Maggie Smith

Maggie Smith

Oscar win for 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie' (1969)

Background:

An expert stage/screen actress of British heritage, Maggie Smith gained critical
acknowledgment and eminence with the award-winning role of Constance Trentham in
Robert Altman’s Gosford Park (2001), where she collected a Screen Actors Guild
Award, a Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award, a Golden Satellite Award, a New
York Critics Online Award and a Southeastern Film Critics Association Award. She
also brought home an Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA nomination for the same role.
To younger audiences, however, she is best known as the elegant Prof. Minerva
McGonagall in four Harry Potter movies: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
(2001), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), Harry Potter and the
Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005).

Smith’s rewarding acting career is traced back to 1969 when she magnificently
took the title turn in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and reaped an Academy
Award, a BAFTA Award and a Film Critic’s Guild Award. She also won an Academy
Award for playing Diana Barrie, a hotel guest from London, in the drama comedy
California Suite (1978, also won a Golden Globe Award). Next, she played many
notable roles, including Joyce Chilvers in the comedy A Private Function (1984,
won a BAFTA Award), chaperon Charlotte Bartlett in A Room with a View (1985,
took home a BAFTA Award and a Golden Globe Award), the title turn in The Lonely
Passion of Judith Hearne (1987, netted a BAFTA Award, an Evening Standard
British Film Award and a Variety Club Award) and Lady Hester Random in Tea with
Mussolini (1999, earned a BAFTA Award).

As an accomplished stage performer, Smith gave exceptional performances in “The
Beaux’ Strategem” (1970, won a Los Angeles Critics Award), “Private Lives”
(1972, netted a Variety Club Award), “Virginia” (1980, won an Evening Standard
Drama Award), the New York version of “Lettice and Lovage” (1990, garnered her a
Tony Award) and “Three Tall Women” (1994, collected a Variety Club Award and a
London Evening Standard Theatre Award).

Outside the limelight, in 1970, Smith was appointed a CBE (Commander of the
British Empire) and in 1990, she received the higher rank of DBE (Dame Commander
of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire), making her Dame Maggie
Smith. She also became an honorary D.Litt of St. Andrew’s University (1971) and
Cambridge University (1995), as well as a patron of the Jane Austen Society. In
2001, she became the 10th actress in the Orange Film Survey of Greatest British
Film Actresses. As for her romantic life, Smith once wedded Robert Stephens
before marrying Beverley Cross (1975, to his death in 1998). She is also the
mother of actors Chris Larkin and Toby Stephens.


Margaret

Childhood and Family:

Maggie Smith was born Margaret Natalie Smith on December 28, 1934, in Ilford,
Essex, England, to pathologist Nathaniel Smith and secretary Margaret Hutton
Little. She is the younger sister of twins Ian and Alistair Smith (born on
December 8, 1928).
Maggie attended Oxford High School for Girls and graduated in 1951. Having a
special knack for acting since a young age, she took Drama programs at the
Oxford Playhouse School in Oxford, during 1951-1953. While studying, she also
became an assistant stage manager and performer.

Maggie’s love life became a little bit scandalous when, on June 19, 1967, she
gave birth to the child of actor Robert Stephens (born on July 14, 1931), named
Chris Larkin (later became an actor). Ten days later, Maggie and Robert married,
and on April 21, 1969, their second son Toby Stephens (later became an actor)
was born. Troubled by Maggie’s success and Robert’s alcoholism and bouts of
depression, the couple separated in 1974. The actress ended up marrying her old
beau, writer Beverley Cross (born on April 13, 1931, died on March 20, 1998), in
1975. Her marriage with Beverley lasted until his death.


Minerva McGonagall

Career:

Maggie Smith began acting in 1952 with a stage role in Oxford University’s
Dramatic Society production of “Twelfth Night.” The performance apparently
brought her to New York where she was cast in the Broadway sketch revue of “New
Faces of ‘56” (1956). Going back to the UK, Smith made her big screen debut with
an unaccredited part as a party guest in Child in the House (1956) and followed
it up by having a turn in an episode of the TV series “Kraft Television Theatre”
(1957). She received a BAFTA nomination after having the female lead role of
Bridget Howard in the crime drama Nowhere to Go (1958). It was ensued with a
part in the made-for-TV comedy Hay Fever (1960), for director Caspar Wrede.

Meanwhile, after making a London stage debut in “Share My Lettuce” (1957), the
young actress became a member of the Old Vic Company, where she played opposite
Laurence Olivier in “Rhinoceros” (1959), before gaining recognition through her
performances in Peter Shaffer’s “The Public Ear” and “The Private Eye” (1962).
The following year, Smith joined the National Theatre and became a charter
member. With the theater group, she played Desdemona in Laurence Olivier’s
“Othello” (1963).
As a screen actress, Smith’s turn as Chantal in the comedy movie Go to Blazes
(1962) led her to the Golden Globe-nominated part of Miss Mead in The V.I.P.s
(1963). Following The Pumpkin Eater (1964), Smith reprised her role of Desdemona
in Stuart Burge’s revival of Othello (1965) and earned an Oscar nomination. She
also appeared as Beatrice in another Shakespearean film, Much Ado About Nothing
(1967, TV) and played Patty Terwilliger Smith in the comedy Hot Millions (1968).

