Imelda Staunton

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Imelda Staunton
Imelda Staunton (2011).jpg
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 59)
Archway, London, England, UK
Occupation Actress
Years active 1976–present
Spouse(s) Jim Carter (m. 1983)
Children 1

Imelda Mary Philomena Bernadette Staunton, OBE (born (1956-01-09)9 January 1956) is an English actress of stage and screen. Staunton trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and began her career in repertory theatre.

Since joining the National Theatre in 1982, she has performed in many plays and musicals in the UK. Staunton has been nominated for a total of eight Laurence Olivier Awards, winning two for Best Actress in a Musical in Into the Woods (1991) and in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2011) and one for Best Supporting Performance in her work in both A Chorus of Disapproval (1985) and The Corn is Green (1985). Other London stage roles include Adelaide in Guys and Dolls (1982), Sonia in Uncle Vanya (1988), Claire in A Delicate Balance (2011) and Rose in Gypsy (2014).

Staunton drew critical acclaim for the title role in the 2004 film Vera Drake, for which she won the BAFTA Award for Best Actress and the Volpi Cup for Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival and earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. Her other film roles include Nurse in Shakespeare in Love (1998), Mrs. Blatherwick in Nanny McPhee (2005), Dolores Jane Umbridge in two of the Harry Potter films (2007–10) and Hefina Headon in Pride (2014). On television, she starred in the sitcoms Up the Garden Path (1990–93) and Is it Legal? (1995–98).

Early life and education[edit]

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.[2] Her parents were first-generation Catholic immigrants from County Mayo, Ireland, her father 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 Parliament Hill, Highgate Road, from age 11 to 17. Her talent was spotted by Jacqueline Stoker, her elocution teacher.[citation needed] She starred 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) and studied alongside Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall and Juliet Stevenson.[6] 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). In 1982, she moved on to the National Theatre. She has stated that her first job was a play by Goldoni.[7] She is also known for her performance as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz for the Royal Shakespeare Company.[8][9] 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.[10]

Staunton has won three Olivier Awards,[11] Britain's highest theatre honour,[citation needed] the first in 1985 for roles in two productions: A Chorus of Disapproval and The Corn Is Green. Her second was 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.[12] 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.[13]

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 from March to September 2012.[14] Staunton won the Olivier Award for 'Best Actress in a Musical' for this production.

From October 2014 she played Rose in a revival of Gypsy at the Chichester Festival Theatre.[15] The production transferred to the West End in April 2015.[16]


Staunton's first big-screen role came in a 1986 film Comrades. She then appeared in the 1992 film Peter's Friends. Other film 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."[17] She was nominated in the "British Actress in a Supporting Role" category at the London Film Critics Circle Awards.[18] Staunton reprised her role as Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One in 2010.

Recent film roles include the 2008 movie 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). Staunton provided the voice of the Talking Flowers in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (2010), and played one of the lead roles in the ghost film The Awakening in 2011.[19] In 2014, she co-starred in Maleficent as well as the British comedy-drama Pride.

In late 2014, she had a voice role in Paddington, a film based on the Paddington Bear books by Michael Bond. Staunton and her Harry Potter co-star Michael Gambon voiced Paddington's Aunt Lucy and Uncle Pastuzo, respectively.


In 1993, she appeared on television alongside Richard Briers and Adrian Edmondson in If You See God, Tell Him. Staunton also played the wife of Detective Burakov in the 1995 HBO movie, "Citizen X," which recounted the pursuit and capture of Russian serial killer Andrei Chikatilo. 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. 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. In 2011, she played Grace Andrews in the second series of Psychoville. In 2011, she was the Voice of the Interface in the highly acclaimed and nominee for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) episode of Doctor Who - The Girl Who Waited. In 2012, she portrayed Alma Reville, the wife of Alfred Hitchcock, in the HBO television movie The Girl, which also starred Toby Jones and Sienna Miller. Her performance saw her nominated for a BAFTA Television Award and a Primetime Emmy Award.


