Imelda Staunton

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Imelda Staunton
Imelda Staunton (2011).jpg
Imelda Staunton at the world premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 in London (2011)
BornImelda Mary Philomena Bernadette Staunton
(1956-01-09) 9 January 1956 (age 58)
London, England
Years active1976–present
Spouse(s)Jim Carter (m. 1983)
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Imelda Staunton
Imelda Staunton (2011).jpg
Imelda Staunton at the world premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 in London (2011)
BornImelda Mary Philomena Bernadette Staunton
(1956-01-09) 9 January 1956 (age 58)
London, England
Years active1976–present
Spouse(s)Jim Carter (m. 1983)

Imelda Mary Philomena Bernadette Staunton, OBE (born (1956-01-09)9 January 1956) is a British actress of both dramas and musical theatre. She is perhaps best known for her performances in the British comedy television series Up the Garden Path, the Harry Potter film series (in which she plays Professor Dolores Jane Umbridge) and Vera Drake, and Shakespeare in Love, in which she played the Nurse. She drew critical acclaim as Vera Drake, earning her a Best Actress Oscar nomination and a number of wins including the BAFTA and Venice Film Festival Awards for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Her notable roles in musical theatre include Adelaide in Guys and Dolls, Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd (both for the National Theatre) and Rose in Gypsy (Chichester Festival Theatre).

Early life and education[edit]

Staunton was born in Archway, North London, the only child of Bridie (née McNicholas), a hairdresser, and Joseph Staunton, a road-worker and labourer.[1] The family lived over Staunton's mother's hair dressing salon while Staunton's father worked on the roads.[2] Both of her parents were first-generation Catholic immigrants from County Mayo, Ireland, with her father coming from Ballyvary and her mother from Bohola.[3] 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.[4]

Staunton attended La Sainte Union Convent School, an all-girls Catholic school on the edge of Parliament Hill, Highgate Road, from years 11 to 17. Her talent was spotted by Jacqueline Stoker, her elocution teacher.[citation needed] Before long she was starring as Polly Peachum in a school production of The Beggar's Opera.[4] Staunton studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.[3][5]



When she was 18, Staunton enrolled at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and studied alongside Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall and Juliet Stevenson.[6] She graduated two years later in 1976, then spent six years in English repertory, including a period at the Northcott Theatre, Exeter where she had the title role in Shaw's Saint Joan (1979). In 1982, she moved on to the National Theatre. She has stated that her first job was a play by Goldoni.[7] She is also known for her performance as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz for the Royal Shakespeare Company.[8][9] She has had a long and distinguished career in the theatre, performing in such diverse plays as A Man for all Seasons, Mack & Mabel, Side by Side, and Elektra.[4]

Staunton also appeared in a National Theatre 80th birthday tribute to Lord Olivier, Happy Birthday, Sir Larry on 31 May 1987 in the presence of Olivier.[10]

Staunton has twice received an Olivier Award,[11] Britain's highest theatre honour,[citation needed] one in 1985 for roles in two productions: A Chorus of Disapproval and The Corn Is Green and one for the 1991 musical, Into the Woods. She was nominated for her performance as Miss Adelaide in the 1996 revival of Guys and Dolls at the National Theatre.[12] More recently, she appeared in the premiere of Frank McGuinness's There Came a Gypsy Riding at the Almeida in 2007 and opened in 2009 in English Touring Theatre's production of Entertaining Mr Sloane alongside Mathew Horne at the Trafalgar Studios.[13]

In October 2011 Staunton took the role of Mrs. Lovett in a revival of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, starring opposite singer Michael Ball, at the Chichester Festival. The show was well received, and it transferred to the Adelphi Theatre in London from March to September 2012.[14] Staunton also won the Olivier Award for 'Best Actress in a Musical' for this production.

From October 2014 she is playing Rose in a revival of Gypsy at the Chichester Festival Theatre.[15]


Staunton's first big-screen role came in a 1986 film Comrades. She then appeared 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 Best Actress nominations for the 2004 Golden Globes and Academy Awards.

