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Richardson, Miranda (1959-)


Main image of Richardson, Miranda (1959-)

Dominant British actress of the '80s and '90s, who trained at the Bristol Old Vic Drama School and whose range is astonishing. As platinum-blonde, vividly lipsticked Ruth Ellis in Dance with a Stranger (d. Mike Newell, 1984), she evoked the cruelty of a class and an era as well as incarnating unforgettably the doomed woman. At the opposite end of the spectrum she was the execution-mad Queen Elizabeth ('Who's Queen?' she asks rhetorically) in TV's Blackadder II (BBC, 1986). Is there nothing she can't do?

Probably not: think of the meek wife who blossoms under the Italian sun in Enchanted April (d. Newell, 1992) or the embittered wife of a philandering politician who causes their son's death in Damage (UK/France, d. Louis Malle, 1992), which earned her a supporting actress BAFTA and an Oscar nomination, or the alarming IRA operative, Jude, in The Crying Game (d. Neil Jordan, 1992, another BAFTA nomination) and the neurotic, aristocratic first Mrs T.S. Eliot (AAn/BAAn) in Tom & Viv (UK/US, d. Brian Gilbert, 1994, Oscar and BAFTA nominations).

From the later '90s, she has been more often in US films, including such duds as Sleepy Hollow (US, d. Tim Burton, 1999), in which special effects defeated the actors, and the ill-advised remake, Get Carter (US, d. Stephen Kay, 2000): for one who turned down Fatal Attraction (US, d. Adrian Lyne, 1987), they seem curious choices.

Apart from Blackadder, her TV has included a brilliantly bitchy Pamela Flitton in A Dance to the Music of Time (Channel 4, 1997).

Brian McFarlane, Encyclopedia of British Film

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Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Century (1993)Century (1993)

1900-set drama about a young medic's disturbing discovery

Thumbnail image of Dance With a Stranger (1984)Dance With a Stranger (1984)

Miranda Richardson's breakthrough role as murderess Ruth Ellis

Thumbnail image of Blackadder (1983-89)Blackadder (1983-89)

Much-loved historical sitcom starring Rowan Atkinson

Thumbnail image of Lost Prince, The (2003)Lost Prince, The (2003)

Lavish, complex story of Prince John, the frail, troubled son of King George V

Thumbnail image of Woman of Substance, A (1984)Woman of Substance, A (1984)

Glossy TV blockbuster about a woman's rise to business success

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