Judy Davis

Judy Davis

Oscar nominee for 'A Passage to India' (1984)

Background:

“When I first started acting, and we would all sit down and talk about
Shakespeare and how great it was, I thought well, I suppose it is. It is if you
get to play Macbeth or Hamlet. But who wants to play bloody Lady Macbeth or
Ophelia? And it struck me that most women seem to be required to pit themselves
against men in dramatic situations, and the men got to pit themselves against
ideas or God.” Judy Davis

An Australian comic and dramatic actress since the mid 1970s, petite Judy Davis
is regarded as one of contemporary cinema’s best actresses and has gathered a
reputation for her highly artistic standards and frank speech. During her three
decades in the showbiz industry, the former singer of jazz and pop has
consistently offered marvelous performances on stage, screen and TV.

The Oscar-nominated Davis gained worldwide fame with Academy Award nominated,
scene-stealing roles such as Adela Quested in the David Lean-helmed A Passage to
India (1984) and the mocking and bothered Sally in Woody Allen’s Husbands and
Wives (1992). Her virtuoso acting in the latter also handed Davis such awards as
a Chicago Film Critics Association award, a Boston Society of Film Critics
award, a Los Angeles Film Critics Association award, a National Society of Film
Critics award and a National Board of Review award. She is also well-remembered
for playing headstrong, anti-heroine Sybylla Melvyn in Gillian Armstrong’s film
version of the semi-autobiographical novel by Miles Franklin, My Brilliant
Career (1979), where she took home two BAFTA awards and an Australian Film
Institute Award. She was also seen as an alcoholic mother of an abandoned
daughter in Armstrong’s High Tide (1987, netted a National Society of Film
Critics award), the William Faulkner-like author’s lover in Coen Brothers’
Barton Fink (1991) and the bug-spray addicted wife in Naked Lunch (1991). Davis
also played a Stalinist in Children of the Revolution (1996, nabbed an
Australian Film Institute award). In more recent projects, she was noticed as
swimmer Tony Fingleton’s long-suffering mother in Swimming Upstream (2003). For
her dazzling performance in the sport-themed film, Davis picked up a Critics
Circle of Australia award.

On television, Davis received praise and recognition for her role as the
cultural icon, singer/actress Judy Garland, in the ABC biopic Judy Garland: Me
and My Shadows (2001), wherein she nabbed countless awards like an Emmy award,
an American Film Institute award, a Golden Globe award, a Broadcast Film Critics
Association award, a Screen Actors Guild award and a Golden Satellite award. She
also gained appreciation for performances in the made for-TV films A Woman
Called Golda (1982), One Against the Wind (1991, won a Golden Globe award), The
Echo of Thunder (1998), Dash & Lilly (1999), A Cooler Climate (1999) and The
Reagans (2003).

Recently starring in the television movie A Little Thing Called Murder (2006)
and appearing in the movie Marie-Antoinette (2006), Davis will soon play a role
in Peyton Reed’s forthcoming comedy The Break-Up (2006).

Off screen, blue-eyed, left-handed Davis was a member of the jury for the Cannes
Film Festival in 1993 and is an activist who has protested Australia’s
involvement in the war with Iraq. As for her private life, Davis is married to
Colin Friels. The couple has two children.


Shy Judy

Childhood and Family:

“I was always terribly shy, so a great thing that acting has done for me has
forced me out of myself and made me more generous.” Judy Davis

In Perth, Western Australia, Judy Davis was born on April 23, 1955. The youngest
of three, Judy grew up in a Catholic household, where television and films were
disfavored, and was educated in a Catholic convent school in Perth, Australia.
She later left her studies and traveled throughout Asia as a vocalist for a rock
and blues band. Back in Australia, Judy attended the same school as Mel Gibson,
the prestigious National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) in Sydney, where the
two later played Romeo and Juliet in a college production. Upon graduation in
1977, Judy began to pursue an acting career.

In 1984, Judy married actor Colin Friels, with whom she would costar in the
films Kangaroo (1986) and High Tide (1987). The couple welcomed their first
child, a son named Jack Friels, in 1987 and their second child, daughter
Charlotte Friels, was born ten years later, in 1997.


Husbands and Wives

Career:

Australia-born actress Judy Davis began acting as a young girl in church, but
didn’t recognize acting as a career until much later. While a college student,
she gained stage exposure as Juliet to Mel Gibson’s Romeo and made her first
film appearance in the 1977 Australian-produced comedy High Rolling, in which
she had a one-line role as Lynn. After graduation, she joined the Adelaide State
Theatre Company, where she had a role in such plays as Visions (1978).

