Julie Christie

Julie Christie

Christie in 1997
Born Julie Frances Christie
(1940-04-14) 14 April 1940
Chabua, Assam,
British India
Alma mater Central School of Speech and Drama
Occupation Actress, activist
Years active 1957–present
Spouse(s) Duncan Campbell (m. 2008)

Julie Frances Christie (born 14 April 1940)[1] is an English actress. A pop icon of the "swinging London" era of the 1960s, she has won the Academy, Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Screen Actors Guild Awards, and in 1997 she received the BAFTA Fellowship.

Christie's breakthrough film role was in Billy Liar (1963). She came to international attention in 1965 for her performances in Darling, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress, and Doctor Zhivago, the eighth highest-grossing film of all time after adjustment for inflation.[2]

In the following years, she starred in Fahrenheit 451 (1966), Far from the Madding Crowd (1967), Petulia (1968), The Go-Between (1970), McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), for which she received her second Oscar nomination, Don't Look Now (1973), Shampoo (1975), and Heaven Can Wait (1978).

From the early 1980s, Christie reduced her appearances in mainstream films, though she held roles as Thetis in Wolfgang Petersen's historical epic Troy and in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (both 2004). She has continued to receive significant critical recognition for her work, including Oscar nominations for the independent films Afterglow (1997) and Away from Her (2007).

Early life

Christie was born on 14 April 1940[3][4] at Singlijan Tea Estate, Chabua, Assam, British India, the elder child of Rosemary (née Ramsden; 1912–1982), a Welsh painter, and Francis "Frank" St. John Christie (1904–1963).[5] Her father ran the tea plantation where she was raised.[5] She has a younger brother, Clive, and an older (now deceased) half-sister, June, from her father's relationship with an Indian woman, who worked as a tea picker on his plantation.[6] Frank and Rosemary Christie separated when Julie was a child.

She was baptised in the Church of England and studied as a boarder at the independent Convent of Our Lady school in St. Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex, after being expelled from another convent school for telling a risqué joke that reached a wider audience than originally anticipated. After being asked to leave the Convent of Our Lady as well, she later attended Wycombe Court School, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, during which time she lived with a foster mother from the age of six.[7]

After her parents' divorce, Christie spent time with her mother in rural Wales.[7] As a teenager at the all-girls' Wycombe Court School, she played "the Dauphin" in a production of Shaw's Saint Joan. She later studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama.[8]


Christie with Peter Halliday in A for Andromeda (1961)

Christie made her professional stage debut in 1957, and her first screen roles were on British television. Her big break came in the 1961 BBC serial A for Andromeda. She was a contender for the role of Honey Rider in the first James Bond film, Dr. No, but producer Albert R. Broccoli reportedly thought her breasts were too small.[9]

In 1962, Christie appeared in feature films with co-starring roles in a pair of comedies for Independent Artists: Crooks Anonymous and The Fast Lady. Her breakthrough role, however, was as Liz, the friend and would-be lover of the eponymous character played by Tom Courtenay in Billy Liar (1963), which earned her a BAFTA Award nomination. The director, John Schlesinger, had cast Christie only after another actress dropped out of the film.[10]

Life magazine hailed 1965 as "The Year of Julie Christie" when the young actress became known internationally for her role as an amoral model in Darling, directed by Schlesinger and co-starring Dirk Bogarde and Laurence Harvey. Christie, who had obtained the lead role after the casting of Shirley MacLaine fell through,[11] won numerous accolades for her performance, including the Academy Award for Best Actress.

Christie starred in two other films released in 1965, first appearing as Daisy Battles in Young Cassidy, a biopic of Irish playwright Seán O'Casey, co-directed by Jack Cardiff and (uncredited) John Ford. Her last film of the year was David Lean's Doctor Zhivago, adapted from the epic/romance novel by Boris Pasternak. The film was a box office smash, and Christie's role as Lara Antipova became her most famous.[11] As of 2016, Doctor Zhivago is the 8th highest-grossing film of all time, adjusted for inflation.[12]

In 1966, Christie played a dual role in François Truffaut's adaptation of the Ray Bradbury novel Fahrenheit 451, where she starred opposite Oskar Werner. Later, she played Thomas Hardy's heroine Bathsheba Everdene in Schlesinger's Far from the Madding Crowd (1967), and the title role, Petulia Danner, in Richard Lester's Petulia (1968), opposite George C. Scott.

