Childhood & Early Life
Emily Kathleen Anne Mortimer was born on December 1, 1971, in Hammersmith, London, to famous writer and barrister Sir John Mortimer and Penelope Gollop. Emily is blessed with a lot of siblings. She has a half-brother, Jeremy, and a half-sister, Sally, both from her father’s earlier marriage to author Penelope Fletcher. She has a younger sister named Rosie. She also has a half-brother named Ross Bentley, from her father’s relationship with actor Wendy Craig.
Mortimer studied at the ‘St Paul’s Girls’ School,’ in London. She graduated from ‘Oxford University’ in 1994, where she studied English and Russian at the ‘Lincoln College.’ She attended the ‘Moscow Arts Theatre Drama School’ to study acting during her gap year.
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She performed on stage and was part of classics such as ‘The Lights’ at the ‘Royal Court Theatre’ and ‘The Merchant of Venice’ at Edinburgh's ‘Royal Lyceum Theatre’ after her university days. Her performances fetched her TV projects such as ‘The Glass Virgin’ (1995), ‘Sharpe’s Sword’ (1995), and ‘Coming Home’ (1998).
She made her big-screen debut as ‘Helana Patterson’ in ‘The Ghost and the Darkness’ (1996), with Val Kilmer. Her second release that year was an Irish comedy named ‘The Last of the High Kings.’
In 1998, she portrayed ‘Kat Ashley’ in the critically acclaimed movie ‘Elizabeth.’ She then starred as ‘Miss Flynn’ in the miniseries ‘Cider with Rosie,’ a TV film based on a book by Laurie Lee.
In the following years, she made a mark with her appearance as Hugh Grant’s “Perfect Girl” in ‘Notting Hill’ (1999), as ‘Esther’ in the TV miniseries ‘Noah’s Ark,’ and as ‘Katherine’ in the musical adaption of ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’ (2000).
She got her first big feature-film role in ‘Disney’s fantasy movie ‘The Kid’ (2000), opposite Hollywood star Bruce Willis. She then appeared in ‘The 51st State,’ which had legendary actors Samuel L Jackson and Robert Carlyle. Soon, it was evident that she had landed in the big league.
In the following years, Mortimer was seen in Stephen Fry’s ‘Bright Young Things’ (2003), ‘Dear Frankie’ (2004), Woody Allen’s ‘Match Point’ (2005), and ‘Lars and the Real Girl’ (2007). She was seen matching up to Steve Martin’s excellent comedic timing in ‘The Pink Panther’ movies in 2006 and 2009. She lent her voice to ‘Young Sophie’ in the dubbed version of the Japanese animated feature ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ (2004).
Continuing her streak of eclectic performances, she played the female lead in ‘City Island’ (2009), opposite Andy Garcia, and then appeared as an aspiring actor in Martin Scorsese’s psychological horror ‘Shutter Island’ (2010).
While she was strengthening her roots in Hollywood with her endearing performances, she maintained a constant presence on TV with guest appearances in shows as ‘Ruth Rendell Mysteries’ (1996), ‘Jack and Jeremy's Real Lives’ (1996), ‘Midsomer Murders’ (1997), and ‘30 Rock’ (2007). Soon, she was signed by ‘HBO’ for her first series-regular role, in the political drama ‘The Newsroom,’ which became one of her best performances on TV.
In 2018, Mortimer co-produced the film ‘To Dust,’ along with her husband, Alessandro Nivola. She then became part of cinematic history with one of the most-awaited movies of 2018, ‘Mary Poppins Returns,’ playing the character of ‘Jane Banks.’
She produced the shorts ‘Broken Night’ and ‘Wig Shop.’
Family & Personal Life
In 2004, the Mortimer family received a surprise from a family member, who they were not aware existed. John Mortimer had fathered a son in the 1960s, with actor Wendy Craig. John finally met him a few years before he passed away. Emily, instead of being anguished with this revelation, was genuinely delighted to have found her half-brother, Ross Bentley.
Emily Mortimer met Alessandro Nivola in 2000, on the sets of ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost,’ a film adaptation of the famous play written by William Shakespeare. Three years later, in 2003, the couple exchanged vows in Turville Village, Buckinghamshire. They have two children: daughter May Rose Nivola, born in 2010, and son Samuel John Nivola, born in 2003. The family stays in Brooklyn.
In an interview to ‘The Telegraph,’ Mortimer once stated that she wanted her children to inherit all of her father’s traits except his looks.
Without being aware of what fate had in store, one of Alessandro Nivola’s friends gave him the phone number of a British girl whom he had met during an audition in England. Nivola, who was to fly out to London to film ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost,’ was pleasantly surprised when the phone number turned out to be that of Emily, his co-star in the movie.
At school, Mortimer was in the same class as famous actor Rachel Weisz.