438px-Vanessa Redgrave (2011)

Redgrave at the Berlin Film Festival, 2011

Vanessa Redgrave, CBE (born 30 January 1937) is an English actress of stage, screen and television, as well as a political activist.

She rose to prominence in 1961 playing Rosalind in As You Like It with the Royal Shakespeare Company and has since made more than 35 appearances on London's West End and Broadway, winning both the Tony and Olivier Awards. On screen, she has starred in more than 80 films; including Mary, Queen of Scots, Isadora, Julia, The Bostonians, Mission: Impossible and Atonement. Redgrave was proclaimed by Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams as "the greatest living actress of our times," and she remains the only British actress ever to win the Oscar, Emmy, Tony, Cannes, Golden Globe, and the Screen Actors Guild awards. She was also the recipient of the 2010 BAFTA Fellowship "in recognition of an outstanding and exceptional contribution to film."[1]

A member of the Redgrave family of actors, she is the daughter of the late Sir Michael Redgrave and Lady Redgrave (the actress Rachel Kempson), the sister of the late Lynn Redgrave and the late Corin Redgrave, the mother of Hollywood actresses Joely Richardson (who played Joanna Farley, in the Agatha Christie's Poirot episode, The Dream) and the late Natasha Richardson, and the aunt of British actress Jemma Redgrave.

Personal life and familyEdit

Main article: Redgrave family

Redgrave was born in Greenwich, London, the daughter of actors Sir Michael Redgrave and Rachel Kempson. Laurence Olivier announced her birth to the audience at a performance of Hamlet at the Old Vic, when he said that Laertes (played by Sir Michael) had a daughter. She was educated at the Alice Ottley School, Worcester & Queen's Gate School, London before "coming out" as a debutante. Her late siblings, Lynn Redgrave and Corin Redgrave, were also acclaimed actors.

Redgrave's daughters, Natasha Richardson (1963–2009) and Joely Richardson (b. 1965) from her 1962–67 marriage to film director Tony Richardson, also built respected acting careers. Redgrave's son Carlo Gabriel Nero ( Carlo Sparanero), by Italian actor Franco Nero (né Francesco Sparanero), is a writer and film director. She met Franco while filming Camelot in 1967, the year she divorced her husband Tony Richardson, who left her for the French actress Jeanne Moreau. Redgrave and Nero married on 31 December 2006.[2]

In 1967, Redgrave was made a Commander (CBE) of the Order of the British Empire. It was reported that she declined a damehood in 1999.[3]

From 1971 to 1986, she had a long-term relationship with actor Timothy Dalton, with whom she had starred in the film Mary, Queen of Scots.[4]

Within 14 months in 2009-10, she lost both a daughter and her two younger siblings. Her daughter Natasha Richardson died on 18 March 2009 from a traumatic brain injury caused by a skiing accident.[5][6] On 6 April 2010, her brother Corin Redgrave died, and on 2 May 2010, her sister Lynn Redgrave died.



Vanessa Redgrave entered the Central School of Speech and Drama in 1954. She first appeared in the West End, playing opposite her brother, in 1958.

In 1959 she appeared at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre under the direction of Peter Hall as Helena in A Midsummer's Night Dream opposite Charles Laughton as Bottom and Coriolanus opposite Laurence Olivier (in the title role), Albert Finney and Edith Evans. [7]

In 1960, Redgrave had her first starring role in Robert Bolt's The Tiger and the Horse, in which she co-starred with her father. In 1962 she played Imogen in William Gaskill's production of Cymbeline for the Royal Shakespeare Company. In 1966 Redgrave created the role of Jean Brodie in the Donald Albery production of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, adapted for the stage by Jay Presson Allen from the novel by Muriel Spark. She won four Evening Standard Awards for Best Actress in four decades. She was awarded the Laurence Olivier Award for Actress of the Year in a Revival in 1984 for The Aspern Papers

In the 1990s, her theatre work included Prospero in The Tempest at Shakespeare's Globe in London. In 2003 she won a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her performance in the Broadway revival of Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night. In January 2006, Redgrave was presented the Ibsen Centennial Award for her "outstanding work in interpreting many of Henrik Ibsen's works over the last decades."[8] Previous recipients of the award include Liv Ullmann, Glenda Jackson and Claire Bloom.

