Romola Garai: Wikis


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Romola Garai

Garai at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival
Born Romola Sadie Garai
6 August 1982 (1982-08-06) (age 27)
Flag of Hong Kong 1959.svg Hong Kong
Occupation Actress
Years active 2000–present

Romola Sadie Garai (pronounced /ˈrɒmələ ˈseɪdi ˈɡæri/;[1] born 6 August 1982) is an English actress.


Early life

Garai was born in Hong Kong,[2][3] the daughter of Janet, a journalist, and Adrian Garai, a high-ranked bank manager.[4] Her first name is the female version of Romulus, one of the founders of Rome.[5] Garai's father is of Hungarian Jewish descent;[6] her great-grandfather was Bert Garai, the founder of the Keystone Press.[7]

Garai is the third of four siblings.[8] She relocated to Singapore at five before her family returned to Wiltshire in the United Kingdom when she was eight. She attended an independent boarding school, Stonar School in Wiltshire, and later moved at sixteen to London to attend the City of London School for Girls where she ended up finishing off her A-levels. She was fond of drama and appeared in school plays, and also with the National Youth Theatre up until the age of eighteen, where she was spotted by an agent who whisked her away to play the younger version of Dame Judi Dench's character in the critically-acclaimed BBC Films / HBO co-production for television, The Last of the Blonde Bombshells.[3]

After A-levels, she studied English Literature at Queen Mary, University of London; she originally intended to only study but decided to do acting on the side during the summer holidays.[3] She is a former model.[5]

Acting career

Garai's first professional acting role was in a television production, The Last of the Blonde Bombshells.[9] She then landed a part in a BBC-produced television series called Attachments.[9] It was this production that prompted her to make the decision to stop her education and concentrate solely on her acting career.[3]

Garai's first major film role was in 2002's Nicholas Nickleby.[9] She played Kate Nickleby, a supporting role, in the well-reviewed film. The entire cast was widely recognized for their work and were awarded Best Ensemble by the National Board of Review. In 2003's I Capture the Castle, she played 17-year-old Cassandra Mortmain. She received glowing praise for her work. Her performance earned her a nomination for a Most Promising Newcomer award from the British Independent Film Awards.[10] Many critics hailed her as the next Julie Christie taking into account not only Romola's acting talent but also her uncanny resemblance to the screen legend.[citation needed] Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004) was Garai's biggest critical flop to date.[citation needed] Her performance received mixed reviews – many critics felt let down after her previous impressive turns.[citation needed] Later that same year Vanity Fair was released.

In 2005, Garai received another BIFA nomination, this time for their Best Supporting Actress award, for her performance as Siobhan in the independent film Inside I'm Dancing.[10] Her portrayal earned her the British Supporting Actress of the Year award from the London Film Critics Circle. Also in 2005, she starred in a two-part drama made for television, entitled The Incredible Journey of Mary Bryant.

While critics hailed it as "pleasingly old-fashioned adventure," it was her performance that won the most admiration and earn her two nominations: Best Lead Actress in Television from the Australian Film Institute and Most Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series from the Logie Awards. As The Observer noted: "As for the tireless Garai, she once again demonstrated an instinctive understanding of the vital difference between overperforming and overacting."

She can be seen in Kenneth Branagh's film adaptation of William Shakespeare's As You Like It (2006), as Celia. The film was released in some European cinemas before being broadcast in 2007 on HBO cable television in the U.S. In 2009, it opened in theatres in Mexico.[11]

In 2007, Garai starred in her biggest role yet, as Angel Deverell in Francois Ozon's Angel. The Independent named her one of the actresses of the year for her performance in Angel.[12] Romola was also nominated for the Prix Lumiere award[13] (the French equivalent of the Golden Globes), as Best Female Newcomer for Angel, making her the first British actress to be nominated for a Prix Lumiere.

The same year she also starred in the Oscar-nominated movie Atonement as the teenaged Briony Tallis, alongside James McAvoy and Keira Knightley. The movie went on to receive seven Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. Garai earned a Best Actress nomination from the Evening Standard British Film Awards for her performance.[14] She also appeared in two Royal Shakespeare Company productions: as Cordelia in King Lear and as Nina in The Seagull, starring alongside Ian McKellen, Frances Barber, Sylvester McCoy, Jonathan Hyde, and William Gaunt. The run, which toured the world, went into residence in the New London Theatre where it ended mid-January 2008. She received rave reviews, especially as Nina in The Seagull, The Independent calling her a "woman on the edge of stardom,"[15] and This Is London calling her "superlative," and stating that the play was "distinguished by the illuminating, psychological insights of Miss Garai's performance."[16] She reprised her role as Cordelia in a televised version of King Lear.

