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definition - Imelda_Staunton

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Imelda Staunton

Imelda Staunton

Imelda Staunton at the world premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 in London (2011)
Born Imelda Mary Philomena Bernadette Staunton
(1956-01-09) 9 January 1956 (age 56)
London, England, UK
Occupation Actress
Years active 1976–present
Spouse Jim Carter (1983–present; 1 child)

Imelda Mary Philomena Bernadette Staunton, OBE (born 9 January 1956) is an English actress. 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. 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.


  Early life and education

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 Hampstead Heath, from years 11 to 17. Her talent was spotted by Jacqueline Stoker, her elocution teacher. 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),[6][dead link] and studied alongside Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall and Juliet Stevenson.[7] 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). Staunton then joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, and in 1982, moved on to the National Theatre.[6] She has stated that her first job was a play by Goldoni.[8] She is also known for her performance as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz for the Royal Shakespeare Company.[9][10] 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.[11]

Staunton has twice received an Olivier Award,[12] 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.[13] 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.[14] 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 in March 2012.[15]


Staunton's first big-screen role came in a 1986 Bill Douglas film, Comrades.[citation needed] She then appeared in the 1992 film Peter's Friends. Other early 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.

Recent film roles include 2008's 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 will play one of the lead roles in the upcoming ghost film The Awakening.[18]


In 1993, she appeared on television alongside Richard Briers and Adrian Edmondson in If You See God, Tell Him. 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 season 4, episode 3. 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, and in the sequel to the series, Return to Cranford. She also supplies the voices of Ruby (a mouse) and Twiba (The Worm who lives in Big's Apple) in the Children's TV show Big & Small.[19] In 2010, she appeared in the Halloween special of Psychoville as Grace Andrews, and became a recurring cast member in the second series (2011). In 2011, she had a guest role in series 6 of Doctor Who playing the voice of the interface in "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. She had also acted with Barlow in the TV series Is It Legal?

  Other work

Staunton has narrated The Gruffalo and Tiddler for an unabridged audio book of Julia Donaldson's children's book.[citation needed]

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.[20]

  Personal life

Staunton met her husband, English actor Jim Carter, in Richard Eyre's landmark early 1980s production of Guys And Dolls at the National Theatre.[7] They have a daughter, Bessie, born 1993. In 2007, the couple, together with Bessie, appeared in the BBC series Cranford (Carter was Captain Brown and Bessie a maid).[21]

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.[22]

  Theatre work

Repertory theatre:

Two seasons at the Northcott Theatre, Exeter:

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

Touring (1981–82?):

Theatre roles in London::