As Lara in Doctor Zhivago (1965).

Christie's persona as the "swinging 60s British bird" she had embodied in Billy Liar and Darling was further cemented by her appearance in the documentary Tonite Let's All Make Love in London. In 1967, Time magazine said of her: "What Julie Christie wears has more real impact on fashion than all the clothes of the ten best-dressed women combined."[13]

In 1971, Christie co-starred with Alan Bates in Joseph Losey's romantic drama The Go-Between, which won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. She earned a second Best Actress Oscar nomination the same year for her role as a brothel madame in Robert Altman's postmodern western McCabe & Mrs. Miller. The film marked the first of three collaborations between Christie and Warren Beatty, who described her as "the most beautiful and at the same time the most nervous person I had ever known."[7] The two had a high-profile but intermittent relationship between 1967 and 1974. After the relationship ended, they worked together again in the hit comedies Shampoo (1975) and Heaven Can Wait (1978).

Her other films during the decade were Nicolas Roeg's controversial thriller Don't Look Now (1973), in which she had a graphic sex scene with Donald Sutherland, and the science-fiction/horror film Demon Seed (1977), based on the novel of the same name by Dean Koontz and directed by Donald Cammell.

Having moved to Los Angeles in 1967 ("I was there because of a lot of American boyfriends"[14]) Christie returned to the United Kingdom in 1977, where she lived on a farm in Wales. In 1979, she was a member of the jury at the 29th Berlin International Film Festival.[15] Never a prolific actress, even at the height of her fame and bankability, Christie turned down many high-caliber film roles, including Anne of the Thousand Days, They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, Nicholas and Alexandra, and Reds, all of which earned Oscar nominations for the actresses who eventually played them.[11][16]

In the 1980s, Christie appeared in non-mainstream films such as The Return of the Soldier (1982) and Heat and Dust (1983). She had a major supporting role in Sidney Lumet's Power (1986) alongside Richard Gere and Gene Hackman, but apart from that, she avoided large budget films. In 1988, she starred in the television film Dadah Is Death, based on the Barlow and Chambers execution, as Barlow's mother Barbara, who desperately fought to save her son from being hanged for drug trafficking in Malaysia.[17]

In 1996, after a somewhat lengthy absence from the screen, Christie co-starred in the fantasy adventure film DragonHeart, and appeared as Gertrude in Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet. Her next critically acclaimed role was the unhappy wife in Alan Rudolph's 1997 domestic comedy-drama Afterglow with Nick Nolte, Jonny Lee Miller and Lara Flynn Boyle. The film gained Christie a third Oscar nomination. Also in 1997, she received the British Academy's highest honour, the BAFTA Fellowship.

In 2004, Christie made a brief cameo appearance in the third Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, playing Madam Rosmerta. That same year, she also appeared in two other high-profile films: Wolfgang Petersen's Troy and Marc Forster's Finding Neverland, playing mother to Brad Pitt and Kate Winslet, respectively. The latter performance earned Christie a BAFTA nomination as supporting actress in film.

Christie portrayed the female lead in Away from Her, a film about a long-married Canadian couple coping with the wife's Alzheimer's disease. Based on the Alice Munro short story "The Bear Came Over the Mountain", the movie was the first feature film directed by Christie's sometime co-star, Canadian actress Sarah Polley. She took the role, she says, only because Polley is her friend.[18] Polley has said Christie liked the script but initially turned it down as she was ambivalent about acting. It took several months of persuasion by Polley before Christie finally accepted the role.[19]

In July 2006 she was a member of the jury at the 28th Moscow International Film Festival.[20] Debuting at the Toronto International Film Festival on 11 September 2006 as part of the TIFF's Gala showcase, Away from Her drew rave reviews from the trade press, including The Hollywood Reporter, and the four Toronto dailies. Critics singled out her performances as well as that of her co-star, Canadian actor Gordon Pinsent, and Polley's direction. Christie's performance generated Oscar buzz, leading the distributor, Lions Gate Entertainment, to buy the film at the festival to release the film in 2007 to build momentum during the awards season.