In 2007, Redgrave played Joan Didion in her Broadway stage adaptation of her 2005 book, The Year of Magical Thinking, which played 144 regular performances in a 24-week limited engagement at the Booth Theatre. For this, she won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding One-Person Show and was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play. She reprised the role at the Lyttelton Theatre at the Royal National Theatre in London to mixed reviews. She also spent a week performing the work at the Theatre Royal in Bath in September 2008. She once again performed the role of Joan Didion for a special benefit at New York's Cathedral of Saint John the Divine on 26 October 2009. The performance was originally slated to debut on 27 April, but was pushed due to the death of Redgrave's daughter Natasha. The proceeds for the benefit were donated to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Both charities work to provide help for the children of Gaza.

In October 2010 she starred in the Broadway premiere of Driving Miss Daisy starring in the title role opposite James Earl Jones. The show premiered on 25 October 2010 at the John Golden Theatre in New York City to rave reviews.[9] The production was originally scheduled to run to 29 January 2011 but due to a successful response and high box office sales, was extended to 9 April 2011.[10] In May 2011, she was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play for the role of Daisy in Driving Miss Daisy.[11] The play transferred to the Wyndham's Theatre in London from 26 September to 17 December 2011.[12]

In a poll of "industry experts" and readers conducted by The Stage in 2010, Redgrave was ranked as the ninth greatest stage actor/actress of all time.[13]

Early film workEdit

Highlights of Redgrave's early film career include her first starring role in Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment (for which she earned an Oscar nomination, a Cannes award, a Golden Globe nomination and a BAFTA Film Award nomination); her portrayal of a cool London swinger in 1966's Blowup; her spirited portrayal of dancer Isadora Duncan in Isadora (for which she won a National Society of Film Critics' Award for Best Actress, a second Prize for the Best Female Performance at the Cannes Film Festival, along with a Golden Globe and Oscar nomination in 1969); and various portrayals of historical figures – ranging from Andromache in The Trojan Women, to Mary, Queen of Scots in the film of the same name. She also played the role of Guinevere in the film Camelot with Richard Harris and Franco Nero, and briefly as Sylvia Pankhurst in Oh! What a Lovely War.

Julia, The Palestinian and the Oscar controversyEdit

In 1977, Redgrave funded and narrated a documentary film The Palestinian about Palestinians and the activities of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation. That same year she starred in the film Julia, about a woman murdered by the Nazi German regime in the years prior to World War II for her anti-Fascist activism. Her co-star in the film was Jane Fonda (playing writer Lillian Hellman), who, in her 2005 autobiography, noted that: Template:Quote

When Redgrave was nominated for an Oscar in 1978, for her role in Julia, members of the Jewish Defense League (JDL), led by Rabbi Meir Kahane, burned effigies of Redgrave and picketed the Academy Awards ceremony to protest against both Redgrave and her support of the Palestinian cause.[14]

Redgrave's performance in Julia garnered an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Accepting the award, Redgrave said:


Later in the broadcast veteran screenwriter and Oscar presenter Paddy Chayefsky told the audience members that Template:Quote

In 1978, Rabbi Meir Kahane published a book entitled Listen Vanessa, I am a Zionist, which was later renamed Listen World, Listen Jew, in direct response to Redgrave's comments at the Academy Awards. To this day some Jewish groups, such as the Jewish Defense League, consider Redgrave an opponent and a supporter of terrorism, citing remarks she has made such as, "Zionism is a brutal, racist ideology. And it is a brutal racist regime."[15]

Later film careerEdit

File:Vanessa Redgrave by Elena Torre.jpg

Later film roles of note include those of suffragist Olive Chancellor in The Bostonians (1984, a fourth Best Actress Academy Award nomination), transsexual tennis player Renée Richards in Second Serve (1986); Mrs. Wilcox in Howards End (1992, her sixth Academy Award nomination, this time in a supporting role); crime boss Max in Mission: Impossible (1996, when discussing the role of Max, DePalma and Cruise thought it would be fun to cast an actor like Redgrave; they then decided to go with the real thing); Oscar Wilde’s mother in Wilde (1997); Clarissa Dalloway in Mrs. Dalloway (1997); and Dr. Sonia Wick in Girl, Interrupted (1999). Many of these roles and others, garnered her various accolades.

