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Imelda Staunton

Imelda Staunton

British actress
Imelda Staunton
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro British actress
A.K.A. Imelda Mary Philomena Bernadette Staunton
Is Actor Stage actor Film actor
From United Kingdom
Type Film, TV, Stage & Radio
Gender female
Birth 9 January 1956, London, UK
Age 65 years
Star sign Capricorn
Residence London, UK
Spouse: Jim Carter
Height: 1.524 m
The details (from wikipedia)


Imelda Mary Philomena Bernadette Staunton, CBE (born 9 January 1956) is an English stage and screen actress. After training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Staunton began her career in repertory theatre in the 1970s before appearing in various theatres in the UK.

Staunton has since performed in a variety of plays and musicals in London, winning four Olivier Awards; three for Best Actress in a Musical for her roles as the Baker's Wife in Into the Woods (1991), Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd (2013) and Madame Rose in Gypsy (2016), and one for Best Supporting Performance for her work in both A Chorus of Disapproval (1985) and The Corn is Green (1985). Her appearances on stage in The Beggar's Opera (1982), The Wizard of Oz (1987), Uncle Vanya (1988), Guys and Dolls (1996), Entertaining Mr Sloane (2009) and Good People (2014) also earned her Olivier nominations. Staunton has been nominated for 13 Olivier Awards.

Staunton drew critical acclaim for her performance in the title role in the 2004 film Vera Drake, for which she won the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role and the Venice Film Festival Volpi Cup for Best Actress in addition to being nominated for the Academy Award, the Golden Globe and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actress. Her other film roles include Mrs. Blatherwick in Nanny McPhee (2005), Dolores Umbridge in two of the Harry Potter films (2007–2010) and Hefina Headon in Pride (2014), for which she received a nomination for the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

On television, she starred in the sitcoms Up the Garden Path (1990–1993) and Is it Legal? (1995–1998). Her performance in My Family and Other Animals (2005) earned her a nomination for the International Emmy Award for Best Actress, while her roles in Return to Cranford (2009) and The Girl (2012) earned her BAFTA TV Award nominations for Best Supporting Actress. For the latter, she was also nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie.

Early life

Staunton was born in Archway, North London, the only child of Bridie (née McNicholas), a hairdresser, and Joseph Staunton, a road-worker and labourer. The family lived over Staunton's mother's salon. Her parents were first-generation Catholic immigrants from County Mayo, Ireland; her father from Ballyvary and her mother from Bohola. Staunton's mother was a musician who could not read music, but could master almost any tune by ear on the accordion or fiddle and had played in Irish showbands.

As a pupil at La Sainte Convent, she took drama classes with her elocution teacher and starred in school productions of plays, including the role of Polly Peachum in a school production of The Beggar's Opera. Encouraged by an elocution teacher at her school, Staunton auditioned for drama schools and got into the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) at the age of 18. She also auditioned for the Central School of Speech and Drama and Guildhall School of Music and Drama, but was rejected by both schools.



Staunton graduated from RADA in 1976, then spent six years in English repertory theatre, including a period at the Northcott Theatre, Exeter, where she had the title role in Shaw's Saint Joan (1979). She then moved on to roles the National Theatre, including Lucy Lockit in The Beggar's Opera (1982), which earned her Olivier Award nominations for Best Actress in a Musical and Most Promising Newcomer of the Year in Theatre. She also appeared in two revivals of Guys and Dolls at the National Theatre; the first in 1982 in which she met her husband Jim Carter and the second in 1996 in which she played Miss Adelaide and was nominated for the Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical.

In 1985, Staunton won her first Laurence Olivier Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role for her work in both The Corn Is Green and at The Old Vic and A Chorus of Disapproval at the National Theatre. She also played Dorothy in the Royal Shakespeare Company's 1987 revival of The Wizard of Oz at the Barbican Centre, which earned her another Olivier nomination for Best Actress in a Musical. Staunton won her first Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical for playing the Baker's Wife in the original London production of Into the Woods (1990).

In the ensuing 20 years, Staunton mainly had roles in plays, including Sonya in Uncle Vanya (1988), Kath in Entertaining Mr Sloane (2009) and Good People (2014), for which she received Olivier nominations for Best Actress in a Play. She also appeared in two productions at the Almeida Theatre, firstly in the premiere of Frank McGuinness's There Came a Gypsy Riding in 2007 and secondly in a revival of Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance in 2011.

Most recently, Staunton has appeared in two Chichester Festival Theatre productions, taking on the role of Mrs Lovett in a revival of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd between 2011 and 2012, starring opposite Michael Ball, before starring as Rose in a revival of Gypsy between 2014 and 2015. Both productions transferred to London for critically and commercially acclaimed runs. Staunton won her second and third Olivier Awards for Best Actress in a Musical for the two productions in 2013 and 2016 respectively.

Staunton returned to the Harold Pinter Theatre in London West End in 2017 as Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, starring alongside Conleth Hill, Luke Treadaway and Imogen Poots at the Harold Pinter Theatre. This play was broadcast in National Theatre Live on 18 May 2017.