Within two years, Davis delivered a breakthrough screen role when Aussie
director Gillian Armstrong cast her in the starring role, opposite Sam Neill, in
the big screen adaptation of Miles Franklin’s semi-autobiographical novel, My
Brilliant Career (1979). As Sybylla Melvyn, the iron-willed anti-heroin, she was
so wonderful that BAFTA garnered the actress a Best Actress and a Most Promising
Newcomer award. She also received a Best Actress Award from the Australian Film
Institute.

Following the success, Davis chose to commute between London and Sydney to
continue working in theater. She also starred in a number of Australian
projects. Among her memorable performances were a prostitute in the
drama-romance Winter of Our Dreams (1981), a rebel in Heatwave (1982) and young
Golda Meir in the television film A Woman Called Golda (1982), where she was
nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or a
Special. Davis’ first non-Australia screen credit was the English thriller Who
Dares Wins/The Final Conflict, helmed by Ian Sharp.

Though resisting Hollywood, Davis received the offer to star in David Lean’s
adventure A Passage to India (1984). The result was amazing and she earned a
Best Actress Academy Award nomination for her phenomenal portrayal of the
courteous, cultural adventuress Adela Quested.

Now a rising star, Davis opted to return to Australia to costar with her
husband, actor Colin Friels, in the film version of D H Lawrence’s
semi-autobiographical novel, Kangaroo (1987). The same year, she re-teamed with
Armstrong for the drama film High Tide, wherein she was cast as Lillie, an
alcoholic mother reconnecting with the teenage daughter she deserted years
earlier. Davis once again proved she was outstanding as she was handed a
National Society of Film Critics for Best Actress for her efforts in the film.
The next year, she was seen starring in the mystery/thriller Georgia (1988),
opposite British actor John Bach.

Starting in the 90s, Davis began to work more often in projects outside of her
native country of Australia. Her opening film in the new decade was the Woody
Allen-directed Alice (1990), playing the small role of Vicki, before costarring
opposite Huge Grant in the period drama Impromptu (1991). She won a New York
Film Critics Circle for her bright supporting turn as the girlfriend of a
William Faulkner-like author in Joel Coen’s Barton Fink (1991, starred John
Turturro) and the William Burroughs’ bug-spray addicted spouse in director David
Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch (1991, alongside Peter Weller). Still in 1991, Davis
made a name for herself as an accomplished TV star when she picked up a Golden
Globe for Best Actress in a Made-For-Television Movie or Miniseries and an Emmy
nomination as an English woman engrossed with the French Underground during WWII
in CBS’s film One Against the Wind.

Davis’ film career gained even more momentum in 1992 when she rejoined Woody
Allen in Husbands and Wives, playing cynical and disturbed Sally, who finds a
new love while undergoing a divorce. Her scene-stealing performance was highly
praised and Davis nabbed several awards, including a Chicago Film Critics
Association, a Boston Society of Film Critics, a Los Angeles Film Critics
Association, a National Society of Film Critics and a National Board of Review
for Best Supporting Actress, and eventually earned a nomination for an Oscar.
Additionally, she received a Golden Globe and a BAFTA nomination.

After the victory, Davis was scheduled to costar with Jonathan Pryce and River
Phoenix in Dark Blood (1993), but after Phoenix’s death, the film was aborted.
The subsequent years, the actress displayed her fearsome comic ability as the
resentful wife of Kevin Spacey in the quirky comedy The Ref (1994), was paired
once again with Peter Weller for the drama The New Age (1994) and was seen in
the comedy Children of the Revolution (1996), costarring Sam Neill. Davis’
performance in the latter won an Australian Film Institute for Best Actress in a
Lead Role. On TV, she offered a fine supporting turn as the tolerant, loyal and
supportive lesbian lover of a US Army colonel in the NBC film Serving in
Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story, for which she earned an Emmy
nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie.

1996-1999 saw roles in the uneven Blood and Wine (1996, featured as Jack
Nicholson’s former wife), the Clint Eastwood vehicle Absolute Power (1997,
played a presidential chief of staff), and the Woody Allen films Deconstructing
Harry (1997, portrayed the skittish sister-in-law of Allen’s title character)
and Celebrity (1998, appeared as a wife of a journalist). On television, she
gave Emmy nominated performances as a besieged farmer in the Australia’s Outback
in the CBS The Echo of Thunder (1998), the Lillian Hellmam role, opposite Sam
Shepard as Dashiell Hammett, in the A&E biopic Dash & Lilly (1999, also earned a
Golden Globe nomination) and as a selfish, affluent woman whose marriage
collapses, forcing her to relate more with her new housekeeper (Sally Field), in
the Showtime A Cooler Climate (1999).

