Joanne Whalley

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Joanne Whalley
Born (1961-08-25) 25 August 1961 (age 61)
Other namesJoanne Whalley-Kilmer
Years active1974–present
(m. 1988; div. 1996)
Children2, including Jack

Joanne Whalley (born 25 August 1961[1]) is an English actress who began her career in 1974. She has appeared primarily on television, but also in nearly 30 feature films, including Dance with a Stranger (1985), Willow (1988), Scandal (1989), Storyville (1992) The Secret Rapture (1993) Scarlett (1994) and Mother's Boys (1994). Following her marriage to Val Kilmer in 1988, she was credited as Joanne Whalley-Kilmer until their divorce in 1996.

Whalley was nominated for the BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress for the 1985 BBC serial Edge of Darkness, and was nominated for a Best Actress Golden Nymph Award at the Monte-Carlo Television Festival for the 2011 series The Borgias. Her other television roles include the 1986 BBC serial The Singing Detective; playing the title role in the 2000 CBS TV film Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, Claudia, wife of Pontius Pilate in the 2015 NBC series A.D. The Bible Continues, and Sister Maggie in Daredevil.

Early life[edit]

Whalley was born in Salford, Lancashire, and later moved to Levenshulme and then to Stockport, Greater Manchester. There, she attended Bredbury Comprehensive School, before leaving to study at Harrytown Convent Girls' School in Romiley and the Braeside School of Speech and Drama in Marple.[2]

Whalley first appeared as a child in How We Used to Live and Juliet Bravo, and also had bit parts in soap operas, especially Coronation Street and Emmerdale. Her early film roles include a non-speaking part as a groupie in Pink Floyd's The Wall, and a young Beatles fan in Birth of the Beatles.

Musical career[edit]

In the post-punk era, she flirted with the fringes of the Manchester New Wave scene and was briefly a member of a Stockport-based band called the Slowguns, but left before the release of their two singles. Later, she was the lead singer of the pop group Cindy & The Saffrons; they recorded the Shangri-Las' song "Past, Present and Future" in 1982 at Abbey Road Studios, and the track made the UK singles charts, peaking at #56. The next year they recorded "Terry", written and originally recorded by Twinkle, but this single failed to chart. The group split up soon afterward.[3]

Acting career[edit]

In 1982, she played Ingrid Rothwell in A Kind of Loving, a well-received Granada TV adaptation of Stan Barstow's three Vic Brown novels.

Whalley came to prominence on British television as Emma Craven in Troy Kennedy Martin's Edge of Darkness (1985), then as Nurse Mills in the Dennis Potter-written serial The Singing Detective (1986)—both for BBC Television. In 1987, she played Jackie in the TV film Will You Love Me Tomorrow; she also played a role in The Good Father (1985), another Channel 4-backed film.

Whalley met the American actor Val Kilmer in 1987 while filming the fantasy adventure Willow.[4] After their wedding in 1988, she moved to Los Angeles and began using 'Joanne Whalley-Kilmer' as her professional SAG-AFTRA name. She continued making more films in Hollywood than in the UK. In 1989, Whalley-Kilmer played the role of Christine Keeler in Scandal alongside stars John Hurt and Sir Ian McKellen. In 1991, she starred in the mystery noir Shattered.

In 1994, she was the lead actress in Trial By Jury, with co-stars Armand Assante and William Hurt, among others. Also in 1994, she became the second actress to play Gone with the Wind heroine Scarlett O'Hara when she appeared in a made-for-TV adaptation of the sequel novel, Scarlett. She later starred in the 1997 film The Man Who Knew Too Little.

After her divorce from Kilmer in 1996, for personal and professional reasons, she changed her surname back to Whalley. Whalley played the title character in the 2000 television film Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. She later collaborated with the pop-punk band Blink-182, reading a letter at the beginning of the song "Stockholm Syndrome". In 2005, she appeared as Queen Mary I in The Virgin Queen, a BBC serial about the life of Queen Elizabeth I which also starred Anne-Marie Duff and Tara FitzGerald. That same year she filmed Played which also starred her ex-husband Val Kilmer. However, the two did not share any scenes together. In 2006, she appeared in Life Line, a two-part drama on BBC1, starring opposite Ray Stevenson.

