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, Imelda 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.
Imelda 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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Imelda was offered the role of Professor Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by director David Yates himself. Yates, however, was not the first person to suggest that Imelda take on the role. Nearly two years before the script came along, a friend of Imelda’s recommended the Harry Potter book series and said she would be perfect to portray Umbridge on screen, to which Imelda, during an interview with The Chicago Tribune, replied:
Small, squat, ugly, toadlike woman – thanks a lot!
Flashforward two years and director Yates knows from the start he wants Imelda to play the part. Speaking about casting Imelda, 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.
Imelda 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.
Imelda has worked extensively with different charity organizations over the years. In July 2012, Imelda presented an appeal to viewers on Radio 4 for Music as Therapy International, an organization that aims to make the therapeutic benefits of music available to children and adults worldwide. The project struck close to home for Imelda who grew up in a musical household, watching her mother expertly play the fiddle.
Additionally, Imelda supports Richard House Children’s Hospice, located in Newham, East London. Amongst the work she does for the group, Imelda attended the I Am Richard House photographic exhibition in February 2012.
Imelda 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.
Imelda has earned multiple award nominations and wins for her career in theater, film, and television. She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in one of her most famous films, the 2004 film Vera Drake. The same role won Imelda a Best BAFTA in 2005. Imelda also received recognition for her work in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which earned her a nomination for the British Supporting Actress of the Year in 2008 at the London Critics Circle Film Awards.
In addition to her acting career, Imelda has also been recognized for her personal services to drama. In 2006, Imelda received the O.B.E. (Officer of the Order of the British Empire).
- Imelda’s full name is Imelda Mary Philomena Bernadette Staunton.
- Imelda 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.
- Imelda 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
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BBC Breakfast Interview With Imelda Staunton - CranfordBBC Breakfast Interview With Imelda Staunton about Cranford
NT 50: Jim Carter and Imelda Staunton in conversationThis 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: http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/discover Bookshop: http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/bookshop Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/nationaltheatre Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/national.theatre.london iTunes: http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/itunes TES: http://www.tes.co.uk/nationaltheatre SoundCloud: http://www.soundcloud.com/nationaltheatre
Imelda Staunton & JK Rowiling OOTP Premiere InterviewImelda 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.
– Imelda Staunton