Margaret Watson Biography & Facts
Emily Margaret Watson (born 14 January 1967) is an English actress. She began her career on stage and joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1992. In 2002, she starred in productions of Twelfth Night and Uncle Vanya at the Donmar Warehouse, and was nominated for the 2003 Olivier Award for Best Actress for the latter.
She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her debut film role as Bess McNeil in Lars von Trier's Breaking the Waves (1996) and for her role as Jacqueline du Pré in Hilary and Jackie (1998), winning the British Independent Film Award for Best Actress for the latter. For her role as Margaret Humphreys in Oranges and Sunshine (2010), she was also nominated for the AACTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.
Her other films include The Boxer (1997), Angela's Ashes (1999), Gosford Park (2001), Punch-Drunk Love (2002), Red Dragon (2002), The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2004), Corpse Bride (2005), Miss Potter (2006), Synecdoche, New York (2008), War Horse (2011), The Theory of Everything (2014), Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017) and The Happy Prince (2018). For her role in the HBO miniseries Chernobyl, she was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award and a Golden Globe Award. She won the British Academy Television Award for Best Actress for playing Janet Leach in the 2011 ITV television biopic Appropriate Adult and was nominated for the International Emmy Award for Best Actress for the 2017 BBC miniseries Apple Tree Yard.
Watson was born in London. Her father, Richard Watson, was an architect, and her mother, Katharine (née Venables), was an English teacher at St David's Girls' School, West London. She was brought up as an Anglican. She has described her childhood-self as 'a nice middle-class English girl ... I'd love to say I was a rebellious teenager, but I wasn't.' She is a childhood friend of actress and writer Clara Salaman, and starred in the screen adaptation of Salaman's novel Too Close.Watson was educated at St James Independent Schools in west London which were founded by the School of Economic Science. Whilst there, she witnessed "incidents of extreme cruelty" that were "very scarring for people going forward in their lives". She attended the University of Bristol, where she obtained a BA (1988, English). She later received an MA (2003, honorary) from Bristol University. Watson later trained at Drama Studio London.
Watson was a member of the School of Economic Science until 1996, when aged 29 she was expelled following her part in Breaking the Waves. She describes the organisation as a "very repressive regime" and a "system where you were supposed to think a certain way and you weren’t really allowed to think any other way". Breaking out of it, she says, was a "very powerful release" in her life.
Watson's career began on the stage. Her theatre credits include The Children's Hour (at the Royal National Theatre), Three Sisters, Much Ado About Nothing and The Lady from the Sea. Watson has also worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company in A Jovial Crew, The Taming of the Shrew, All's Well That Ends Well and The Changeling.
In 2002, she took time off from cinema to play two roles in Sam Mendes' repertory productions of Uncle Vanya and Twelfth Night, first at Mendes' Donmar Warehouse in London and later at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Her performance was widely acclaimed on both sides of the Atlantic and she was nominated for an Olivier Award nomination for Uncle Vanya.
Watson was virtually unknown until director Lars von Trier chose her to star in Breaking the Waves (1996) after Helena Bonham Carter dropped out. Watson's performance as Bess McNeill won her the Los Angeles, London and New York Critics' Circle Awards for Best Actress, as well as the US National Society of Film Critics' Award for Best Actress and nominations at the Academy Awards, the British Academy Film Awards, and the Golden Globe Awards.
Watson came to public notice again in another controversial role, that of cellist Jacqueline du Pré in Hilary and Jackie, for which she learned to play the cello in three months, and received another Oscar nomination. She also played a leading role in Cradle Will Rock, a story of a theatre show in the 1930s, directed by Tim Robbins. Though she won the title role of Frank McCourt's mother in the adaptation of his acclaimed memoir, Angela's Ashes, the film underperformed. In 2001, she appeared with John Turturro in The Luzhin Defence and in Robert Altman's ensemble piece Gosford Park.
The following year, she starred as Reba McClane in the adaptation of Thomas Harris's The Silence of the Lambs prequel, Red Dragon, as the romantic interest of Adam Sandler in Paul Thomas Anderson's Punch-Drunk Love and in the sci-fi action thriller Equilibrium with Christian Bale.
In 2004, Watson received a Golden Globe nomination for her performance as Peter Sellers's first wife, Anne Howe, in the HBO film The Life and Death of Peter Sellers. 2005 saw Watson star in four films: Wah-Wah, Richard E. Grant's autobiographical directorial debut; Separate Lies, directed by Gosford Park writer Julian Fellowes; Tim Burton's animated film Corpse Bride, with Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter; and John Hillcoat's Australian-set "western", The Proposition.
In 2006, Watson took a supporting role in Miss Potter, a biographical drama about children's author Beatrix Potter, from Babe director Chris Noonan, with Ewan McGregor and Renée Zellweger; and also in an adaptation of Thea Beckman's children's novel Crusade in Jeans. In 2007, she appeared in The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep, an adaptation of the Dick King-Smith children's novel about the origin of the Loch Ness Monster.In 2008, Watson starred with Julia Roberts and Carrie-Anne Moss in Fireflies in the Garden, the Lifetime Television movie The Memory Keeper's Daughter (based on the novel with the same name), and in screenwriter Charlie Kaufman's directorial debut, Synecdoche, New York. In 2009 she appeared in the film Cold Souls, from first-time director Sophie Barthes, and Within the Whirlwind, a biographical film of Russian poet and Gulag survivor Evgenia Ginzburg from The Luzhin Defence director Marleen Gorris. Watson considers Ginzburg her best recent role; however, the film was not picked up for distribution.In 2010, she starred in Oranges and Sunshine, a film recounting the true story of children sent into abusive care homes in Australia, directed by Jim Loach, and also the following year (2011) in War Horse, an adaptation of Michael Morpurgo's prizewinning novel, directed by Steven Spielberg. In 2011, she played Janet Leach in the ITV two-part film Appropriate Adult, about serial killer Fred West, for which she won a BAFTA.In 2014, Watson had supporting roles in The Book Thief, alongside Geoffrey Rush and Sophie Nélisse, and the Oscar-nominated film The Theory of Everything, portraying Jane Wilde, Hawking's mot.... Discover the Margaret Watson popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Margaret Watson books.