Year Title Role Notes
1986 The Singing Detective Staff Nurse White TV
1986 Ladies In Charge Edith TV
1986 Comrades Betsy Loveless
1988 Thompson Various roles TV series
1989 A Sleeping Life Polly Flinders
1990 Yellowbacks Cheryl Newman TV
1990 Up the Garden Path Izzy TV series
1990 They Never Slept The Producer
1990 The Englishman's Wife Stephanie TV
1991 Antonia And Jane Jane Hartman
1992 Peter's Friends Mary Charleston
1992 A Masculine Ending Bridget Bennet TV
1993 Much Ado About Nothing Margaret
1993 Don't Leave Me This Way Bridget Bennet TV
1993 If You See God, Tell Him Muriel Spry TV
1993 Deadly Advice Beth Greenwood
1994 Woodcock Edna TV
1994 Frank Stubbs Promotes Susan TV
1994 Mole's Christmas Village Mother (voice) TV
1995 Citizen X Mrs Burakova TV
1995 Look At The State We're In! Councillor Johnson TV
1995 Is It Legal? Stella Phelps TV
1995 A Bit Of Fry And Laurie Herself TV
1995 Sense and Sensibility Charlotte Jennings Palmer
1995 The Adventures of Mole (voice) TV
1996 Twelfth Night Maria
1996 Tales From The Crypt Sarah TV series
1996 The Snow Queen's Revenge (voice)
1997 Remember Me? Lorna
1997 The Ugly Duckling Scruffy
1998 Shakespeare In Love Nurse
1998 The Canterbury Tales The Prioress TV series
1999 Midsomer Murders Christine Cooper TV series
1999 David Copperfield Mrs. Micawber TV
2000 Chicken Run Bunty (voice)
2000 Rat Conchita
2000 Jack And The Beanstalk Dilly (voice)
2000 Victoria Wood With All The Trimmings Mrs. Cottisloe TV
2001 Another Life Ethel Graydon
2001 Crush Janine
2002 Murder DCI Billie Dory TV
2002 Ready Naomi
2003 Cambridge Spies The Queen TV
2003 Let's Write A Story Mrs. Twit TV
2003 The Virgin Of Liverpool Sylvia, Conlon
2003 Strange Reverend Mary Truegood TV
2003 Bright Young Things Lady Brown
2003 Blackball Bridget
2003 I'll Be There Dr. Bridget
2004 Vera Drake Vera Drake
2005 Nanny McPhee Mrs. Blatherwick
2005 Fingersmith Mrs Sucksby TV
2005 A Midsummer Night's Dream Polly TV
2005 Little Britain Mrs. Mead TV series
2006 My Family And Other Animals Mother
2006 Shadow Man Ambassador Cochran
2006 Dog Town Gwen Gregson TV
2006 The Wind in the Willows Barge Lady TV
2007 Cranford Miss Octavia Pole TV series
2007 Freedom Writers Margaret Campbell
2007 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Professor Dolores Jane Umbridge
2007 How About You Hazel Nightingale
2008 Big & Small Ruby/Twiba TV
2008 Three and Out Rosemary Cassidy
2008 A Bunch of Amateurs Mary
2008 Clay Mary Doonan TV
2009 Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince Dolores Jane Umbridge (voice)
2009 Taking Woodstock Sonia Teichberg
2009 Return to Cranford Miss Octavia Pole
2010 White Other Lynne McDermott
2010 Alice In Wonderland Tall Flower Faces (voice)
2011 Psychoville Grace Andrews TV series
2010 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 Dolores Jane Umbridge
2010 Another Year Janet
2011 The Awakening Maud Hill
2011 Arthur Christmas Mrs. Santa
2011 Doctor Who The Interface (voice) TV series
2012 The Pirates! Band of Misfits Queen Victoria
2014 Maleficent Knotgrass

  Awards and nominations


  • 1985 – Olivier Award, Winner, Outstanding Performance of the Year in a Supporting Role for A Chorus Of Disapproval, at the NT Oivier, and The Corn Is Green, at The Old Vic
  • 1991 – Olivier Award, Winner, Outstanding Performance of the Year by an Actress in a Musical for Into The Woods, at the Phoenix
  • 2010 – Olivier Award, Nominee, Best Actress for Entertaining Mr. Sloane, at Trafalgar Studio 1


  • 2006 – International Emmy Awards, Nominated, Emmy for Best Performance by an Actress for My Family and Other Animals (2005) (TV)
  • 2010 – British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Television Award, Nominated, Best Supporting Actress for Cranford (2009) (TV)


