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Vanessa Redgrave CBE (born 30 January 1937) is an Oscar, Tony and Emmy Award winning Englishmarker actress of stage, film and television. She is a member of the Redgrave family, the world-renowned theatrical dynasty. A former Trotskyist and leading member of the Workers' Revolutionary Party, she is also a social activist for human rights and has been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 1995. She made a stage debut in 1961 playing Rosalind in As You Like It with the Royal Shakespeare Company and has since made more than 35 appearances on both Londonmarker's West Endmarker and Broadwaymarker winning both Tony and Olivier Awards. She has also starred in more than 50 films, including Camelot, The Loves of Isadora, Julia (for which she won the Academy Award), Playing for Time (for which she won an Emmy Award), Mission Impossible and Mrs. Dalloway. She was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 47th San Sebastian International Film Festival. She is the mother of actresses Joely Richardson and the late Natasha Richardson.

Ancestry and family

Redgrave was born in Londonmarker, the daughter of actors Sir Michael Redgrave and Rachel Kempson. Laurence Olivier announced her birth to the audience for a performance of Hamlet at the Old Vicmarker, when he told them that Laertes played by Sir Michael had a daughter. She was educated at The Alice Ottley Schoolmarker, Worcestermarker & Queen's Gate Schoolmarker, Londonmarker before "coming out" as a debutante. Her siblings, Lynn Redgrave and the equally outspoken Corin Redgrave, are also acclaimed actors.

Redgrave's daughters, Natasha Richardson (1963-2009) and Joely Richardson (by her 1962–1967 marriage to film director Tony Richardson) have also built respected acting careers. Redgrave's son Carlo Nero ( Carlo Sparanero), by her relationship with Italian actor Franco Nero (né Francesco Sparanero), is a writer and film director. She met Nero while filming Camelot in 1967, the year in which she divorced her husband Tony Richardson who left her for french actress Jeanne Moreau.

In 1967, Redgrave was made a Commander (CBE) of the Order of the British Empire. It is understood that she declined a damehood (DBE) in 1999.

From 1971 to 1986, she had a long-term relationship with actor Timothy Dalton. On 31 December 2006, Redgrave married Franco Nero. Her daughter, Tony Award-winning actress, Natasha Richardson died on March 18, 2009, following a skiing-related traumatic brain injury.



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

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 Best Actress Evening Standards 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 nineties, her theatre work included Prospero in The Tempest at Shakespeare's Globemarker in Londonmarker. In 2003 she won a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her performance in the Broadwaymarker 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." Previous recipients of the award include Liv Ullmann, Glenda Jackson, and Claire Bloom.

In 2007, Redgrave played Joan Didion in Didion's Broadwaymarker stage adaptation of her recent 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 Theatremarker at The Royal National Theatremarker in London to positive 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 Divinemarker on October 26, 2009. The performance was originally slated to debut on the 27th of 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 and southern Israel.

Film career

Highlights of Vanessa 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 Cannesmarker award, a Golden Globe nomination and a BAFTA Film Award nomination); her portrayal of the cool London swinger, Jane, 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 festivalmarker, 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 of Scotland in Mary, Queen of Scots.

Julia and related controversy

In 1977, Redgrave funded and narrated a documentary film on the Palestinian people and the activities of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. That same year she starred in the film Julia, about a Jewish woman murdered by the Nazi regime in the years prior to World War II for her anti-Fascist activism. Her co-star in the film was Jane Fonda who, in her 2005 autobiography, noted that:

Redgrave's performance in Julia garnered an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

In her acceptance speech, Redgrave announced that neither she nor the Academy would be intimidated by "a small bunch of Zionist hoodlums — whose behavior is an insult to the stature of Jews all over the world, and to their great and heroic record of struggle against fascism and oppression."

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

Members of the Jewish Defense League , led by Rabbi Meir Kahane, burned effigies of Redgrave and picketed the awards ceremony in the spring of 1978 to protest against both Redgrave and her support of the Palestinian cause.

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 many right-wing 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."

In June 2005 Redgrave was asked on Larry King Live: “Regardless of distinctions about policy, do you support Israel's right to exist?” Redgrave replied that she did.

Later film career

Later film roles of note include those of suffragette 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 grieving 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 Movie 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 2005, 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 season and will appear in the shows sixth season this fall. 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. The performance is due to tour worldwide, this year tens of thousands turned out to see the event as it toured the West Bank.

In 2009, it was announced Redgrave would star in a television remake of BBC's The Day of the Triffids, which also stars her daughter, Joely. It would be the fourth collaboration Redgrave would have with her. 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 would later withdraw from the film due to personal reasons. The part was given to her Evening co-star Eileen Atkins. She then agreed to star in Letters to Juliet opposite her husband Franco Nero and most recently signed on to appear as Volumnia in Ralph Fiennes' directorial debut of William Shakespeare's Coriolanus, which begins filming in Serbiamarker starting January 2010.

Political activism

Since the 1960s, Redgrave has supported a range of human rights causes, including opposition to the Vietnam War, nuclear disarmament, freedom for Soviet Jews (she was awarded the Sakharov medal by Sakharov's widow, Yelena Bonner, in 1993 for her efforts), and aid for Bosnian Muslims and other victims of war. She also advocates the unification of Ireland. She was a co-founding member of Artists Against Racism.

Her opposition to Stalinism led her, early in her career, to join the Workers' Revolutionary Party (WRP), on whose ticket she twice ran for Parliament. Redgrave's Trotskyist political views have garnered some criticism, as has her membership in the WRP. She remained loyal to WRP founder Gerry Healy when he was expelled from the party in the mid-1980s. She and other Healy loyalists founded the short-lived Marxist Party in the 1990s. Since 2004, she has been a member of the Peace and Progress Party.

In 1980, Redgrave made her first 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 Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), 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."

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. Lillian Hellman testified in court on Redgrave's behalf. 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.

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

In December 2002, Redgrave paid £50,000 bail for Chechenmarker 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 2002marker — in which 128 hostages lost their lives during a Russian special forces (OMON) action — and guerrilla warfare against Russia.

At a press conference Redgrave said she feared for Zakayev's safety if he were to be extradited to Russia on terrorism charges. He would "die of a heart attack" or some other mysterious explanation which would be offered by Russia, she said. 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.

In 2004, Vanessa Redgrave and her brother Corin Redgrave announced the launch of the Peace and Progress Party which would campaign against the Iraq War and for human rights.

Redgrave has been an outspoken critic of the "war on terrorism". 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 Unionmarker'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 FBImarker. I don't think it's being 'far left' uphold the rule of law."

In March 2006, Redgrave remarked in an interview with US broadcast journalist Amy Goodman, that “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 theater 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."

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 Montanămarker, Romaniamarker, 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.

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 Baymarker. Al-Banna is alleged to have run a terrorist cell called the Islamic Alliance which recruited people to wage jihad in Afghanistanmarker and Indonesiamarker. He also is accused of distributing extremist propaganda produced by Osama bin Laden. 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 is a concentration camp."


Year Film 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 British Actress
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy

A Man For All Seasons Anne Boleyn
Blowup Jane
1967 Camelot Guinevere Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress tied with Lynn Redgrave for Georgy Girl
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1968 The Charge of the Light Brigade Mrs. Clarissa Morris
The Sea Gull 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
A Quiet Place in The Country Flavia
1970 Dropout Mary
1971 Mary, Queen of Scots Mary, Queen of Scots David di Donatello Special Award
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama

The Devils Sister Jeanne
Vacation Immacolata Meneghelli
The Trojan women Andromache
1974 Murder on the Orient Express Mary Debenham
1975 Out of Season Ann
1976 The Seven-Per-Cent Solution Lola Deveraux
1977 Julia Julia Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress

1979 Agatha Agatha Christie
Yanks Helen
Bear Island Heddi Lindguist
1981 Playing for Time Fania Fenelon Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
1983 Sing Singmarker Queen
Wagner Cosima Wagner TV miniseries
1984 The Bostonians Olive Chancellor 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

