Essie Davis

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Essie Davis
Esther Davis

(1970-01-19) January 19, 1970 (age 54)
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
EducationNational Institute of Dramatic Art (BFA)
Years active1993–present
(m. 2002)

Esther “Essie” Davis is an Australian actress and singer, best known for her roles as Phryne Fisher in Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries and its film adaptation, Miss Fisher & the Crypt of Tears, and as Amelia Vanek in The Babadook. Other major works include a recurring role as Lady Crane in season six of the television series Game of Thrones, Sister Iphigenia in Lambs of God, and the role of Ellen Kelly in Justin Kurzel's True History of the Kelly Gang.

Early life and education[edit]

Davis was born and brought up in Hobart, Tasmania. She is the daughter of local artist George Davis.[1]

She was educated at Clarence High School; Rosny College; the University of Tasmania, where she was a member of the Old Nick Company;[1] and the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) in Sydney.[citation needed]


Her acting career began with the Bell Shakespeare company when, straight out of NIDA, she was cast as Juliet in its 1993 production of Romeo and Juliet.[2] She followed this with performances for the company in Hamlet and Richard III in 1993, and Macbeth and The Taming of the Shrew in 1994.[3]

Davis's film career started with her role in the 1995 Australian film Dad and Dave: On Our Selection, which starred Geoffrey Rush, Leo McKern and Joan Sutherland. Film roles continued in The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, director Richard Flanagan's 1998 Tasmanian film The Sound of One Hand Clapping, and Girl with a Pearl Earring.[citation needed]

After further stage performances in Australia, including Gwendolen Fairfax in a national tour of The Importance of Being Earnest in 2000 and The School for Scandal for the Sydney Theatre Company in 2001, in 2003 she won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Stella Kowalski opposite Glenn Close in Trevor Nunn's production of Tennessee Williams play A Streetcar Named Desire at the National Theatre in London.[4] In 2004 she starred in a Broadway production of Tom Stoppard's Jumpers at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, for which she earned a Tony Award nomination. In 2005 she appeared as Mrs. Nellie Lovett in the BBC production of Sweeney Todd with Ray Winstone.[citation needed]

In the 2008 film, Hey, Hey, It's Esther Blueburger she plays Esther's controlling mother. Also in 2008, she appeared in the film Australia with Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, directed by Baz Luhrmann. The same year, Davis played Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof for the Melbourne Theatre Company.[5]

Davis returned to Tasmania to launch the Tasmanian Theatre Company in 2008 and help support local theatre while encouraging youth to continue participating in the arts.[6] In 2011, she received a Logie Award nomination for her role as Anouk in the Australian miniseries The Slap. In 2012, 2013 and 2015, Davis played Phryne Fisher, the central character in ABC Television's high-rating costume drama Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries.[citation needed]

Davis starred in Jennifer Kent's 2014 debut feature The Babadook. For her work in the film Davis was nominated for an AACTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, an AACTA International Award for Best Actress[7] and a Fangoria Chainsaw Award for Best Leading Actress.[8]

In 2016, she joined the HBO series Game of Thrones in Season 6 as Lady Crane; this role did not continue into Season 7.[9] In June 2016 she started filming The White Princess, playing Dowager Queen Elizabeth (Elizabeth Woodville).[9][10] In early January 2017, the producers released a video clip from the series as a brief trailer (teaser).[11]

In 2018, Davis filmed the mini-series Lambs of God for Foxtel, playing the role of Sister Iphigenia.[12] It was released July 2019 in Australia and has been sold to 46 other territories.[13] For her performance as Sister Iphigenia, Davis has been nominated for an AACTA Award for Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series.[14]

Later the same year, Davis played Ellen Kelly in Justin Kurzel's True History of the Kelly Gang.[15] The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival 11 September 2019 and was released in Australian cinemas in 2020 by Transmission Films.[16]

Also in 2018, Davis reprised her role of Phryne Fisher from the popular television series Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries with a stand-alone action-adventure feature film, Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears[17] With an AU$8m production budget, it wrapped production in late November 2018 and was released in cinemas in 2020.[18][19]

In early 2019, Davis filmed the comedy-drama Babyteeth, playing the role of Anna.[20] The film was selected to compete for the Golden Lion at the 76th Venice International Film Festival, where it had its world premiere on 4 September 2019.[21]

In 2020, Davis finished filming The Justice of Bunny King, playing the title role. The film, co-starring Thomasin McKenzie, was shot in New Zealand.[22]

Personal life[edit]

Davis married Justin Kurzel in 2002. They have twin daughters.[23][1]