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 played the role of a schoolboy as the lead character in the five part (15 minutes each): "The Skool Days of Nigel Molesworth" for BBC Radio 4.

Other work[edit]

Staunton has narrated The Gruffalo for an unabridged audio book of Julia Donaldson's children's book. In 2014 she collaborated with her husband Jim Carter and Show of Hands on Centenary: Words and Music of the Great War, an album of songs and poetry from and inspired by World War One.

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[edit]

Staunton met her husband, English actor Jim Carter, in Richard Eyre's landmark early 1980s production of Guys And Dolls at the National Theatre.[6] They have a daughter, Bessie, born in 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 OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2006 New Year Honours for her services to drama.[22]

Staunton owns a bitch (Molly) which appeared in Gypsy at the Chichester Festival Theatre from 6 October 8 November) as "Chowsie" the dog. Staunton played the leading role as "Momma Rose". [23]

Theatre work[edit]

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 Comrades Betsy Loveless
1989 A Sleeping Life Polly Flinders
1990 Yellowbacks Cheryl Newman
1990 They Never Slept The Producer
1992 Peter's Friends Mary Charleston
1993 Much Ado About Nothing Margaret
1993 Deadly Advice Beth Greenwood
1994 Mole's Christmas Village Mother (voice) Short film
1995 A Bit of Fry And Laurie Herself
1995 Sense and Sensibility Charlotte Jennings Palmer Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
1996 Twelfth Night Maria
1996 The Snow Queen's Revenge (voice)
1997 Remember Me? Lorna
1997 The Ugly Duckling Scruffy
1998 Shakespeare in Love Nurse Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2000 Chicken Run Bunty (voice)
2000 Rat Conchita
2000 Jack and the Beanstalk Dilly (voice)
2000 Victoria Wood With All The Trimmings Mrs. Cottisloe
2001 Another Life Ethel Graydon
2001 Crush Janine
2002 Ready Naomi
2003 The Virgin of Liverpool Sylvia, Conlon
2003 Bright Young Things Lady Brown
2003 I'll Be There Dr. Bridget
2004 Vera Drake Vera Drake BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
British Independent Film Award for Best Actress
Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
European Film Award for Best Actress
Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Actress
Iowa Film Critics Award for Best Actress
London Film Critics Circle Award for Actress of the Year
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress
New York Film Critics Online Award for Best Actress
San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress
Toronto Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Vancouver Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress
Venice Film Festival Volpi Cup for Best Actress
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Empire Award for Best British Actress
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
Nominated—Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated—Southeastern Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Utah Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
2005 Nanny McPhee Mrs. Blatherwick
2005 A Midsummer Night's Dream Polly
2006 My Family And Other Animals Mother Nominated—International Emmy Award for Best Actress
2006 Shadow Man Ambassador Cochran
2007 Freedom Writers Margaret Campbell
2007 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Dolores Jane Umbridge Nominated—London Film Critics Circle Award for British Supporting Actress of the Year
Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress
2007 How About You Hazel Nightingale
2008 Three and Out Rosemary Cassidy
2008 A Bunch of Amateurs Mary
2009 Taking Woodstock Sonia Teichberg
2009 Blackball Bridget
2010 White Other Lynne McDermott
2010 Alice in Wonderland Tall Flower Faces (voice)
2010 Harry Potter and the Deathly
Hallows: Part 1
Dolores Jane Umbridge
2010 Another Year Janet Nominated—San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
2011 The Awakening Maud Hill
2011 Arthur Christmas Margaret Claus (voice)
2012 The Pirates! Band of Misfits Queen Victoria Nominated—Annie Award for Voice Acting in a Feature Production
2014 Maleficent Knotgrass
2014 Pride Hefina Headon BIFA Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated- BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
2014 Paddington Aunt Lucy (voice)
2014 That Day We Sang Enid Television film


