Julie Christie

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Julie Christie
Julie Christie (1997) (2).jpg
Christie in 1997
BornJulie Frances Christie
(1940-04-14) 14 April 1940 (age 74) or (1941-04-14) 14 April 1941 (age 73)
Chabua, Assam,
British India
OccupationActress, activist
Years active1957–present
Spouse(s)Duncan Campbell
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Julie Christie
Julie Christie (1997) (2).jpg
Christie in 1997
BornJulie Frances Christie
(1940-04-14) 14 April 1940 (age 74) or (1941-04-14) 14 April 1941 (age 73)
Chabua, Assam,
British India
OccupationActress, activist
Years active1957–present
Spouse(s)Duncan Campbell

Julie Frances Christie (born 14 April 1940 or 1941)[1][2][3] is a British actress. A pop icon of the "swinging London" era of the 1960s, she has won the Academy, Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Christie's breakthrough film role was in Billy Liar (1963). In 1966, she won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in the 1965 film Darling. That same year, she starred as Lara in Doctor Zhivago, the eighth highest grossing film of all time after adjustment for inflation.[4] In the following years, she starred in Fahrenheit 451 (1966), Far from the Madding Crowd (1967), Petulia (1968), The Go-Between (1970), McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), for which she received her second Oscar nomination, Don't Look Now (1973), Shampoo (1975), and Heaven Can Wait (1978).

From the early 1980s, Christie reduced her appearances in mainstream films. She has continued to receive significant critical recognition for her work, including Oscar nominations for the independent films Afterglow (1997) and Away from Her (2006). In 1997, she received the BAFTA Fellowship.

Early life[edit]

Christie was born on either 14 April 1940[3] or 1941[1][2] at Singlijan Tea Estate, Chabua, Assam, British India, the elder child of Rosemary (née Ramsden), a painter, and Francis "Frank" St. John Christie.[5] Her father ran the tea plantation where she was raised.[5] She has a younger brother, Clive, and a (now deceased) older half-sister, June, from her father's relationship with an Indian woman, who worked as a tea picker on his plantation.[6] Frank and Rosemary separated when Julie was a child.

She was baptised in the Church of England and studied as a boarder at the independent Convent of Our Lady school in St. Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex, after being expelled from another convent school for telling a risqué joke which reached a wider audience than originally anticipated. After being asked to leave the Convent of Our Lady as well, she later attended Wycombe Court School, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, during which time she lived with a foster mother from the age of six.[7]

After her parents' divorce, Christie spent time with her mother in rural Wales.[7] As a teenager at the all-girls' Wycombe Court School, she played "the Dauphin" in a production of Shaw's Saint Joan. She later studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama.[8]


Christie with Peter Halliday in A for Andromeda (1961)

Christie made her professional stage debut in 1957, and her first screen roles were on British television. Her big break came in the 1961 BBC serial A for Andromeda. She was a contender for the role of Honey Rider in the first James Bond film, Dr. No, but producer Albert R. Broccoli reportedly thought her breasts were too small.[9]

In 1962, Christie appeared in feature films with co-starring roles in a pair of comedies for Independent Artists: Crooks Anonymous and The Fast Lady. Her breakthrough role, however, was as Liz, the friend and would-be lover of the eponymous character played by Tom Courtenay in Billy Liar (1963), which earned her a BAFTA Award nomination. The director, John Schlesinger, had cast Christie only after another actress dropped out of the film.[10]

Life magazine hailed 1965 as "The Year of Julie Christie" when the young actress became known internationally for her role as an amoral model in Darling, directed by Schlesinger. Christie, who had obtained the lead role when the casting of Shirley MacLaine fell through,[11] won numerous accolades for her performance, including the Academy Award for Best Actress.

Christie starred in two other films released in 1965, first appearing as Daisy Battles in Young Cassidy, a biopic of Irish playwright Seán O'Casey, co-directed by Jack Cardiff and (uncredited) John Ford. Her last film of the year was David Lean's Doctor Zhivago, adapted from the epic/romance novel by Boris Pasternak. The film was a box office smash, and Christie's role as Lara Antipova would become her most famous.[11] As of 2014, Doctor Zhivago is the 8th highest-grossing film of all time, adjusted for inflation.[12]

In 1966, Christie played a dual role in François Truffaut's adaptation of the Ray Bradbury novel Fahrenheit 451, where she starred opposite Oskar Werner. Later, she played Thomas Hardy's heroine Bathsheba Everdene in Schlesinger's Far from the Madding Crowd (1967), and the title role, Petulia Danner, in Richard Lester's Petulia (1968), opposite George C. Scott.

