Jump to content

Indira Varma

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Indira Varma
Varma at the Game of Thrones season 8 World Premiere in 2019
Indira Anne Varma

(1973-09-27) 27 September 1973 (age 50)[1]
United Kingdom
Alma materRoyal Academy of Dramatic Art
  • Actress
  • narrator
Years active1996–present
SpouseColin Tierney

Indira Anne Varma (born 27 September 1973)[1] is a British actress and narrator. Her film debut and first major role was in Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love. She is known for her television roles, such as playing Niobe in the BBC and HBO series Rome (2005–07), Suzie Costello in the BBC series Torchwood (2006), Zoe Luther in the BBC series Luther (2010), Ilsa Pucci in Human Target[2][3] (2010–11), and Ellaria Sand in the HBO series Game of Thrones (2014–2017). In September 2016 she began starring in the ITV/Netflix series Paranoid as DS Nina Suresh. She has also worked extensively in the theatre, notably winning an Olivier Award for her performance in Present Laughter (2019).

Early life[edit]

Varma was raised in Bath, Somerset, the only child of an Indian father and a Swiss mother who was of part Genoese Italian descent.[4][5] Her mother was a graphic designer and her father was an illustrator.[5] She was a member of Musical Youth Theatre Company and graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London, in 1995.[4]


Varma's first role after graduating from RADA was as a courtesan in Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love in 1996.[6] She then went on to act in Jinnah in 1998, and Bride and Prejudice in 2004.

Her first television appearance was in 1996 in Crucial Tales. A notable early television role was the young Roman wife Niobe in the 2005 first series of BBC/HBO's award-winning historical drama Rome. Her character appeared briefly in the second series when it was shown on 14 January 2007.[7]

In 2006 she played Suzie Costello in the first and eighth episodes, "Everything Changes" and "They Keep Killing Suzie", of BBC Three's science-fiction drama series Torchwood.[8] She appeared as Dr Adrienne Holland in the CBS medical drama 3 lbs[9] which premiered on 14 November 2006[10] and was cancelled on 30 November 2006 due to poor ratings.[11] Varma guest starred in the fourth-season premiere of hit US detective drama Bones as Scotland Yard Inspector Cate Pritchard. She also played the role of Zoe Luther in the first series of the BBC drama Luther.

Varma played the role of Ilsa Pucci in the second season of the Fox series Human Target until the show was cancelled on 10 May 2011.[12]

In 2014, Varma was cast as Ellaria Sand, the paramour of Oberyn Martell in season 4 of the HBO series Game of Thrones.[13] She played the role through season 7.[14]

She lent her voice to the Circle mage Vivienne, in the 2014 role-playing video game Dragon Age: Inquisition. Later on, she also gave her voice to Katherine Proudmoore in Battle for Azeroth, one of the most recent expansion in the MMO role-playing game World of Warcraft.

In 2016, she played the lead role of DC Nina Suresh in the eight-episode British television drama Paranoid, streamed worldwide on Netflix.

Varma portrays a reform-minded corrections official in the 2020 ABC legal drama For Life, and appears as the double agent Tala Durith in the Obi-Wan Kenobi series for Disney+, as well as Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One.

In 2022, Varma began narrating the Witches series of audio books by Terry Pratchett.[15][16]

In May 2023, it was announced that Varma would portray The Duchess in the fourteenth series of Doctor Who.[17]


In 1997, Varma appeared in two Shakespeare plays: she portrayed Audrey in As You Like It at the Nottingham Playhouse, and later that year played Bianca in Othello at the National Theatre, London. In 2000 to 2001, she appeared in Harold Pinter and Di Trevis's NT stage adaptation of Pinter's The Proust Screenplay, Remembrance of Things Past, based on À la recherche du temps perdu, by Marcel Proust. In the summer of 2001, she played Gila in One for the Road, by Harold Pinter, at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City.

In 2002, she played Sasha Lebedieff in Ivanov by Anton Chekhov at the National Theatre and Bunty Mainwaring in The Vortex by Noël Coward at the Donmar Theatre, London. In 2004, she played Sabina in The Skin of Our Teeth by Thornton Wilder at the Young Vic Theatre Theatre, London. In 2008, she played Nadia Baliye in The Vertical Hour by David Hare at the Royal Court Theatre London. In 2009, she played Olivia in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night with Donmar West End at Wyndham's Theatre, London. In 2012, she played Jessica in Terry Johnson's Hysteria at the Theatre Royal, Bath. In 2013 she played Miss Cutts in The Hothouse by Harold Pinter in the Trafalgar Transformed season at Trafalgar Studios.[18]