Year Title Role Notes
1986 The Singing Detective Staff Nurse White 5 episodes
1986 Ladies in Charge Edith Episode: "Double Act"
1988 Thompson Various roles 6 episodes
1990–1993 Up the Garden Path Izzy 18 episodes
1990 Screenplay Stephanie Episode: "The Englishman's Wife"
1991 Screenplay Jane Hartman Episode: "Antonia and Jane"
1992 A Masculine Ending Bridget Bennet Television film
1993 Don't Leave Me This Way Bridget Bennet Television film
1993 If You See God, Tell Him Muriel Spry 4 episodes
1994 Frank Stubbs Promotes Susan Episode: "Charity"
1994 Woodcock Edna Television film
1995–1998 Is It Legal? Stella Phelps 21 episodes
1995 Citizen X Mrs Burakova Television film
1995 Look at the State We're In! Councillor Johnson Television film
1995 The Adventures of Mole (voice) Television film
1996 Tales From The Crypt Sarah Episode: "About Face"
1998–2000 The Canterbury Tales The Prioress 2 episodes
1999 David Copperfield Mrs. Micawber Television film
1999 Midsomer Murders Christine Cooper Episode: "Dead Man's Eleven"
2002 Murder DCI Billie Dory Television film
2003 Cambridge Spies The Queen 2 episodes
2003 Strange Reverend Mary Truegood Episode: "Incubus"
2003 Let's Write A Story Mrs. Twit Television film
2005 Fingersmith Mrs Sucksby 3 episodes
2005 Little Britain Mrs. Mead 6 episodes
2006 Dog Town Gwen Gregson Episode: "1.4"
2006 The Wind in the Willows Barge Lady Television film
2007 Cranford Miss Octavia Pole 5 episodes
Nominated—BAFTA TV Award for Best Supporting Actress
2008 Big & Small Ruby/Twiba 14 episodes
2008 Clay Mary Doonan Television film
2009 Return to Cranford Miss Octavia Pole 2 episodes
2010–2011 Psychoville Grace Andrews 7 episodes
2011 Doctor Who The Interface (voice) Episode: "The Girl Who Waited"
2012 The Girl Alma Hitchcock Television film
Nominated—BAFTA TV Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Movie/Miniseries Supporting Actress
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie


2015 "Gypsy" - 2015 London Cast Recording as Momma Rose


  1. ^ Lawley, Sue (15 May 2005). "This Week's Guest: Imelda Staunton". BBC Radio 4. 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. 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 "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
  7. ^ The prime of Miss Imelda Staunton
  8. ^ Raymond, Kurt. "We're Off To Stage The Wizard of Oz". Beyond the Rainbow to Oz website. Retrieved 15 July 2007. 
  9. ^ "Wizard of Oz (MUNY 1945)". Tams–Witmark Music Library, Inc. 2005. Retrieved 15 July 2007. 
  10. ^ Happy Birthday, Sir Larry theatre programme, 31 May 1987
  11. ^ "Staunton, Imelda Mary Philomena Bernadette". Who's Who. A & C Black. 2012. 
  12. ^ Olivier Awards winners
  13. ^ Billington, Michael (2 February 2009). "Theatre review: Entertaining Mr Sloane / Trafalgar Studios, London". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 21 April 2012. 
  14. ^ Billington, Michael (21 March 2012). "Sweeney Todd – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 April 2012. 
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ McCurry, Justin (29 June 2007). "Japan goes wild about Harry". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 17 May 2008. 
  18. ^ Dawtrey, Adam (13 December 2007). "London critics love 'Control,' 'Atonement'". Variety. Retrieved 15 December 2007. 
  19. ^ Ghostly Art From 'The Awakening'
  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. ^ Chichester Festival Theatre "Gypsy A Musical Fable" 2014 Official Program.
  24. ^ Imelda Staunton and Her Big Band (1–5 September 1998) Donmar Warehouse
  25. ^ Billington, Michael (13 May 2011). "A Delicate Balance". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 23 June 2011. 

External links[edit]