Vanessa Kirby

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Vanessa Kirby
Vanessa Kirby.png
Kirby in 2017
Born1986/1987 (age 30–31)[1]
EducationUniversity of Exeter
Years active2010–present

Vanessa Kirby is an English stage, television and film actress. She starred as Estella in the BBC adaptation of Great Expectations in 2011 and as Joanna in Richard Curtis' romantic comedy About Time in 2013. From 2016 to 2017, Kirby portrayed Princess Margaret in Peter Morgan's Netflix series The Crown, for which she won the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Television Series and received a nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series in 2018. She is known mostly for her stage work; Variety in 2016 called her "the outstanding stage actress of her generation, capable of the most unexpected choices".[2] In 2018, she played White Widow in the U.S. blockbuster Mission: Impossible – Fallout.(MI6)

Life and career[edit]

Early years[edit]

Kirby was raised in Wimbledon, London. Her mother is a former magazine editor, and her father is urologist Roger Kirby.[3] Actors Vanessa Redgrave and Corin Redgrave were family friends.[4]

She was educated at Lady Eleanor Holles School in Hampton. After being turned down by Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, she took a gap year to travel[5] before studying English at the University of Exeter.[6] She then turned down her place at LAMDA in London after she was signed to a talent agency and met the theatre director David Thacker, who gave her three starring roles over 2009 at the Octagon Theatre Bolton:[7] in All My Sons by Arthur Miller, Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen, and A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare. For All My Sons she won the BIZA Rising Star Award at the Manchester Evening News Theatre Awards, worth £5,000.

She then went on to star at the National Theatre as Isabella in Women Beware Women by Thomas Middleton, directed by Marianne Elliott, alongside Harriet Walter and Harry Potter's Harry Melling.[8] She then starred as Rosalind in As You Like It by William Shakespeare at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds; Alfred Hickling of The Guardian described her as a "significant new talent". In 2011, she was in the première of The Acid Test by Anya Reiss at the Royal Court Theatre, directed by Simon Godwin, earning praise for her performance from Paul Taylor of The Independent, who described her as "a star if ever I saw one".[9]

Television and cinema[edit]

In 2011, Kirby made her television debut in the BBC's The Hour,[10] alongside Ben Whishaw, Dominic West, and Romola Garai. She played Estella in the BBC's mini-series adaptation of Great Expectations alongside Ray Winstone, Gillian Anderson, and Douglas Booth.

She played the lead role of Alice in Ridley Scott's mini-series adaptation of Kate Mosse's novel Labyrinth. In late 2012, she filmed The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman with Shia LaBeouf and Mads Mikkelsen.[11] Kirby then starred in Richard Curtis's film About Time as Rachel McAdams's best friend Joanna.[12]

She went on to play Masha in the acclaimed production by Benedict Andrews of Three Sisters at the Young Vic in September 2012, earning rave reviews, with Matt Trueman of Time Out stating. "In a super cast given licence to shine, Kirby stands out as Masha".[13][14]

She filmed The Rise in early 2012 alongside Matthew Lewis and Timothy Spall. The film premièred at the Toronto and London Film Festivals to positive reviews, and won the Best Debut Category for director Rowan Athale.

In 2013, Kirby returned to the National Theatre to play Queen Isabella in Edward II opposite John Heffernan.[15] In the summer of 2014, she played Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire, again collaborating with Benedict Andrews at the Young Vic, alongside Gillian Anderson as Blanche and Ben Foster as Stanley.[16] She won Best Supporting Actress category at the Whatsonstage Awards 2014, which is voted for by the public.

Her recent film roles include Kill Command, opposite Thure Lindhardt, the Wachowskis' Jupiter Ascending, with Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum, and Queen and Country, John Boorman's sequel to his Hope and Glory (1987). In 2015, she had a role in Working Title's Everest, alongside Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin, and Keira Knightley, playing the iconic American socialite Sandy Hill Pittman.

In 2015, she filmed The Dresser (2015) for Richard Eyre, with Anthony Hopkins and Ian McKellen, and Thea Sharrock's adaptation of Jojo Moyes' book Me Before You. In May that year, it was reported that Kirby was cast as Princess Margaret after a six-month search, in Netflix's first original British series The Crown written by Peter Morgan and directed by Stephen Daldry.[17] She was nominated for the BAFTA in 2017, and then went on to win the BAFTA for her performance in season two in 2018.

Baz Bamigboye reported Kirby would play Elena in Robert Icke's Uncle Vanya at the Almeida Theatre in 2016, for which she won rave reviews, with Matt Trueman of Variety writing: "Kirby is a superlative Elena: lithe, fickle, hypocritical, shallow and yet always sympathetic. It's a performance that confirms her as the outstanding stage actress of her generation, capable of the most unexpected choices".