On 5 December 2007, she won the Best Actress Award from the National Board of Review for her performance in Away from Her.[21] She won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Drama, the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role and the Genie Award for Best Actress for the same film. On 22 January 2008, Christie received her fourth Oscar nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role at the 80th Academy Awards. She appeared at the ceremony wearing a pin calling for the closure of the prison in Guantanamo Bay.[22]

In 2008, Christie narrated Uncontacted Tribes, a short film for the British-based charity Survival International, featuring previously unseen footage of remote and endangered peoples.[23] She has been a long-standing supporter of the charity, and in February 2008, was named as its first 'Ambassador'.[24] She appeared in a segment of the 2008 film, New York, I Love You, written by Anthony Minghella, directed by Shekhar Kapur and co-starring Shia LaBeouf, as well as in Glorious 39, about a British family at the start of World War II.

In 2011, Christie played a "sexy, bohemian" version of the grandmother role in Catherine Hardwicke's gothic retelling of Red Riding Hood.[25] Her most recent role was in the political thriller The Company You Keep (2012), where she co-starred with Robert Redford and Sam Elliot.

Personal life

In the early 1960s, Christie dated actor Terence Stamp.[11] She was engaged to Don Bessant, a lithographer and art teacher, in 1965,[26] before dating actor Warren Beatty for several years.[7] She is married to The Guardian journalist Duncan Campbell; they have lived together since 1979,[27] but the date they wed is disputed. In January 2008, several news outlets reported that the couple had quietly married in India two months earlier, in November 2007,[28] which Christie called "nonsense", adding, "I have been married for a few years. Don't believe what you read in the papers."[29]

In the late 1960s, her advisers adopted a very complex scheme in an attempt to reduce her tax liability, giving rise to the leading case of Black Nominees Ltd v Nicol (Inspector of Taxes). The case was heard by Templeman J (who later became Lord Templeman), who gave judgment in favour of the Inland Revenue, ruling that the scheme was ineffective.[30]

She is also active in various causes, including animal rights, environmental protection, and the anti-nuclear power movement and is also a Patron of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign,[31] as well as Reprieve,[32] and CFS/ME charity Action for ME.[33]


Year Title Role Notes
1961 Call Oxbridge 2000 Ann episode: Episode #1.3
A for Andromeda Christine
6 episodes
1962 Crooks Anonymous Babette LaVern
Fast Lady, TheThe Fast Lady Claire Chingford
The Andromeda Breakthrough Andromeda episode: Cold Front
1963 Billy Liar Liz Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best British Actress
The Saint Judith Northwade episode: Judith
ITV Play of the Week Betty Whitehead episode: J.B. Priestley Season #3: Dangerous Corner
1965 Young Cassidy Daisy Battles
Darling Diana Scott
Doctor Zhivago Lara Antipova
1966 Fahrenheit 451 Clarisse
Linda Montag
Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best British Actress (joint with Doctor Zhivago)
1967 Far from the Madding Crowd Bathsheba Everdene
1968 Petulia Petulia Danner
1969 In Search of Gregory Catherine Morelli
1971 Go-Between, TheThe Go-Between Marian – Lady Trimingham Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
McCabe & Mrs. Miller Constance Miller Nominated—Academy Award for Best Actress
1973 Don't Look Now Laura Baxter Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
1975 Shampoo Jackie Shawn Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nashville Herself
1977 Demon Seed Susan Harris Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Actress
1978 Heaven Can Wait Betty Logan
1981 Memoirs of a Survivor 'D' Fantasporto International Fantasy Film Award for Best Actress
1982 Return of the Soldier, TheThe Return of the Soldier Kitty Baldry
Les quarantièmes rugissants Catherine Dantec
1983 Heat and Dust Anne
Gold Diggers, TheThe Gold Diggers Ruby
Separate Tables Mrs. Shankland (TV movie)
Nominated—CableACE Award for Best Actress in a Theatrical or Non-Musical Program
1986 Champagne amer Betty Rivière
Power Ellen Freeman
Miss Mary Mary Mulligan Havana Film Festival Award for Best Actress
Sins of the Fathers Charlotte Deutz (TV miniseries)
1988 Dadah Is Death Barbara Barlow (TV movie)
1990 Fools of Fortune Mrs. Quinton
1992 Railway Station Man, TheThe Railway Station Man Helen Cuffe (TV movie)
1996 Dragonheart Queen Aislinn
Hamlet Gertrude
Karaoke Lady Ruth Balmer episode: Wednesday
episode: Friday
1997 Afterglow Phyllis Mann
2000 Miracle Maker, TheThe Miracle Maker Rachael (voice)
2001 Belphegor, Phantom of the Louvre Glenda Spender
No Such Thing Dr. Anna
2002 I'm with Lucy Dori
Snapshots Narma
2004 Troy Thetis
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Madam Rosmerta
Finding Neverland Mrs. Emma du Maurier Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2005 Secret Life of Words, TheThe Secret Life of Words Inge
2006 Away from Her Fiona Anderson
2008 New York, I Love You Isabelle segment: Shekhar Kapur
2009 Glorious 39 Elizabeth
2011 Red Riding Hood Grandmother
2012 The Company You Keep Mimi Lurie


