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Samantha Morton

Samantha Morton, February 2008
Born Samantha Jane Morton[1]
13 May 1977 (1977-05-13) (age 32)[1][2]
Clifton, Nottingham, England, United Kingdom[1]
Occupation Actress, director, screenwriter
Years active 1991 – present
Domestic partner(s) Harry Holm

Samantha Jane Morton (born 13 May 1977) is an English actress and film director.

A campaigner for social justice, she is an ambassador for the Save the Children organisation.[2] Because of her acting and commitment to political activism, a Sunday Times journalist described her as "a working-class Vanessa Redgrave".[3]

Morton has twice been nominated for an Academy Award, twice for a BAFTA Award, twice for a Golden Globe and once each for an Emmy Award and SAG Award. Morton's acting has been recognised by several organizations, including the London Critics Circle, Toronto Film Critics Association, the Independent Spirit Awards, the Evening Standard British Film Awards, the European Film Awards, the Chicago Film Critics Association Award, the Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards, and the Satellite Awards.


Early life

Morton is the third child born in Clifton, Nottingham to Peter Morton and Pamela Freebury, a factory worker.[4][5] She has a brother and a sister — Marcus (born 1971) is a Royal Marine,[5] Penny (born 1972) works with children with learning disabilities[5] — and six half-siblings from her parents' relationships subsequent to their 1979 divorce.[6] At the age of seven, Morton was made a ward of court and never lived with her natural parents again.[3] The next nine years were spent in and out of foster care and children's homes. She attended West Bridgford Comprehensive School,[2] and, for a while, Haywood Comprehensive School, and was known for always getting in trouble. Under the effects of drugs, she threatened an older girl who had been bullying her.[7] She was convicted of making threats to kill.[8] She served 18 weeks in an attendance centre.[7][8] Morton said in an interview, "as a child I had a serious anger problem, but from the age of 16 I've been trying to turn bad things into positives".[3] She had an abortion at age 16.[7] After leaving care, she lived in a hostel for the homeless and worked on a Youth Training Scheme in hairdressing.[3]


Morton took up acting as a child. She joined the Central Junior Television Workshop when she was thirteen and was soon being offered small-screen roles. In 1991 she was cast as Clare Anderson in the first series of Lucy Gannon's Soldier Soldier and also made a guest appearance, as Mandy, in an episode of Boon — both were Central TV productions.

Moving to London at sixteen,[2] Morton applied to numerous drama schools, including RADA, without success.[2] As a result she received no further formal acting training.[9] Despite this she made her stage debut at the Royal Court Theatre,[2] and continued her television career with a guest appearance on Peak Practice and an impressive performance in a memorable episode of Cracker: "The Big Crunch".

A controversial role in the second series of Kay Mellor's successful Band of Gold (1995) resulted in a lot of tabloid interest, some of which focused on Morton's upbringing and personal life. Further television roles followed, including parts in period dramas including Emma, Jane Eyre and The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling. Morton's reputation was growing fast and she was now able to move into films. The well-received Under the Skin (1997) continued to raise her profile and impressed Woody Allen enough for him to cast her in Sweet and Lowdown (1999). Morton gave an acclaimed performance and received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2000.[10] In 2002 Morton won the British Independent Film Award for Best Actress for her work in Morvern Callar, followed by a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress for In America in 2004.

Morton has also appeared in a number of music videos. She worked with director Chris Cunningham for English garage rock band The Horrors' debut video, "Sheena Is a Parasite"; and played a mermaid opposite Larry Mullen in the Anton Corbijn-directed promotional video for U2's "Electrical Storm".

Morton played the Moors Murderess Myra Hindley in a television film Longford (2006). Set between 1967 and 1997, the film depicts the relationship between the infamous child killer and Lord Longford, the politician who spent years campaigning for her release. Morton was severely criticised by the relatives of the children who were killed by Hindley and Ian Brady but she insisted, "It is my duty as a performer to raise issues...we're afraid to look at".[11] Morton received a 2007 Emmy nomination and won a Golden Globe for her performance in the film, both for Best Supporting Actress.

