Vanessa Kirby

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Vanessa Kirby
Born (1988-04-18) 18 April 1988 (age 28)
Wimbledon, London, England, UK
Occupation Actress
Years active 2009–present

Vanessa Kirby (born 18 April 1988) is an English stage, TV 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.

Life and career[edit]

Kirby was raised in Wimbledon, London; her father was a urologist while her mother was a founder of Country Living magazine.[1] Vanessa Redgrave and Corin Redgrave were family friends.[2]

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[3] before studying English at Exeter University.[4] 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:[5] 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.[6] She then starred as Rosalind in As You Like It by William Shakespeare at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds, with Alfred Hickling of The Guardian describing 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".[7]

In 2011, Kirby made her television début in the BBC's The Hour,[8] alongside Ben Whishaw, Dominic West, and Romola Garai. She played Estella in the BBC's adaptation of Great Expectations[9] 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 filmedThe Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman with Shia LaBeouf and Mads Mikkelsen.[10] Kirby then starred in Richard Curtis's film About Time as Rachel McAdams's best friend Joanna.[11]

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"[12][13]

She filmed The Rise in early 2012 alongside Matthew Lewis and Timothy Spall. The film premiered 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.[14] 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.[15] 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 1987 Hope and Glory.[9] 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. She also filmed Anthony Bourdain's crime novel 'Bone in the Throat', alongside Tom Wilkinson and Ed Westwick.

In 2015 she filmed Michael Grandage's first film Genius, alongside Colin Firth, Jude Law and Guy Pearce. It is cited she has begun filming as the title role in new series The Frankenstein Chronicles opposite Sean Bean, The Dresser for Richard Eyre with Anthony Hopkins and Ian McKellen, Thea Sharrock's adaptation of Jojo Moyes' book Me Before You with Sam Claflin and Emilia Clarke.

In May 2015 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, directed by Stephen Daldry, opposite Matt Smith and Claire Foy.[16]

Baz Bamigboye reported she will play Elena in Robert Icke's Uncle Vanya at the Almeida Theatre in 2016.[17]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Kirby won Best Supporting Actress at the Whatsonstage Awards 2014 for her role as Stella in Streetcar Named Desire.

Kirby has been nominated for Ian Charleson Awards in 2010, 2011 (when she won Third Prize), and 2013.

In 2011, Kirby was named as one of Screen International's 'Stars of Tomorrow'.

In 2011 she was nominated for the Evening Standard Theatre Awards as Outstanding Newcomer for her performance in The Acid Test.

She was named as one of Nylon magazine's Young Hollywood list 2012.



Year Title Character Production Notes
2011 The Hour Ruth Elms BBC Pilot, Episode 2 and 4
2011 Love/Loss Jane
2011 Great Expectations Estella BBC Broadcast 27–29 December 2011
2012 Labyrinth Alice Tanner Scott Free Productions Broadcast 30–31 March 2013
2012 Wasteland (known as The Rise in England) Nicola
2013 Agatha Christie's Poirot Celia Ravenscroft episode Elephants Can Remember, Broadcast 9 June 2013
2013 About Time Joanna Working Title Films
2013 Charlie Countryman Felicity Mandate Pictures
2014 Queen and Country Dawn John Boorman
2014 Insomniacs Jade Short film
2015 Jupiter Ascending Katharine Warner Brothers
2015 Everest Sandy Hill
2015 The Dresser Irene BBC Television Movie
2016 Kill Command Mills Vertigo Films
2016 Genius Zelda Fitzgerald Post-production
2016 Me Before You Alicia[18]


External links[edit]