In 2008 she appeared in the feature film The Other Man alongside Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, and Antonio Banderas.

Garai next starred in Stephen Poliakoff's World War II thriller Glorious 39, alongside Julie Christie, Jenny Agutter, Bill Nighy, Sir Christopher Lee and Eddie Redmayne.[17] The movie had its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival.[18]

In 2009, she played the title role in a television adaptation of Jane Austen's famously (and delightfully) irrepressible Emma, a four-hour miniseries that premiered on BBC One in October 2009, co-starring Jonny Lee Miller and Sir Michael Gambon.[19] Emma then appeared on American television as part of PBS' Masterpiece Classic anthology series, airing in most U.S. markets over three consecutive Sunday evenings during January and February 2010. Interestingly, American actress Laura Linney, who had co-starred with Garai in the aforementioned feature film The Other Man, was the presenter for Masterpiece Classic during the anthology's "season" (US) / "series" (UK) at the time, and she introduced each of the three installments that featured her former co-star.

She is attached to play iconic American First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in Flying Into Love;[20] she will also appear in Hettie MacDonald's feature Nova Scotia, in which she plays a character called Lucy Hay;[21] and also in director Gareth Bryn's Driven, which is written by Catrin Clarke.[22] Romola has also signed to play the female lead in I Was Bono's Doppelgänger, alongside Charlie Cox and another former co-star, Bill Nighy.[23] Filming was set to begin in August 2009.

In 2009 The Sunday Times Magazine named her as one of Britain's Rising Stars[24] alongside Matthew Goode, Andrea Riseborough, Hugh Dancy, Eddie Redmayne and many others. Past recipients of this honour include Kate Winslet, Jude Law, and Michael Sheen. In January of that year she travelled to the Syrian-Iraqi border to make a short film titled No Man's Land for the UNHCR, highlighting the plight of 800 Palestinian refugees living in the Al-Tanaf refugee camp. Of her visit to the refugee camps Garai states, "My trip to a refugee camp in Syria destroyed any hope that the horrors of Iraq might end, or that we are doing enough to help its victims."[25] Garai has been hailed by her Glorious 39 director Stephen Poliakoff as "the next Kate Winslet" and someone who will "dominate British cinema" in the future.[26] Garai would like to diversify into writing,[5] especially for the theatre, which remains her first love.

Personal life

Garai, who is of Hungarian-Jewish descent, lost most of her ancestors in the Holocaust. There are no known family ties left in Eastern Europe. Her great-grandfather emigrated to England in order to escape the Nazis and keep the family safe. He left Budapest first for New York in the 1920s, then moved to London, where he founded the Keystone Press Agency.[27] Romola admits she has "not yet" been to Hungary and feels modern, cosmopolitan, and British.[9] She lives in London and in 2009 finished her degree in English Literature with the Open University.[28]

Garai guards her private life, saying, "It's too simplistic to say that people start to believe what's written about them. But what happens is that you become a certain way to please people, to be liked, to be what's expected of you, to change yourself so that you become the best possible version of yourself for people who don't know you. And I think that's a terrible, pernicious thing."[29] She adds, "In a way, I'd rather go into an interview and be disliked, and have unpleasant things written about me, than to have a wonderful, glowing article written that is in no way a reflection of who I am."[29]

Garai enjoys traveling and cooking in her spare time, calling it 'therapeutic'[30] in many ways. She has visited Hong Kong, Malaysia, Italy, Austria, Morocco, and Switzerland, and states, "To be the outsider for a period of time changes you for the better. It shakes up your comfort level. You have to really make an effort to enter into other people's culture and psychology and language, which the British are very bad at doing."[30] Garai is very close with directors Francois Ozon and Stephen Poliakoff, both of whom she occasionally calls for career advice.[9]