In February 2008, she appeared on stage in Billy Roche's Poor Beast in the Rain presented by the Salem K. Theatre Company at the Matrix Theatre in Los Angeles.[5][6] In that same year, Whalley was also a regular in the ITV mini series Flood with Robert Carlyle amongst others.

In 2011, Whalley played one of the female leads, Vannozza dei Cattanei, mistress of Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, future Pope Alexander VI, in the Showtime historical drama The Borgias.[7] She guest-starred as Princess Sophie in season 4 of Gossip Girl. With the cast of 44 Inch Chest, she shared the Best Ensemble Award at the San Diego Film Critics Society Awards 2010. The film reunited her with John Hurt, with whom she had done two previous films. In 2014 she played Aunt Patience in Jamaica Inn for BBC One. In 2015, she played Claudia, the wife of Pontius Pilate, in A.D. The Bible Continues, and Catherine of Aragon in the BBC miniseries Wolf Hall.

In 2018, she appeared in the third season of Daredevil as Sister Maggie.

In 2020, Whalley starred in Eleanor Coppola's anthology film Love Is Love Is Love. It was scheduled to have its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2020, but the festival was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The film subsequently premiered at the Deauville American Film Festival in France in September of that year.[8][9]

In November 2022, she reprised her role as Sorsha in the Disney+ Willow sequel series.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Whalley met American actor Val Kilmer while filming the movie Willow.[4] The couple married in 1988. Whalley took a break from acting to bring up two children with Kilmer: a daughter, Mercedes born on 29 October 1991 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and a son, Jack, born on 6 June 1995. Shortly after that, the pair separated. Whalley filed for divorce on 21 July 1995, citing irreconcilable differences.



Year Title Role Notes
1982 Pink Floyd – The Wall Groupie
1985 Dance with a Stranger Christine
No Surrender Cheryl
The Good Father Mary Hall
1988 Willow Sorsha
To Kill a Priest Anna
1989 Scandal Christine Keeler as Joanne Whalley-Kilmer
Kill Me Again Fay Forrester as Joanne Whalley-Kilmer
1990 Navy SEALs Claire Varrens as Joanne Whalley-Kilmer
The Big Man Beth Scoular as Joanne Whalley-Kilmer; also known as Crossing the Line
1991 Shattered Jenny Scott as Joanne Whalley-Kilmer
Storyville Natalie Tate as Joanne Whalley-Kilmer
1993 The Secret Rapture Katherine Coleridge as Joanne Whalley-Kilmer
1994 Mother's Boys Colleen 'Callie' Harland as Joanne Whalley-Kilmer
A Good Man in Africa Celia Adekunle as Joanne Whalley-Kilmer
Trial by Jury Valerie Alston as Joanne Whalley-Kilmer
1997 The Man Who Knew Too Little Lori
1999 A Texas Funeral Miranda
2000 The Guilty Natalie Crane
Breathtaking Caroline Henshow
2002 Before You Go Mary
Virginia's Run Jessie Eastwood
2005 The Californians Luna
2006 Played Maggie
2007 Flood Commissioner Patricia Nash
2009 44 Inch Chest Liz Diamond
2011 Golf in the Kingdom Agatha McNaughton
Twixt Denise
2017 Muse Jacqueline
2018 Paul, Apostle of Christ Priscilla
2020 Love Is Love Is Love Joanne


