Lindsay Duncan, CBE is a Scottish stage, television and film actress. Her most famous roles on television include: Barbara Douglas in Alan Bleasdale's G.B.H., Servilia...Read More
Lindsay Duncan, CBE is a Scottish stage, television and film actress. Her most famous roles on television include: Barbara Douglas in Alan Bleasdale's G.B.H., Servilia of the Junii in the HBO/BBC/RAI series Rome, and Adelaide Brooke in the Doctor Who special The Waters of Mars. On film she voiced the android TC-14 in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, and she played Alice's mother in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. She was awarded a CBE in 2009 for services to drama.
She made her breakthrough in Top Girls by Caryl Churchill, created at the Royal Court in London and later transferred to The Public Theater in New York: her performance as Lady Nijo, a 13th century Japanese concubine, won her an Obie, her first award. The next year she took her first major role on film in Richard Eyre's Loose Connections. At the same time her television work included a filmed version of Frederick Lonsdale's On Approval (1982), Reilly, Ace of Spies (1983) and Dead Head (1985).
In 1985 she joined the Royal Shakespeare Company for the production of Troilus and Cressida, in which she played Helen of Troy. The year after she created the role of the Marquise de Merteuil in Les Liaisons Dangereuses. The play opened at The Other Place in Stratford-upon-Avon, then transferred to the Ambassadors in the West End, and later to Broadway. For her performance she was nominated for a Tony and won the Olivier Award for Best Actress and a Theatre World Award. In 1988 Duncan won an Evening Standard Award for her role of Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams. At the same time she became a regular in the plays of Harold Pinter and the television work of Alan Bleasdale and Stephen Poliakoff. She performed for a second season with the RSC in 1994–1995, in A Midsummer Night's Dream in which she played the double role of Hippolyta and Titania. Impressed by her performance in David Mamet's The Cryptogram (1994), Al Pacino asked Duncan to play the role of his wife in City Hall (1996) by Harold Becker. She starred in a revival of Noël Coward's Private Lives (2001–2002), and won a Tony Award for Best Actress and a second Olivier Award for her performance as Amanda Prynne — she was also nominated the same year for her role in Mouth to Mouth by Kevin Elyot.
Duncan played Servilia Caepionis in the 2005 HBO-BBC series Rome and she starred as Rose Harbinson in Starter for 10. Aged by make-up, she played Lord Longford's wife, Elizabeth, in the TV film Longford. In February 2009, she played British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in Margaret. In November 2009, Duncan played Adelaide Brooke, companion to the Doctor, in the second of the 2009 Doctor Who specials. Duncan played Alice's mother in Tim Burton's 2010 film Alice in Wonderland. She also starred in the original London run of Polly Stenham's play That Face at the Royal Court co-starring Matt Smith and directed by Jeremy Herrin. She did the narration for the Matt Lucas and David Walliams 2010/2011 fly-on-the-wall mockumentary series Come Fly with Me on the BBC. In October–November 2010, Duncan starred in a new version by Frank McGuinness of Ibsen's John Gabriel Borkman at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin. The production transferred in January–February 2011 to the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Alan Bleasdale asked for Duncan to feature in his first work for television after ten years of absence, The Sinking of the Laconia, aired on January 2011; she plays an upper-class passenger in the two-part drama based on a true story of World War II. She also played the mother of Matt Smith in the telefilm Christopher and His Kind written by Kevin Elyot after Christopher Isherwood's autobiography of the same title. In October–November 2011, Duncan read extracts of the King James Bible at the National Theatre, London as part of the 400th anniversary celebrations of the translation. She played Queen Annis, ruler of Caerleon and antagonist of Merlin, in the 5th episode of the fourth series of BBC1's Merlin. She also appeared as Home Secretary Alex Cairns to Rory Kinnear's Prime Minister in The National Anthem, the first episode of Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror.
Duncan started 2012 as a guest in the New Year special of Absolutely Fabulous, playing the part of Edina's favourite film actress, Jeanne Durand. In February she returned to the West End in Noël Coward's Hay Fever. Later in 2012, Duncan will feature in four BBC2 productions of Shakespeare's history plays. She is to play the Duchess of York in the first film, Richard II, with David Suchet as the Duke of York and Patrick Stewart as John of Gaunt.
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