Staunton portrayed Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007), a performance described as "coming close to stealing the show."[16] She was nominated in the "British Actress in a Supporting Role" category at the London Film Critics Circle Awards.[17] 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). She played one of the lead roles in the ghost film The Awakening in 2011.[18] In 2014, she co-starred in Maleficent as well as the British comedy-drama Pride.


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 comedy drama series 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


On radio, she has appeared in the title role of 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) and 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.

Other work[edit]

Staunton has narrated The Gruffalo for an unabridged audio book of Julia Donaldson's children's book. 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.[19]

Personal life[edit]

Staunton met her husband, English actor Jim Carter, in Richard Eyre's landmark early 1980s production of Guys And Dolls at the National Theatre.[6] They have a daughter, Bessie, born in 1993. In 2007, the couple, together with Bessie, appeared in the BBC series Cranford (Carter was Captain Brown and Bessie a maid).[20]

Staunton was awarded the O.B.E. (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2006 New Year Honours for her services to drama.[21]

Theatre work[edit]

Repertory theatre:

Two seasons at the Northcott Theatre, Exeter:

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

Touring (1981–82?):

Theatre roles in London:



1986ComradesBetsy Loveless
1989A Sleeping LifePolly Flinders
1990YellowbacksCheryl Newman
1990They Never SleptThe Producer
1992Peter's FriendsMary Charleston
1993Much Ado About NothingMargaret
1993Deadly AdviceBeth Greenwood
1994Mole's ChristmasVillage Mother (voice)Short film
1995A Bit of Fry And LaurieHerself
1995Sense and SensibilityCharlotte Jennings PalmerNominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
1996Twelfth NightMaria
1996The Snow Queen's Revenge(voice)
1997Remember Me?Lorna
1997The Ugly DucklingScruffy
1998Shakespeare in LoveNurseScreen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2000Chicken RunBunty
2000Jack and the BeanstalkDilly (voice)
2000Victoria Wood With All The TrimmingsMrs. Cottisloe
2001Another LifeEthel Graydon
2003The Virgin of LiverpoolSylvia, Conlon
2003Bright Young ThingsLady Brown
2003I'll Be ThereDr. Bridget
2004Vera DrakeVera DrakeBAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
British Independent Film Award for Best Actress
Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
European Film Award for Best Actress
Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Actress
Iowa Film Critics Award for Best Actress
London Film Critics Circle Award for Actress of the Year
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress
New York Film Critics Online Award for Best Actress
San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress
Seattle Film Critics Award for Best Actress
Toronto Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Vancouver Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress
Volpi Cup for Best Actress
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Empire Award for Best British Actress
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
Nominated—Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated—Southeastern Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Utah Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
2005Nanny McPheeMrs. Blatherwick
2005A Midsummer Night's DreamPolly
2006My Family And Other AnimalsMotherNominated—International Emmy Award for Best Actress
2006Shadow ManAmbassador Cochran
2007Freedom WritersMargaret Campbell
2007Harry Potter and the Order of the PhoenixDolores Jane UmbridgeNominated—London Film Critics Circle Award for British Supporting Actress of the Year
Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress
2007How About YouHazel Nightingale
2008Three and OutRosemary Cassidy
2008A Bunch of AmateursMary
2009Taking WoodstockSonia Teichberg
2009Return to CranfordMiss Octavia Pole
2010White OtherLynne McDermott
2010Alice in WonderlandTall Flower Faces (voice)
2010Harry Potter and the Deathly
Hallows: Part 1
Dolores Jane Umbridge
2010Another YearJanetNominated—San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
2011The AwakeningMaud Hill
2011Arthur ChristmasMrs. Santa
2012The Pirates! Band of MisfitsQueen VictoriaNominated—Annie Award for Voice Acting in a Feature Production
2014PrideHefina Headon


