Lesley Manville

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Lesley Manville at the Toronto International Film Festival (2010)

Lesley Manville OBE (born March 12, 1956 in Brighton , England ) is a British actress . In addition to her work in the theater, she has appeared in over 60 film and television productions since the mid-1970s. She gained fame mainly through her repeated collaboration with Mike Leigh (including Topsy-Turvy - Upside Down , All or Nothing or Another Year ).


The daughter of a taxi driver grew up with a sister in Hove near Brighton. Manville began singing at the age of eight and performed successfully as a youngster in regional soprano singing competitions . At the age of 15, she dropped out of school and moved to the Italia Conti drama school in London to train as a musical actress. During this time she said she declined the offer of the choreographer and dancer Arlene Philips to join their dance troupe Hot Gossip . Instead, Manville was enthusiastic about improvisation and made her theatrical debut in London's West End with a part in John Schlesinger's musical I and Albert (1972). From 1974 she also appeared regularly on British television, including the recurring role of Rosemary Kendall in 80 episodes of the series Emmerdale Farm (1974-1976).

As a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company , Manville first met director Mike Leigh, who was also eager to improvise, in 1979 . Although a planned theater project failed, he entrusted her to the role of Mandy in his television film Grown-Ups (1980). His way of working, researching a character without a script over a longer trial period, benefited her. Leigh himself later praised Manville for her "incredible courage and dangerousness" . "It's great to work with because she really gets to places that you couldn't dream of or anticipate," said Leigh. Manville, on the other hand, announced that she did not know what kind of actress she wanted to be before meeting Leigh. "I always played myself - it never occurred to me to even think about playing characters who weren't like me," says Manville. After Grown-Ups different big roles followed in Leigh following projects Dog Ends (1984), High Hopes (1988) or Secrets and Lies (1996), while Manville the part of Christine Keeler in Michael Caton-Jones ' drama Scandal at (1989) her compatriot Joanne Whalley lost.

Further mentors in the 1980s were Max Stafford-Clark and Caryl Churchill at the Royal Court Theater in London , who made Manville mature into a serious actress. "They showed me that it didn't matter that I wasn't an intellectual, what I had to give was totally valid and they wanted them," said Manville. In the course of her stage career she has taken on roles in such well-known plays as Choderlos de Laclos ' Dangerous Liaisons (as Cécile , 1985), Chekhov's Three Sisters (as Natascha , 1990; Clarence Derwent Award 1991) and Henrik Ibsen's pillars of society (as Lona Hessel , 2005), as well as modern fabrics. These include her portrayal of Mrs. Coulter in His Dark Materials (2004), the title role in Pedro Almodóvar's Everything About My Mother (2008) or the Ouisa Kettridge in John Guares Six Degrees of Separation (2010). Manville's performance in All About My Mother and Rebecca Lenkiewicz 's suffragette drama Her Naked Skin (2008) earned her nominations for the Evening Standard Theater Award .

Success in the cinema came about through further collaboration with Leigh, who played Manville in the period film Topsy-Turvy - Upside Down (1999) as the devoted and long-suffering wife of the composer William Schwenck Gilbert (played by Jim Broadbent ) and in All or Nothing (2002) cast as an avid London working woman alongside Timothy Spall . For the latter role she received the 2003 London Critics Circle Film Award for Best British Actress . After a minor role in Leigh's award-winning drama Vera Drake (2004), the climax in Manville's film career to date came with the tragic comedy Another Year (2010) and marked the ninth collaboration with Leigh. At the side of Ruth Sheen and Broadbent, she interpreted the character of the hysterical Mary , a single alcoholic who threatens to break due to her loneliness. International critics praised Manville's performance, which earned her the US National Board of Review Award and nominations for the British BAFTA Award , British Independent Film Award and European Film Award. Manville's 40+ television roles include the tough advertising specialist Hilary in the award-winning series Holding On (1997), her appearances as a lesbian school teacher hiding her sexuality in the series Real Women and Real Women II (1998 and 1999) and her interpretation of Margaret Thatcher in an episode of the series The Queen (2009).

