|Born||Imelda Mary Philomena Bernadette Staunton
9 January 1956
London, England, UK
|Spouse(s)||Jim Carter (1985-present) 1 child|
Imelda Mary Philomena Bernadette Staunton, OBE (born 9 January 1956) is a British actress best known for her performances in the British comedy television series Up the Garden Path and the films Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Vera Drake. For the latter, she drew widespread critical acclaim as Vera Drake, earning her a Best Actress Oscar nomination and a number of wins including the BAFTA and Venice Film Festival Awards for best actress in a leading role.
Staunton was born in Archway, North London, the daughter and only child of Bridie (née McNicholas), a hairdresser, and Joseph Staunton, a road-worker and labourer. The family lived over Bridie's hair dressing salon while Imelda’s father worked on the roads. Both of her parents were first-generation Catholic immigrants from County Mayo, Ireland, with her father coming from Ballyvary and her mother from Bohola. Bridie was a musician who couldn't read music, but could master almost any tune by ear on the accordion or fiddle and had played in Irish showbands. Staunton attended La Sainte Union Convent School, an all-girls Catholic school on the edge of Hampstead Heath, from years 11 to 17. Her talent was spotted by Jacqueline Stoker, her elocution teacher. Before long she was starring as Polly Peachum in a school production of The Beggar's Opera. Staunton then went on to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
When she was 18, Staunton enrolled at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA),  and studied alongside Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall and Juliet Stevenson.  She graduated two years later in 1976, then spent six years in English repertory, including a period at the Northcott Theatre, Exeter where she had the title role in Shaw's Saint Joan (1979). Staunton then joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, and in 1982 moved on to the National Theatre. She has stated that her first job was a play by Goldoni. She is also known for her performance as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz for the Royal Shakespeare Company. She has had a long and distinguished career in the theatre, performing in such diverse plays as A Man for all Seasons, Mack & Mabel, Side by Side, and Elektra.
Staunton has twice received an Olivier Award, Britain's highest theatre honour, one in 1985 for roles in two productions: A Chorus of Disapproval and The Corn Is Green and one for the 1991 musical, Into the Woods. She was nominated for her performance as Miss Adelaide in the 1996 revival of Guys and Dolls at the National Theatre. More recently, she appeared in the premiere of Frank McGuinness's There Came a Gypsy Riding at the Almeida in 2007 and opened in 2009 in Entertaining Mr Sloane alongside Mathew Horne at the Trafalgar Studios.
Staunton will play 'Mrs. Lovett' in an upcoming West End revival of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. She will star opposite singer Michael Ball. Further casting has yet to be confirmed.
Staunton's first big-screen role came in a 1986 Bill Douglas film, Comrades. She then appeared in the 1992 movie Peter's Friends. Other early roles include performances in Much Ado About Nothing (1993), Deadly Advice (1993), Sense and Sensibility (1995) Twelfth Night (1996), Chicken Run (2000), Another Life (2001), Bright Young Things (2003), Nanny McPhee (2005) and Freedom Writers (2007).
Staunton shared a Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Performance by a Cast in 1998 for Shakespeare in Love. In 2004, she received the Best Actress honours at the European Film Awards, the BAFTAs, and the Venice Film Festival for her performance of the title role in Mike Leigh's Vera Drake, which also won Best Picture. For the same role, she received Best Actress nominations for the 2005 Golden Globes and Academy Awards.
Staunton portrayed Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007), a performance described as "coming close to stealing the show." She was nominated in the "British Actress in a Supporting Role" category at the London Film Critics Circle Awards. On July 13 2009, Producer David Heyman confirmed Staunton will reprise her role as Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Recent film roles include 2008's A Bunch of Amateurs, in which she starred alongside Burt Reynolds, Derek Jacobi and Samantha Bond, and the character of Sonia Teichberg in Ang Lee's Taking Woodstock (2009).
In 1993 she appeared on television alongside Richard Briers and Adrian Edmondson in If You See God, Tell Him. She has had other television parts in The Singing Detective (1986), Midsomer Murders, and the comedy drama series Is it Legal? (1995-8). She was a voice artist on Mole's Christmas (1994). She had a guest role playing Mrs. Mead in Little Britain in 2005, and in 2007 played the free-thinking gossip, Miss Pole, in Cranford, the five-part BBC series based on Mrs Gaskell's novels, and in the sequel to the series, Return to Cranford.
On radio, she has appeared in the title role of detective drama series Julie Enfield Investigates, as the lead, Izzy Comyn, in the comedy Up the Garden Path (which later moved to ITV with Staunton reprising the role), in Diary of a Provincial Lady (from 1999) and Acropolis Now.
She also supplies the voices of Ruby (a mouse) and Twiba (The Worm who lives in Big's Apple) in the Children's TV show "Big and Small," and narrated The Gruffalo for an unabridged audio book of Julia Donaldson's children's book.
Staunton met her husband, actor Jim Carter, in Richard Eyre's landmark early Eighties production of Guys And Dolls at the National Theatre. They have a daughter, Bessie, born 1993. In 2007, the couple, together with Bessie, appeared in the BBC series Cranford (Carter was Captain Brown and Bessie a maid). Staunton lives with her family in West Hampstead, northwest London, and is long time friends with Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, who played her husband, Mr. Palmer, in Ang Lee's Sense and Sensibility, and best friends with Emma Thompson, her neighbor.
Staunton was awarded the O.B.E. (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2006 New Year's Honours List for her services to drama.
Two seasons at the Nottingham Playhouse (1980-81?):
Theatre roles in London::