Sonya Walger

Sonya Walger Headshot

Actress

Birth Date: June 6, 1974

Age: 49 years old

Birth Place: Hampstead, London, England, UK

A striking and compelling British actress, Sonya Walger first caught the attention of American television viewers playing Penelope Widmore, the once-lost love of Desmond Hume who keeps hope alive on the cult hit, "Lost" (ABC, 2004-2010). Prior to her breakthrough on the popular mystery series, Walger appeared on the stage and in episodes of several crime series before venturing across the pond for the ill-fated Americanized version of the British series "Coupling" (NBC, 2003). Though she worked steadily on the small screen in projects like "Sleeper Cell" (Showtime, 2005-06) and even courted controversy in the sexually explicit "Tell Me You Love Me" (HBO, 2007), Walger was still waiting for her first leading role despite the familiarity she gained from "Lost." Adept at portraying strong, complicated women, Walger finally had the chance to prove that she was a leading lady after landing the role of Dr. Olivia Benford, the successful surgeon with conflicting emotions about the future of her marriage on ABC's hit drama "FlashForward" (2009- ). All throughout, Walger brought a thoughtful intelligence to each of her roles, a quality that resonated with her audience over the duration of her career.

Born June 6, 1974 in London, England to a British mother and an Argentinean father, Walger was raised in London in a bilingual household, speaking both English, French and Spanish fluently. Though Walger's father eventually returned to Buenos Aires after splitting from her mother, Walger remained in England. An avid reader and academic, she went on to study English literature at Oxford University, where she first discovered a love for acting. Between studies, she spent time performing in local theater productions, which led to performing in regional productions following her graduation with a first class degree. In 1998, she began landing roles on British crime dramas like "Midsomer Murders" (ITV1, 1997- ), "Heat of the Sun" (ITV1, 1998) and "The Vice" (ITV, 1999-2003). She also appeared in a number of stage performances including "Hay Fever," a Crucible Theatre production of "Villette" and the Donmar Warehouse revival of Tom Stoppard's one-act play, "The Real Inspector Hound."

After being cast as Flic on several episodes of the British sitcom, "Goodnight Sweetheart" (BBC1, 1993-99), Walger was cast by writer-director-actor Mike Binder as a nun opposite Alan Rickman and Janeane Garofalo in Binder's Woody Allen-esque comedy, "The Search for John Gissing" (2001). Walger went on to appear opposite Binder that same year in his HBO half-hour comedy series "The Mind of the Married Man" (2001-03), starring as Donna, the beautiful wife of Micky Barnes (Binder), a Chicago newspaper reporter with conflicting thoughts on marriage. Though the show's modern-day male perspective on marriage struck a note with audiences, HBO dropped the series after two short seasons. Nonetheless, Walger earned herself much-needed exposure. She had her chance to build on her newfound recognition when she was cast as the paranoid and age-obsessed Sally Harper in the ill-fated U.S. remake of the popular British sitcom "Coupling" (NBC, 2003). Focused around the sex lives of six friends in their thirties, the show depicted the differences in how relationships are understood between men and women. Unfortunately, the hype surrounding the show failed to materialize into ratings and the series was pulled from the schedule in less than a month.

Undeterred, Walger went on to guest star on the popular crime drama, "Numb3rs" (CBS, 2005-10), while appearing opposite Noah Wyle in the made-for-television adventure, "The Librarian: Quest for the Spear" (2004). She went on to land a series of notable recurring small screen roles as well, portraying DNA lab technician Jane Parsons on "CSI: NY" (CBS, 2004- ) and Special Agent Patrice Serxner on the Showtime miniseries, "Sleeper Cell" (2005-06). Landing her most notable role in 2006, Walger was cast as Penelope "Penny" Widmore, the long lost-love of stranded islander Desmond Hume (Henry Ian Cusick) on the popular mystery-drama "Lost." First appearing on the series during its second season as only a minor character, Walger went on to appear in 11 episodes over the course of the show's five seasons, eventually playing a pivotal role in the rescue of the famed Oceanic Six. In fact, the long-distance love affair between Penny and Desmond, which appeared doomed from the start, wound up captivating both audiences and critics, culminating in an episode called "The Constant," widely considered one of the best of the series. Though seemingly done with her storyline, Walger was confirmed to reprise the role during the show's last season in 2010.

With her career beginning to flourish, Walger continued to land notable roles both on stage and the small screen. She made her Broadway stage debut in 2007, portraying Caroline Cushing opposite Michael Sheen and Frank Langella in Peter Morgan's Tony Award-winning play, "Frost/Nixon." Walger went on to appear as part of an ensemble cast in the controversial HBO drama "Tell Me You Love Me" (2007). Centered on the intimate sex lives of three different couples, "Love Me" raised controversy and gained publicity over its realistic depictions of sexual intercourse. Rumors circulated that the sex scenes in the series were real until series director Patricia Rozema confirmed to the media that all sexual acts on the series were simulated, including an act of manual masturbation that Walger performed on co-star Adam Scott in the pilot episode, which helped trigger the controversy to begin with. Despite its racy subject matter however, the series lasted only one season. Meanwhile, she appeared briefly in a five-episode arc on "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" (Fox, 2008-09), playing the wife of the former fiancé (Dean Winters) of Sarah Connor (Lena Headey).

Walger landed a major break in 2009 when she was cast in her first leading role on a network drama, playing the role of Dr. Olivia Benford on the much-anticipated sci-fi drama, "FlashForward" (2009- ). Based on Robert J. Sawyer's 1999 science fiction novel of the same name, the series followed the story of Special Agent Mark Benford (Joseph Fiennes), an FBI agent determined to find out the cause of a two-minute, worldwide blackout and "flash-forward," in which people appear to see a vision of their lives six months into the future. As Agent Benford's wife, a successful trauma surgeon in Los Angeles, Walger's character was presented with a vision of a future relationship with another man, causing her to question the status of her present-day marriage. Debuting to an impressive 12.4 million viewers in its first week, ABC ordered a full 25 episodes of "FlashForward" in October of 2009, putting Walger in the spotlight as a leading lady of primetime television for the first time.

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