Her performance as a lesbian mourning the loss of her longtime partner in the HBO series If These Walls Could Talk 2 earned her a Golden Globe for “Best TV Series Supporting Actress” in 2000, as well as earning an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a TV Film or Miniseries. This same performance also led to an “Excellence in Media Award” by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). The award honours “a member of the entertainment community who has made a significant difference in promoting equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people”. In 2004, Redgrave joined the second season cast of the hit FX series Nip/Tuck, portraying Dr. Erica Noughton, the mother of Julia McNamara, who is played by her real-life daughter Joely Richardson. She also made appearances in the third and sixth seasons. In 2006, Redgrave starred opposite Peter O'Toole in the acclaimed film Venus. A year later, Redgrave starred in Evening and the acclaimed Atonement, in which she garnered a Broadcast Film Critics Association award nomination for her performance that only took up seven minutes of screen time. In 2008, Redgrave appeared as a narrator in an Arts Alliance production, id – Identity of the Soul. In 2009, Redgrave starred in the BBC remake of The Day of the Triffids, with her daughter Joely. In the midst of losing her daughter, Natasha Richardson, Redgrave signed on to play Eleanor of Aquitaine in Ridley Scott's version of Robin Hood, which began filming shortly after Natasha's death. Redgrave later withdrew from the film for personal reasons. The part was given to her Evening co-star Eileen Atkins.[16] She was next seen in Letters to Juliet opposite her husband Franco Nero.

She had small roles in Eva, a Romanian drama film that premiered at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival as well as in Julian Schnabel's Palestinian drama, Miral that was screened at the 67th Venice International Film Festival and played the role of Winnie the Giant Tortoise in the 2010 environmental animated film Animals United. She has a supporting role in the Bosnia-set political drama, The Whistleblower, which premiered at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival. Both Miral and The Whistleblower are scheduled for U.S. theatrical release in 2011. Redgrave also narrates Patrick Keiller's semi-fictional upcoming documentary, Robinson in Ruins.

She has also filmed leading lady roles for two upcoming 2011 historical films. This includes, Ralph Fiennes' directorial debut of Shakespeare's Coriolanus in which Redgrave plays Volumnia; and Roland Emmerich's Anonymous in which Redgrave plays [[Queen Elizabeth I|Template:Nowrap]].

Political activismEdit

Redgrave and her brother Corin founded the Workers Revolutionary Party (UK) in the 1970s.[17] Vanessa ran for parliament several times as a party member but never received more than a few hundred votes.[18]

In 1980 Redgrave made her American TV debut as concentration camp survivor Fania Fénelon in the Arthur Miller-scripted TV movie Playing for Time, a part for which she won an Emmy as Outstanding Lead Actress in 1981. The decision to cast Redgrave as Fénelon was, however, a source of controversy. In light of Redgrave's support for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO),[19] even Fénelon objected to her casting. Redgrave was perplexed by such hostility, stating in her 1991 autobiography her long-held belief that "the struggle against anti-Semitism and for the self-determination of the Palestinians form a single whole."[20]

In 1984 Redgrave sued the Boston Symphony Orchestra, claiming that the orchestra had fired her from a performance due to her support of the PLO.[21] Lillian Hellman testified in court on Redgrave's behalf.[22] Redgrave won on a count of breach of contract, but did not win on the claim that the Boston orchestra had violated her civil rights by firing her.[22]

In 1995 Redgrave was elected to serve as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.

In December 2002 Redgrave paid £50,000 bail for Chechen separatist Deputy Premier and special envoy Akhmed Zakayev, who had sought political asylum in the United Kingdom and was accused by the Russian government of aiding and abetting hostage-takings in the Moscow Hostage Crisis of 2002 and guerrilla warfare against Russia.

