Biography

A glamorous actress whose beauty and sophistication has only increased as the years pass, London-born screen star Francesca Annis is well known to cinema lovers for her roles in such films as Roman Polanski's Macbeth (1971) and David Lynch's Dune (1984). Though she would later become better known to gossip column readers for her May-September romance with actor Ralph Fiennes following an appearance opposite the intense actor in the Broadway version of Hamlet, Annis has continued to impress both on stage and screen thanks to numerous challenging roles. Though a convent education initially steered her toward life as a nun, studies in acting and dance gradually led her into the entertainment industry until she was cast in the lead of the 1958 film The Cat Gang at age 14. The featured child actor in the tale of a group of children who stumble across a smuggling ring while spending long days on the local harbor, Annis made a distinct impression on audiences and was soon advancing in such films as No Kidding (1960) and His and Hers (1961). A role in the 1963 film Cleopatra gained the young starlet international attention, and shortly after the family film Flipper's New Adventure, Annis was cast as Estella in the 1967 U.K. television series Great Expectations. If audiences had not previously recognized her talent by this point, her remarkably powerful performance in Roman Polanski's 1971 feature film Macbeth would be hard to deny. After continuing to gain credit on stage and screen throughout the 1970s, roles in the following decade's Dune, Krull (1983), and Under the Cherry Moon (1986) culminated with an impressive performance as Jacqueline Kennedy in the 1988 made-for-television feature Onassis: The Richest Man in the World. Perhaps her most well-known performance to date due to the romantic scandal that resulted from it, her part in the 1995 Broadway production of Hamlet found both her and co-star Ralph Fiennes abandoning their longtime partners to embark on a heated romance (after playing mother and son Gertrude and Hamlet in the play). Though the scandal caused quite a stir, her memorable (and BAFTA-nominated) performance in 1998's Reckless steered gossip hounds back toward recognizing her remarkable skills as an actress. In 1999 Annis would once again remind the public of her affairs, though, when she appeared opposite Fiennes in the film Onegin, a cinematic adaptation of a 19th century Russian novel. In addition to appearing in such efforts as Deceit (2000) and Copenhagen (2002) in the new millennium, Annis continued her many impressive on-stage performances with an appearance in the West End production of Noël Coward's The Vortex. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi