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Blethyn, Brenda (1946-)


Main image of Blethyn, Brenda (1946-)

Already a distinguished stage actress, often with London's National Theatre where her gift for comedy was on riotous display in 1977's Bedroom Farce, Brenda Blethyn (born in Ramsgate on 20 February 1946) suddenly, even improbably, became a film star, albeit an unusual one, in the '90s on the basis of acting range rather than conventional star looks.

She had appeared in the US films, The Witches (d. Nicolas Roeg, 1989) and A River Runs Through It (d. Robert Redford, 1992), but it was her Oscar-nominated performance in Mike Leigh's Secrets & Lies (1996), as the feckless Cynthia confronted with convulsive truths from her past, which brought her to filmgoers' notice.

Subsequently, she has appeared as the raucously exploitative mother bursting out of her cheap clothes in Little Voice (d. Mark Herman, 1998), contrastingly poignant as the woman dying of cancer in Girls' Night (d. Nick Hurran, 1998), and made several high-profile films in Australia and the US. She thrives under the strong direction that focuses without constricting her eloquence and vibrancy. She was awarded the OBE in 2003.

Brian McFarlane, Encyclopedia of British Film

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A woman's life is turned upside down when she meets her long-lost daughter

Thumbnail image of Way of Life, A (2004)Way of Life, A (2004)

Bleak portrait of a teenage single mother in run-down Wales

Thumbnail image of Buddha of Suburbia, The (1993)Buddha of Suburbia, The (1993)

Hanif Kureishi's ambitious Anglo-Asian rights-of-passage drama

Thumbnail image of Grown-Ups (1980)Grown-Ups (1980)

Mike Leigh comedy about a couple at war with their middle-class neighbours

Thumbnail image of Henry VI Part I (1983)Henry VI Part I (1983)

The bright and gaudy first part of Jane Howell's acclaimed history cycle

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