Smith’s biggest step toward fame came with the title role of a liberated
Scottish teacher at a girls’ school in the big screen adaptation of Muriel
Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969). Her portrayal in the drama
garnered a wealth of critical appreciation, winning her an Oscar, a BAFTA and a
Film Critic’s Guild for Best Actress, as well as a Golden Globe nomination. Her
screen victory was soon followed by a stage accomplishment in The Beaux’
Strategem (1970).

Maggie had several appearances in the TV series “Play of the Month” (4 episodes,
1968 and 1972) before achieving an Oscar nomination for her witty turn as Aunt
Augusta in the George Cukor-helmed drama comedy Travels with My Aunt (1972).
Also in 1972, the stage actress superbly headlined a London production of
“Private Lives,” in which she netted a Variety Club for Best Stage Actress.
After starring as Lila Fisher in Alan J. Pakula’s movie Love and Pain and the
Whole Damn Thing (1973), Smith decided to take a break from acting.

Three years later, she returned to the screen with the role of Dora Charleston
in the parody Murder by Death (1976). She was then seen as Diana Barrie, a hotel
guest from London, in the drama comedy California Suite (1978). Smartly playing
the role in the 1978 movie, she won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress and a
Golden Globe for Best Actress, and received a BAFTA nomination. On stage, after
playing her Tony-nominated role in Tom Stoppard’s play “Night and Day” (1979),
Smith won an Evening Standard Drama for Best Actress for her portrayal of
Virginia Woolf in “Virginia” (1980).

Impressively carrying out the turn of Lois Heidler in the movie Quartet (1981),
Smith nabbed an Evening Standard British Film Award and was nominated for Best
Actress at BAFTA. Following her roles in the adaptation of Agatha Christie’s
Evil Under the Sun (1982), and the made-for-TV drama Mrs. Silly (1983), the
skilled actress took the BAFTA-winning turn as Joyce Chilvers in the comedy A
Private Function (1984).

Smith’s magnificent acting as chaperon Charlotte Bartlett in A Room with a View
(1985) was critically applauded and she was awarded a BAFTA and a Golden Globe.
For the same role, she was also nominated for Oscar’s Best Supporting Actress.
In 1987, she reaped more appreciation for her work in The Lonely Passion of
Judith Hearne, where her first-class titular turn garnered a BAFTA, an Evening
Standard British Film and a Variety Club for Best Actress. The same year, the
versatile actress won a Banff and accepted a BAFTA nomination for her memorable
turn as a vicar’s wife named Susan in the “Bed Among the Lentils” segment of the
miniseries “Talking Heads” (1987).

Smith again drew public attention with her outstanding stage role of Lettice
Douffet in Peter Shaffer’s “Lettice and Lovage” (1988). Originally playing the
role in London, she reprised it in the 1990 New York production of the play and
gained a Tony for Best Actress in a Play. Next up for Smith, she voiced Rozaline
in Armando Acosta’s Romeo-Juliet (1990), played the adult Wendy in Steven
Spielberg’s version of Hook (1991) and costarred as Mother Superior in Sister
Act (1992).

The recipient of the 1993 BAFTA Lifetime Achievement award, Smith received rave
reviews for her 1993 films, the remake of The Secret Garden and the TV version
of Tennessee Williams’ Suddenly, Last Summer. Following her highly praised turn
in the London stage revival of “The Importance of Being Earnest” (1993), the
skillful performer starred in “Three Tall Women” (1994) and collected a Variety
Club and a London Evening Standard Theatre for Best Actress. Two years later,
she reprised her TV role of Susan in the stage version of “Bed Among the
Lentils” (1996) and the 1997 production of “A Delicate Balance.”

Amid her successful stage work, she was cast as the Duchess of York in Richard
III (1995), before winning a National Board of Review for her lovely turn as
Gunilla Garson Goldberg in the comedy The First Wives Club (1996). Awarded with
a 1996 BAFTA Academy Fellowship, Smith was then cast as the meddlesome Aunt
Lavinia Penniman in Washington Square (1997). In 1999, the veteran actress
undertook many roles, including the BAFTA-winning turn of Lady Hester Random in
Tea with Mussolini and Aunt Betsey in the TV film David Copperfield (earned an
Emmy and BAFTA nomination). The recipient of the 1999 William Shakespeare Award
for Classical Theatre, Smith also starred in Alan Bennett’s play “The Lady in
the Van” (1999).
Reaching the peak of her triumphant journey in acting, Smith gathered various
awards for her role of Constance Trentham in Robert Altman-directed drama comedy
Gosford Park (2001). Her exceptional performance gathered a Kansas City Film
Critics Circle, a Golden Satellite, a New York Critics Online and a Southeastern
Film Critics Association for Best Supporting Actress. She also gained a Screen
Actors Guild for Outstanding Performance by the Cast of a Theatrical Motion
Picture, as well as brought home an Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA nomination for
Best Supporting Actress. The star-studded movie also featured Michael Gambon,
Camilla Rutherford, Trent Ford, Ryan Phillippe and many others.

