Imelda Staunton was born in Archway, North London on January 9, 1956 to a hairdresser and a road-worker who were Catholic immigrants from Ireland. After attending an all-girls Catholic school, Staunton went on to study acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art alongside the likes of Alan Rickman and Timothy Spall. She has since enjoyed a long and expansive film, theater, radio, and television career with notable roles amongst the Royal Shakespeare Company and as Professor Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
Staunton is happily married to husband Jim Carter, an English actor whom she married in 1983. The two have one daughter together named Bessie.
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Small, squat, ugly, toadlike woman – thanks a lot!
Flashforward two years and director Yates knows from the start he wants Staunton to play the part. Speaking about casting Staunton, Yates explained:
She’s a great serious actor who can also do wit really well. For the Potter universe, you need that slightly heightened, slightly playful, slightly eccentric thing. But when you peel away a layer, there has to be something really substantial underneath.
Staunton reprised her role as Professor Umbridge in 2010 in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. She also did some voice acting as Professor Umbridge in 2009 for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
Additionally, Staunton supports Richard House Children’s Hospice, located in Newham, East London. Amongst the work she does for the group, Staunton attended the I Am Richard House photographic exhibition in February 2012.
Staunton is also a patron of the Milton Rooms alongside Bill Nighy. The Milton Rooms aspires to become a center for the arts across all genres and fields and to support talented up-and-coming artists.
In addition to her acting career, Staunton has also been recognized for her personal services to drama. In 2006, Staunton received the O.B.E. (Officer of the Order of the British Empire).
- Staunton’s full name is Imelda Mary Philomena Bernadette Staunton.
- Staunton and her husband Jim Carter along with daughter Bessie appeared together in the 2007 BBC series Cranford.
- She is only five feet tall (1.52 m).
- Bette Davis, Vivien Leigh, and Maya Angelou are credited as being among her idols.
- Staunton was offered a small recurring role on the 2004 hit show Desperate Housewives.
- Her mother mastered the fiddle and could pick up almost any tune despite being unable to read music.
Connect with Imelda
Connect with Imelda
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BBC Breakfast Interview With Imelda Staunton - Cranford
BBC Breakfast Interview With Imelda Staunton about Cranford
NT 50: Jim Carter and Imelda Staunton in conversation
This year the National Theatre celebrates its 50th anniversary. As part of the celebrations actors, writers and directors answer the same ten questions about the National in a special series of Platform events.
In this third National Histories Platform event Jim Carter and Imelda Staunton reflect on the National Theatre, where they met whilst performing together in Richard Eyre's production of Guys and Dolls. This event was chaired by Kate Mosse.
For our podcast collection on the Scene Changes looking at the developments and changes in theatre, both off and on stage, over the past 50 years go here: http://snd.sc/18MI7ZC
For more information on upcoming Platform events: http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/whats-on/platforms
Discover more about the art of making theatre with the National Theatre:
Imelda Staunton & JK Rowiling OOTP Premiere Interview
Imelda Staunton (Umbridge) and JK Rowling are interviewed by Sky News at the UK HP5 premiere.
We’re all unique as actors. To yourself, you are unique, you have to think, ‘I’m me, I’m not going to bunch myself with other people’. Agents and producers have to get you into a box, to accommodate their limited imaginations.