Michelle Claire Ryan (born 22 April 1984) is an English actress.
She played the part of Zoe Slater on BBC soap opera EastEnders. In 2007, she starred in the short-lived American television series Bionic Woman. She appeared as the evil sorceress Nimueh in the 2008 BBC TV series Merlin, and as Lady Christina de Souza in the Doctor Who episode "Planet of the Dead".
Early life and careerEdit
Michelle Ryan was born in Enfield, Greater London, and was a student at Chace Community School. A member of a local theatre group since she was 10, she was picked for her role in EastEnders when she was 15 and first appeared on the show in September 2000. She left the series in June 2005 and has since stated that she does not intend to return to EastEnders.
Primetime career and other worksEdit
Ryan was given her first big break playing Sheylla Grands in the series TV show Chosen Ones in the first season and Zoe Slater in the BBC soap EastEnders.
In February 2007, it was announced that she had been cast as the lead in the new drama Bionic Woman. The series began airing in the United States on the broadcast network NBC in September 2007. Ryan affects an American accent for the role of Jaime Sommers, except in the episode "The Education of Jaime Sommers" in which her character goes undercover as an English transfer student at a university; for this episode, she uses an Oxfordshire accent instead of her natural London accent. She has had professional dance training and attributes it to helping her with the physically demanding stunts required for the show. She also learned Krav Maga and sign language for the part (the latter because, as originally conceived, Ryan's character was to have had a hearing impaired sister, but this story element was abandoned). Ryan stated the show's cancellation came about because it kept changing direction, and stated it led to her being less ambitious about her career. "I'm more go-with-the-flow now", she said.
In May 2007, Ryan revealed she had auditioned the previous year for the role of Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale, eventually given to Eva Green. In late 2007, she appeared in Flick, a Welsh independent film co-starring Faye Dunawayand Leslie Phillips.
Prior to Bionic Woman, she appeared in Jekyll for the BBC, a modern day version of Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde starring James Nesbitt. It began its six-episode run on 16 June 2007, and was released on DVD in the United States on 18 September 2007, one week prior to her debut in Bionic Woman.
In January 2009, the BBC announced that Ryan had been cast as Lady Christina de Souza in the Doctor Who special episode "Planet of the Dead", which was broadcast on 11 April 2009. She had been rumoured for a part beforehand, and is open to reprising the role in future, although "At the moment, when it comes to acting, I'm a bit of a commitment-phobe."
Ryan and Grey's Anatomy star Kevin McKidd are to star in a new one-off drama for BBC Scotland, One Night In Emergency, the story of one man's surreal search for his wife in an inner-city hospital. The cast also features Ewen Bremner, Gary Lewis, Sanjeev Kohli and David Hayman. The film is written by Gregory Burke, author of Black Watch. The drama, which begins filming in and around Glasgow, will be directed by Michael Offer.
In 2010, Ryan appeared in the comedy film Huge alongside Noel Clarke, Johnny Harris, Ralph Brown, Thandie Newton, and Tamsin Egerton, directed by Ben Miller. Another film, No Ordinary Trifle, is in post-production. Also in 2011, Ryan played Helena from A Midsummer Night's Dream in the BBC Learning project, "Off By Heart Shakespeare" and delivered the speech: "Lo, she is one of this confederacy!"
Ryan also completed filming Cockneys vs Zombies, a comedy horror film about a team of bank robbers fighting the undead, directed by Matthias Hoene, alongside Georgia King, Rasmus Hardiker and Jack Doolan. The film was released in September 2012.