Ruth Sheen was a prolific British stage and screen actress who was best known for her work in several movies directed by the Oscar-nominated filmmaker, Mike Leigh. Sheen's screen acting career began in the late 1980s, when she started nabbing plum roles in both movies and TV shows. She landed recurring parts on British shows like "Downton Lagos" (BBC, 1992) and "Holding On" (BBC, 1997), as well as the female lead in Leigh's comedy-drama, "High Hopes" (1988). Sheen gained fame and recognition in her native country in 1995 after nabbing the role of Nurse Ethel Carr on the period drama, "Bramwell" (ITV, 1995-98). Sheen continued to appear in dozens of films and TV shows throughout the 2000s, most notably Mike Leigh's Oscar-nominated "Vera Drake" (2004) and the BBC adaptation of John Cleland's erotic novel, "Fanny Hill" (2007). In 2014 Sheen appeared in Mike Leigh's "Mr. Turner," a biographical drama about the eccentric British artist, J.M.W Turner. It was Sheen's sixth appearance in a Mike Leigh film in over 25 years, thus signaling that her working relationship with the famed director had shown no signs of slowing down.
Born and raised in the British theater capital of London, Sheen was exposed to actors at a very young age. Despite growing up in a relatively non-creative household, however, Sheen knew she wanted to make her living as an actor. So, when it came time to begin her training, she enrolled at the prestigious East 15 Acting School in Essex. Before long she was auditioning for film and TV roles, and in 1988 had nabbed the female lead in director Mike Leigh's "High Hopes." Her role in the film would be the first of several collaborations with the Oscar-nominated director. Sheen continued working steadily throughout the 90s, landing recurring parts on BBC shows like "Downtown Lagos" and "Holding On," as well as in small films like 1996's "Secrets & Lies." She earned widespread recognition in Britain in 1995 after nabbing the part of Nurse Ethel Carr on the ITV period drama, "Bramwell," and also landed a recurring part on the BBC's "Berkeley Square" in 1998. That show was also a period drama. The 2000s proved to be another banner decade for Sheen, with roles in well-received films like "Vera Drake" and "Vanity Fair" (2004), as well as a recurring part in the much talked about 2007 mini-series, "Fanny Hill." In 2010 Sheen worked with Mike Leigh once again, landing the lead in his Oscar-nominated marriage drama, "Another Year." Sheen received wide acclaim for her role as an unhappy housewife in the film. Four years later she appeared in Leigh's "Mr. Turner," which chronicled the troubled life of the eccentric British painter J.M.W. Turner. "Mr. Turner" debuted at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival with Sheen, along with the rest of the ensemble cast, receiving warm praise for their sterling performances. 2014 was also the year Sheen appeared in a guest spot on the widely acclaimed British drama, "Call the Midwife." Sheen appeared in a very special Christmas episode of the show during its third season in 2014.
Cast (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Lead role in Mike Leigh's "High Hopes"
Recurring role on "Bramwell"
Appeared in her sixth Mike Leigh film, "Mr. Turner"