  • 1999 – Screen Actors Guild Award, Winner, Best Performance by a Cast for Shakespeare in Love (1998)
  • 2000 – Irish Film and Television Awards, Nominated, Best Actress for Rat (2000)
  • 2004 – European Film Award, Winner, Best Actress for Vera Drake (2004)
  • 2004 – Venice Film Festival, Winner, Volpi Cup, Best Actress for Vera Drake (2004)
  • 2004 – London Film Critics Circle Award, Winner, Best Actress for Vera Drake (2004)
  • 2004 – National Society of Film Critics Award, Winner, Best Actress for Vera Drake (2004)
  • 2004 – Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Awards, Winner, Best Actress for Vera Drake (2004)
  • 2004 – Chicago Film Critics Association Awards, Winner, Best Actress for Vera Drake (2004)
  • 2004 – Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards (LAFCA), Winner, Best Actress for Vera Drake (2004)
  • 2004 – San Diego Film Critics Society Awards, Winner, Best Actress for Vera Drake (2004)
  • 2004 – Seattle Film Critics Awards, Winner, Best Actress for Vera Drake (2004)
  • 2004 – New York Film Critics Circle Awards, Winner, Best Actress for Vera Drake (2004)
  • 2004 – Toronto Film Critics Association Awards, Winner, Best Performance, Female for Vera Drake (2004)
  • 2005 – Vancouver Film Critics Circle, Winner, Best Actress for Vera Drake (2004)
  • 2005 – British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Award, Winner, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role for Vera Drake (2004)
  • 2005 – Evening Standard British Film Awards, Winner, Best Actress for Vera Drake (2004)
  • 2005 – Chlotrudis Awards, Winner, Best Actress for Vera Drake (2004)
  • 2005 – National Society of Film Critics Awards, (NSCF) USA, Winner, Best Actress for Vera Drake (2004). Tied with Hilary Swank for Million Dollar Baby (2004).
  • 2005 – Academy Award, Nominated for an Oscar, Best Actress for Vera Drake (2004)
  • 2005 – Screen Actors Guild Awards, Nominated, Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role for Vera Drake (2004)
  • 2005 – Golden Globe, Nominated, Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama for Vera Drake (2004)
  • 2005 – Golden Satellite Award, Nominated, Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama for Vera Drake (2004)
  • 2005 – Empire Awards, UK, Nominated, Best British Actress for Vera Drake (2004)
  • 2005 – Online Film Critics Society Awards, Nominated, Best Actress for Vera Drake (2004)
  • 2005 – The Broadcast Film Critics Association Award, Nominated, Best Actress for Vera Drake (2004)
  • 2008 – Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, Nominated, Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
  • 2008 – London Critics Circle Film Awards, Nominated, British Supporting Actress of the Year for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
  • 2009 – California Independent Film Festival, Winner, Audience Award, Best Actress – Comedy for Three and Out (2008)


  1. ^ Lawley, Sue (15 May 2005). "This Week's Guest: Imelda Staunton". BBC Radio 4. http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/factual/desertislanddiscs_20050515.shtml. 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. http://www.tiscali.co.uk/entertainment/film/biographies/imelda_staunton_biog.html. 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 http://www.variety.com/profiles/people/Biography/37951/Imelda+Staunton.html?dataSet=1 Variety
  7. ^ 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
  8. ^ The prime of Miss Imelda Staunton
  9. ^ Raymond, Kurt. "We're Off To Stage The Wizard of Oz". Beyond the Rainbow to Oz website. http://www.beyondtherainbow2oz.com/stagethewizard.html. Retrieved 15 July 2007. 
  10. ^ "Wizard of Oz (MUNY 1945)". Tams–Witmark Music Library, Inc.. 2005. http://www.tams-witmark.com/musicals/wizard.html. Retrieved 15 July 2007. 
  11. ^ Happy Birthday, Sir Larry theatre programme, 31 May 1987
  12. ^ "Staunton, Imelda Mary Philomena Bernadette". Who's Who. A & C Black. 2012. 
  13. ^ Olivier Awards winners
  14. ^ Billington, Michael (2 February 2009). "Theatre review: Entertaining Mr Sloane / Trafalgar Studios, London". The Guardian (London). http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2009/feb/02/entertaining-mr-sloane-review?INTCMP=SRCH. Retrieved 21 April 2012. 
  15. ^ Billington, Michael (21 March 2012). "Sweeney Todd - review". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2012/mar/21/sweeney-todd-review?INTCMP=SRCH. Retrieved 21 April 2012. 
  16. ^ McCurry, Justin (29 June 2007). "Japan goes wild about Harry". The Guardian (London). http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2007/jun/29/film.business. Retrieved 17 May 2008. 
  17. ^ Dawtrey, Adam (13 December 2007). "London critics love 'Control,' 'Atonement'". Variety. http://www.variety.com/awardcentral_article/VR1117977651.html?nav=news&categoryid=1983&cs=1. Retrieved 15 December 2007. 
  18. ^ Ghostly Art From 'The Awakening'
  19. ^ "BBC – CBeebies Grownups – Big & Small". BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/grownups/about/programmes/bigandsmall.shtml. Retrieved 5 October 2009. 
  20. ^ The Milton Rooms homepage
  21. ^ "Imelda Staunton on acting naturally" The Sunday Times, 21 June 2008
  22. ^ "New Year Honours—United Kingdom". The London Gazette (57855): N12. 31 December 2005. 
  23. ^ Billington, Michael (13 May 2011). "A Delicate Balance". The Guardian. London. http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2011/may/13/a-delicate-balance-review. Retrieved 23 June 2011. 

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