1986The Singing DetectiveStaff Nurse White5 episodes
1986Ladies in ChargeEdithEpisode: "Double Act"
1988ThompsonVarious roles6 episodes
1990–1993Up the Garden PathIzzy18 episodes
1990ScreenplayStephanieEpisode: "The Englishman's Wife"
1991ScreenplayJane HartmanEpisode: "Antonia and Jane"
1992A Masculine EndingBridget BennetTelevision film
1993Don't Leave Me This WayBridget BennetTelevision film
1993If You See God, Tell HimMuriel Spry4 episodes
1994Frank Stubbs PromotesSusanEpisode: "Charity"
1994WoodcockEdnaTelevision film
1995–1998Is It Legal?Stella Phelps21 episodes
1995Citizen XMrs BurakovaTelevision film
1995Look at the State We're In!Councillor JohnsonTelevision film
1995The Adventures of Mole(voice)Television film
1996Tales From The CryptSarahEpisode: "About Face"
1998–2000The Canterbury TalesThe Prioress2 episodes
1999David CopperfieldMrs. MicawberTelevision film
1999Midsomer MurdersChristine CooperEpisode: "Dead Man's Eleven"
2002MurderDCI Billie DoryTelevision film
2003Cambridge SpiesThe Queen2 episodes
2003StrangeReverend Mary TruegoodEpisode: "Incubus"
2003Let's Write A StoryMrs. TwitTelevision film
2005FingersmithMrs Sucksby3 episodes
2005Little BritainMrs. Mead6 episodes
2006Dog TownGwen GregsonEpisode: "1.4"
2006The Wind in the WillowsBarge LadyTelevision film
2007–2009CranfordMiss Octavia Pole7 episodes
Nominated—BAFTA TV Award for Best Supporting Actress on Television
2008Big & SmallRuby/Twiba14 episodes
2008ClayMary DoonanTelevision film
2010–2011PsychovilleGrace Andrews7 episodes
2011Doctor WhoThe Interface (voice)Episode: "The Girl Who Waited"
2012The GirlAlma HitchcockTelevision film
Nominated—BAFTA TV Award for Best Supporting Actress on Television
Nominated—Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Movie/Miniseries Supporting Actress
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
2014Tubby and EnidTelevision film


2012Sweeney Todd Revival Cast RecordingMrs. Lovett

Awards and nominations[edit]





  1. ^ Lawley, Sue (15 May 2005). "This Week's Guest: Imelda Staunton". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 6 January 2007. 
  2. ^ Imelda Staunton profile at BBC Radio 4 "Desert island Discs"
  3. ^ a b "Imelda Staunton Biography". Tiscali Film and TV. Retrieved 16 July 2007. 
  4. ^ a b c "Imelda Staunton: My Career Is Not About Looks" The Telegraph, 8 December 2008
  5. ^ Irish News UK – News from the Irish Community in Britain
  6. ^ a b "Imelda Staunton's surprising confession: I might have nibbled the odd hash brownie and I'd love to have been a hippy Chris Sullivan, 19 November 2009, the Daily Mail
  7. ^ The prime of Miss Imelda Staunton
  8. ^ Raymond, Kurt. "We're Off To Stage The Wizard of Oz". Beyond the Rainbow to Oz website. Retrieved 15 July 2007. 
  9. ^ "Wizard of Oz (MUNY 1945)". Tams–Witmark Music Library, Inc. 2005. Retrieved 15 July 2007. 
  10. ^ Happy Birthday, Sir Larry theatre programme, 31 May 1987
  11. ^ "Staunton, Imelda Mary Philomena Bernadette". Who's Who. A & C Black. 2012. 
  12. ^ Olivier Awards winners
  13. ^ Billington, Michael (2 February 2009). "Theatre review: Entertaining Mr Sloane / Trafalgar Studios, London". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 21 April 2012. 
  14. ^ Billington, Michael (21 March 2012). "Sweeney Todd – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 April 2012. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ McCurry, Justin (29 June 2007). "Japan goes wild about Harry". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 17 May 2008. 
  17. ^ Dawtrey, Adam (13 December 2007). "London critics love 'Control,' 'Atonement'". Variety. Retrieved 15 December 2007. 
  18. ^ Ghostly Art From 'The Awakening'
  19. ^ The Milton Rooms homepage
  20. ^ "Imelda Staunton on acting naturally" The Sunday Times, 21 June 2008
  21. ^ "New Year Honours—United Kingdom". The London Gazette (57855): N12. 31 December 2005. 
  22. ^ Imelda Staunton and Her Big Band (1–5 September 1998) Donmar Warehouse
  23. ^ Billington, Michael (13 May 2011). "A Delicate Balance". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 23 June 2011. 

External links[edit]