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Penelope Wilton is a familiar and welcome face to Britons in film, and on stage and television.
Her film work includes Nigel Cole’s Calendar Girls, Richard Eyre’s Iris, Willard Carroll’s Tom’s Midnight Garden, Christopher Hampton’s Carrington, Howard Davies’ The Secret Rapture, Mark Herman’s Blame It on the Bellboy, Richard Attenborough’s Cry Freedom, Christopher Morahan’s Clockwise, Karel Reisz’ The French Lieutenant’s Woman, and Tony Richardson’s Joseph Andrews. Her next film is Joe Wright’s Pride and Prejudice, the Working Title production (adapted from the classic Jane Austen novel) to be released in the U.S. by Focus Features.
On television, Penelope starred as Homily in John Henderson’s two BBC miniseries of The Borrowers, adapted from Mary Norton’s novels. She portrayed another celebrated children’s books author, Beatrix Potter, in Bill Hays’ telefilm The Tale of Beatrix Potter; and starred twice as Regan in King Lear, each time opposite Michael Hordern and directed by Jonathan Miller. She again collaborated with the latter director on Othello, as Desdemona (opposite Anthony Hopkins).
Her work in the theatre has been extensive. Among her notable runs have been The Little Foxes at the Donmar Warehouse (for which she earned an Evening Standard Theatre Award nomination). She has won three London Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards for Best Actress, for her performances in Much Ado About Nothing, Man and Superman, and The Deep Blue Sea. She received an Irish Theatre Award for Best Actress for her performance in A Kind of Alaska.
Recently, Penelope was awarded the O.B.E. (Office of the Order of the British Empire) on the 2004 New Year’s Honours List, for her services to drama.