Equally at home on stage or on camera in both period pieces and modern dramas, actress Janet McTeer proved to be one of the more versatile actresses to cross over from the U.K. to Broadway and American film. Having made a name for herself on the stages of London and on British television, McTeer found her breakout role when she was cast as Nora in a West End revival of Henrik Ibsen's "A Doll's House" in 1996. The lauded production's move to Broadway the following year not only won the actress multiple awards, including a Tony, but also led to her being cast as the lead in the independently produced drama "Tumbleweeds" (1999), which earned her a Golden Globe. Another winning role came with the Sundance Film Festival favorite "Songcatcher" (2001), followed by turns in the Terry Gilliam-directed "Tideland" (2005) and such acclaimed miniseries as "Five Days" (BBC1, 2007) and "Into the Storm" (HBO, 2009). After earning more raves on Broadway in mountings of "Mary Stuart" and "God of Carnage," the actress stunned audiences and critics alike with her convincing portrayal of a woman posing as a man in Victorian-era London opposite Glenn Close in "Albert Nobbs" (2011). Undeniably talented and exceptionally adaptable, McTeer had rightfully earned her reputation as one of the most dependable actresses on either side of the pond. Her later work included strong performances on television series ranging from British miniseries "The White Queen" (BBC 2013) and "The Honorable Woman" (BBC 2014) to American police comedy-drama "Battle Creek" (CBS 2015) and Marvel noir "Jessica Jones" (Netflix 2015- ), showcasing her ever-increasing range.
Janet McTeer was born May 8, 1961 in the Northeastern England city of Newcastle. Despite never having been on a stage during her youth, McTeer auditioned and was accepted into the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts immediately following school. She made her London stage debut in 1985 with an Olivier Award-nominated performance in the title role of "The Grace of Mary Traverse," and went on to build a résumé at the Royal Exchange Theater in "A Midsummer Night's Dream," "The Storm" and "Greenland." Meanwhile, McTeer landed a few guest appearances in TV dramas and made her film debut in a small role as a secretary in the thriller, "Half Moon Street" (1986), starring Michael Caine and Sigourney Weaver. McTeer continued to build the resume with a prominent role in a TV comedy set at a modeling agency called "Les Girls" (ITV, 1988), and delivered an outstanding turn when cast against type as the clumsy, unsure Hazel in Robert Ellis Miller's "Hawks" (1988). In a memorable starring turn, McTeer starred as an outcast-turned-heroine in rural 19th Century England in "Precious Bane" (PBS, 1989), based on the novel by Mary Webb.
Making her first significant big screen impression, McTeer enjoyed a sizable film role as Ellen Dean in the 1992 remake of "Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights," starring Juliette Binoche and Ralph Fiennes. She etched a memorable, feisty Vita Sackville-West in the 1990 BBC TV production, "Portrait of a Marriage" (PBS, 1992), and continued to appear on American television in British drama imports like "102 Boulevard Haussmann" (A&E, 1991) and "The Black Velvet Gown" (PBS, 1993). She was nominated again for an Olivier Award for playing Yelena in a 1992 London production of "Uncle Vanya" before returning to British television to star as a disliked prison matron set on rebuilding a facility nearly destroyed by riots in the series, "The Governor" (YTV, 1995-96). Continuing to alternate between stage and screen, McTeer made a spirited Beatrice in a West End production of "Much Ado About Nothing," prior to being cast opposite Emma Thompson and Jonathan Pryce in "Carrington" (1995), about British painter and member of the fame Bloomsbury artist colony, Dora Carrington.
That film won a Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival and McTeer scored another victory on the London stage with her portrayal of unsatisfied housewife Nora in Henrik Ibsen's "A Doll's House." Although the 6'1" actress initially considered herself too tall to play Nora - a character often referred to as "petite" - McTeer flew in the face of convention and attacked the role with a vengeance, refusing to reduce her heroine to a proto-feminist, and bringing out all Nora's confusion, pain, and prodigious sexuality. The highly animated performance earned her an Olivier Award for her London run and Tony Award, Drama Desk, and Theater World Awards on her subsequent Broadway sweep. This highly visible success also helped launch McTeer's international movie career. In short order, she was tapped to provide the narration for Todd Haynes' "Velvet Goldmine" (1998) and to star in the indie drama "Tumbleweeds" (1999), as the peripatetic single mom of a 12-year-old girl. For her powerful portrait of a mother-daughter relationship, McTeer earned a Best Actress Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe win.
