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Eileen Atkins

Eileen Atkins

Eileen Atkins was born in London and attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Her initial London stage appearance was in Robert Atkins' staging of Love's Labour's Lost at the Open Air Theatre in Regents Park. Seasons in repertory followed, including two years with the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-upon-Avon. She went on to star at the Old Vic in many Shakespearean roles, among them Miranda and Viola.

Venturing into contemporary plays, Atkins starred opposite Laurence Olivier and Alec Guinness, among others. She won the 1965 London Evening Standard award for Best Actress for her performance as Childie in The Killing of Sister George, and then made her New York stage debut in the play. Her wealth of U.K. stage credits also includes the title roles of Saint Joan and Medea. She played in T.S. Eliot's The Cocktail Party with Alec Guinness for which she won the London Critics Award. She won a Variety Club Award for her role as Elizabeth in Robert Bolt's Vivat! Vivat! Regina!,and won the London Critics Circle Award and received an Olivier Award for her performance in Peter Hall's staging of A Winter's Tale.

In 1989, Atkins garnered unanimous acclaim for her one-woman show A Room of One's Own, in which she portrayed Virginia Woolf. The off-Broadway production brought her a Drama Desk award for Best Solo Performance and a special citation from the New York Drama Critics Circle. She then toured the United States in the show, later taping the project for U.K. television on location at Girton College, Cambridge (the venue of Ms. Woolf's original lecture, which inspired the play). She would return to the role in 1992 with Vita & Virginia, which she wrote and starred in (opposite Penelope Wilton as Vita Sackville-West) for the United Kingdom stage as well as in the United States (opposite Vanessa Redgrave). The latter production earned her the New York Critics Circle Award and the Drama Desk Award.

Among her recent stage credits are, in the United Kingdom, Anthony Page's staging of Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance (which brought her another Evening Standard award) and, also in New York, Matthew Warchus' staging of Yasmina Reza's The Unexpected Man. Her performance earned her an Olivier Award for Best Actress.

Atkins' many television appearances include Simon Langton's miniseries Smiley's People with Alec Guinness, Norman Stone's telefilm The Vision with Dirk Bogarde and Lee Remick and Nigel Finch's telefilm The Lost Language of Cranes. Recently, she played opposite Emma Thompson in Mike Nichols' HBO telefilm Wit.

In addition, Atkins co-created, with Jean Marsh, the classic television series, Upstairs Downstairs. For her screenplay adaptation of Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway, starring Vanessa Redgrave and directed by Marleen Gorris, she won the Evening Standard award for Best Screenplay.

Atkins' other film appearances include Sidney Lumet's Equus, Peter Yates' The Dresser, Peter Medak's Let Him Have It, Mike Nichols' Wolf and Robert Altman's Gosford Park. She has just completed filming on Cold Mountain for Anthony Minghella.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2003.

Eileen Atkins Facts

Birth Name Eileen June Atkins
BirthdayJune 16, 1934 (88)
BirthplaceLondon, England, United Kingdom
Awards2008 Emmy Awards: Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Miniseries Or A Movie (for Cranford)

Selected Filmography

What a Girl Wants
Robin Hood
Gosford Park
The Hours
Cold Comfort Farm
Cold Mountain
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