Lindsay Duncan is an award-winning British actress who is best known for her role of the barbed theatre critic Tabitha Dickinson in the film ‘Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)’. The actress has demonstrated her talent in films, television shows and theatre productions, and has received many awards along the way. She was appointed as the ‘Commander of the Order of the British Empire’ for her memorable services to drama in the ‘2009 Birthday Honors’. She was first introduced to theatre through her school productions. Neither of her parents had connections with the show business but they were extremely supportive of their daughter’s decision. Her school-time friendship with Kevin Elyot took her to Bristol where Elyot studied drama at the university. While struggling to establish herself in the entertainment business, she also began doing odd jobs in pubs and as a bus conductress. Later, she was trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama and then started her career on stage. Her film career was properly launched with a starring role in Richard Eyre's comedy of sexual politics, ‘Loose Connections’. On the personal front, she is married to a fellow actor, Hilton McRae, and has a son named Cal McRae.
Childhood & Early Life
Lindsay Duncan was born on 7 November 1950 in Edinburgh, Scotland, in a working-class family. Her father had served in the British armed forces for about 21 years before becoming a civil servant. She lost her father at the age of 15 in a car accident.
In her childhood, her parents shifted to Leeds and then moved to Birmingham where she got a scholarship for her enrollment in King Edward VI High School for Girls. There she started performing in school theatre productions.
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Lindsay Duncan was introduced to theatre via her school productions. In 1971, she enrolled in London's Central School of Speech and Drama. Later, she worked in the summer weekly rep in Southwold for her Equity card.
In 1976, she joined the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, when it opened, to appear in its very first productions. In the subsequent two years, she performed in eight plays in Manchester.
In 1978, she came back to London where she performed in David Hare’s ‘Plenty’ at the Royal National Theatre. She got her first major film role in the movie ‘Loose Connections’ in 1985, while simultaneously featuring in many television productions.
In 1985, for the production of ‘Troilus and Cressida’, she joined the Royal Shakespeare Company where she met her future husband Hilton McRae as a co-star. She also appeared as Marquise de Merteuil in Christopher Hampton’s ‘Les Liaisons Dangereuses’.
In 1988, she played regular roles in Harold Pinter’s plays. She voiced the android TC-14 in ‘Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace’ (1999) and appeared in a revival of Noël Coward’s ‘Private Lives’ (2001–02).
After a break of ten years from television, she appeared in Alan Bleasdale’s ‘The Sinking of the Laconia’, aired in January 2011. She also appeared in "The National Anthem," the first episode of the anthology series ‘Black Mirror,’ by Charlie Brooker.
In 2012, she was featured in Noël Coward's ‘Hay Fever’ and Shakespeare’s plays in BBC2 productions. She appeared in the film ‘Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)’ in 2014.
She appeared in a drama film named ‘Gifted’ (2017), in which she portrayed the role of Evelyn. As of early 2019, she is set to appear in a drama film titled ‘Blackbird.’
From 1985 to 1986, Lindsay Duncan played the role of Marquise de Merteuil in the play ‘Les liaisons dangereuses’ on Broadway. The play ran for 149 performances and received critical praise. She won the Theatre World Award for her epic performance.
In 2001-02, she performed the role of Amanda Prynne opposite Alan Rickman in the revival of the play ‘Private Lives’ by Noël Coward. Despite getting mixed reviews from the critics, the production claimed many awards, including the ‘Olivier Award’ and the ‘Tony Award’ for Best Actress for Duncan’s performance.
Family & Personal Life
Lindsay Duncan met her husband Hilton McRae in 1985 at the Royal Shakespeare Company where they were both cast in the play ‘Troilus and Cressida’. Later, the couple got hitched and they have a son together, named Cal McRae, born in September 1991.
She was appointed as the ‘Commander of the Order of the British Empire’ for her memorable services to drama at the ‘2009 Birthday Honors’.
In 1994, her mother died after suffering from Alzheimer's disease. She inspired Sharman Macdonald to draft the play ‘The Winter Guest’ (1995), which was later picked by Alan Rickman for a movie.
Lindsay prefers performing in vintage stage plays and classic novels’ onscreen adaptations. That’s why she has appeared in numerous adaptations of plays by Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Henry Fielding, and Oscar Wilde.