In her big screen follow-up, McTeer headlined the Maggie Greenwald film, "Songcatcher" (2001), portraying a turn of the century musicologist who travels to the Appalachian Mountains where she discovers and documents the region's largely unknown music culture. That film won a Special Jury Prize at Sundance and McTeer lingered on the American independent film scene to play opposite Billy Crudup in the romantic thriller, "Waking the Dead" (2000). McTeer hit the international film festival circuit with "The King is Dead" (2002), in which she played one of a bus full of tourists stranded in a remote African desert who stage a production of King Lear to pass the time, only to have the play mirror their own character flaws and fight for survival. In 2004, the actress co-wrote and starred in "The Intended" as one-half of a British couple stationed in the Malayan jungle to work in the 1920s ivory trade. The heavy melodrama did little to excite critics or draw audiences and McTeer returned to the small screen with a supporting role in "Miss Marple: The Murder at the Vicarage" (PBS, 2004-05).
In 2006, McTeer had a supporting role in Terry Gilliam's nearly universally panned childhood fantasy, "Tideland" (2006), and starred on the London stage as a uncompromisingly nonconformist Mary Queen of Scots in a revival of the 1800 drama, "Mary Stuart." She was also cast in the British drama series, "The Amazing Mrs. Pritchard" (BBC1, 2006) as a conservative politician who becomes an ally to the title character, a supermarket clerk (Jane Horrocks) whose populist outcry leads her to be elected Prime Minister of Britain. McTeer's television career continued to strengthen, with her leading role opposite Hugh Bonneville as a street-smart detective investigating the disappearance of a mother and two children in the HBO/BBC co-produced miniseries, "Five Days" (BBC & HBO, 2007).
McTeer appeared on the West End in 2008 in the comic "Gods of Carnage," and played Mrs. Dashwood in a BBC TV production of Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility" (BBC, 2008). Early the following year, McTeer reprised her role in the "Five Days" sequel, "Hunter" (BBC1, 2009). Returning Broadway, McTeer reprised her acclaimed take on Mary Queen of Scots in "Mary Stuart," earning a Tony nomination for Best Actress in a Play and taking home a Drama Desk Award. The same year, she earned an Emmy nomination for her supporting role as Clemmie Churchill, wife of Sir Winston (Brendan Gleeson), in "Into the Storm" (BBC & HBO, 2009), HBO's miniseries focused on Churchill during World War II. McTeer's performance earned the actress a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
Following another successful run on Broadway in "God of Carnage" in 2009, McTeer continued to impress, even in little-seen efforts such as the action-adventure "Cat Run" (2011), in which she played a matronly assassin-for-hire. Theatrically released only in the United Kingdom, "Island" (2011) was an intense drama featuring McTeer as a mother who, after abandoning her child at birth, is confronted by the angry daughter (Natalie Press) decades later. The actress once again garnered acclaim for her performance in "Albert Nobbs" (2011) as a woman masquerading as a man in order to gain employment in 19th century England. Her work in the film, co-written by and starring Glenn Close in the title role - as a woman harboring a similar secret identity - garnered McTeer both Oscar and Independent Spirit Award nominations for Best Supporting Actress.
