Olivia Williams

Olivia Williams Headshot

Actress

Birth Name: Olivia Haigh Williams

Birth Date: July 26, 1968

Age: 55 years old

Birth Place: Camden Town, London, England, UK

British actress Olivia Williams essayed intelligent, often sensitive and occasionally no-nonsense women in features and on television on both sides of the Atlantic, including "Rushmore" (1998), "The Sixth Sense" (1999), "Hanna" (2011), "Manhattan" (WGN America, 2014-16), and "Counterpart" (Starz, 2017-19). The daughter of lawyers, Olivia Haigh Williams was born July 26, 1968 in North London, England, and earned a degree in English literature from the University of Cambridge's Newnham College before shifting her focus to drama and training at both the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC). Williams remained with the RSC after graduation while also appearing in the occasional UK television production, most notably an ITV production of Jane Austen's "Emma" (1996) with Kate Beckinsale. The following year, she toured with Ian McKellen in a RSC production of "Richard the III," which brought her to the attention of actor Kevin Costner. He cast her as the female lead in his sprawling post-apocalypse drama "The Postman" (1997), which, though a sizable failure, led to more Stateside roles for Williams. She earned critical praise as a teacher wooed by both teenaged Jason Schwartzman and his mentor (Bill Murray) in Wes Anderson's "Rushmore," and her first blockbuster film in M. Night Shaymalan's "The Sixth Sense," which cast her as Bruce Willis's spouse. The success of these films led to steady work in both America and England throughout the 2000s, though the majority of these projects were arthouse films like "The Body" (2001), with Antonio Banderas, George Hickenlooper's "The Man from Elysian Fields" (2001) and the period drama "The Heart of Me" (2002), which earned Williams an Empire Award for Best Actress. She found greater success in character roles, beginning in 2009 with "An Education," which earned a London Film Critics Circle Award nomination for British Supporting Actress of the Year. Williams followed it with turns in Roman Polanski's "The Ghost Writer" (2010), which won her several leading film critics association awards and nominations; as the mother of a teenage assassin in "Hanna" (2011) and as Countess Vronskaya in "Anna Karenina" (2012), both for director Joe Wright; as Eleanor Roosevelt in "Hyde Park on the Hudson" (2012); and as the domineering mother of a child star in David Cronenberg's brutal satire "Maps to the Stars" (2014). She also worked steadily in American and UK television during this period, including starring turns as Jane Austen in "Miss Austen Regrets" (BBC, 2007) and the head of a mysterious agency in Joss Whedon's "Dollhouse" (Fox, 2009-2010). In 2014, she was top-billed as a botanist working on the American atomic program in "Manhattan," and then played a brittle aristocrat in wartime England for the ITV series "Halcyon" (2017), and a spy married to two versions of J.K. Simmons in the alternate-reality series "Counterpart." When that series ran its course, Williams reunited with Wheedon for his HBO series "The Nevers" (2020-), about a group of Victorian women with extraordinary powers.

Credits

Dune: Prophecy

Actor
Series
2024

Another End

Actor
Juliette
Movie
2024

We Forced a Bot to Write This Show

Voice
The Stoyteller
Show
2023

The Trouble with Jessica

Actor
Beth
Movie
2023

My Name Is Leon

Actor
Sylvia
Show
2022

The Nevers

Actor
Lavinia Bidlow
Series
2021
49%

The Confessional

Guest
Show
2021

Ojciec

Actor
The Woman
Show
2021

The FatherStream

Actor
Catherine
Movie
2020
98%

Nyet!: A Brexit UK Border Farce

Actor
Mrs Pyke
Show
2019

CounterpartStream

Actor
Emily Burton Silk
Series
2017
100%

The HalcyonStream

Actor
Lady Priscilla Hamilton
Series
2017
60%

Victoria & Abdul

Actor
Lady Churchill
Movie
2017

The CrownStream

Actor
Camilla Parker Bowles
Series
2016
86%

The White King

Voice
Sophia
Movie
2016

Man UpStream

Actor
Hilary
Movie
2015
80%

The Haunting of Radcliffe House

Actor
Meg Hamilton
Show
2014

ManhattanStream

Actor
Liza Winter
Series
2014
91%

SabotageStream

Actor
Caroline Brentwood
Movie
2014
21%

Maps to the Stars

Actor
Cristina Weiss
Movie
2014

The Haunting of Radcliffe House

Actor
Meg Hamilton
Movie
2014

Seventh Son

Actor
Mam Ward
Movie
2014

The Last Days on Mars

Actor
Kim Aldrich
Movie
2013

Justin and the Knights of Valour

Voice
Queen
Movie
2013

Drama On 4

Voice
Sal
Show
2012

Anna KareninaStream

Actor
Countess Vronsky
Movie
2012
63%

Hyde Park on Hudson

Actor
Eleanor Roosevelt
Movie
2012

Now Is Good

Actor
Mother
Movie
2012

Worricker

Actor
Belinda Kay
Series
2011

Case Sensitive

Actor
Show
2011

HannaStream

Actor
Rachel
Movie
2011
72%

Collaborator

Actor
Emma Stiles
Movie
2011

Lorraine

Guest
Show
2010

Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll

Actor
Betty
Movie
2010

The Ghost Writer

Actor
Ruth Lang
Movie
2010

Dollhouse

Actor
Show
2009

DollhouseStream

Actor
Adelle DeWitt
Series
2009
71%

An EducationStream

Actor
Miss Stubbs
Movie
2009
93%

Masterpiece Classic

Actor
Show
2008

Flashbacks of a Fool

Actor
Grace Scot
Movie
2008

Broken Lines

Actor
Zoe
Movie
2008

Miss Austen Regrets

Actor
Jane Austen
Movie
2008

Damage

Actor
Michelle Cahill
Movie
2007

The One Show

Guest
Show
2006

Krakatoa: The Last Days

Actor
Johanna Beijerinck
Show
2006

Krakatoa: Volcano of Destruction

Actor
Johanna Beijerinck
Show
2006

X-Men: The Last StandStream

Actor
Moira MacTaggart
Movie
2006
57%

Pick of the Week

Guest
Show
2005

The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson

Guest
Talk
2005

Tara Road

Actor
Movie
2005

Valiant

Voice
Victoria
Movie
2005

To Kill a King

Actor
Lady Anne Fairfax
Movie
2003

Peter PanStream

Actor
Mrs. Darling
Movie
2003
77%

Below

Actor
Claire
Movie
2002

The Heart of Me

Actor
Madeleine Masters
Movie
2002

The Body

Actor
Sharon Golban
Movie
2001

Dead Babies

Actor
Movie
2001

Lucky Break

Actor
Annabel
Movie
2001

The Man From Elysian Fields

Actor
Andrea Allcott
Movie
2001

Jason and the ArgonautsStream

Actor
Miniseries
2000

Four Dogs Playing Poker

Actor
Audrey
Movie
2000

Born Romantic

Actor
Eleanor
Movie
2000

SpacedStream

Guest Star
Series
1999
100%

The Sixth SenseStream

Actor
Anna Crowe
Movie
1999
86%

RushmoreStream

Actor
Miss Rosemary Cross
Movie
1998
90%

Emma

Actor
Show
1997

The PostmanStream

Actor
Abby
Movie
1997
10%

Gaston's War

Actor
Nicky
Movie
1997

Jane Austen's Emma

Actor
Jane Fairfax
Movie
1996

FriendsStream

Guest Star
Felicity
Series
1994
78%

Van der ValkStream

Actor
Irene Kortman
Reality
1972

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