Family & Companions
A polished British stage actress who has proven adept in films and television playing characters of aristocratic background, Judy Parfitt delivered one of her best film performances as the imperious employer of Kathy Bates in "Delores Claiborne" (1995). Born in Yorkshire and trained at RADA, the actress began her career on stage in repertory theater before eventually finding success in the West End. Parfitt was already close to 30 when she debuted in films in a small role in "Hide and Seek" (1964). She first caught international audiences' attention playing Gertrude to Nicol Williamson's "Hamlet" (1969), recreating her stage performance. (As has often been the case, she was only three years older than the actor playing her son.) Parfitt continued to lend her regal bearing and patrician looks to such roles as "The Duchess of Malfi" and Mary Queen of Scots in "Vivat! Vivat Regina!" (both 1971) as well as Ranevskaya in "The Cherry Orchard" (1978).
Film and TV directors often cast the actress in similar type role. Parfitt offered a memorable turn as Geraldine James' alcoholic mother in the miniseries "The Jewel in the Crown" (PBS, 1984) and Hugh Grant's upper class mother in "Maurice" (1987). Crossing the pond, she was deliciously vile as the wicked stepmother in the otherwise middling ABC sitcom "The Charmings" (1987-88), which transplanted the fairy tale characters in contemporary Southern California. A number of her other small screen performances, though, have been in high-toned British imports that aired on PBS (i.e., "The Blackheath Poisonings" 1993). More recently, Parfitt lent her unique talents to the role of the prince's mother in "Ever After" (1998), a retelling of the "Cinderella" story, and appeared as an older woman targeted by a psychopathic Matthew Broderick in the Broadway revival of Emlyn Williams' "Night Must Fall" (1999).
After an appearance on an episode of "ER" (NBC, 1994-2009), Parfitt had a supporting role in the A&E murder mystery, "Death's Shadow" (2000). Then a small role as an ambassador in "Falling Through" (2000), an action thriller about the American embassy in Paris on high alert from a wave of counterfeit passports, was followed by a meatier part in "Girl With a Pearl Earring" (2003), in which she played famed painter Johannes Vermeer's domineering mother-in-law whose 16-year-old housemaid (Scarlett Johansson) becomes the subject of the artist's famed painting as well as his domestic troubles. In "The Long Firm" (BBC, 2004), a four-part miniseries about a notorious homosexual East End gangster, Parfitt had a small part as the disillusioned wife of a closeted gay man (Derek Jacobi) who gets into shady business dealings with London's less-desirable elements.
Parfitt then appeared in "The Aryan Couple" (2005) as the elderly wife of a wealthy Jewish man forced to sell all he owns to the Nazis in exchange for their freedom. She next had a small supporting role in "Asylum" (2005) as the sharp-tongued mother of an ambitious forensic psychologist (Hugh Bonneville) hired on as deputy superintendent at a mental institution where he moves his wife (Natasha Richardson) and son (Gus Lewis). At the asylum, his wife begins an affair with an inmate (Marton Csokas), which sparks the interest of the resident sexual pathologist (Ian McKellen).
Cast (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Stage acting debut in "Fools Rush In"
London stage debut, "A Likely Tale"
Film debut, "Hide and Seek"
Had title role in the London production of "The Widowing of Mrs. Holroyd"
Portrayed Gertrude to Nicol Williamson's "Hamlet"; recreated stage performance for film
Appeared in a supporting role in the 6-part thriller "Diamond Crack Diamond" (London Weekend Television)
Played title role in the Royal Court Theatre production of "The Duchess of Malfi"
Had supporting role in the minseries "Shoulder to Shoulder" (shown on PBS' "Masterpiece Theatre")
Played Cleopatra in Shakespeare's "Antony and Cleopatra" at the Young Vic
Delivered a strong turn as Geraldine James' alcoholic mother in BBC miniseries "The Jewel in the Crown" (aired on PBS' "Masterpiece Theatre" in the USA)
Was one of the many females who succumbed to Nigel Havers' "The Charmer" (London Weekend Television), aired in the USA in 1989 on "Masterpiece Theatre"
Cast as Hugh Grant's mother in "Maurice"
Co-starred in the three-part drama "The Blackheath Poisonings"; hosted US presentation
Delivered a scene-stealing turn as the imperious employer of "Dolores Claiborne"
Had supporting role as Lady Mount-Temple in the biopic "Wilde"
Played the mother of the prince in "Ever After"
Appeared on Broadway opposite Matthew Broderick in a revival of Emlyn Williams' "Night Must Fall"
Had recurring guest role as the mother of Dr Elizabeth Corday on NBC's "ER"
Co-starred with Martin Landau in "The Aryan Couple" as a Jewish couple trying to escape Nazi Germany by giving up everything
Appeared on the BBC "dramedy" series "Funland"
Cast in BBC romantic drama miniseries "Little Dorrit"
Appeared in the horror feature "The Moth Diaries," starring Scott Speedman and Lily Cole