as Lara in Doctor Zhivago (1965)

Christie's persona as the "swinging 60s British bird" she had embodied in Billy Liar and Darling was further cemented by her appearance in the documentary Tonite Let's All Make Love in London. In 1967, Time magazine said of her: "What Julie Christie wears has more real impact on fashion than all the clothes of the ten best-dressed women combined."[13]

In 1970, Christie co-starred with Alan Bates in Joseph Losey's romantic drama The Go-Between, which won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. She earned a second Best Actress Oscar nomination the following year for her role as a brothel madame in Robert Altman's postmodern western McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971). The film marked the first of three collaborations between Christie and Warren Beatty, who described her as "the most beautiful and at the same time the most nervous person I had ever known."[7] The two had a high-profile but intermittent relationship between 1967 and 1974. After the relationship ended, they worked together again in the hit comedies Shampoo (1975) and Heaven Can Wait (1978).

Christie's other films during the 1970s were Nicolas Roeg's controversial thriller Don't Look Now (1973), in which she had a graphic sex scene with Donald Sutherland, and the science-fiction/horror film Demon Seed (1977), based on the novel of the same name by Dean Koontz.

Having moved to Los Angeles in 1967 ("I was there because of a lot of American boyfriends"[14]) Christie returned to the United Kingdom in 1977, where she lived on a farm in Wales. In 1979, she was a member of the jury at the 29th Berlin International Film Festival.[15] Never a prolific actress, even at the height of her fame and bankability, Christie turned down many high-caliber film roles, including Anne of the Thousand Days, They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, Nicholas and Alexandra, and Reds, all of which earned Oscar nominations for the actresses who eventually played them.[11][16]

In the 1980s, Christie appeared in non-mainstream films such as The Return of the Soldier (1982) and Heat and Dust (1983). She had a major supporting role in Sidney Lumet's Power (1986) opposite Richard Gere and Gene Hackman, but other than that, Christie avoided large budget studio films. In 1988, she starred in the television film Dadah Is Death, based on the Barlow and Chambers execution, playing Barlow's mother who desperately fights to save her son from being hanged for drug trafficking in Malaysia.[17]

Christie at the Toronto Film Festival in 2006

In 1996, Christie appeared as Gertrude in Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet. Her next critically acclaimed role was the unhappy wife in Alan Rudolph's 1997 domestic comedy-drama Afterglow, which gained her a third Oscar nomination. Also in 1997, she received the British Academy's highest honour, the BAFTA Fellowship.

In 2004, Christie made a brief cameo appearance in the third Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, playing Madam Rosmerta. That same year, she also appeared in two other high-profile films: Wolfgang Petersen's Troy with Brad Pitt and Marc Forster's Finding Neverland, as Kate Winslet's mother. The latter performance earned Christie a BAFTA nomination as supporting actress in film.

Christie portrayed the female lead in Away from Her, a film about a long-married Canadian couple coping with the wife's Alzheimer's disease. Based on the Alice Munro short story "The Bear Came Over the Mountain", the movie was the first feature film directed by Christie's sometime co-star, Canadian actress Sarah Polley. She took the role, she says, only because Polley is her friend.[18] Polley has said Christie liked the script but initially turned it down as she was ambivalent about acting. It took several months of persuasion by Polley before Christie finally accepted the role.[19]

In July 2006 she was a member of the jury at the 28th Moscow International Film Festival.[20] Debuting at the Toronto International Film Festival on 11 September 2006 as part of the TIFF's Gala showcase, Away from Her drew rave reviews from the trade press, including The Hollywood Reporter, and the four Toronto dailies. The critics singled out the performances of Christie and her co-star, Canadian actor Gordon Pinsent, and Polley's direction. Christie's performance generated Oscar buzz, leading the distributor, Lions Gate Entertainment, to buy the film at the festival to release the film in 2007 to build momentum during the awards season.