Still on the small screen, Davis achieved even more recognition in 2001 when
director Robert Allan Ackerman tapped her to star as the cultural icon,
singer/actress Judy Garland, in ABC’s biopic Life with Judy Garland: Me and My
Shadows, which was based on Lorna Luft’s memoir. Davis’ performance was
critically applauded and she was awarded countless awards such as the 2001 Emmy
Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie, an American Film
Institute for Female Actor of the Year-Movie or Miniseries, a Golden Globe for
Best Actress in a Leading Role--Mini-Series or Television Movie, a Broadcast
Film Critics Association for Best Actress in a Picture Made For Television, a
Screen Actors Guild for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a TV Movie
or Miniseries and a Golden Satellite for Best Performance by an Actress in a
Miniseries or a Motion Picture Made for Television.

Davis made her return to the wide screen with the Spain film Gaudi Afternoon
(2001) and then costarred in the Australian blockbuster hit The Man Who Sued God
(2001). After playing Dora Fingleton, the long-suffering mother of champion
swimmer Tony Fingleton (Jesse Spencer), in the true story Swimming Upstream
(2003), a role that won her a 2003 Film Critics Circle of Australia for Best
supporting Actor, Davis re-embarked on television with her Golden Globe and Emmy
nominated starring turn as Nancy Reagan in the controversial television movie
The Reagans (2003). She went on to undertake TV roles in the movies Coast to
Coast (2004) and A Little Thing Called Murder (2006). Recently, the 51-year-old
actress made a film acting comeback with the Sofia Coppola-directed
Marie-Antoinette (2006), starring Kirsten Dunst and Jason Schwartzman. She is
set to play a role in the upcoming comedy The Break-Up (2006), helmed by Peyton
Reed.


Awards:

Film Critics Circle of Australia: Best Supporting Actor - Female,
Swimming Upstream, 2003
Golden Satellite: Best Performance by an Actress in a Miniseries or a
Motion Picture Made for Television, Life with JudyGarland: Me and My
Shadows, 2002
Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a TV
Movie or Miniseries, Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows, 2002
Golden Globe: Best Actress in a Leading Role--Mini-Series or Television
Movie, Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows, 2001
Broadcast Film Critics Association: Best Actress in a Picture Made For
Television, Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows, 2001
American Film Institute: Female Actor of the Year-Movie or Miniseries,
Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows, 2001
Emmy: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie, Life with Judy
Garland: Me and My Shadows, 2001
Australian Film Institute: Best Actress in a Lead Role, Children of the
Revolution, 1996
National Board of Review: Best Supporting Actress, Husbands and Wives,
1992
National Society of Film Critics: Best Supporting Actress, Husbands and
Wives, 1992
Los Angeles Film Critics Association: Best Supporting Actress, Husbands
and Wives, 1992
Boston Society of Film Critics: Best Supporting Actress, Where Angels
Fear to Tread and Husbands and Wives, 1992
Chicago Film Critics Association: Best Supporting Actress, Husbands and
Wives, 1992
New York Film Critics Circle: Best Supporting Actress, Barton Fink and
Naked Lunch, 1991
Golden Globe: Best Actress in a Made-For-Television Movie or Miniseries,
One Against the Wind, 1991
National Society of Film Critics: Best Actress, High Tide, 1988
BAFTA: Best Actress, My Brilliant Career, 1980
BAFTA: Most Promising Newcomer, My Brilliant Career, 1980
Australian Film Institute: Best Actress, My Brilliant Career, 1980
Lorna was quite young when her mother died, and I think she's blocked out some of the memories. I talked to her a little bit about that, but I wasn't prepared to go around and poke and hurt her.More Judy Davis quotes [09/15/2011 11:09:45]
I was 23, and that was my first professional job. Anybody who has curly hair knows you don't want it to be brushed out because it becomes a never-ending tangle.More Judy Davis quotes [09/15/2011 11:09:21]
This is government. There is no entertainment.More Judy Davis quotes [09/15/2011 11:09:00]
I think male roles are generally much better written. So for actresses, we're always dealing with trying to inject a role with more truth than the writer possibly had in mind.More Judy Davis quotes [03/29/2018 05:03:36]
Judy Garland's father was gay. That seems to be the consensus. They left Minnesota and went to California because he got caught with some boy backstage.More Judy Davis quotes [03/29/2018 05:03:36]

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