At a press conference Redgrave said she feared for Zakayev's safety if he were extradited to Russia on terrorism charges. He would "die of a heart attack" or some other mysterious explanation offered by Russia, she said.[23] On 13 November 2003, a London court rejected the Russian government's request for Zakayev's extradition. Instead, the court accepted a plea by lawyers for Zakayev that he would not get a fair trial, and could even face torture, in Russia. "It would be unjust and oppressive to return Mr Zakayev to Russia," Judge Timothy Workman ruled.[24]

In December 2003 it was revealed that Redgrave had declined the offer of being made a Dame from Tony Blair's New Labour government.[25]

In 2004 Vanessa Redgrave and her brother Corin Redgrave launched the Peace and Progress Party, which campaigned against the Iraq War and for human rights. However, in June 2005 Redgrave left the party.

Redgrave has been an outspoken critic of the "war on terrorism".[26][27] During a June 2005 interview on Larry King Live, Redgrave was challenged on this criticism and on her political views. In response she questioned if there can be true democracy if the political leadership of the United States and Britain does not "uphold the values for which my father's generation fought the Nazis, [and] millions of people gave their lives against the Soviet Union's regime. [Such sacrifice was made] because of democracy and what democracy meant: no torture, no camps, no detention forever or without trial...[Such] techniques are not just alleged [against the governments of the U.S. and Britain], they have actually been written about by the FBI. I don't think it's being 'far left' uphold the rule of law."[28]

In March 2006 Redgrave remarked in an interview with US broadcast journalist Amy Goodman: “I don't know of a single government that actually abides by international human rights law, not one, including my own. In fact, [they] violate these laws in the most despicable and obscene way, I would say.”

Goodman’s interview with Redgrave took place in the actress’s West London home on the evening of 7 March, and covered a range of subjects, particularly the cancellation of the Alan Rickman production, My Name is Rachel Corrie, by the New York Theater Workshop. Such a development, said Redgrave, was an "act of catastrophic cowardice" as "the essence of life and the essence of theatre is to communicate about lives, either lives that have ended or lives that are still alive, [and about] beliefs, and what is in those beliefs."[29]

In June 2006 she was awarded a lifetime achievement award from the Transilvania International Film Festival, one of whose sponsors is a mining company named Gabriel Resources. She dedicated the award to a community organisation from Roşia Montană, Romania, which is campaigning against a gold mine that Gabriel Resources is seeking to build near the village. Gabriel Resources placed an "open letter" in The Guardian on 23 June 2006, attacking Redgrave, arguing the case for the mine, and exhibiting support for it among the inhabitants: the open letter is signed by 77 villagers.[30]

In December 2007 Redgrave was named as one of the possible suretors who paid the £50,000 bail for Jamil al-Banna, one of three British residents arrested after landing back in the UK following four years' captivity at Guantanamo Bay. Redgrave has declined to be specific about her financial involvement but said she was "very happy" to be of "some small assistance for Jamil and his wife", adding, "It is a profound honour and I am glad to be alive to be able to do this. Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo) is a concentration camp."[31]