Staunton performed the role of Sally in the 2017 National Theatre revival of Stephen Sondheim's Follies, alongside Janie Dee as Phyllis, and Philip Quast as Ben. The show was broadcast through the National Theatre Live initiative on 16 November 2017.


Staunton's first big-screen role came in a 1986 film Comrades. She then appeared in the 1991 film Antonia and Jane, and in the 1992 film Peter's Friends. Other film roles include performances in Much Ado About Nothing (1993), Deadly Advice (1993), Sense and Sensibility (1995) Twelfth Night (1996), Chicken Run (2000), Another Life (2001), Bright Young Things (2003), Nanny McPhee (2005), Freedom Writers (2007) and How About You (2007).

Staunton shared a Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Performance by a Cast in 1998 for Shakespeare in Love. In 2004, she received the Best Actress honours at the European Film Awards, the BAFTAs, and the Venice Film Festival for her performance of the title role in Mike Leigh's Vera Drake, which also won Best Picture. For the same role, she received her first nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress, the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role.

Staunton portrayed Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007), a performance described as "coming close to stealing the show." She was nominated in the "British Actress in a Supporting Role" category at the London Film Critics Circle Awards. Staunton reprised her role as Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One in 2010.

Recent film roles include the 2008 movie A Bunch of Amateurs, in which she starred alongside Burt Reynolds, Derek Jacobi and Samantha Bond, and the character of Sonia Teichberg in Ang Lee's Taking Woodstock (2009). Staunton provided the voice of the Talking Flowers in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (2010), and played one of the lead roles in the ghost film The Awakening in 2011. In 2014, she co-starred in Maleficent as well as the British comedy-drama Pride.

In late 2014, she had a voice role in Paddington, a film based on the Paddington Bear books by Michael Bond. Staunton and her Harry Potter co-star Michael Gambon voiced Paddington's Aunt Lucy and Uncle Pastuzo, respectively.

An August 2018 announcement revealed that Staunton would be among the new cast to join the original actors in Downton Abbey (film) which started principal photography at about the same time.


In 1993, she appeared on television alongside Richard Briers and Adrian Edmondson in If You See God, Tell Him. Staunton also played the wife of Detective Burakov in the 1995 HBO movie, Citizen X, which recounted the pursuit and capture of Russian serial killer Andrei Chikatilo. She has had other television parts in The Singing Detective (1986), Midsomer Murders, and the sitcom Is It Legal? (1995–98), as well as A Bit of Fry and Laurie. She was a voice artist on Mole's Christmas (1994). She had a guest role playing Mrs. Mead in Little Britain in 2005, and in 2007 played the free-thinking gossip, Miss Pole, in Cranford, the five-part BBC series based on Mrs Gaskell's novels. In 2011, she played Grace Andrews in the second series of Psychoville.

In 2011, she was the Voice of the Interface in the highly acclaimed and nominee for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) episode of Doctor Who – "The Girl Who Waited". In 2012, she portrayed Alma Reville, the wife of Alfred Hitchcock, in the HBO television movie The Girl, which also starred Toby Jones and Sienna Miller. Her performance saw her nominated for a BAFTA Television Award and a Primetime Emmy Award.

On 31 January 2020 it was announced that she would be portraying Queen Elizabeth II in the fifth and final season of the critically acclaimend series The Crown.


On radio, she has appeared in the title role of the detective drama series Julie Enfield Investigates, as the lead "Izzy Comyn" in the comedy Up the Garden Path (which later moved to ITV with Staunton reprising the role), in Diary of a Provincial Lady (from 1999), as "Courageous Kate" in Series 1 of Elephants to Catch Eels and as "Xanthippe" in Series 2 of Acropolis Now.

She starred opposite Anna Massey in the post-World War II mystery series Daunt and Dervish, and opposite Patrick Barlow in The Patrick and Maureen Maybe Music Experience. She played the role of a schoolboy as the lead character in the five part (15 minutes each): "The Skool Days of Nigel Molesworth" for BBC Radio 4.

Other work

Staunton has narrated unabridged audio-book versions of many of Julia Donaldson's children's books, including The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo's Child, Monkey Puzzle, The Snail and the Whale, Stick Man and Zog, as well as other children's books. In 2014 she collaborated with her husband, Jim Carter, and Show of Hands on Centenary: Words and Music of the Great War, an album of songs and poetry from and inspired by World War One.

Staunton is also a patron for the Milton Rooms, a new arts centre in Malton, North Yorkshire along with Bill Nighy, Jools Holland and Kathy Burke.

Personal life

Staunton and husband, English actor Jim Carter, have a daughter, Bessie, born in 1993. In 2007, the three appeared in the BBC series Cranford (Carter was Captain Brown and Bessie a maid).

Staunton was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2006 New Year Honours and Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2016 New Year Honours, both for services to drama.

Staunton owns a dog (Molly) who appeared in Gypsy at the Chichester Festival Theatre from 6 October 8 November as "Chowsie" the dog. Staunton played the leading role, Madame Rose.