  1. ^ See: Garai, Romola; Mustafa Khalili (20 March 2009). "'For these refugees, resettlement is the only option'". Retrieved 15 November 2009. 
  2. ^ "Romola Garai Interview with Premiere France". Premiere France. Retrieved 2007-05-18. 
  3. ^ a b c d Jack Foley (2003). "I Capture The Castle - Romola Garai Q&A". Indie London. Retrieved 2007-05-18. 
  4. ^ "Petticoat tales". Herald Scotland. 2007-03-17. Retrieved 2009-10-01. 
  5. ^ a b c McLean, Craig (2004-10-10). "Romola Garai: Dancing Queen". The Independent. Retrieved 2009-10-01. 
  6. ^ Lewis, Tim (November 2004). "Fifteen Stupid Questions for Romola Garai". British Esquire. Retrieved 5 December 2009. 
  7. ^ Duerden, Nick (2007-03-15). "Romola Garai: A woman on the edge of stardom". The Independent. Retrieved 2007-05-18. 
  8. ^ Molony, Julia (2009-11-22). "Romola gets the balance right". The Independent. Retrieved 2009-11-22. 
  9. ^ a b c d e Lakhani, Nina (15 November 2009). "Romola Garai: An actor's life for me – at least for now". The Independent. Retrieved 15 November 2009. 
  10. ^ a b "Romola Garai: BIFA Nominations". The British Independent Film Awards. Retrieved 5 December 2009. 
  11. ^ "As You Like It (2006) - Release dates". IMDb. Retrieved 15 November 2009. 
  12. ^ Romney, Jonathan (28 December 2008). "Film in 2008: Who was top of the heap? A talking tin can". The Independent. Retrieved 15 November 2009. 
  13. ^ Hayhurst, David (18 December 2007). "French quartet vie for Prix Lumieres". Variety. Retrieved 15 November 2009. 
  14. ^ "Keira Knightley - Atonement leads Evening Standard British Film Awards". 21 January 2008. Retrieved 15 November 2009. "Knightley goes up against her co-star Romola Garai for the Best Actress award..." 
  15. ^ Duerden, Nick (15 March 2007). "Romola Garai: A woman on the edge of stardom". The Independent. Retrieved 15 November 2009. 
  16. ^ de Jongh, Nicholas (28 November 2007). "The fall of a high-flying bird". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 15 november 2009. 
  17. ^ Poliakoff, Stephen (15 November 2009). "Romola Garai stars in Glorious 39". The Times. Retrieved 15 November 2009. 
  18. ^ Punter, Jennie (23 July 2009). "Toronto adds to Special Presentations". Variety. Retrieved 15 November 2009. 
  19. ^ Singh, Anita (4 April 2009). "Romola Garai to play Emma in BBC's latest Jane Austen adaptation". Telegraph. Retrieved 15 November 2009. 
  20. ^ "Flying into Love". Retrieved 15 November 2009. 
  21. ^ "Nova Scotia". Bard Entertainments. Retrieved 15 November 2009. 
  22. ^ Price, Karen (28 March 2009). "Wales is the new star of the movies". WalesOnline. Retrieved 5 December 2009. "An additional £150,000 has been awarded by the Film Agency for Wales to Rondo Media for the feature film Driven by writer Catrin Clarke... Directed by Gareth Bryn, it will feature Romola Garai, who was in Atonement, in the lead role of Beth." 
  23. ^ Ward, Audrey (14 May 2009). "Salt tempts buyers with I Was Bono’s Doppelganger". Screen Daily. Retrieved 15 November 2009. 
  24. ^ "Britain's got talent". The Sunday Times. 25 January 2009. Retrieved 15 November 2009. 
  25. ^ Garai, Romola (20 March 2009). "No man's land". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 November 2009. 
  26. ^ "Poliakoff returns to the big screen". WalesOnline. 24 November 2009. Retrieved 5 December 2009. 
  27. ^ Smith, Aidan (23 November 2009). "Interview: Romola Garai, actress". Retrieved 5 December 2009. 
  28. ^ Preston, John (10 August 2008). "Romola Garai: on a roll". Telegraph. Retrieved 15 November 2009. 
  29. ^ a b Hawker, Philippa (17 November 2007). "Where angels fear not". The Age. Retrieved 15 November 2009. 
  30. ^ a b Cohen, Scott Lyle (March 2004). "Romola Garai: her personal history reads like a Jane Austen novel. Now she's taking her adventures to Hollywood". Interview.;col1. Retrieved 15 November 2009. 

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