Olivia Williams is an English film actress, who has appeared in a number of television shows and movies. Her timeless beauty and talent have enamored the audience from the time she made her first appearance in a British Television film. Olivia is also a stage actress, and given quite a few enchanting performances. Olivia grew up to be a lawyer, just like her parents, but eventually, she got an opportunity to study drama, and that was the beginning of her acting career. Even after getting into the world of entertainment, she had promised herself that if she didn’t get a movie role by the age of 30, she will quit the idea of becoming an actress. Her story is a proof that if you really want it, you’re going to definitely get it. The law of attraction worked in her favor and a few years later, she made her debut on the big screen with the movie, ‘The Postman’, starring alongside Kevin Costner. And the rest is history. With time, she got better roles, and even after all these years, Olivia continues to make her mark in British and American cinema through her appearances, acting, writing skills, etc. Olivia continues to enchant her fans with her dynamic performance in various stage dramas and television shows of which she is a part of.
Childhood & Early Life
Olivia Haighe Williams was born in Camden Town, London, on July 26, 1968. She went to South Hampstead High School in North London.
Both her parents were lawyers, so she pretty much believed that she’ll follow the legacy, but with time her fondness grew towards acting, and so did the circumstances.
She went to Newnham College, University of Cambridge. However, she left the university after four years (with English Literature degree) to study drama at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.
She studied at Bristol for two years. After the drama school, she spent three years at the Royal Shakespeare Company.
She started performing with The Royal Shakespeare Company, and from there on, her acting career started taking a flight.
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Early Acting Career
In 1995, Olivia went on a tour of the USA to work in the production of Shakespeare’s Richard III (that starred Ian Mckellen). She made several theater appearances before she landed her first significant role in a television movie, Emma in 1996-based on the famous Jane Austen novel.
In 1997, she made her big screen debut, along side Kevin Coster with the movie ‘The Postman’. She was 28 and unemployed when, according to her, she was ‘saved’ by Kevin Costner. She uses the word ‘saved’, because she had almost decided to apply for a conversion course in law.
The movie didn’t fare well at the box-office, but Olivia got hold of another project ‘Rushmore’, where she played the lead, Rosemary Cross.
During this time, she also got the opportunity to guest star in insanely famous series, ‘Friends’, where she played one of the bridesmaids at Ross’ London wedding.
In 1999, she starred with Bruce Willis in M. Night Shyamalan’s blockbuster, ‘The Sixth Sense’, where she played Bruce’s wife. Her role wasn’t big enough, but it sure fetched her good roles in future.
In 2001, she appeared in a number of English movies, including ‘Lucky Break’.
In 2000, she played Madeliene in ‘The Heart of Me’, a role that made her won her the British Independent Film Award for Best Actress.
In 2003, she played Mrs. Darling in the film adaptation of ‘Peter Pan’. In 2006, she appeared in ‘X-Men: The Last Stand’ (Dr. Moira Mactaggert) but wasn’t credited.
In 2008, she played the role of British author Jane Austen in ‘Jane Austen Regrets’.
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In 2009, she starred in another drama movie ‘An Education’, based on a memoir of a British journalist.
She was also cast as Adelle Dewitt in ‘Dollhouse’, a series which ran from 2009 to 2010 on Fox TV.
In 2010, her performance as Ruth Lang in ‘Ghostwriter’ fetched a number of awards, including best actress at 'National Society of Film Critics Award' and 'London Critics Circle Film Award'.
In the 2011 hit, Hanna, Olivia played a mother (Rachel) who comes across a teen murderer who is on the run. The critically acclaimed movie also starred Eric Bana and Cate Blanchett.
In 2014, she appeared as Meg Hamilton in the British film ‘Altar’. She also starred in a TV series, Manhattan, as Liza Winter. The series lasted from 2014-15.
In 2015, she appeared in a British movie called. ‘Emma, Change the Locks’.
In 2017, she appeared in 8 episodes of ‘The Halcyon’-a drama series about a five star hotel set in London.
She is playing Baroness Churchill in an upcoming movie called, ‘Victoria and Abdul’, which is set to release later in 2017.
She is also playing the character of Emily Burton Silk in an upcoming TV series, ‘Counterpart’.
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Awards and Achievements
In 2003, she won the 'British Independent Film Award' for best actress for her 2002 movie, ‘The Heart of Me’.
In 2009, she got nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture for ‘An Education’ at Screen Guild Awards. In the same year, Olivia got a nomination for Best Cast Ensemble at Award Circuit community Award for ‘An Education’.
She was nominated as the best actress for her work in Ghost Writer (2010) and Lucky Me (2012) at the UK Empire Awards.
In 2010, she was a runner-up for best actress in a supporting role for ‘Ghost Writer’.
In 2011, she won International Cinephile Society Award for best supporting actress (‘Ghost Writer’). She again won National Society of Film Critics Awards, USA, for best supporting actress for ‘Ghost Writer’.She became a runner-up (along with Dale Dickey for Winter’s Bone) for best supporting actress for ‘Ghost Writer’ at Village Voice Film Poll. In 2009, she won ‘Invisible Woman’ award for her role in ‘An Education’, at Women Film Critics’ Circle Awards.
She got numerous other nominations for ‘Ghost Writer’ in the best supporting actress category. Few of them were Gold Derby Awards (2011), Indie wire Critics’ Poll (2010), Online TV and Film Association (2011) and International Online Cinema Awards (2010).
Olivia comes from a family of lawyers, and she grew up intending to be a lawyer, though fate had other plans for her.
She married actor Rhashnan Stone in 2003. They have two daughters together; Esme Ruby and Roxana May.
She was in a seven-year relationship with Jonathan Cake, and was also engaged to marry. However, two weeks before their wedding date, they called off their engagement.
After shooting for ‘The Postman’, she went to Bolivia to study bears in the rainforests.
She also writes occasional travel reports for ‘The Independent Traveller’ since 2006.
In 2000, Olivia wrote a short story, ‘The Significance of Hair’ for BBC Radio, and also narrated the same on air.