Sigrid Thornton: Wikis


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Sigrid Thornton
Born Sigrid Thornton
12 February 1959 (1959-02-12) (age 50)
Canberra, Australia
Occupation Actor
Spouse(s) Tom Burstall

Sigrid Thornton (born 12 February, 1959) is an Australian actress.


Early years

Thornton was born in Canberra, the daughter of Merle, a teacher of women's studies and writer, and Neil Thornton, an academic.[1] She spent most of her formative years growing up and attending school at St. Peters Lutheran College in Brisbane. From 1966 until 1968 she lived in London with her parents where she was a member of the Unicorn Theatre. On her return to Brisbane she attended Twelfth Night Theatre Junior Workshop where she came to the attention of theatre director, Joan Whalley. In 1970, Thornton appeared before Queen Elizabeth II as a young Rosa Campbell-Praed in Looking Glass on Yesterday written by Brisbane writer and Churchill Fellowship holder, Jill Morris and directed by Joan Whalley as part of the Captain Cook Bicentennary Celebrations at Brisbane City Hall.[2] Four years later, Thornton landed the plum role in the Lady Mayoress of Brisbane Social and Welfare Committee annual pantomime Christmas In Storyland in the role of Little Red Riding Hood, once again written by Jill Morris and directed by Joan Whalley. Around this time, Thornton accompanied her mother to Melbourne where she successfully came to the attention of Hector Crawford in Melbourne. She appeared as Erica Johnston in the Homicide episode "The Other Man" and in the episode "Little Raver" (Division 4) in 1975. These appearances for Crawford Productions marked the start of a long and successful professional career in film and television.

Career takes off

Given that the majority of stage and television work took place at this time in both Melbourne and Sydney, Thornton made the move to the south of Australia where she quickly gained numerous roles. This was the time of the renaissance of the Australian Film Industry. She made her big-screen debut as Maria in the film adaptation of Henry Handel Richardson's colonial Australian novel, The Getting of Wisdom (1977) directed by Bruce Beresford. The same year she appeared in another more modern Australian film, The FJ Holden directed by Michael Thornhill. In 1978 Thornton displayed her versatility as a performer appearing in the Australian television sequel of the British comedy series Father, Dear Father in Australia alongside original cast member Patrick Cargill as Sue Glover. The same year she appeared in the film Snapshot directed by Simon Wincer. Around this time Thornton, like most Australian actresses, appeared in the long running Australian television drama Prisoner or Cell Block H as it was known overseas.[3] Thornton starred in 1981 in Duet for Four. 1982 saw Thornton take on the roles of Jessica Harrison in the films The Man from Snowy River and its sequel The Man from Snowy River II. 1983 marked an appearance in Street Hero. She starred in 1983's miniseries All the Rivers Run. 1986 saw Thornton in The Lighthorsemen (film), the TV adaptation of Nevil Shute's novel The Far Country, Great Expectations, the Untold Story and Slate, Wyn & Me. In 1988 Thornton made a huge leap appearing as Amelia Lawson, the Bank Manager, in the American television drama series Paradise. Syndication of All the Rivers Run and The Man from Snowy River brought her to a wider international audience. 1991 marked yet another film, Over the Hill directed by George T. Miller and in 1996, Love in Ambush directed by Carl Shultz. Her leading role as Laura Joy Gibson in the more modern Australian television series SeaChange from 1998 to 2000 brought greater Australian audience appeal.

Stage highlights

Thornton is known for her stage roles, including an early 2000s production of The Blue Room co-starring with Marcus Graham. In 2009 Thornton made her debut with Opera Australia in its production at Melbourne's Arts Centre as Desiree Armfeldt in Sondheim and Wheeler's A Little Night Music, directed by Stuart Maunder, opposite Nancye Hayes and Robert Grubb.[4]

Recent film and television work

In 2003 Thornton appeared in Mittens directed by Emma Freeman. More recently Thornton has played a brilliant geneticist in a four-episode arc on MDA and also in 2005, the telemovie Little Oberon, a role for which she shaved her head. Thornton hosted of the Nine Network's award-winning health show, What's Good For You, a program which examines popular conceptions of how to ensure good health.

The "Sigrid factor"

In his book The Big Shift, about changing Australian demographics and culture, Bernard Salt coined the term the "Sigrid factor" amusingly pointing out that Australian towns in which movies had been made featuring Thornton had prospered since that time.[5] More broadly he was actually referring to changing Australian cultural values which were well reflected in the types of places in which Sigrid Thornton had acted: the Riverland during the 1980s All the Rivers Run and the coast in the 2000s SeaChange.

Personal life & advocacy

Thornton is married to actor and film risk manager, Tom Burstall and together they have two children, Ben and Jaz.

Thornton is well known for her ongoing work with World Vision, the Royal Children’s Hospital, Vision Australia, Reach Foundation and other charitable causes. She has perhaps played one of her most important roles in lobbying governments to keep libraries open and to resource the Australian film and television industry so it can tell more Australian stories. As a result of her advocacy, Thornton has been appointed to numerous Australian federal and state film bodies, including Film Victoria[3] and is regularly involved in helping to sustain and develop the industry..[6]


  1. ^ Sigrid Thornton: biography and credits
  2. ^ A Looking Glass On Yesterday by Jill Morris
  3. ^ a b "The Sigrid Weapon"
  4. ^ A Little Night Music, Opera Australia
  5. ^ The Big Shift by Bernard Salt
  6. ^ National Press Club Address


  • Morris, Jill (April 1970). A Looking Glass On Yesterday. Brisbane: Captain Cook Bicentennary Committee.  
  • Plum Role for 14-year-old. Brisbane: Queensland Newspapers. November, 1974.  
  • Salt, Bernard (2001). The Big Shift. Hardie Grant Publishing. ISBN 978-1876719296.  
  • Denton, Andrew (2005). Enough Rope: Sigrid Thornton. Sydney: Australian Broadcasting Corporation.  
  • Thornton, Sigrid (2006). National Press Club Address March 23. Canberra: Australian Broadcasting Corporation.  
  • The Sigrid Weapon. Melbourne: Fairfax Holdings. September 18, 2005.  

External links

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