Her directorial debut, the semi-autobiographical Channel 4 drama The Unloved, written in collaboration with Tony Grisoni, was first broadcast on 17 May 2009.[12][13]

Personal life

Morton has two daughters: Esme (born 5 February 2000 in London),[6] with actor Charlie Creed-Miles; and Edie (born 4 January 2008 in London), with filmmaker Harry Holm.[2] Morton is engaged to Holm, the son of actor Ian Holm. She lives in Spitalfields, East London.[14]

It was reported, in March 2008, that Morton had suffered a stroke two years earlier. As a result she was said to have been close to death and had to relearn how to walk and talk.[15][16][17]

Whilst attending a fundraiser for the charity Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) in January 2009, she vowed to never work for the BBC again after their refusal to broadcast an emergency charity appeal for the victims of Israel's attack on Gaza on 27 December 2008. She was later joined by Tam Dean Burn, Pauline Goldmsith, Peter Mullan and Alison Peebles who also threatened to boycott the Corporation.[18]

March 2009 saw Morton return to her home town to show her support for its children's homes and protest against the threatened closure, by Nottingham City Council, of one of the four establishments with 24 social-care staff facing redundancy.[19]



Year Film Role Notes
1997 This Is the Sea Hazel Stokes
1999 Sweet and Lowdown Hattie
Jesus' Son Michelle
Dreaming of Joseph Lees Eva
2000 Pandaemonium Sara Coleridge
2002 Minority Report Agatha
Morvern Callar Morvern
2003 In America Sarah
Code 46 Maria Gonzáles
2004 Enduring Love Claire
2005 River Queen Sarah O'Brian
The Libertine Elizabeth Barry
Lassie Sarah Carraclough
2006 Free Jimmy Sonia
2007 Expired Claire
Control Deborah Curtis
Elizabeth: The Golden Age Mary, Queen of Scots
Mister Lonely Marilyn Monroe
2008 Synecdoche, New York Hazel
2009 The Messenger Olivia Pitterson San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated — Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated — Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated — Houston Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress
2012 John Carter of Mars Sola (voice)


Non-acting roles

  • The Unloved … Writer and Director; 17 May 2009, Channel 4

Awards and nominations

Academy Awards


  • 2007: TV Award for Best Actress: Longford — nominee
  • 2008: Film Award for Best Supporting Actress: Control — nominee

Golden Globe

  • 2000: Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture: Sweet and Lowdown — nominee
  • 2008: Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini Series or Motion Picture Made for Television: Longfordwinner

References and notes

  1. ^ a b c "Birth Registration Details" (Retrieved: 26 August 2009)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Addley, Esther; "'I think she is attracted to women who have difficulties…'", 5 October 2007 (Retrieved: 26 August 2009)
  3. ^ a b c d White, Lesley; "Samatha Morton uses her life for The Unloved", 10 March 2009 (Retrieved: 26 August 2009)
  4. ^ "Samantha Morton Biography (1977–)" (Retrieved: 26 August 2009)
  5. ^ a b c Martin, Stephen; "I may have left Sam in care but she still flies me First Class to Hollywood" Sunday Mirror, 30 June 2002 (Retrieved: 26 August 2009)
  6. ^ a b "Biography: Samantha Morton" (Retrieved: 26 August 2009)
  7. ^ a b c Hattenstone, Simon; "I was abused for a long time and I retaliated", 25 May 2009 (Retrieved: 26 August 2009)
  8. ^ a b "Actress Samantha Morton was charged with attempted murder aged 14", 25 Apr 2009 (Retrieved: 26 August 2009)
  9. ^ Wazir, Burhan; "Young, gifted and gabby", 18 June 2000 (Retrieved 30 June 2009)
  10. ^ Morton is the second actress to be Oscar-nominated for a non-speaking role — Jane Wyman won the 1948 Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of a deaf rape victim in Johnny Belinda.
  11. ^ Barnes, Anthony; "'Yes, I'm playing Myra Hindley. It's my duty to raise things we're afraid of'", 8 January 2006 (Retrieved: 26 August 2009)
  12. ^ Dowell, Ben; "TV ratings: Samantha Morton directing debut draws 2 million viewers", 18 May 2009 (Retrieved: 26 August 2009)
  13. ^ Gilbert, Gerard; "Look back in anger: Samantha Morton makes her directorial debut", 16 May 2009 (Retrieved: 26 August 2009)
  14. ^ Wiseman, Eve; "Angela's bashes", 20 July 2008 (Retrieved: 26 August 2009)
  15. ^ Thorpe, Vanessa; Capper, Andy; "Samantha tells of secret stroke", 10 March 2008 (Retrieved: 26 August 2009)
  16. ^ Yaqoob, Tahira; "The secret stroke that nearly killed me, by Samantha Morton", 9 March 2009 (Retrieved: 26 August 2009)
  17. ^ Alleyne, Richard; "Samantha Morton reveals brush with death", 9 March 2008 (Retrieved: 26 August 2009)
  18. ^ Hemley, Matthew; "Actors threaten to boycott BBC over Gaza aid appeal ban", 26 January 2009 (Retrieved: 26 August 2009)
  19. ^ "Samantha Morton supports threatened children's home", 9 March 2009 (Retrieved: 26 August 2009)

External links

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