On 5 December 2007, she won the Best Actress Award from the National Board of Review for her performance in Away from Her.[21] She also won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Drama, the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role and the Genie Award for Best Actress for the same film. On 22 January 2008, Christie received her fourth Oscar nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role at the 80th Academy Awards. She appeared at the ceremony wearing a pin calling for the closure of the prison in Guantanamo Bay.[22]

In 2008, Christie narrated Uncontacted Tribes, a short film for the British-based charity Survival International, featuring previously unseen footage of remote and endangered peoples.[23] She has been a long-standing supporter of the charity, and in February 2008, was named as its first 'Ambassador'.[24] She appeared in a segment of the 2008 film, New York, I Love You, written by Anthony Minghella, directed by Shekhar Kapur and co-starring Shia LaBeouf, as well as in Glorious 39, about a British family at the start of World War II. In 2011, Christie played a "sexy, bohemian" version of the grandmother role in Catherine Hardwicke's gothic retelling of Red Riding Hood.[25] Her most recent role was in the political thriller The Company You Keep (2012), where she co-starred with Robert Redford.

Personal life[edit]

In the early 1960s, Christie dated actor Terence Stamp.[11] She was engaged to Don Bessant, a lithographer and art teacher, in 1965,[26] before dating actor Warren Beatty for several years, but the couple never wed.[7]

Christie is married to The Guardian journalist Duncan Campbell; they have lived together since 1979,[27] but the date they wed is unknown.[11] In January 2008, several news outlets reported that the couple had quietly married in India two months earlier,[28] which Christie called "nonsense," explaining "I have been married for a few years. Don't believe what you read in the papers."[29]

Christie suffers from a rare form of memory loss called autobiographic amnesia.[30] Christie said in 2002 that the condition became so severe that she's turned down offers from Hollywood producers and West End directors for fear of not being able to recall her lines.[30] "I'm not sure what [the condition] is, but it makes learning my lines very difficult, so I am happy to stay away from films and stage work. It's a bit sad. Now I can't remember any bad things, only the good things, if I can remember anything about my past at all."[31]


She is active in various causes, including animal rights, environmental protection, and the anti-nuclear power movement and is also a Patron of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign,[32] as well as Reprieve[33] and CFS/ME charity Action for ME[34]


1961Call Oxbridge 2000Annepisode: Episode #1.3
A for AndromedaChristine
6 episodes
1962Crooks AnonymousBabette LaVern
Fast Lady, TheThe Fast LadyClaire Chingford
The Andromeda BreakthroughAndromedaepisode: Cold Front
1963Billy LiarLizNominated—BAFTA Award for Best British Actress
The SaintJudith Northwadeepisode: Judith
ITV Play of the WeekBetty Whiteheadepisode: J.B. Priestley Season #3: Dangerous Corner
1965Young CassidyDaisy Battles
DarlingDiana Scott
Doctor ZhivagoLara Antipova
1966Fahrenheit 451Clarisse
Linda Montag
Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best British Actress (joint with Doctor Zhivago)
1967Far from the Madding CrowdBathsheba Everdene
1968PetuliaPetulia Danner
1969In Search of GregoryCatherine Morelli
1970Go-Between, TheThe Go-BetweenMarian – Lady TriminghamNominated—BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
1971McCabe & Mrs. MillerConstance MillerNominated—Academy Award for Best Actress
1973Don't Look NowLaura BaxterNominated—BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
1975ShampooJackie ShawnNominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1977Demon SeedSusan HarrisNominated—Saturn Award for Best Actress
1978Heaven Can WaitBetty Logan
1981Memoirs of a Survivor'D'Fantasporto International Fantasy Film Award for Best Actress
1982Return of the Soldier, TheThe Return of the SoldierKitty Baldry
Les quarantièmes rugissantsCatherine Dantec
1983Heat and DustAnne
Gold Diggers, TheThe Gold DiggersRuby
Separate TablesMrs. Shankland(TV movie)
Nominated—CableACE Award for Best Actress in a Theatrical or Non-Musical Program
1986Champagne amerBetty Rivière
PowerEllen Freeman
Miss MaryMary MulliganHavana Film Festival Award for Best Actress
Sins of the FathersCharlotte Deutz(TV miniseries)
1988Dadah Is DeathBarbara Barlow(TV movie)
1990Fools of FortuneMrs. Quinton
1992Railway Station Man, TheThe Railway Station ManHelen Cuffe(TV movie)
1996DragonheartQueen Aislinn
KaraokeLady Ruth Balmerepisode: Wednesday
episode: Friday
1997AfterglowPhyllis Mann
2000Miracle Maker, TheThe Miracle MakerRachael(voice)
2001Belphégor - Le fantôme du LouvreGlenda Spender
No Such ThingDr. Anna
2002I'm with LucyDori
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of AzkabanMadam Rosmerta
Finding NeverlandMrs. Emma du MaurierNominated—BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2005Secret Life of Words, TheThe Secret Life of WordsInge
2006Away from HerFiona Anderson
2008New York, I Love YouIsabellesegment: Shekhar Kapur
2009Glorious 39Elizabeth
2011Red Riding HoodGrandmother
2012The Company You KeepMimi Lurie