Still in 2001, Smith expanded her popularity among younger audiences with the
well-known role of Prof. Minerva McGonagall in Chris Columbus’ Harry Potter and
the Sorcerer’s Stone. Adapted from J.K. Rowling’s novel, the movie is the first
installment of the Harry Potter franchise. Smith later reprised her role of the
kind-hearted, elegant professor in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
(2002), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004, helmed by Alfonso Cuarón)
and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005, for director Mike Newell).

In between her role in the Harry Potter franchise, Smith was seen on stage,
opposite Judi Dench, in “The Breath of Life” (2002) and reprised it on Broadway
the next year. She also became a critically acclaimed television actress after
outstandingly carrying out the part of Mrs. Emily Delahunty, a writer of romance
novels, in the TV drama My House In Umbria (2003). Her portrayal in the TV film
won an Emmy for Best Actress and brought a Golden Globe nomination. She was then
seen in Charles Dance’s directing debut Ladies in Lavender (2004) and the comedy
Keeping Mum (2005, alongside Rowan Atkinson and Kristin Scott Thomas).

In 2006, Smith will take a part in the romantic drama Becoming Jane, a
biographical portrait of Jane Austen and her romance with an Irishman. She will
also reprise her famous role of Prof. McGonagall in the fifth film of Harry
Potter, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007), for director David
Yates.


Awards:

Emmy: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie, My House In
Umbria, 2003
Golden Satellite: Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role,
Comedy or Musical, Gosford Park, 2002
Kansas City Film Critics Circle: Best Supporting Actress, Gosford Park,
2002
New York Critics Online: Best Supporting Actress, Gosford Park, 2002
Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by the Cast of a Theatrical
Motion Picture, Gosford Park, 2002
Southeastern Film Critics Association: Best Supporting Actress, Gosford
Park, 2001
BAFTA: Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Tea With
Mussolini, 2000
William Shakespeare Award for Classical Theatre, Washington D. C.’s
Shakespeare Theatre, 1999
BAFTA: Academy Fellowship, 1996
National Board of Review: Best Ensemble Performance, The First Wives
Club, 1996
Variety Club: Best Actress, “Three Tall Women,” 1994
London Evening Standard Theatre: Best Actress, “Three Tall Women,” 1994
BAFTA: Lifetime Achievement Award, 1993
Tony: Actress in a Play, “Lettice and Lovage,” 1990
Royal Television Society: Best Actor - Female, Talking Heads, 1989
BAFTA: Best Actress Leading, The Lonely Passion Of Judith Hearne, 1989
Evening Standard British Film: Best Actress, The Lonely Passion Of
Judith Hearne, 1989
Variety Club: Film Actress of the Year, The Lonely Passion Of Judith
Hearne, 1988
Banff (Canada): Best Actress, Bed Among The Lentils, 1987
BAFTA: Best Actress Leading, A Room With A View, 1987
Golden Globe: Best Actress in a Supporting Role, A Room With A View,
1986
BAFTA: Best Actress Leading, A Private Function, 1985
Evening Standard British Film: Best Actress, Quartet, 1982
Evening Standard Drama: Best Actress, “Virginia,” 1981
Evening Standard British Film: Best Actress, California Suite, 1980
Oscar: Best Actress in a Supporting Role, California Suite, 1979
Golden Globe: Best Actress in a Leading Role-Musical or Comedy,
California Suite, 1978
Variety Club: Best Stage Actress, “Private Lives,” 1972
Los Angeles Critics: Best Actress, “The Beaux’ Strategem,” 1970
Oscar: Best Actress in a Leading Role, The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie,
1970
BAFTA: Best Actress Leading, The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie, 1970
Film Critic’s Guild: Best Actress, The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie, 1969
Variety Club: Actress of the Year, Mary, Mary, 1963
The drama school was in Oxford - and it's funny to think of it, but in those days when I started out the University was nearly all male. And they certainly weren't mixed.More Maggie Smith quotes [03/29/2018 05:03:36]
“Defensively, we stepped it up. Our post players were aggressive, and it led to a lot of points in transition.”More Maggie Smith quotes [03/05/2007 12:03:00]
“The store is Kathryn. Bright, fun and beautiful.”More Maggie Smith quotes [03/05/2007 12:03:00]
It's funny to be pigeonholed so late in life but there we are.More Maggie Smith quotes [03/29/2018 05:03:36]
The performances you have in your head are always much better than the performances on stage.More Maggie Smith quotes [03/29/2018 05:03:36]

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