Theatre work

Repertory theatre:

  • Waiting for Godot (Lucky, 1976), Birmingham Repertory Theatre
  • Hay Fever, Watermill, Newbury
  • Grease, York Theatre Royal
  • Henry V, Leeds Playhouse
  • The Gingerbread Man, Leeds Playhouse

Two seasons at the Northcott Theatre, Exeter:

  • Travesties (1978) Northcott Exeter
  • A Man for All Seasons (1978) Northcott Exeter
  • Elektra (Elektra, 1978) Northcott Exeter
  • Dear Daddy (1978) Northcott Exeter
  • Cinderella (1978) Northcott Exeter
  • 'Tis Pity She's a Whore (1978) Northcott Exeter:
  • Macbeth (1978) Northcott Exeter
  • Cabaret (1978) Northcott Exeter
  • As You Like It (1978) Northcott Exeter
  • Saint Joan (Saint Joan, 1979) Northcott Exeter
  • The Beggar's Opera (1979) Northcott Exeter
  • Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (1979) Northcott Exeter
  • Side by Side by Sondheim (1979) Northcott Exeter

Two seasons at the Nottingham Playhouse (1980–81?):

  • Pam Gems' Piaf (Piaf) Nottingham Playhouse
  • Mack and Mabel (Mabel) Nottingham Playhouse
  • Mrs Warren's Profession, Nottingham Playhouse
  • A Little Night Music, Nottingham Playhouse

Touring (1981–82?):

  • She Stoops to Conquer (Kate Hardcastle) Oxford Stage Company UK tour

Two seasons at Chichester Festival Theatre (2011–14):

  • Sweeney Todd (Mrs Lovett, 2011), Chichester Festival Theatre
  • Gypsy (Rose, 2014), Chichester Festival Theatre

Theatre roles in London:

  • Guys and Dolls (Mimi, Hotbox Girl, 1982), National Theatre Olivier
  • The Beggar's Opera (Lucy Lockit, 1982), National Theatre Cottlesloe
  • Schweyk in the Second World War (Anna, 1982) National Theatre Olivier
  • Guys and Dolls (Miss Adelaide, 1983) National Theatre Olivier
  • A Mad World, My Masters (Janet Cloughton, 1984) Theatre Royal Stratford East
  • Us Good Girls (Paulette, 1984) Soho Poly
  • The Corn Is Green (Bessie Watty, 1985), Old Vic – Olivier Award
  • A Chorus of Disapproval (Hannah Llewellyn, 1985) National Olivier – Olivier Award
  • The Fair Maid of the West (Bess Bridges, 1987) RSC Mermaid Theatre
  • They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (Gloria Beatty, 1987) RSC Mermaid
  • The Wizard of Oz (Dorothy, 1987) RSC Barbican Theatre
  • Uncle Vanya (Sonya, 1988) Vaudeville Theatre
  • The Lady and the Clarinet (Luba, 1989) The King's Head Theatre, Islington
  • Into the Woods (Baker's Wife, 1990) Phoenix Theatre – Olivier Award
  • Rona Munro's Bold Girls (Cassie, 1991) Hampstead Theatre
  • Tony Kushner's Slavs! (Bonfila, 1994) Hampstead Theatre
  • Habeas Corpus (Mrs Swabb, 1996) Donmar Warehouse
  • Guys and Dolls (Miss Adelaide, 1996) National Theatre Olivier – Olivier Nomination
  • Divas at the Donmar
  • Yasmina Reza's Life X Three (Ines, 2000) National Cottesloe, then transferring to the Old Vic (2001)
  • Michael Hastings' Calico (Nora Barnacle, 2004) Duke of York's Theatre
  • Frank McGuinness's There Came a Gypsy Riding (Margaret, 2007) Almeida
  • Joe Orton's Entertaining Mr Sloane (Kath, 2009) Trafalgar Studios
  • Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance (Claire, 2011) Almeida Theatre
  • Sweeney Todd (Mrs Lovett, 2012), Adelphi Theatre – transfer from Chichester Festival Theatre (2011) – Olivier Award
  • Circle Mirror Transformation (Marty, 2013), Royal Court Theatre
  • Good People (Margie, 2014), Hampstead Theatre and Noël Coward Theatre – Olivier Nomination
  • Gypsy (Rose, 2015), Savoy Theatre – transfer from Chichester Festival Theatre (2014) – Olivier Award
  • Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Martha, 2017), Harold Pinter Theatre – Olivier Nomination
  • Follies (Sally, 2017), National Theatre Olivier – Olivier Nomination
  • Hello, Dolly! (Dolly, 2020), Adelphi Theatre


  • 1990: Into The Woods – Original London Cast; as baker's wife.
  • 2010: Julia Donaldson Audio Collection; as the narrator of the Gruffalo, The Gruffalo's Child, and Charlie Cook's Favourite Book.
  • 2012: Sweeney Todd Revival Cast Recording; as Mrs. Lovett.
  • 2015: Gypsy  – London Cast Recording; as Momma Rose.
  • 2019: Follies — London Cast Recording; as Sally.
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 18 Mar 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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