Francesca Annis in trailer for Macbeth (1971)
14 May 1945 |
Kensington, London, England, UK
|Partner(s)||Patrick Wiseman (1976–1990s)
Ralph Fiennes (1995–2006)
Francesca Annis (born 14 May 1945) is an English actress, known for her film and television appearances in such series as Reckless (1998), Wives and Daughters (1999), Cranford (2007), and Deceit (2000).
Early life and education
Annis was born in Kensington, London in 1945 to an English father, Lester William Anthony Annis (1914–2001) and a Brazilian-French mother, actress Mara Purcell (1913–2009). She has two brothers, Quentin and Tony. Her family moved to Brazil when Annis was a year old, spending six years there before returning to England when she was 7. She was educated at a convent school, later training as a ballet dancer.
Annis began acting professionally in her teens, and made her film debut in The Cat Gang (1959). Her first major film role was as Elizabeth Taylor's handmaiden in the 1963 epic Cleopatra, which she was cast in while still studying Russian ballet at the Corona Stage Academy. Her big break was as one of the leads in the 1965 West End stage musical Passion Flower Hotel. In 1967 she played Estella in a television adaptation of Great Expectations and presented children's television programmes. She garnered attention for her performance as Lady Macbeth in Roman Polanski's film version of Macbeth (1971) in which she performs the sleepwalking soliloquy in the nude. The critic Kenneth Tynan was present when the scene was shot:
Francesca does it very sportingly and with no fuss ... though of course the set is closed, great curtains are drawn around the acting area ... and the wardrobe mistress rushes to cover Francesca with a dressing gown the instant Roman says, "Cut".
Annis continued to be a leading television actress throughout the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, appearing in series such as Edward the Seventh (1975) as Lillie Langtry, a role she reprised in Lillie (1978); Madame Bovary (1975); and Parnell and the Englishwoman (1991), in which she played Kitty O'Shea; as well as the miniseries Reckless (1998) and its 2000 sequel. In autumn 2007 Annis co-starred with Michael Gambon and Dame Judi Dench as Lady Ludlow (an aristocrat opposed to the education of the lower classes) in the BBC1 costume-drama series Cranford.
Her films have included Krull (1983) and Dune (1984). She appeared as 'Tuppence' with James Warwick as Tommy in Agatha Christie's Partners in Crime stories as well as its preceding The Secret Adversary. She appeared in Onassis: The Richest Man in the World, in which she played Jacqueline Kennedy.
Annis has had a stage as well as a screen career, playing leading roles with the Royal Shakespeare Company – Luciana in Trevor Nunn's musical version of The Comedy of Errors in 1976, and Juliet in Romeo and Juliet alongside Ian McKellen in 1977. At the National Theatre in 1981 she played Natalya Petrovna in Peter Gill's production of Ivan Turgenev's A Month in the Country. At the Comedy Theatre in September 2005, Annis starred in Epitaph for George Dillon with Joseph Fiennes. She returned to the stage in April 2009 to star as Mrs. Conway in Rupert Goold's National Theatre revival of J. B. Priestley's Time and the Conways.
Annis has three children from a relationship with actor Patrick Wiseman that began in 1976. In 1994/1995, she began a relationship with actor Ralph Fiennes, who left and later divorced his wife, Alex Kingston, to be with Annis. They met while performing Hamlet, in which Annis portrayed Gertrude to Fiennes' Hamlet. On 7 February 2006, Fiennes and Annis announced their separation after 11 years together.
- Carry On Teacher (1959)
- No Kidding (1960)
- Cleopatra (1963)
- West 11 (1963)
- Murder Most Foul (1964)
- Saturday Night Out (1964)
- Crooks in Cloisters (1964)
- The Eyes of Annie Jones (1964)
- Flipper's New Adventure (1964)
- The Pleasure Girls (1965)
- The Sky Pirate (1970)
- The Walking Stick (1970)
- Macbeth (1971)
- Penny Gold (1973)
- Krull (1983)
- Dune (1984)
- Under The Cherry Moon (1986)
- The Debt Collector (1999)
- Copenhagen (2002)
- Revolver (2005)
- The Libertine (2004)
- Shifty (2008)
Select television appearances
- Danger Man (Episodes: "No Marks For Servility"; 1964, "That's Two of Us Sorry"; 1964)
- Lillie (1978) as Lillie Langtry
- Why Didn't They Ask Evans? (1980) as Lady Frances "Frankie" Derwent
- The Secret Adversary (1983) as Prudence Cowley
- Agatha Christie's Partners in Crime (1983) as Prudence "Tuppence" Beresford
- Magnum P.I. (episode #108,109 "Deja Vu"; 1985)
- Between the Lines (1993) as Angela Berridge
- Dalziel and Pascoe (episode: "An Autumn Shroud"; 1996)
- Reckless (1998) as Anna Fairley
- Wives and Daughters (1999) as Hyacinth Gibson
- Cranford (2007) as Lady Ludlow
- Return to Cranford (2009) as Lady Ludlow
Awards & nominations
|1974||BAFTA TV Award||Best Actress||A Pin to See the Peepshow||Nominated|
|1976||BAFTA TV Award||Best Actress||Madame Bovary||Nominated|
|1977||Olivier Award||Best Actress in a Revival||Troilus and Cressida||Nominated|
|1979||BAFTA TV Award||Best Actress||Lillie||Won|
|1998||BAFTA TV Award||Best Actress||Reckless||Nominated|
|1999||BAFTA TV Award||Best Actress||Reckless||Nominated|
|2000||BAFTA TV Award||Best Actress||Wives and Daughters||Nominated|
- Births England and Wales, findmypast.co.uk.
- Birthdays, timesonline.co.uk, 14 May 2008; accessed 12 August 2014.
- "Fine without Fiennes", Irish Independent, 10 February 2008; retrieved 29 September 2010.
- Diary, 16 February 1971: The Diaries of Kenneth Tynan (ed. John Lahr, 2001)
- Review of Epitaph For George Dillon, thestage.co.uk; accessed 12 August 2014.
- Review of Time and the Conways, thestage.co.uk; accessed 12 August 2014.