Clare Higgins

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For the Mayor of Northampton, Massachusetts, see Clare Higgins (politician).
Clare Higgins
Born Clare Frances Elizabeth Higgins
(1955-11-10) 10 November 1955 (age 59)
Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire, England, UK
Occupation Actress

Clare Frances Elizabeth Higgins (born 10 November 1955) is an English actress. She is a three-time Olivier Award winner.[1]

Higgins is a graduate of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA). She received the first of six Olivier nominations in 1984, as Best Supporting Actress, for her role as Stella Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire. She has since won Best Actress for Sweet Bird of Youth in 1995, Vincent in Brixton in 2003 and Hecuba in 2005. She made her Broadway debut in 2003 in Vincent in Brixton, receiving a Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Play.[2]

Her films include, Hellraiser (1987), Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988), Bad Behaviour (1993), Small Faces (1996) and The Golden Compass (2007)

Early life[edit]

Higgins, the second of five children, was born in Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire to Paula Cecilia (née Murphy) and James Stephen Higgins.[3] Her parents were from working class Irish Catholic backgrounds[4] and worked as teachers. Higgins was interested in acting since her childhood. After being expelled from a convent school, she ran away from home at seventeen.[4] At 19, she gave birth to a boy but gave him up for adoption because she was unable to raise him.[4]


At 23, she achieved her dream of becoming an actress, graduating from LAMDA. Through the 1980s, she became a dynamic stage actress, both in London and on Broadway, including the premiere of The Secret Rapture, and won the first of her three Olivier Awards in 1995. In 1983, she starred with Ben Cross in the BBC production of A.J. Cronin's The Citadel, playing the role of Christine Manson. For the big screen, Clare played Julia Cotton in the Clive Barker-directed Hellraiser. The film was made in 1987 and was based on Barker's original novel The Hellbound Heart. Higgins reprised the role in 1988 for Tony Randel's Hellbound: Hellraiser II. A successful sequel to Hellraiser, Hellbound was considered a brutal horror film that shocked audiences around the world and, in general, collected good reviews.[5] Other films include Bad Behaviour in 1993 and the Scottish film Small Faces in 1996.

In 2004 Higgins had a cameo role as the Mistress of Revels in the movie "Stage Beauty" with Claire Danes and Billy Crudup. In 2007, Higgins took the role of Ma Costa in Chris Weitz's The Golden Compass starring Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig and Dakota Blue Richards.

Higgins recently appeared as Jocasta in the National Theatre's critically acclaimed production of Oedipus, opposite Ralph Fiennes in the title role. From April to May 2009, she appeared in Wallace Shawn's The Fever at the Royal Court Theatre.[6]

From mid-May to September 2009, she appeared as the Countess Rossillion in All's Well That Ends Well at the National Theatre (Olivier stage).[7]

On 30 September 2012, Higgins appeared in Season 3, episode 3 of Downton Abbey as Mrs. Bartlett, a friend of Mrs. Bates who eventually helps in the release of Mr Bates from prison.[8]

On November 14th 2013, she appeared in a mini-episode of Doctor Who titled The Night of the Doctor, which starred Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor. In the episode - which preceded the 50th Anniversary special, The Day of the Doctor - Higgins played Ohila, a member of the Sisterhood of Karn who helps the Doctor regenerate into his next incarnation. On 18 February 2014, the BBC confirmed Higgins will return to Doctor Who in the 2 part story The Magician's Apprentice/The Witch's Familiar which is set to open the 9th season of the hit series when it returns in autumn 2015.

Acting awards and nominations[edit]

Higgins was awarded the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award in 1995 (1994 season) for Best Actress in a Play for her performance in Sweet Bird of Youth at the Royal National Theatre. She won the same award in both 2002 and 2005: in 2002 for her performance in Vincent in Brixton performed at the Royal National Theatre, Cottesloe and Wyndham's Theatres, and in 2005 for her performance as Hecuba in the Euripides tragedy at the Donmar Warehouse. She was awarded the 2002 London Critics' Circle Theatre Award for Best Actress for her performance in Vincent in Brixton. Additionally, she was awarded the 1994 London Critics Circle Theatre Award (Drama Theatre) for Best Actress for her performances in The Children's Hour and Sweet Bird of Youth. She was also awarded the 2002 London Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Actress for her performance in Vincent in Brixton at the Donmar Warehouse in London. In 2003 she was nominated for a Tony Award as Best Actress in a Play for Vincent in Brixton on Broadway, and garnered the 2003 Theatre World Award for outstanding major Broadway debut.[9]


  1. ^ "Previous winners". Olivier Awards. Retrieved 6 May 2014. 
  2. ^ "Clare Higgins". IBDB. Retrieved 6 May 2014. 
  3. ^ Clare Higgins profile at Film
  4. ^ a b c "Jung at heart."
  5. ^ Hellraiser 2 at Rotten Tomatoes
  6. ^ "Theatre masterclass: Clare higgins". The Guardian. 30 June 2009. Retrieved 6 May 2014. 
  7. ^ "Clare Higgins- one of the busiest stage actors". The British Theatre Guide. Retrieved 6 May 2014. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Past recipients". Theatre World Awards. Retrieved 6 May 2014. 

External links[edit]