Year Title Role Notes
1974, 1976 Coronation Street Pamela Graham 3 episodes
1975 Joby Molly McLeod ITV Yorkshire television film
1976, 1978 Crown Court Janice Scott/Linda Mason 3 episodes
1977 Emmerdale Farm Angela Read 6 episodes
1976–79 How We Used to Live Marjorie Dawson/Sarah Hughes 20(?) episodes
1978 The One and Only Phyllis Dixey Doris ITV television film
1979 Omnibus Little Red Riding Hood/Madge 2 episodes
1980 ITV Playhouse Lindsey Episode: "Too Close to the Edge"
Juliet Bravo Maureen Maskell Episode: "Shot Gun"
Scene Evelyn Episode: "And Mum Came Too"
1980–81 Coming Home Travel agent 2 episodes
1981 The Gaffer Nancy Episode: "The Trouble with Women"
Noddy Mary Television film
1982 A Kind of Loving Ingrid Rotherwell (Brown) Main role, 8 episodes
The Gentle Touch Dany Episode: "Dany"
1983 Bergerac Christine Bolton Episode: "Always Leave Them Laughing"
Reilly, Ace of Spies Ulla ITV television miniseries; episode: "The Visiting Fireman"
1984 A Christmas Carol Fan (Ebenezer's sister) CBS television film
1985 Edge of Darkness Emma Craven 6 episodes
1986 The Singing Detective Nurse Mills 6 episodes
1987 Screen Two Jackie Series 3, TV film: "Will You Love Me Tomorrow?"
1994 Scarlett Scarlett O'Hara CBS television miniseries; Lead role; as Joanne Whalley-Kilmer
2000 Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis CBS television film
Run the Wild Fields Ruby Miller Showtime Original television film
2005 The Virgin Queen Mary I Television miniseries
Child of Mine Tess Palmer TV film
2009 Diverted Marion Price CBC television miniseries
2011–12 Gossip Girl Princess Sophie Grimaldi 7 episodes
2011–13 The Borgias Vanozza Cattaneo Main role, 25 episodes
2013 The Challenger Disaster Gweneth Feynman BBC television film; also known as The Challenger Disaster
2014 Jamaica Inn Patience Merlyn BBC One television miniseries
2015 Wolf Hall Catherine of Aragon BBC Two television miniseries
The Ark Emmie BBC One television film
A.D. The Bible Continues Claudia, wife of Pontius Pilate Main role, 12 episodes
2016 Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands Rheda Main role, 13 episodes
2017 The White Princess Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy Television miniseries
2018 Daredevil Sister Maggie[11] Main role, season 3
2020 Tin Star Mary James
2022 Willow Sorsha[10] Disney+ sequel series


  1. ^ "Now and Then – Stockport Local Heritage Library Newsletter – Autumn 2010", Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council, archived from the original on 19 February 2013, retrieved 6 August 2013; John Patterson (27 January 2010), "Joanne Whalley: Here comes trouble", The Guardian, retrieved 9 March 2011; "A star with a child in her eyes". The Times. London. 12 November 2005.
  2. ^ "Joanne Whalley-Kilmer – Celebrity information". Retrieved 25 December 2010.
  3. ^ from The Great Rock Discography via Google Books – link broken 17.4.10
  4. ^ a b Val Kilmer at
  5. ^ Gene Franklin Smith. "Salem K Theatre Company – Poor Beast in the Rain". Archived from the original on 19 July 2008. Retrieved 25 December 2010.
  6. ^ "**Exclusive Allrounder**, Joanne Whalley Photos". Retrieved 25 December 2010.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "Showtime Taps Cox, Linney for Two New Series". 12 June 2010.
  8. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (10 September 2020). "Eleanor Coppola's Deauville Festival World Premiere 'Love Is Love Is Love:' Watch Exclusive Film Clips".
  9. ^ Goodfellow, Melanie (21 July 2020). "'First Cow', 'Kajillionaire', 'Last Words' head to Deauville". Screen.
  10. ^ a b McWhertor, Michael (26 May 2022). "Willow returns in first trailer for Lucasfilm's new fantasy series". Polygon. Vox Media, LLC. Retrieved 26 May 2022.
  11. ^ Patten, Dominic (25 January 2018). "'Daredevil' Adds Joanne Whalley For Season 3 Of Marvel & Netflix Series". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 27 January 2018.

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