Miranda Jane Richardson (born 3 March 1958) is an English stage, film and television actress. She has been nominated for two Academy Awards, and has won two Golden Globes (with seven nominations) and a BAFTA (with seven nominations) during her career.
Richardson was born in Southport, Lancashire, to Marian Georgina (née Townsend), a housewife, and William Alan Richardson, a marketing executive. The second daughter of a middle class family, she revealed a talent for acting as a girl.
Richardson enrolled at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, where she studied alongside Daniel Day-Lewis, having started out with juvenile performances in Cinderella and Lord Arthur Savile's Crime at the Southport Dramatic Club.
Richardson has enjoyed a successful and extensive theatre career, first joining Manchester Library Theatre in 1979 as an assistant stage manager, followed by a number of appearances in repertory theatre. Her London stage debut was in Moving at the Queen's Theatre in 1981. She found recognition in the West End for a series of stage performances, ultimately receiving an Olivier Award nomination for her performance in A Lie of the Mind, and in 1996, one critic asserted that she is "the greatest actress of our time in any medium" after she appeared in Orlando at the Edinburgh Festival. She returned to the London stage in May 2009 to play the lead role in Wallace Shawn's new play, Grasses of a Thousand Colours at the Royal Court Theatre. Richardson has said that she prefers new work rather than the classics because of the history which goes with them.
In 1985, Richardson made her film debut as Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in the United Kingdom, in Mike Newell's biographical drama, Dance With a Stranger. Around the same time, Richardson played a comedic Queen Elizabeth I, aka Queenie, in the British television comedy Blackadder II.
Following Dance with a Stranger, Richardson turned down numerous parts in which her character was unstable or disreputable, including the Glenn Close role in Fatal Attraction. In this period, she appeared in Steven Spielberg's to appear in his Shanghai-set World War II film Empire of the Sun (1987) which was adapted from J. G. Ballard's autobiographical novel. In an episode of the TV series The Storyteller ("The Three Ravens", 1988) she played a witch. Meanwhile, she had returned in guest roles in one episode each in Blackadder the Third (1987) and Blackadder Goes Forth (1989). She returned to play Queenie in the Christmas special Blackadder's Christmas Carol (1988), and later a special edition for the millennium Blackadder: Back and Forth.
Her portrayal of a troubled theatre-goer in Secret Friends (BBC 2, 1990) was described as "a miniature tour de force... Miranda Richardson's finest hour, all in ten minutes" (The Sunday Times). Other television roles include Pamela Flitton in A Dance to the Music of Time (1997), Miss Gilchrist in St. Ives (1998), Bettina the obsessive-compulsive interior decorator in Absolutely Fabulous, the sadistic Queen Elspeth in Hallmark's Snow White: The Fairest Of Them All (2001), and the emotionally repressed Queen Mary in The Lost Prince (2003).Miranda Richardson at the Toronto Film Festival 2010
Richardson has appeared in a number of high-profile supporting roles in the cinema, including Vanessa Bell in The Hours, Lady Van Tassel in Sleepy Hollow and Patsy Carpenter in The Evening Star. She also won acclaim for her performances in The Crying Game and Enchanted April, for which she won a Golden Globe. She received Academy Award nominations for her performances in Damage and Tom & Viv.
Her film credits also include Robert Altman's Kansas City (1996), Robert Duvall's The Apostle (1997) and Richard E. Grant's Wah-Wah (2005). In 2002, she performed a triple-role alongsideRalph Fiennes in David Cronenberg's acclaimed thriller Spider, a film that won her several international critics' awards.
Richardson also appeared as Queen Rosalind of Denmark in the Julia Stiles vehicle The Prince and Me and as the ballet mistress Madame Giry in the film version of the Andrew Lloyd Webbermusical The Phantom Of The Opera (2004). In 2005, she appeared in the role of Rita Skeeter, the toxic Daily Prophet journalist in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. She also did the voice for Corky in The Adventures of Bottle Top Bill and His Best Friend Corky (2005), an Australian animated series for children. In 2006 she appeared alongside Bill Nighy in Stephen Poliakoff's multi-Golden Globe winning BBC drama, Gideon's Daughter. She played Mrs. Claus in the film Fred Claus (2007), co-starring Vince Vaughn and Paul Giamatti.
In 2008 Richardson was cast in a leading role in original AMC pilot, Rubicon. She plays Katherine Rhumor, a New York socialite who finds herself drawn into the central intrigue of a think tank, after the death of her husband.