Film Critics: Best Actress, Wetherby, 1986
- National Society of Film Critics: Best Actress, The Bostonians, 1985
- London Evening Standard Theatre: Best Actor, “The Seagull,” 1985
- London Critics Circle Theatre: Best Actress, “The Seagull,” 1985
- Laurence Olivier Theatre: Best Actress in a Revival, “The Aspern Papers,” 1985
- Emmy: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or a Special, Playing for Time, 1981
- Oscar: Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Julia, 1978
- Golden Globe: Best Motion Picture Actress in a Supporting Role, Julia, 1978
- Kansas City Film Critics Circle: Best Supporting Actress, Julia, 1978
- Los Angeles Film Critics Association: Best Supporting Actress, Julia, 1977
- David di Donatello: Special David, Mary, Queen of Scots, 1972
- National Society of Film Critics: Best Actress, Isadora, 1970
- Cannes Film Festival: Best Actress, Isadora, 1969
- Kansas City Film Critics Circle: Best Actress, Camelot, tied with Lynn Redgrave for Georgy Girl, 1968
- Cannes Film Festival: Best Actress, Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment, 1966