Year Title Role Notes
1993 The Custodian Jilly Feature film
1995 Dad and Dave: On Our Selection Kate Rudd Feature film
1996 Lilian's Story Zara Feature film
River Street Wendy Davis Feature film
1997 Blackrock Detective Gilhooley Feature film
The Two-Wheeled Time Machine Young Alice Short film
The Ripper Evelyn Bookman TV film
1998 The Sound of One Hand Clapping Jean
2003 The Matrix Reloaded Maggie Feature film
The Pact Helene Davis Feature film
Girl with a Pearl Earring Catharina Feature film
Code 46 Doctor
The Matrix Revolutions Maggie Feature film
After the Deluge Beth TV film
Temptation Julie TV film
2005 Isolation Orla
2006 Charlotte's Web Mrs. Arable Feature film
Sweeney Todd Mrs. Lovett TV film
The Silence Juliet Moore TV film
2008 Hey, Hey, It's Esther Blueburger Grace Blueburger Feature film
Australia Catherine "Cath" Carney Fletcher Feature film
2010 South Solitary Alma Stanley
The Wedding Party Jane
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole Marella (voice) Animated feature film
2011 The Last Time I Saw Michael Gregg Lottie Video
Burning Man Karen
2014 A Poet in New York Caitlin Thomas TV film
The Babadook Amelia Vanek Feature film
2016 Assassin's Creed Mary Lynch Feature film
2017 Mindhorn Patricia Deville
2019 Babyteeth Anna Finlay Feature film
True History of the Kelly Gang Ellen Kelly
2020 Miss Fisher & the Crypt of Tears Phryne Fisher TV film
2021 The Justice of Bunny King Bunny King
Nitram Helen Feature film


Year Title Role Notes
1997 Water Rats Senior Detective Nicola Bourke TV series, 2 episodes: "Blood Trail"
"Dead or Alive"
1998 Kings in Grass Castles Mary Costello TV miniseries
Murder Call Judy St. John TV series, season 2, episode 9: "Deadfall"
2000 Halifax f.p. Alison Blount TV series, episode: "The Spider and the Fly"
2001 Corridors of Power Sophie TV series, season 1, episode 4
2002 Young Lions Julie Morgan TV series, season 1, episode 2: "Mardi Gras"
2003 Enter the Matrix Maggie (voice) Video game
2011 Cloudstreet Dolly Pickles TV miniseries
The Slap Anouk TV series
2012–15 Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries Phryne Fisher TV series
2014 Funny or Die Presents Amelia TV series, episode: "The Babadooks of Hazzard"
2016 Game of Thrones Lady Crane TV series, 3 episodes: "The Door"
"Blood of My Blood"
"No One"
2017 The White Princess Elizabeth Woodville TV series
Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams Vera TV series, episode: "Human Is"
The Last Post Martha Franklin TV series
2019 Lambs of God Sister Iphigenia TV series
2022 Guillermo del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities Nancy Bradley TV series, episode: "The Murmuring"
2024 One Day Alison, Dexter's Mum Netflix series; four episodes[24]
TBA Alien Dame Silvia Upcoming TV series[25]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Film and television[edit]

Year Ceremony Category Work Result
1995 Australian Film Institute Awards Best Actress in a Supporting Role Dad and Dave: On Our Selection Nominated
2000 Best Actress in a Telefeature or Mini-Series Halifax f.p.: The Spider and The Fly Nominated
2003 Best Actress in a Supporting or Guest Role in a Television Drama or Comedy After the Deluge Won
2006 Screamfest Horror Film Festival Festival Trophy Isolation Won
2011 Film Critics Circle of Australia Best Supporting Actor- Female South Solitary Won
2012 AACTA Awards Best Lead Actress in a Television Drama Cloudstreet Nominated
ASTRA Awards Most Outstanding Performance by an Actor – Female Nominated
Logie Awards Most Outstanding Actress The Slap Nominated
Film Critics Circle of Australia Best Actress – Supporting Role Burning Man Nominated
2013 AACTA Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Best Lead Actress in a Television Drama Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries Nominated
2014 Logie Awards Most Popular Actress Nominated
Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival Best Actress The Babadook Won
Sitges Film Festival Best Actress Won
Toronto After Dark Film Festival Best Actress Won
AACTA Awards Best Lead Actress Nominated
Detroit Film Critics Society Best Actress Nominated
Houston Film Critics Society Best Actress Nominated
Online Film Critics Society Best Actress Nominated
San Francisco Film Critics Circle Best Actress Nominated
Alliance of Women Film Journalists Best Breakthrough Performance Nominated
Village Voice Film Poll Best Actress 3rd place
2015 Saturn Awards Best Actress Nominated
Empire Awards Best Newcomer- Female Nominated
Fangoria Chainsaw Awards Best Leading Actress Won
AACTA International Awards Best Actress Nominated
Dorian Awards Film Performance of The Year – Female Nominated
2016 Logie Awards Gold Logie Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries Nominated
Best Actress Nominated
Most Outstanding Actress Nominated
2019 AACTA Awards Best Lead Actress in a Television Drama Lambs of God Nominated
2020 Film Club's The Lost Weekend Best Supporting Actress Babyteeth Won
AACTA Awards Best Supporting Actress Won
2021 AACTA Awards Best Supporting Actress Nitram Won


