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Embeth Jean Davidtz (born August 11, 1965) is an Americanmarker-born South African actress.


Early life

Davidtz was born in Lafayette, Indianamarker, while her father was studying chemical engineering at Purdue Universitymarker. Her parents, John and Jean, later moved to Trenton, New Jerseymarker, and then back to their native South Africa when Davidtz was nine years old. Davidtz is of English descent and had to learn Afrikaans before attending school classes in South Africa, where her father took up a teaching post at Potchefstroom University. She graduated from The Glen High Schoolmarker in Pretoriamarker in 1983, and earned a degree in Drama & English Literature from Rhodes Universitymarker in Grahamstownmarker.

Early roles

Davidtz made her professional acting debut at age 21 with CAPAB (Cape Performing Arts Board now known as Artscape) in Cape Townmarker, playing "Juliet" in a stage production of Romeo and Juliet, at the Maynardville Open-Air Theatre. Performing in English and Afrikaans, the bilingual actress also starred in other local plays, includingStille Nag (Silent Night) and A Chain of Voices, both for which she was nominated for the South African equivalent of the Tony Award.

Her film debut came in 1988 when she starred in the South African-filmed, Americanmarker horror film, Mutator, and shortly after won a major role in the politically sensitive South African made-for-television film A Private Life, as the daughter of an interracial couple. She garnered a South African equivalent of an Oscar nomination playing a rape victim who becomes deaf and mute, in the psychologically intense Afrikaans feature film, Nag van die 19de (Night of the 19th) in 1992.

Hollywood career

After meeting with an agent in Londonmarker, Davidtz moved to Los Angelesmarker in 1992 and immediately landed a role in her first Americanmarker film, Sam Raimi's Army of Darkness. Soon after she appeared in two NBC projects, the made-for-television film Till Death Do Us Part and the miniseries Deadly Matrimony. She was also seen in Laura Ziskin's short film Oh, What A Day, opposite Viggo Mortensen. Director Steven Spielberg spotted the actress in Deadly Matrimony and cast her in Schindler's List as Helen Hirsch, the Jewish maid.

Davidtz next had a high-profile central role in the fact-based film Murder in the First (1995) followed by the Merchant Ivory production Feast of July (also 1995). In Matilda (1996), a feature based on Roald Dahl's children's fantasy, she played the role of Miss Honey, a teacher of the title character.

In 1998, Davidtz played a theologian helping Denzel Washington crack a supernatural wave of crimes in the mystery drama Fallen and played a femme fatale linked to Kenneth Branagh in Robert Altman's take on a previously unused John Grisham manuscript, The Gingerbread Man. The following year, Davidtz portrayed 19th-century woman of the world in Patricia Rozema's reworking of the Jane Austen comedy Mansfield Park and played a dual role in the futuristic fable Bicentennial Man.

A supporting role in the film adaptation of Bridget Jones' Diary (2001) saw Davidtz play a villain for a change. That year she began her run on the CBS drama Citizen Baines, playing the daughter of a defeated United States Senate incumbent (James Cromwell) who is herself leaning towards a career in politics. Other roles included period dramas in 1999's Wayward Son and the 2001-lensed Secret Passage and horror thrillers like 2001's Thir13en Ghosts. In 2002, she was cast in the Michael Hoffman drama, The Emperor's Club, which co-starred Kevin Kline and Emile Hirsch.

In Junebug (2005), Davidtz played an outsider art dealer from Chicagomarker brought to North Carolinamarker by her husband (Alessandro Nivola) to meet his family for the first time. Davidtz has also guest-starred on the hit ABC drama series Grey's Anatomy as Dr. Derek Shepherd's sister Nancy in the Season 3 episode "Let the Angels Commit". In 2008, she had a regular role on HBO's In Treatment as Amy, part of a fractious couple alongside Josh Charles' Jake.

She portrayed the unfaithful and unfortunate wife of Anthony Hopkins in a 2007 drama, Fracture.

Personal life

Davidtz married entertainment attorney Jason Sloane on June 22, 2002. They have two children, Charlotte Emily (born 2002) and Asher Dylan (2005). Previously, she had relationships with Harvey Keitel and Ben Chaplin.


Year Title Role Notes
1989 A Private Life TV
1990 Sweet Murder
1992 Till Death Us Do Part TV
Nag van die 19de
Deadly Matrimony TV
1993 Army of Darkness Sheila
Schindler's List Helen Hirsch
1995 Feast of July Bella Ford
Murder in the First Mary McCasslin
1996 Matilda Jennifer 'Jenny' Honey
1997 The Garden of Redemption TV
1998 Last Rites TV
Fallen Gretta Milano
The Gingerbread Man Mallory Doss
1999 Simon Magus Also known as Simon le Magicien
Mansfield Park Mary Crawford
Bicentennial Man 'Little Miss' Amanda Martin/Portia Charney
2001 Bridget Jones's Diary Natasha
The Hole Dr. Philippa Horwood Also known as After the Hole
Thir13en Ghosts Kalina Oretzia
2002 Shackleton TV
The Emperor's Club Elizabeth
2004 Scrubs Maddie TV Episode "My Tormented Mentor"
2005 xXx: State of the Union
Junebug Madeleine
2007 Fracture Jennifer Crawford
2009 Winged Creatures Jan Laraby
2009 Mad Men Rebecca Pryce TV
2009 Californication Felicia Koons TV


  1. Cinema: The star of Davidtz | Independent, The (London) | Find Articles at

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