Year Title Role Notes
1958 Behind the Mask Pamela Gray
1966 Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment Leonie Delt Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Award
Nominated – Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
A Man For All Seasons Anne Boleyn
Blowup Unnamed
1967 Camelot Guinevere Template:Ubl
1968 Template:Sortname Mrs. Clarissa Morris
Template:Sortname Nina
Isadora Isadora Duncan Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Award
National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress
Nominated – Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
1969 Oh! What a Lovely War Sylvia Pankhurst
Template:Sortname Flavia
1970 Dropout Mary
Template:Sortname Template:Ubl
1971 Mary, Queen of Scots Mary, Queen of Scots Template:Ubl
Template:Sortname Sister Jeanne
Vacation Immacolata Meneghelli Template:Lang-it
Template:Sortname Andromache
1973 Template:Sortname Katherine Mansfield Television film
1974 Murder on the Orient Express Mary Debenham
1975 Out of Season Ann
1976 Template:Sortname Lola Deveraux
1977 Julia Julia Template:Ubl
1979 Agatha Agatha Christie
Yanks Helen
Bear Island Heddi Lindguist
1981 Playing for Time Fania Fenelon Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
1982 My Body, My Child Leenie Cabrezi Television film
1983 Sing Sing Queen
Wagner Cosima Wagner Had a limited theatrical release; better known as a television mini-series; 2011 re-released as a feature film on DVD
1984 Template:Sortname Olive Chancellor Template:Ubl
1985 Wetherby Jean Travers National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress
Three Sovereigns for Sarah Sarah Cloyce
Steaming Nancy
1986 Comrades Mrs. Carlyle
Peter the Great Sophia Nominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
Second Serve Richard Radley / Renee Richards Template:Ubl
1987 Prick Up Your Ears Peggy Ramsay Template:Ubl
1988 Consuming Passions Mrs. Garza
Template:Sortname Lady Alice More Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
1990 Romeo.Juliet Mother Capulet
Breath of Life Sister Crucifix Template:Lang-it
Pokhorony Stalina English journalist
Orpheus Descending Lady Torrance Television film
1991 Template:Sortname Miss Amelia
Young Catherine Empress Elizabeth Nominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? Blanche Hudson Television film
1992 Howards End Ruth Wilcox Nominated – Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated – National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress
1993 Template:Sortname Kate Benson Template:Lang-es
Template:Sortname Nivea del Valle
Sparrow Sister Agata Template:Lang-it
Great Moments in Aviation Dr. Angela Bead
They Florence Latimer Template:Ubl
1994 Mother's Boys Lydia Madigan
Little Odessa Irina Shapira Volpi Cup
1995 Template:Sortname Miss Bentley Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
The Wind in the Willows Narrator Television Film
1996 Mission: Impossible Max
Two Mothers for Zachary Nancy Shaffell Television film
1997 Smilla's Sense of Snow Elsa Lubing
Wilde Lady Speranza Wilde
Mrs. Dalloway Mrs. Clarissa Dalloway
Déjà Vu Skelly
Bella Mafia Graziella Luciano Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
1998 Deep Impact Robin Lerner
Lulu on the Bridge Catherine Moore
1999 Cradle Will Rock Countess Constance LaGrange
Uninvited Mrs. Ruttenburn
Girl, Interrupted Dr. Sonia Wick
2000 If These Walls Could Talk 2 Edith Tress (segment "1961") Template:Ubl
Mirka Kalsan
Template:Sortname Maddy Bennett
2001 Template:Sortname Annalise Hansen
Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story Countess Wilhelmina/Narrator
2002 Template:Sortname Clementine Churchill Television film
Crime and Punishment Rodian's Mother
Searching for Debra Winger Herself Documentary
Template:Sortname Esther Huish Television film
2003 Byron Lady Melbourne Television film
Good Boy! Template:Sortname
2004 Template:Sortname Woman Also Executive Producer
Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie
2004–2009 Nip/Tuck Dr. Erica Noughton Television series; 10 episodes
2005 Template:Sortname Template:Sortname
Short Order Marianne
Template:Sortname Vera Belinskya
2006 Template:Sortname Sister Antonia
Venus Valerie Nominated – British Independent Film Award for Best Supporting Actress
Template:Sortname Penelope Keeling Television film
2007 Template:Sortname Roberta Elliot
How About You Georgia Platts
Evening Ann Lord
Atonement Older Briony Tallis Template:Ubl
2008 Restraint Sky News Reader
Ein Job Hannah Silbergrau Television film
Gud, lukt och henne
2009 Eva Eva
Template:Sortname Durrant Television miniseries
2010 Letters to Juliet Claire Smith-Wyman Template:Ubl
Template:Sortname Madeleine Rees
Miral Bertha Spafford
Animals United Winnie Voice Only (English Version)
2011 Coriolanus Volumnia Template:Ubl
Cars 2 Mama Topolino/Queen Voice Only
Anonymous Queen Elizabeth I Template:Ubl
2012 Song for Marion Marion
Political Animals Justice Diane Nash TV miniseries, 1 episode

Cite error: <ref> tags exist, but no <references/> tag was found

Ad blocker interference detected!

Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.