Davis at the AACTA Awards in Sydney, New South Wales, January 2012
23 April 1955
Perth, Western Australia
|Residence||Birchgrove, New South Wales|
|Alma mater||National Institute of Dramatic Art|
Colin Friels (m. 1984)
Judith Davis (born 23 April 1955) is an Australian actress known for her work in film, television and theatre. With a career spanning over 40 years she is commended for her versatility and is regarded as one of the finest actresses of her generation with frequent collaborator Woody Allen describing her as "one of the most exciting actresses in the world". She is the recipient of eight AACTA Awards, three Emmy Awards, two BAFTA Awards, two Golden Globe Awards and has twice been nominated for an Academy Award.
Davis is a 1977 graduate of the National Institute of Dramatic Art, where she starred opposite Mel Gibson in Romeo and Juliet. Most of Davis's stage work has been in Australia, including Piaf (1980), Hedda Gabler (1986), Victory (2004) and The Seagull (2011), but she also starred in the 1982 London production of Insignificance, for which she was nominated for the Olivier Award for Best Actress, and the 1989 Los Angeles production of Hapgood. She returned to the National Institute of Dramatic Art in 2017 to direct the play Love and Money.
She went on to win the BAFTA Awards for both Best Actress and Most Promising Newcomer for the 1979 film My Brilliant Career, two AFI Awards as Best Actress for Winter of Our Dreams (1981) and Supporting Actress for Hoodwink (1981), and later went onto receive Academy Award nominations for A Passage to India (1984) and Husbands and Wives (1992). Her other films roles include High Rolling (1977), Who Dares Wins (1982), Heatwave (1983), High Tide (1987), Georgia (1988), Alice (1990), George Sand in Impromptu (1991), Barton Fink (1991), Dark Blood (1993), Absolute Power (1997), Deconstructing Harry (1997), Celebrity (1998), The Man Who Sued God (2001), The Break-up (2006), Anne d'Arpajon in Marie Antoinette (2006), The Eye of the Storm (2011), To Rome With Love (2012), The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet (2013) and The Dressmaker (2015).
For her television work, Davis won Emmy Awards for Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story (1995), Judy Garland in Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows (2001) and The Starter Wife (2007) and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film for Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows and One Against the Wind (1991). Other television roles include Water Under the Bridge (1980), A Woman Called Golda (1982), A Cooler Climate (1999), Nancy Reagan in The Reagans (2003), Coast to Coast (2003), Sante Kimes in A Little Thing Called Murder (2006), Page Eight (2011) and Hedda Hopper in Feud: Bette and Joan (2017).
Davis was born in Perth, Western Australia, 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), Sydney in 1977. She has been married to actor and fellow NIDA graduate Colin Friels since 1984. They have two children, a son and a daughter. The relationship was briefly in the media when an argument led to a court order against Friels – however, they remained together at that time. They live in the Sydney area of Birchgrove, New South Wales.
Davis first came 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. 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 High Tide, as a foot-loose mother attempting 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 High Tide'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 Second World War 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 as Jill Tankard in a television drama film, Page Eight, for which she was nominated for an Emmy. She 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 the 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.
In 2013, Davis co-starred with Helena Bonham Carter and Callum Keith Rennie in The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet. She reprised her role of Jill Tankard in 2014's Salting the Battlefield. She is also due to star in The Surrealist, which is about Salvador Dalí. She co starrred with Kate Winslet in The Dressmaker, for which she won an AACTA award for Best Supporting actress in 2015.
Davis's stage work has been 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)
- 2017 Helpmann Award for Best Direction of a Play (Faith Healer)
- Peter Biskind. "Gods and Monsters: Thirty Years of Writing on Film and Culture". Google Books. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
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- Colin Friels biography at IMDb
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- Ryan Gilbey (25 April 2013). "Judy Davis: 'I never wanted celebrity'". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
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- Koltnow, Barry (25 September 1994). "Judy Davis writes her own script". Canberra Times. p. 25. Retrieved 18 November 2018.
- "ER, Frasier success outshines dull ramblings by Emmy host". Canberra Times. 12 September 1995. p. 8. Retrieved 18 November 2018.
- Bernard Weinraub (10 December 2000). "The Rewards And the Risks of Playing an Icon". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
- Frater, Patrick (9 December 2015). "'Mad Max,' 'Dressmaker' Split Australia's AACTA Awards". Variety. Retrieved 18 November 2018.
- 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. Archived from the original on 7 November 2013. 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.