1985 Wetherby Jean Travers National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress
Three Sovereigns for Sarah Sarah Cloyce
1986 Comrades Mrs. Carlyle
Peter the Great Sophia Nominated — Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
Second Serve Richard Radley / Renee Richards Nominated — Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
1987 Prick Up Your Ears Peggy Ramsay New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture

1988 Consuming Passions Mrs. Garza
A Man for All Seasons Lady Alice More Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
1990 Romeo and Juliet Mother Capulet (voice)
1991 The Ballad of the Sad Cafe Miss Amelia
Young Catherine Empress Elizabeth Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
1992 Howards Endmarker Ruth Wilcox Nominated — Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
1993 A Wall of Silence Kate Benson
The House of The Spirits Nivea del Valle
Sparrow Sister Agata
1994 Mother's Boys Lydia Madigan
Little Odessa Irina Shapira Volpi Cup
1995 A Month by the Lake Miss Bentley Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1996 Mission: Impossible Max
1997 Smilla's Sense of Snow Elsa Lubing
Wilde Lady Speranza Wilde
Mrs. Dalloway Mrs. Clarissa Dalloway
Deja 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
Girl, Interrupted Dr. Sonia Wick
2000 If These Walls Could Talk 2 Edith Tress (segment "1961") Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film

Outfest Screen Idol Award - Female
Satellite Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie

A Rumor of Angels Maddy Bennett
2001 The Pledge Annalise Hansen
Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story Countess Wilhelmina/Narrator
2002 The Gathering Storm Clementine Churchill Broadcasting Press Guild Award for Best Actress
Satellite Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated — British Academy Television Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated - Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie

Crime and Punishment Rodian's Mother
Searching for Debra Winger Herself Documentary
The Locket Esther Huish TV
2003 Byron Lady Melbourne TV
Good Boy! The Greater Dane (voice)
2004 The Fever Woman Nominated - Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie
Nip/Tuck Dr. Erica Noughton
(2004, 2005, 2009)
TV (10 episodes)
2005 The Keeper: The Legend of Omar Khayyam The Heiress
Short Order Marianne
The White Countess Vera Belinskya
2006 The Thief Lord Sister Antonia
Venus Valerie Nominated — British Independent Film Award for Best Supporting Actress
2007 The Riddle Roberta Elliot
Evening Ann Lord
Atonement Older Briony Tallis London Film Critics Circle Award for British Supporting Actress of the Year
Nominated — Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
2008 How About You Georgia Platts
2009 The Day of the Triffids Miss Durrant post-production (TV)
2010 Letters to Juliet Claire post-production
The Whistleblower TBA filming
Coriolanus Volumnia pre-production


  6. “Vanessa Redgrave honoured at UK Ibsen Year opening”, Norway - the official site in the UK. accessed 17 December 2006
  7. [1]
  8. [2]
  11. CBS News
  12. Autobiography (1991) p. 306.
  13. “UK actress defends Chechen rebel”, (6 December 2002), BBC News. accessed 17 December 2006
  14. “Court rejects Chechen extradition”, (13 November 2003), BBC News. accessed 17 December 2006
  15. Redgrave, Vanessa (30 September 2001), “We Need Justice. Bombs Will Only Create More Martyrs”, accessed 17 December 2006
  16. “Oscar-Winning Actress, Activist Vanessa Redgrave Calls For Justice, Legal and Human Rights For Guantanamo Prisoners” audio, (9 March 2004), Democracy Now!. accessed 17 December 2006
  17. CNN Larry King Live interview with Vanessa Redgrave transcript, (Aired 18 June 2005), accessed 17 December 2006
  18. “Legendary Actor Vanessa Redgrave Calls Cancellation of Rachel Corrie Play an ‘Act of Catastrophic Cowardice’” audio, (8 March 2004), Democracy Now!. accessed 17 December 2006
  19. Vasagar, Jeevan (23 June 2006), “Redgrave centre stage in campaign to halt Romanian gold mine that has split village”, The Guardian. accessed 17 December 2006
  20. Vanessa Redgrave bails Guantanamo suspect - Telegraph

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