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Olivia Williams has played notable roles in a number of memorable movies. These have included Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer, opposite Ewan McGregor and Pierce Brosnan, for which she was named Best Supporting Actress by the National Society of Film Critics and the London Critics’ Circle Film Awards; and Lone Scherfig’s An Education, opposite Carey Mulligan. The latter film earned Ms. Williams a London Critics’ Circle Film Award nomination as well as a shared Screen Actors Guild Award nomination with her fellow actors from the ensemble.
After completing her university studies, she spent two years at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School before joining the Royal Shakespeare Company for three years. In 1997, Ms. Williams was chosen by director Kevin Costner to star opposite him in the drama The Postman. Subsequently, she played opposite Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman in Wes Anderson’s acclaimed Rushmore; and appeared as Bruce Willis’ wife in M. Night Shyamalan’s blockbuster The Sixth Sense.
She has since appeared in a number of U.K. independent films, including Thaddeus O’Sullivan’s The Heart of Me, for which she was honored with the British Independent Film Award (BIFA) for Best Actress; Peter Cattaneo’s Lucky Break, for which she was an Empire Award nominee; and Mat Whitecross’ Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, opposite Andy Serkis. Among her other movies are George Hickenlooper’s The Man from Elysian Fields; P.J. Hogan’s Peter Pan; Martin Donovan’s Collaborator; and, also for Focus Features and Anna Karenina director Joe Wright, Hanna.
Ms. Williams’ upcoming movies include Ol Parker’s Now is Good, opposite Dakota Fanning; Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Ruairi Robinson’s The Last Days on Mars; Sergey Bodrov’s The Seventh Son, with Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore, Ben Barnes, and Alicia Vikander of Anna Karenina; and, also for Focus Features, Roger Michell’s Hyde Park on Hudson, in which she plays First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to Bill Murray’s President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
On television, she has portrayed celebrated authors Jane Austen and Agatha Christie, respectively, in the telefilms Miss Austen Regrets (directed by Jeremy Lovering) and Agatha Christie: A Life in Pictures (directed by Richard Curson Smith); starred on Joss Whedon’s cult favorite series Dollhouse; and guest-starred on such shows as Friends, Terriers, and Beck. She most recently starred on television as London’s Mayor in City Hall, directed for “Playhouse Presents” by Richard Loncraine.
Ms. Williams’ West End stage work includes starring opposite Matthew Fox in the world premiere of the play In a Forest, Dark and Deep, written and directed by Neil LaBute, at the Vaudeville Theatre; and starring with Tom Hollander in Robin Lefevre’s Donmar Warehouse production of John Osborne’s The Hotel in Amsterdam.