In 2014, Varma played Tamora, Queen of the Goths, in Lucy Bailey's "gore-fest" production of Titus Andronicus at Shakespeare's Globe.[19] In 2015, she appeared alongside Ralph Fiennes in George Bernard Shaw's Man and Superman at the National Theatre.[20] In 2020, pre-lockdown, she starred in Chekhov's The Seagull as Irina alongside Game of Thrones co-star Emilia Clarke at the Playhouse Theatre. Her 2019 performance in Present Laughter at The Old Vic theatre earned Varma an Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.[6][21][22][23]

In 2023-2024 she played Lady Macbeth opposite Ralph Fiennes in Macbeth at a number of UK theatres and at the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington D.C.[24][25]

Personal life[edit]

Varma met actor Colin Tierney in 1997 while they were performing together in Othello at the National Theatre.[6] They later married and the couple reside in Hornsey, North London, with their daughter.[26][27]


Denotes works that have not yet been released


Year Title Role Notes
1996 Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love Maya
1997 Clancy's Kitchen Kitty
1997 Sixth Happiness Amy
1998 Jinnah Rattanbai "Ruttie" Jinnah
2002 Mad Dogs Narendra
2004 Rover's Return Zeta Short film
2004 Bride and Prejudice Kiran Balraj
2006 Basic Instinct 2 Denise Glass
2007 Sex and Death 101 Devon Sever Uncredited
2013 Mindscape Judith Morrow
2014 Exodus: Gods and Kings High Priestess
2015 Silent Hours Dr. Catherine Benson
2016 Una Sonia
2018 Close Rima
2019 Official Secrets Shami Chakrabarti
2020 The One and Only Ivan Dr. Maya Wilson
2021 Crisis Madira Brower
2023 Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One DIA
2023 The Trouble with Jessica Jessica
2025 Untitled eighth Mission: Impossible film DIA Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
1996 Crucial Tales Manreet Episode: "Phoenix"
1999 Psychos Martine Nichol Miniseries; 6 episodes
2000 Other People's Children Amy Unknown episodes
2000–2001 Attachments Sasha 4 episodes
2001 In a Land of Plenty Sonali Ganatra 4 episodes
2001 The Whistle-Blower Diane Crossman TV film
2002–2010 Arena Various characters 2 episodes
2003 Rockface Alison Episode: "2.5"
2003 The Canterbury Tales Meena Episode: "The Sea Captain's Tale"
2003 Reversals Kathy Irwin TV film
2004 Donovan Cara Mathis 2 episodes
2005 The Quatermass Experiment Judith Carroon TV film
2005 Love Soup Suzanne Daley Episode: "They Do Not Move"
2005 A Waste of Shame Lucie, the Dark Lady TV film
2005 Broken News Melanie Bellamy 6 episodes
2005 Little Britain Various characters 3 episodes
2005–2007 Rome Niobe Vorena 15 episodes
2006 The Inspector Lynley Mysteries Melissa Booth Episode: "In the Blink of an Eye"
2006 Torchwood Suzie Costello 2 episodes
2006 3 lbs Adrianne Holland 6 episodes
2007 The Whistleblowers Alisha Cole 6 episodes
2008 Comanche Moon Therese Wanz Episode: "1.2"
2008 Law & Order: Criminal Intent Bela Khan Episode: "Assassin"
2008 Bones Inspector Cate Pritchard Episode: "The Yanks in the U.K.: Parts 1 & 2"
2009 Inside the Box Catherine Powell TV film
2009 Moses Jones Dolly 3 episodes
2010 Hustle D.C.I. Lucy Britford 2 episodes
2010 Luther Zoe Luther 7 episodes
2010–2011 Human Target Ilsa Pucci 13 episodes
2012 Silk George Duggan 6 episodes
2012 Hunted Natalie Thorpe 5 episodes
2012 World Without End Mattie Wise 2 episodes
2013 What Remains Elaine Markham 4 episodes
2014–2017 Game of Thrones Ellaria Sand 13 episodes
Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series (2016)
2016 New Blood Lisa Douglas 2 episodes
2016 Paranoid Nina Suresh 8 episodes
2017 Unspeakable Jo TV film
2018 Patrick Melrose Anne Moore Miniseries; 3 episodes
2018–present Reported Missing Narrator Documentary series; 2 series, 8 episodes
2019 Carnival Row Piety Breakspear Series regular;[28] 8 episodes
2019 This Way Up Charlotte Series regular;[29] 5 episodes
2020–2021 For Life Safiya Masry Series regular
2020–2021 Spitting Image Priti Patel
2022–present The Legend of Vox Machina Lady Allura Vysoren (voice) Recurring role
2022 Obi-Wan Kenobi Tala Durith Miniseries, 3 episodes
2022 The Capture Khadija Khan
2023 Extrapolations Gita Mishra Series regular
2023 Obsession Ingrid Miniseries
2024 Doctor Who The Duchess Episode: "Rogue"
2024 Creature Commandos Bride of Frankenstein (voice) Upcoming animated series, main role


Year Title Role Notes
2010 The Listener Mia
2016–2023 Torchwood Suzie Costello 4 episodes

