Imelda Staunton

Last updated 16 December 2023

Imelda Staunton
(this image appears for illustrative purposes only and no attempt is made to supersede any copyright attributed to it)

Imelda Mary Philomena Bernadette Staunton

Born: Monday 9th January 1956 (age: 68)


Imelda Staunton was born in Archway, north London. Both of her parents were first-generation Catholic immigrants from County Mayo, Ireland, with her father coming from Ballyvary and her mother from Bohola. 

Staunton enrolled at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), and studied alongside Alan RickmanTimothy Spall and Juliet Stevenson. She graduated two years later in 1976, then spent six years in English repertory. Staunton then joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, and in 1982, moved on to the National Theatre. 

Staunton has twice received an Olivier Award, Britain's highest theatre honour, one in 1985 for roles in two productions: A Chorus of Disapproval and The Corn Is Green and one for the 1991 musical, Into the Woods. She was nominated for her performance as Miss Adelaide in the 1996 revival of Guys and Dolls at the National Theatre

Staunton's first big-screen role came in a 1986 Bill Douglas film, Comrades. She then appeared in the 1992 movie Peter's Friends. Other early roles include performances in Much Ado About Nothing (1993), Deadly Advice(1993), Sense and Sensibility (1995) Twelfth Night (1996), Chicken Run (2000), Another Life (2001), Bright Young Things (2003), Nanny McPhee (2005), Freedom Writers (2007) and How About You (2007).

Staunton shared a Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Performance by a Cast in 1998 for Shakespeare in Love. In 2004, she received the Best Actress honours at the European Film Awards, the BAFTAs, and the Venice Film Festival for her performance of the title role in Mike Leigh's Vera Drake, which also won Best Picture. For the same role, she received Best Actress nominations for the 2005 Golden Globes and Academy Awards.

Staunton portrayed Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007), She was nominated in the "British Actress in a Supporting Role" category at the London Film Critics Circle Awards.[14] Staunton reprised her role as Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One.

Recent film roles include 2008's A Bunch of Amateurs, in which she starred alongside Burt ReynoldsDerek Jacobi andSamantha Bond, and the character of Sonia Teichberg in Ang Lee's Taking Woodstock (2009). She will play one of the lead roles in the upcoming ghost film The Awakenings.

In 1993, she appeared on television alongside Richard Briers and Adrian Edmondson in If You See God, Tell Him. She has had other television parts in The Singing Detective (1986), Midsomer Murders, and the comedy drama series Is It Legal? (1995-8), as well as A Bit of Fry and Laurie season 4, episode 3. She was a voice artist on Mole's Christmas (1994). She had a guest role playing Mrs. Mead in Little Britain in 2005, and in 2007 played the free-thinking gossip, Miss Pole, in Cranford, the five-part BBCseries based on Mrs Gaskell's novels, and in the sequel to the series, Return to Cranford. She also supplies the voices of Ruby (a mouse) and Twiba (The Worm who lives in Big's Apple) in the Children's TV show Big & Small. In 2010, she appeared in the Halloween special of Psychoville as Grace Andrews, and became a recurring cast member in the second series (2011). In 2011, she had a guest role in Series 6 of Doctor Who playing the Voice of Interface in The Girl Who Waited