Kirby is currently playing the titular character in Polly Stenham's Julie, an adaptation of August Strindberg's Miss Julie, at the National Theatre.



Year Title Role Notes
2010 Love/Loss Jane
2012 The Rise Nicola
Nora Young Woman Short
2013 Charlie Countryman Felicity
About Time Joanna
2014 The Exchange Woman Short
Insomniacs Jade Short
Queen & Country Dawn Rohan
National Theatre Live: A Streetcar Named Desire Stella Kowalski
Off the Page: Devil in the Details Jessica Short
2015 Jupiter Ascending Katharine Dunlevy
Bone in the Throat Sophie
Everest Sandy Hill
2016 Genius Zelda Fitzgerald
Kill Command Katherine Mills
Me Before You Alicia Dewares
2018 Mission: Impossible – Fallout Alanna Mitsopolis / White Widow
2019 Hobbs & Shaw Hattie Shaw Filming


Year Title Role Notes
2011 The Hour Ruth Elms 3 episodes
Great Expectations Estella Havisham Miniseries; 3 episodes
2012 Labyrinth Alice Tanner Miniseries; 2 episodes
2013 Agatha Christie's Poirot Celia Ravenscroft Episode: "Elephants Can Remember"
2015 The Dresser Irene TV film
The Frankenstein Chronicles Lady Jemima Hervey Main role; 7 episodes
2016–2017 The Crown Princess Margaret Main role; 17 episodes


Year Title Playwright Role Venue
2010 All My Sons Arthur Miller Ann Deever Octagon Theatre
Ghosts Henrik Ibsen Regina Engstrand Octagon Theatre
A Midsummer Night's Dream William Shakespeare Helena Octagon Theatre
As You Like It William Shakespeare Rosalind West Yorkshire Playhouse
2011 Women Beware Women Thomas Middleton Isabella Royal National Theatre
The Acid Test Anya Reiss Dana Royal Court Theatre
2012 Three Sisters Anton Chekhov Maria "Masha" Kulygina Young Vic
2013 Edward II Christopher Marlowe Isabella of France Royal National Theatre
2014 A Streetcar Named Desire Tennessee Williams Stella Kowalski Young Vic
2016 Uncle Vanya Anton Chekhov Helena Serebryakova Almeida Theatre
A Streetcar Named Desire Tennessee Williams Stella Kowalski St. Ann's Warehouse
2018 Julie Polly Stenham Julie Royal National Theatre

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Work Result
2010 Ian Charleson Awards Ghosts Nominated
2011 Ian Charleson Awards 3rd place A Midsummer Night's Dream' Won
Ian Charleson Awards As You Like It Won
Ian Charleson Awards Women Beware Women Won
2012 Ian Charleson Awards Special Commendations Three Sisters Nominated
2015 WhatsOnStage Awards Best Supporting Actress in a Play A Streetcar Named Desire Won
2017 BAFTA TV Awards Best Supporting Actress The Crown Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Nominated
Glamour Awards UK TV Actress Won
2018 BAFTA TV Awards Best Supporting Actress Won
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Nominated


  1. ^ "'She's The Ultimate Cool' says Vanessa Kirby of The Crown". 14 December 2017.
  2. ^ Trueman, Matt (17 February 2016). "London Theater Review: 'Uncle Vanya' at the Almeida Theatre". Variety. Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  3. ^ "Vanessa Kirby: meet south-west London's hottest export".
  4. ^ "Interview: Vanessa Kirby". 30 August 2012.
  5. ^ "Vanessa Kirby: Whirlwind year brings rising star Vanessa to leading role".
  6. ^ "Hurtwood House Performing Arts". Archived from the original on 21 February 2010. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
  7. ^ "Octagon Theatre Bolton". Archived from the original on 2012-09-19.
  8. ^ "National Theatre".
  9. ^ "The Acid Test, Royal Court: Theatre Upstairs, London". 26 May 2011.
  10. ^ "Series 1, The Hour - BBC Two".
  11. ^ "Great Expectations star Vanessa Kirby wins Hollywood role opposite Shia LaBeouf".
  12. ^ "Rachel McAdams to Star in Working Title's 'About Time' (Exclusive)".
  13. ^ "Review: Three Sisters, Young Vic - Matt Trueman".
  14. ^ "Accounts".
  15. ^ "Interview: Vanessa Kirby, Labyrinth star".
  16. ^ Desk, BWW News. "Vanessa Kirby and Ben Foster Join Gillian Anderson in A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE at the Young Vic This Summer".
  17. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (15 May 2015). "Vanessa Kirby To Play Princess Margaret In Netflix's 'The Crown'".

External links[edit]