A somewhat austerely beautiful star who came to prominence in the 1990s in British and international films.
She was especially impressive (winning a BAFTA) as the apparently icy Fiona, in Four Weddings and a Funeral (d. Mike Newell, 1994), nursing a secret passion for Hugh Grant, whose wife she had played in Polanski's Bitter Moon (UK/France, 1992).
For The English Patient (d. Anthony Minghella, 1996), she was Oscar and BAFTA-nominated for her performance as aristocratic Katherine engaged in a passionate affair.
Educated at Cheltenham Ladies College, trained as a drama teacher at Central School, which rejected her as a drama student, she went to live in Paris where she did her drama training and, speaking fluent French, worked in a few films.
She played in several big-budget Hollywood films, including Mission: Impossible (US, d. Brian De Palma, 1996), co-starred with Robert Redford in The Horse Whisperer (US, d. Redford, 1998) and Harrison Ford in Random Hearts (US, d. Sydney Pollack, 1999), generally winning more recognition than the films did, and in Britain she was one of the fabulous all-star cast of Robert Altman's country-house mystery, Gosford Park (UK/Germany/US, 2001). In an earlier decade, she would have been a great "Other Woman".
Her sister is Serena Scott Thomas (b.1962), who starred in TV's Harnessing Peacocks (d. James Cellan Jones, 1992) and appeared in the films Let Him Have It (d. Peter Medak, 1991) and The World Is Not Enough (UK/US, d. Michael Apted, 1999).
Brian McFarlane, Encyclopedia of British Cinema