Manville was married for three years to fellow actor Gary Oldman , whom she met while making the television movie The Firm (1988). The relationship resulted in a son who grew up with her. A second marriage in 2000 to British actor Joe Dixon, whom she met while filming the 1997 series Holding On , was divorced after four years. Manville lives in West London.

Theater roles (selection)

year Play role stage
1978 Savage amusement Warehouse Theater (London)
1982 Rita, Sue and Bob Too Sue Royal Court Theater (London)
1982 Top girls Griselda / Nell / Jeanine Joseph Papp Public Theater (New York)
1983 Falkland Sound wife Royal Court Theater
1985 Les liaisons dangereuses Cécile Royal Shakespeare Theater ( Stratford-upon-Avon )
1987 Serious money Royal Court Theater
1987 American bagpipes Sandra Royal Court Theater
1989 The Cherry Orchard Varya Aldwych Theater (London)
1990 How Now Green Cow Girl Royal Court Theater
1990 Maydays Burchill's spokesman Royal Court Theater
1990 Three sisters Natasha Royal Court Theater
1990 Miss Julie Miss Julie Greenwich Theater (London)
1991 Top girls Marlene Royal Court Theater
1994 The Wives' Excuse Mrs. Wittwoud Swan Theater (Stratford-upon-Avo)
2001 King Lear Almeida Theater (London)
His Dark Materials I + II Mrs. Coulter National Theater (London)
2005 Some girls Lindsay Gielgud Theater (London)
2005 Pillars of the Community Lona Hessel National Theater
2006 The alchemist Dol Common National Theater
2007 All about my mother Manuela Old Vic Theater (London)
2008 Her Naked Skin Celia Cain National Theater
2010 Six Degrees of Separation OUISA Kittredge Old Vic Theater
2011 Grief Dorothy National Theater
Ghosts Helene Alving Almeida Theater
Brooklyn Academy of Music, NY
2016 Long Day's Journey into Night Mary Tyrone Bristol Old Vic
2018 One long day's journey into the night Caitlin Carnay Wyndham's Theater (London)

Filmography (selection)



British Academy Film Award

European film award

  • 2010 : Nominated for Best Actress for Another Year


British Independent Film Awards

  • 2010: Nominated for Best Supporting Actress for Another Year

Clarence Derwent Award

  • 1991: Awarded for her role in the play Three Sisters

Evening Standard Theater Award

  • 2007: Nominated for Best Actress for All About My Mother
  • 2008: Nominated for Best Actress for Her Naked Skin

Laurence Olivier Award

  • 2012: Nominated for Best Actress for Grief

London Critics Circle Film Awards

  • 2001: Nominated for Best British Supporting Actress of the Year for Topsy-Turvy - Upside Down
  • 2003: Best British Lead Actress of the Year for All or Nothing
  • 2011: Best British Lead Actress of the Year for Another Year
  • 2018: Best British Supporting Actress of the Year for The Silk Thread

National Board of Review Award

  • 2010: Best Actress for Another Year

Web links

Commons : Lesley Manville  - Collection of Images

Individual evidence

  1. Queen's birthday honors list: knights outnumber dames five to one in: The Guardian, June 12, 2015, accessed June 13, 2015
  2. a b c cf. Kellaway, Kate: The mother superior . In: The Observer , August 12, 2007, p. 14
  3. a b c cf. Hoggard, Liz: The actress taking on the mother of all roles . In: Evening Standard , August 17, 2007, p. 32
  4. a b cf. Gritten, David: Almost famous . In: The Daily Telegraph, October 23, 2010, pp. 48-53
  5. cf. Morrow, Fiona: Confessions of an Actress . In: The Independent , October 11, 2002, pp. 12-13
  6. cf. West, Naomi: The world of Lesley Manville, actress at telegraph.co.uk, August 4, 2007 (accessed December 2, 2010)
  7. cf. Grimley, Terry: The Castle Vale Actor . In: Birmingham Post, May 27, 2002, p. 12
  8. cf. Dempster Nigel: Manville's Man . In: Daily Mail , August 25, 2000, p. 47