Davis in January 2012
23 April 1955 |
Perth, Western Australia
|Spouse(s)||Colin Friels (1984–present)|
Early in her career, Davis starred on stage opposite Mel Gibson in Romeo and Juliet in 1978. Her other theatre roles include Edith Piaf in Piaf at the Perth Playhouse (1980), Insignificance at the Royal Court London (1982), the title role in Hedda Gabler with the Sydney Theatre Company (1986), Hapgood in Los Angeles (1989) and Irina in The Seagull at the Belvoir St Theatre in Sydney (2011).
She first came to attention on screen for her role as the fiery Sybylla Melvyn in the 1979 film My Brilliant Career, which won her two BAFTA Awards. She received Academy Award nominations for A Passage to India (1984) and Husbands and Wives (1992). For her television work she has won three Emmy Awards, for Serving in Silence (1995), the title role in Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows (2001) and The Starter Wife (2007). Her other films include, Winter of Our Dreams (1981), Heatwave (1983), High Tide (1987), Impromptu (1991), Naked Lunch (1991), Absolute Power (1997), Deconstructing Harry (1997), The Reagans (2003) The Break-up (2006) and The Eye of the Storm (2011).
Davis was born in Perth, and had a strict Catholic upbringing. She was educated at Loreto Convent and the Western Australian Institute of Technology, and graduated from the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) in 1977. She has been married to actor and fellow NIDA graduate Colin Friels since 1984. They have two children, son Jack and daughter Charlotte.
First coming to prominence for her role as Sybylla Melvyn in the coming-of-age saga My Brilliant Career (1979), for which she won BAFTA Awards for Best Actress and Best Newcomer, Judy Davis also played the lead in the Australian New Wave classics Winter of Our Dreams (1981) (as a waif-like heroin addict) and Heatwave (1982) (as a radical tenant organizer).
Her international film career began in 1981 when she played the younger version of Ingrid Bergman's Golda Meir in the television docudrama A Woman Called Golda, followed by the role of a terrorist in the British film Who Dares Wins (1982).
In 1984, she was cast as Adela Quested in David Lean's final film A Passage to India, an adaptation of E. M. Forster's novel, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress. She returned to Australian cinema for her next two films, Kangaroo, as a German-born writer's wife, and Hightide, as a foot-loose mother who attempts to reunite with her teenage daughter who is being raised by the paternal grandmother. She earned Australian Film Institute Awards for both roles, and a National Society of Film Critics award for Hightide's brief American theatrical run. In 1990, she played a cameo in Woody Allen's Alice.
In 1991, she was featured in Joel Coen's Barton Fink, which won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival and in David Cronenberg's adaptation of the hallucinogenic novel Naked Lunch. She won an Independent Spirit Award for her work as mannish woman author George Sand in Impromptu and returned to E. M. Forster territory in Where Angels Fear to Tread. She portrayed real-life World War II heroine Mary Lindell in the CBS Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation One Against the Wind. In 1992, she played a major role in Woody Allen's Husbands and Wives as one half of a divorcing couple. For this performance she earned both Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for best supporting actress.
Other roles have included the mysterious, schizophrenic mother of a teenager in boarding school in On My Own (1993), the lifelong Australian Communist Party member reacting to the downfall of the Soviet Union in Children of the Revolution (1996), two more Allen films, Deconstructing Harry (1997) and Celebrity (1998), a highly-strung White House chief of staff in Absolute Power (1997), a supportive mother in Swimming Upstream (2003) and supporting roles in two 2006 films, The Break-Up and Marie-Antoinette.
Much of her recent work has been on television, where she has a collection of Emmy Award nominations. She won her first Emmy for portraying the woman who gently coaxes rigid militarywoman Glenn Close out of the closet in Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story, with subsequent nominations for her repressed Australian outback mother in The Echo of Thunder (1998), her portrayal of Lillian Hellman in Dash and Lilly (1999), her frigid society matron in A Cooler Climate (1999) and her interpretation of Nancy Reagan in the controversial biopic The Reagans (2003).
She earned a second Emmy for her portrayal of Judy Garland in the 2001 television biographical film Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows. In July 2006, she received her ninth Emmy nomination for her performance in the television film A Little Thing Called Murder. Her tenth nomination came in 2007 for Outstanding Supporting Actress in the U.S. miniseries The Starter Wife for which she was awarded the Emmy. In August 2007, she appeared opposite Sam Waterston in an episode of ABC's anthology series Masters of Science Fiction. She appeared on the TV mini-series, Diamonds from 2008–2009.
In 2011, Davis appeared in a television drama film, Page Eight, and played Dorothy de Lascabanes in The Eye of the Storm, an adaptation of Patrick White's novel of the same title, for which, in 2012, she won an Australian Film Institute Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. She has a major role as Woody Allen's psychiatrist wife in his To Rome with Love and she also stars in The Surrealist about Salvador Dalí.
Davis's stage work has been limited, and mostly confined to Australia. Early in her career, she played Juliet opposite Mel Gibson's Romeo. In 1978, she appeared in Visions by Louis Nowra at the Paris Theatre Company in Sydney. In 1980, she portrayed French chanteuse Edith Piaf in Stephen Barry's production of the Pam Gems play Piaf at the Perth Playhouse. She played both Cordelia and the Fool in a 1984 staging of King Lear by the Nimrod Theatre Company, and also starred in its productions of Strindberg's Miss Julie, Chekhov's The Bear, Louis Nowra's Inside The Island and, in 1986, the title role of Ibsen's Hedda Gabler for the Sydney Theatre Company
In 2004, she starred in and co-directed Howard Barker's play Victory, as a Puritan woman determined to locate her husband's dismembered corpse. Other stage directorial efforts include Sheridan's The School For Scandal and Barrymore by William Luce (all three for the Sydney Theatre Company). She created the role of The Actress in Terry Johnson's Insignificance at the Royal Court in London, receiving an Olivier Award nomination, and appeared in a brief 1989 Los Angeles production of Tom Stoppard's Hapgood.
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- 1994 Film Critics Circle of Australia Award Special Achievement Award ("* For her outstanding body of Australian and international work and for her considerable contribution to the profession of screen acting.")
- 1982 Laurence Olivier Award for Actress of the Year in a New Play (Insignificance)
- 2004 Helpmann Award for Best Female Actor in a Play (Victory)
- Maslin, Janet (22 February 1980). "New Face: Judy Davis Don't Call Her Sybylla; A Last-Minute Replacement 'I'm Not Good at Reading Scripts' Elizabeth Swados at Club". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
- Rovi, Hal Erickson. "Judy Davis Biography". TV Squad. Retrieved 10 October 2010.
- Colin Friels biography at IMDb
- Ryan Gilbey (25 April 2013). "Judy Davis: 'I never wanted celebrity'". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
- Bernard Weinraub (10 December 2000). "The Rewards And the Risks of Playing an Icon". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
- Allen, Paul Stephen Barry (obituary) The Guardian, London, 9 November 2000
- Fitzgerald, Michael The Restoration of Judy at Time Magazine, 24 April 2004
- Kerry O'Brien (9 August 1999). "Judy Davies takes on directing". ABC 7.30 report. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
- "Society of West End Theatre Awards 1982" at West End Theatre.com
- "13th Moscow International Film Festival (1983)". MIFF. Retrieved 2013-01-31.
- "6th Annual SAG Awards Nominees". Screen Actors Guild Awards. Archived from the original on 23 January 2010. Retrieved 23 January 2010.
- "The Starter Wife – Character Profiles & Bios – Judy Davis as Joan McAllister". USANetwork.com. NBC Universal. Archived from the original on 23 January 2010. Retrieved 23 January 2010.
- Judy Davis at the Internet Movie Database
- Judy Davis at the TCM Movie Database
- Judy Davis at AllMovie