Following that triumph, McTeer settled back into a comfortable working rhythm, alternating between film and TV work. Co-starring roles in supernatural horror "The Woman in Black" (2012) and biopic "Hannah Arendt" (2012) were followed by a role in Ford Madox Ford adaptation "Parade's End" (BBC 2012) and an arc on the concluding season of Glenn Close legal thriller "Damages" (TNT 2007-2012). Historical drama "The White Queen" (BBC 2013) and espionage thriller "The Honourable Woman" (BBC 2014) were followed by a voiceover role as the narrator of fairy tale fantasy "Maleficent" (2014). After co-starring in atmospheric horror "Angelica" (2015), McTeer co-starred in Vince Gilligan's comedy-drama police procedural "Battle Creek" (CBS 2015), which ran for a single season. A key supporting role in young adult dystopian sequel "Insurgent" (2015) and a small part in Russell Crowe flop "Fathers and Daughters" (2015) were followed by an apperance in critically acclaimed drama "Me Before You" (2016) and a starring role opposite Alia Shawkat in Amber Tamblyn's directorial debut "Paint It Black" (2016). McTeer next appeared in World War II drama "The Exception" (2016) before returning to American TV with key roles in crime drama "Ozark" (Netflix 2017- ) and the second season of Marvel detective noir "Jessica Jones" (Netflix 2015- ).
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Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Made her stage debut in a Nottingham production of "Mother Courage and Her Children"
Made her London stage debut as Mary in "The Grace of Mary Traverse"
Played a small role in the feature "Half Moon Street"
Delivered an outstanding performance as the clumsy, unsure Hazel in the feature film "Hawks"
Starred as Prue Sarn in the two-part BBC production of "Precious Bane" (aired in the U.S. on PBS' "Masterpiece Theatre")
Portrayed Vita Sackville-West in "Portrait of a Marriage" (aired in the USA on PBS' "Masterpiece Theatre" in 1992)
Acted the part of Celeste opposite Alan Bates' Marcel Proust in "102 Boulevard Haussmann" (A&E)
Played narrator Ellen Dean in "Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights"; featuring Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche
Appeared as Yelena opposite Anthony Sher in "Uncle Vanya"
Starred as Riah Millican in "The Black Velvet Gown" (aired in U.S. on "Masterpiece Theatre")
Made a spirited Beatrice to Mark Rylance's Benedick in the West End production of "Much Ado About Nothing"
Played Nora in the BBC radio version of Henrik Ibsen's "A Doll's House";
Was cast opposite Emma Thompson and Jonathan Pryce in the Christopher Hampton directed "Carrington"
Portrayed Helen Hewitt, the first woman in charge of a maximum security prison, in the British TV series "The Governor"
Reprised role of Nora in the West End production of "A Doll's House"
Made Broadway debut reprising the role of Nora in "A Doll's House"
Provided opening narration (female) for Todd Haynes' "Velvet Goldmine"
Had her breakthrough role as a dislocated single mother in "Tumbleweeds"; earned Best Actress SAG and Oscar nominations
Played a 19th-century musicologist in "Songcatcher"
Had a supporting role opposite Billy Crudup in "Waking the Dead"
Co-starred in Kristian Levering's "The King is Alive"
Re-teamed with director Kristian Levering for "The Intended"
Played Mary, Queen of Scots in a West End production of "Mary Stuart"
Was cast in Terry Gilliam's fantasy-drama "Tideland"
Was cast in the British drama series "The Amazing Mrs Pritchard" (BBC)
Starred in Kenneth Branagh's film adaptation of William Shakespeare's "As You Like It"
Starred in the West End production of "God of Carnage," her last London stage role until 2015
Portrayed Clemmie Churchill, opposite Brendan Gleeson as Winston Churchill, in the HBO film "Into the Storm"; earned Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for Best Supporting Actress in a TV Movie
Reprised role of Mary, Queen of Scots in a Broadway production of "Mary Stuart"; earned a Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Play
Joined the Broadway production of the Tony-winning hit play "God of Carnage"
Featured opposite Glenn Close in the drama "Albert Nobbs"
Acted alongside Daniel Radcliffe in the supernatural thriller "The Woman in Black"
Was cast in a recurring role on "Damages"
Co-starred as Jacquetta Woodville on the mini-series "The White Queen"
Played Dame Julia Walsh on the mini-series "The Honourable Woman"
Was the narrator of Disney's live-action fantasy film "Maleficent"
Played a supporting role in romantic drama "Me Before You"
Appeared in the drama/thriller "Paint it Black"
Appeared alongside Russell Crowe and Amanda Seyfried in the drama "Fathers & Daughters"
Played the Marquise de Merteuil in the National Theatre Live production of "Les Liaisons Dangereuses"
Had a recurring role on the second season of "Jessica Jones"