Family & Companions
Attractive and seemingly ageless, Francesca Annis was an aspiring dancer when she began her film acting career in the late 1950s in teen roles, receiving her first major exposure as a handmaiden of Elizabeth Taylor in "Cleopatra" (1963). She was fashionably radical during London's swinging 60s, befriending such scenesters as guitar legend Jimi Hendrix before portraying Ophelia to Nicol Williamson's "Hamlet" on Broadway in 1969. As Lady Macbeth, Annis appeared nude in the sleepwalking scene in Roman Polanski's extra-gruesome "Macbeth" (1971), but when Hugh Hefner (one of the film's backers) asked her to pose for PLAYBOY, she replied, "I'm an actress, not a pinup." While a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company from 1975-1978, she also starred as "Madame Bovary" (1976) and portrayed Lillie Langtry in "Lillie" (1978), with both acclaimed British productions broadcast later as segments of "Masterpiece Theatre" (PBS).
Perhaps Annis' strongest film performance to date was as the Karen Silkwood-like main character attempting to expose a radioactive leak in Michael Apted's "Stronger Than the Sun" (1979). Fans of PBS' "Mystery!" may remember her as Agatha Christie's Prudence 'Tuppance' Beresford in the "Partners in Crime" series (Part I 1984, Part II 1986) and "The Secret Adversary" (1987), the world premiere movie that preceded the series in England. Annis made headlines in 1995 both onstage as Gertrude to Ralph Fiennes' "Hamlet" and offstage when their romance signaled the end of Fiennes' marriage to Alex Kingston. She then starred in the British serial "Reckless" (1997), shown on "Masterpiece Theatre" in 1998, playing the art-imitating-life role of an older woman falling for a younger man.
Cast (Feature Film)
Misc. Crew (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Made first significant film appearance as one of the queen's handmaidens in "Cleopatra"
Acted in "Flipper's New Adventure"
Appeared on Broadway as Ophelia in "Hamlet" opposite Nicol Williamson in title role
Co-starred as Lady Macbeth in Roman Polanski's "Macbeth"
TV-movie debut, "Sign It Death" (ABC)
Was member of the Royal Shakespeare Company
Starred as "Madame Bovary", broadcast as a segment of "Masterpiece Theatre" (PBS)
Portrayed title role of Lillie Langtry in London Weekend Television (LWT) production of "Lillie"; later aired on "Masterpiece Theatre"
Offered excellent performance as a nuclear power plant worker who attempts to expose a radioactive leak in Michael Apted's "Stronger Than the Sun", a timely drama bearing a striking resemblance to the Karen Silkwood story
Played Lady Frances Derwent in TV adaptation of Agatha Christie's "Why Didn't They Ask Evans?" (LWT), shown in syndication in the USA
Returned to sleuthing for TV-movie premiere of "Agatha Christie's "The Secret Adversary" (LWT), playing Prudence 'Tuppance' Cowley, later 'Tuppance' Beresford for the "Partners in Crime" series that followed; aired in the USA on PBS' "Mystery!" (Part I in 1984 and Part II in 1986) prior to the movie (1987)
Acted the part of Lady Jessica in David Lynch's feature "Dune"
Episodic TV debut, a guest spot on "Magnum, P.I." (CBS)
TV miniseries debut, "I'll Take Manhattan" (CBS)
Portrayed Jacqueline Kennedy in the ABC miniseries, "The Richest Man in the World: The Story of Aristotle Onassis"
Played Katherine O'Shea in "Masterpiece Theatre" (PBS) production of "Parnell and the Englishwoman"
Acted in HBO movie "The Doomsday Gun"
Critics noted strong incestuous overtones in stage relationship between her Gertrude and Ralph Fiennes' "Hamlet", a production which precipitated their offstage pairing
Appeared in "A Slight Case of Murder" episode (written and directed by Brian Helgeland) of HBO's "Tales of the Crypt"
Starred in the British serial "Reckless" (shown on PBS in 1998), playing the art-imitating-life role of an older woman falling for a hunky younger man
Reprised role in ITV production "Reckless: The Movie" (shown on PBS in the USA in 1999)
Acted on the London stage in "Ghosts"