Rachael Stirling is an English actor, best known for her critically acclaimed work in series such as ‘The Bletchley Circle’ and ‘Tipping the Velvet.’ Born and raised in London, she was introduced to the entertainment industry pretty early, due to her father, theater producer Archie Sterling. Following her high-school graduation, she enrolled at the ‘University of Edinburgh’ to study BA in art history. She began her career doing professional theater. In the mid-1990s, she played key roles in some highly sought-after plays, such as ‘Othello,’ ‘Dancing at Lughnasa,’ and ‘The Odd Couple.’ In 1998, she made her film debut with the supporting role of ‘Clare Knowles’ in the comedy film titled ‘Still Crazy.’ However, she did not have a successful film career. Over the next 2 decades, she appeared in films such as ‘Complicity,’ ‘Freeze Frame,’ and ‘The Truth.’ Her TV career, however, moved at a much better pace. In 2000, after receiving a huge TV break with the series ‘In the Beginning,’ she appeared in series such as ‘Women in Love,’ ‘Boy Meets Girl,’ and ‘The Bletchley Circle.’
Childhood & Early Life
Rachael Stirling was born Rachael Atlanta Stirling, on May 30, 1977, in London, UK, to Diana Rigg and Archibald Stirling. She had a highly privileged household, and both her parents had fulfilling careers in the entertainment industry. Her mother was a well-known actor, while her father was an established theater producer.
It was obvious that little Rachael would get bitten by the acting bug early in life. She, however, claims that as a kid, she was totally unaware of her mother’s celebrity status, as her parents did not want her life to be influenced by the entertainment industry.
Her father had an esteemed Scottish royal lineage and was also a millionaire businessman. Rachael spent most of her holidays in the family home in Scotland, her father’s native country.
In 1990, at the age of 12, she joined a girls’ boarding school in Buckinghamshire, England. The same year, her parents divorced. However, she maintained good relations with her parents.
Since her childhood years, she had an interest in literature. She also learned Russian so she could understand the works of famous Russian writer Chekov in his original language.
Following her high-school graduation, she enrolled at the ‘University of Edinburgh,’ where she studied art history. She graduated with a BA degree. She also joined the ‘Edinburgh University Theatre Company’ to carry on her passion for acting.
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She began doing professional theater while she studied at the ‘University of Edinburgh.’ One of her first major stage appearances was in the key role of ‘Desdemona’ in the theatrical adaptation of William Shakespeare’s classic play ‘Othello’ (1996).
She worked with the ‘Art Theatre’ at the university and then appeared in plays such as ‘The Odd Couple’ and ‘Dancing at Lughnasa.’ The latter earned her wide praises for her performance. Around the same time, even though she did become actively involved in TV work, she continued to do theater.
In 1998, she made her film debut with the supporting role of ‘Clare Knowles’ in the comedy film titled ‘Still Crazy.’ The film was a huge critical success and ended up earning two ‘Golden Globe’ nominations. However, it turned out to be a huge commercial disaster.
Unaffected by this, she resumed her film career with more supporting roles, in films such as ‘Maybe Baby’ and ‘Complicity.’
In 2000, she played the role of ‘Rebeccah’ in the TV miniseries ‘In the Beginning,’ which was also her TV debut. The series earned some good ratings and established her as a promising young mainstream actor.
In the early 2000s, she appeared in supporting roles in films such as ‘Redemption Road,’ ‘Another Life,’ and ‘The Triumph of Love.’ Around the same time, she resumed her TV career with roles in series such as ‘Tipping the Velvet.’ The critically hailed ‘BBC’ drama featured her as ‘Nan Astley.’
She remained largely active in theater during the early 2000s, appearing in plays such as ‘Helpless,’ ‘A Woman of No Importance,’ and ‘Anna in the Tropics.’
Additionally, she also joined the ‘National Theatre,’ walking in the footsteps of her mother. In the late 2000s, her performance as ‘Rebecca’ in the play titled ‘The Priory’ earned her a nomination for a ‘Laurence Olivier Award.’ Her performance in the play ‘An Ideal Husband’ earned her another nomination for the same award.
In 2003, she appeared in a guest role in the series titled ‘Agatha Christie’s Poirot.' In 2005, she played another guest role, in the series ‘Agatha Christie’s Marple.’
Meanwhile, her film career struggled hard to hold a firm ground. In the mid-2000s, she appeared in supporting roles in films such as ‘The Truth,’ ‘Dangerous Parking,’ and ‘The Young Victoria.’
She was seen playing a four-episode-long supporting role in the series titled ‘Boy Meets Girl’ in 2009.
In 2012, she earned one of the most significant roles of her career when she was cast as ‘Millie Harcourt’ in the miniseries titled ‘The Bletchley Circle.’
In the more recent years, she has appeared in supporting roles in films such as ‘Wild Bill’ and ‘Their Finest.’
Family & Personal Life
Rachael began dating fellow actor Oliver Chris in 2007. They got engaged later. However, they announced their separation in 2012.
In June 2016, she married musician Guy Garvey. They have a son named Jack.