Year Ceremony Category Title Work
2002 Helpmann Awards Best Female Actor in a Play The School for Scandal Nominated
2003 Olivier Awards Best Performance in a Supporting Role A Streetcar Named Desire Won
2004 Tony Award Best Featured Actress in a Play Jumpers Nominated


  1. ^ a b c Hallett, Bryce (11 December 2009). "True crime as a spectator sport". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  2. ^ Gotting, Peter (17 March 2004). "Big screen dreaming". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  3. ^ "Essie Davis". The Australian Live Performance Database. Retrieved 27 May 2016.
  4. ^ Davis, Michael (6 September 2008). "The Face: Essie Davies". The Australian.
  5. ^ "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof". Melbourne Theatre Company. Archived from the original on 1 October 2008. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  6. ^ About The Tasmanian Theatre Company, Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  7. ^ Barton, Steve (26 January 2015). "Mr. Babadook Speaks!". Dread Central.
  8. ^ "For Your Consideration: The 2015 Chainsaw Award Nominees for Best Actress". Archived from the original on 2 March 2015. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  9. ^ a b Robinson, Joanna (11 September 2015). "Game of Thrones Casts Babadook Star Essie Davis to Play Queen Cersei ... Kinda [Updated]". Vanity Fair Hollywood. Retrieved 23 August 2016.
  10. ^ Bradley, Laura (13 June 2016). "Two More Game of Thrones Actors Just Joined Starz's The White Queen Follow-Up". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 30 December 2016. For those who already dearly miss Essie Davis as Lady Crane, who got assassinated in the show's most recent installment, great news: you'll soon see her again in The White Princess.
  11. ^ "White Princess, Starz". Coming Soon. Early Word. 7 January 2017. Retrieved 16 January 2017. The trailer has just been released for the TV series adaptation of Philippa Gregory's White Queen, set to air on the STARZ channel some time in 2017.
  12. ^ Ramos, Dino-Ray (13 May 2018). "Ann Dowd And Essie Davis Set for Gothic Drama Series 'Lambs Of God'". Retrieved 12 July 2018.
  13. ^ "Worldwide sales for Lingo Pictures' 'Lambs of God'". Inside Film. 5 August 2019. Retrieved 6 September 2019.
  14. ^ Keast, Jackie (23 October 2019). "'Lambs of God', 'The Nightingale' lead AACTA nominees". Inside Film. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  15. ^ McNary, Dave (6 November 2017). "Russell Crowe, Nicholas Hoult, George MacKay Join 'True History of the Kelly Gang'". Variety. Penske Business Media, LLC. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  16. ^ Groves, Don (9 August 2019). "Justin Kurzel to direct TV drama series for Apple". Inside Film. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  17. ^ "Rupert Penry-Jones boards 'Miss Fisher & the Crypt of Tears'". Inside Film. 19 October 2018. Retrieved 19 October 2018.
  18. ^ Groves, Don (25 November 2018). "It's a wrap for 'Miss Fisher & the Crypt of Tears'". Inside Film. Retrieved 25 November 2018.
  19. ^ "Essie Davis talks about the challenge of bringing Miss Fisher to the big screen," by Travis Johnson, SBS website, 27 Feb 2020
  20. ^ Wigney, James (10 July 2019). "How Essie Davis defied ageism thanks to Miss Fisher, Game Of Thrones and Lambs Of God". Herald Sun. Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  21. ^ Vivarelli, Nick (25 July 2019). "Joker, Ad Astra, The Laundromat, Marriage Story to Compete in Venice". Variety. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
  22. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (16 September 2019). "'The Babadook' Star Essie Davis & 'Leave No Trace' Actress Thomasin McKenzie Lead Cast In 'The Justice Of Bunny King'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 17 September 2019.
  23. ^ Quinn, Karl (12 March 2012). "Lunch with Essie Davis". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  24. ^ "One Day cast: Meet the characters in the Netflix series". Radio Times. 24 February 2024. Retrieved 27 February 2024.
  25. ^ Shackleton, Liz; Andreeva, Nellie (20 July 2023). "'Alien': Alex Lawther & Samuel Blenkin Among Quartet Cast As FX Series Starts Production With No SAG-AFTRA Actors Amid Strike". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 21 July 2023.

External links[edit]