1957Frinton Repertory of EssexRSC
1964The Comedy of ErrorsBroadway
1973Uncle VanyaChichester Festival Theatre (and on tour, Bath, Oxford, Richmond and Guildford)
1997Suzanna AndlerWyndhams Theatre & Theatre Clywd
1995Old TimesRoyal Court Theatre
2007Cries From The Heart


  1. ^ a b "Julie Christie". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "Julie Christie profile at Screenonline". Screenonline. British Film Institute. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Ewbank, Tim; Stafford Hildred (2000). Julie Christie: The Biography. Carlton Publishing Group, London. pp. 1–2. ISBN 978-0-233-00255-2. "In the spring of 1940 meat rationing had just begun in England ... Vivien Leigh, a British actress born in Darjeeling, India, had on 29 February at a banquet at the Coconut Grove in Los Angeles won the Best Actress Oscar for her role as Scarlett O'Hara ... Forty five days later, on 14 April, there was much cause for rejoicing for Frank and Rosemary Christie, a British couple living on a tea plantation in Assam in the north-east of India, with the arrival of their first child, Julie Frances. ..." 
  4. ^ "All Time Box Office Adjusted for Ticket Price Inflation". Boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 27 March 2012. 
  5. ^ a b "The secret Indian sister who haunts actress Julie Christie", 11 February 2008, Daily Mail
  6. ^ "Christie's Secret World", 17 February 2008, Wales Online
  7. ^ a b c d Adams, Tim (1 April 2007). "The divine Miss Julie". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  8. ^ Sirota, David (12 June 2001). "Salon.com". Archive.salon.com. Retrieved 30 May 2010. 
  9. ^ "Kiss Of Death", 12 November 1995, New York Daily News
  10. ^ Barton, Laura (1 September 2010). "Billy Liar – still in town". The Guardian (London). 
  11. ^ a b c d e "Julie Christie Biography at Yahoo! Movies". 
  12. ^ "Doctor Zhivago (1965)". Box Office Mojo. 22 December 1965. Retrieved 27 March 2012. 
  13. ^ "The private life of Julie Christie", L.A. Times, 5 January 2008.
  14. ^ "Darling". 9 February 1998. 
  15. ^ "Berlinale 1979: Juries". berlinale.de. Retrieved 8 August 2010. 
  16. ^ "Oscar Augury – Best Actress: Julie Christie is Front-Runner for Her Performance in "Away from Her"". Yahoo!. 
  17. ^ "Julie Christie Making U.S. TV Movie". New York Times. 12 July 1988. 
  18. ^ Olsen, Mark (14 November 2007)."Julie Christie is good at being picky", Los Angeles Times
  19. ^ Cochrane, Kira. "'I felt like a crazy stalker'". The Guardian,12 April 2007. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 25 December 2013. 
  20. ^ "28th Moscow International Film Festival (2006)". MIFF. Retrieved 14 April 2013. 
  21. ^ "National Board of Review of Motion Pictures: Awards". Nbrmp.org. Retrieved 30 May 2010. 
  22. ^ "Julie Christie". About.com. Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  23. ^ "Uncontacted Tribes". Survival International. Retrieved 30 May 2010. 
  24. ^ "Julie Christie named 'Survival ambassador'". Survival International. Retrieved 30 May 2010. 
  25. ^ "Catherine Hardwicke's The Girl With the Red Riding Hood". Dreadcentral.com. 23 April 2010. Retrieved 30 May 2010. 
  26. ^ Julie Christie, Anthony Hayward (Robert Hale, 2000)
  27. ^ "Julie Christie Biography". TV Guide. 
  28. ^ "Julie Christie gets married". The Guardian (London). 30 January 2008. Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  29. ^ "http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20177380,00.html". 11 February 2008. 
  30. ^ a b Julie Christie's Battle With Memory Loss WENN 22 April 2002
  31. ^ I'm losing my memory says Julie Christie Daily Mail 22 April 2002
  32. ^ "Palestine Solidarity Campaign: Patrons". Palestine Solidarity Campaign. n.d. Retrieved 10 March 2009. 
  33. ^ List of Board Members at Reprieve official website
  34. ^ List of Patrons at Action for ME official website
  35. ^ "4th Moscow International Film Festival (1965)". MIFF. Retrieved 8 December 2012. 

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