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2014 Dragon Age: Inquisition Vivienne
2017 Mass Effect: Andromeda Moshae Sjefa, Sloane Kelly
2018 World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth Katherine Proudmoore


  1. ^ a b Varma, Indira [@indyv9] (14 May 2017). "Thank you but it's actually 27 September?! Google has it wrong!" (Tweet). Retrieved 14 May 2017 – via Twitter.
  2. ^ Hinckley, David (17 November 2010). "Human Target wisely adds actresses Indira Varma and Janet Montgomery into formerly boys' club cast". Daily News. New York. Archived from the original on 20 March 2012. Retrieved 6 March 2011.
  3. ^ Logan, Michael (15 October 2010). "Double Exposure for Indira Varma". TV Guide. Archived from the original on 23 November 2010. Retrieved 6 March 2011.
  4. ^ a b Rees, Jasper (19 January 2008). "Indira Varma: From the naked to the dead". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  5. ^ a b Wiegand, Chris (19 June 2019). "Game of Thrones' Indira Varma: 'All I was being offered was women undressing'". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 June 2022.
  6. ^ a b c Sige, Rachael (27 February 2023). "Indira Varma: 'Dicking about is much more fun than being serious'". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 March 2023.
  7. ^ "Vorenus Hearts Varma" Archived 21 August 2017 at the Wayback Machine, Nirali Magazine Blog
  8. ^ Hickman, Clayton; Tom Spilsbury (13 September 2006). "Torchwood Update...". Doctor Who Magazine (373). Panini Comics: 4.
  9. ^ "3 lbs". Citytv.com. Archived from the original on 2 November 2006. Retrieved 8 November 2006.
  10. ^ "3 lbs Premieres Tuesday, November 14th on Citytv". CHUM Television. Archived from the original on 21 October 2006. Retrieved 8 November 2006.
  11. ^ Mahan, Colin (30 November 2006). "CBS sheds 3 lbs". tv.com. Archived from the original on 4 November 2016. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
  12. ^ Ausiello, Michael (23 July 2010). "Scoop: Human Target takes aim at Rome beauty Indira Varma". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 24 November 2010.
  13. ^ "Game of Thrones casts Rome actress for season 4 – Exclusive". Entertainment Weekly. 25 July 2013. Archived from the original on 6 November 2013. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
  14. ^ "Game of Thrones Season 6 First Look". Entertainment Weekly. 25 April 2016. Archived from the original on 25 April 2016. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  15. ^ "It's Discworld like you've never heard it before". Terry Pratchett. Archived from the original on 5 June 2023. Retrieved 15 June 2023.
  16. ^ Flood, Alison (16 November 2021). "Bill Nighy to narrate Terry Pratchett's footnotes in new Discworld recordings". The Guardian.
  17. ^ Griffin, Louise (24 May 2023). "Doctor Who casts Indira Varma in mysterious Duchess role". Radio Times. Archived from the original on 2 June 2023. Retrieved 15 June 2023.
  18. ^ Billington, Michael (9 May 2013). "The Hothouse – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
  19. ^ Spencer, Charles (2 May 2014). "Titus Andronicus, review: 'a dramatic power that makes the stomach churn and the hands sweat'". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
  20. ^ Billington, Michael (26 February 2015). "Man and Superman review – Ralph Fiennes masters Shaw's contrary male". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 18 June 2018. Retrieved 11 December 2016.
  21. ^ "Olivier Awards 2020". whatsonstage.com. Archived from the original on 26 October 2020. Retrieved 25 October 2020.
  22. ^ Bakare, Lanre (25 October 2020). "Dear Evan Hansen wins three awards as virtual Oliviers honour theatre". The Guardian.
  23. ^ McIntosh, Steven (26 October 2020). "Olivier Awards: Messages of 'faith and hope' for theatre industry". BBC News. BBC. Archived from the original on 29 September 2023. Retrieved 15 June 2023.
  24. ^ Wiegand, Chris (27 April 2023). "Ralph Fiennes and Indira Varma to star in Macbeth staged in warehouses". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 8 December 2023.
  25. ^ "Shakespeare's Macbeth | Starring Ralph Fiennes | Official Website". macbeththeshow.com/. Archived from the original on 8 December 2023. Retrieved 8 December 2023.
  26. ^ "Indira Varma Interview HUMAN TARGET" Collider.com, 25 October 2010 Archived 27 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ "20 questions with Indira Varma". What's on Stage. 28 January 2008. Archived from the original on 9 February 2013. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
  28. ^ Petski, Denise (22 September 2017). "'Carnival Row': David Gyasi, Karla Crome, Indira Varma & Tamzin Merchant Join Amazon's Fantasy Drama Series". Deadline. Archived from the original on 22 September 2017. Retrieved 15 December 2017.
  29. ^ This Way Up, archived from the original on 7 September 2019, retrieved 8 August 2019

External links[edit]