Year Show Location
1957 Frinton Repertory of Essex RSC
1964 The Comedy of Errors Broadway
1973 Uncle Vanya Chichester Festival Theatre (and on tour, Bath, Oxford, Richmond and Guildford)
1997 Suzanna Andler Wyndhams Theatre & Theatre Clywd
1995 Old Times Royal Court Theatre
2007 Cries From The Heart


  1. Although most sources cite 1941 as Christie's year of birth, she was in fact born in 1940 and baptised that year.
    First name(s) Julie Frances
    Last name Christie
    Baptism year:1940
    Birth year: 1940
    Place: Dibrugarh
    Presidency Bengal
    Mother's first name(s)-
    Mother's last name-
    Father's first name(s)-
    Father's last name Christie
    Baptism date: 1940
    Birth date: 1940
    Archive reference: N-1-606&607
    Folio: #93
    Catalogue descriptions: Parish register transcripts from the Presidency of Bengal
    Records: British India Office births & baptisms
    Category: Birth, Marriage, Death & Parish Records
    Record collection: Births & baptisms
    Collections from Great Britain
  2. "All Time Box Office Adjusted for Ticket Price Inflation". Boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
  3. Ewbank, Tim; Hildred, Stafford (2000). Julie Christie: The Biography. Carlton Publishing Group, London. pp. 1–2. ISBN 978-0-233-00255-2. In the spring of 1940 meat rationing had just begun in England ... Vivien Leigh, a British actress born in Darjeeling, India, had on 29 February at a banquet at the Coconut Grove in Los Angeles won the Best Actress Oscar for her role as Scarlett O'Hara ... Forty five days later, on 14 April, there was much cause for rejoicing for Frank and Rosemary Christie, a British couple living on a tea plantation in Assam in India, with the arrival of their first child, Julie Frances. ...
  4. "Julie Christie profile at Screenonline". Screenonline. British Film Institute. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
  5. 1 2 "The secret Indian sister who haunts actress Julie Christie", dailymail.co.uk, 11 February 2008.
  6. "Christie's Secret World", walesonline.co.uk, 17 February 2008.
  7. 1 2 3 4 Adams, Tim (1 April 2007). "The divine Miss Julie". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  8. Sirota, David (12 June 2001). "Salon.com". Archive.salon.com. Retrieved 30 May 2010.
  9. "Kiss Of Death", 12 November 1995, New York Daily News
  10. Barton, Laura (1 September 2010). "Billy Liar – still in town". The Guardian. London.
  11. 1 2 3 4 "Julie Christie Biography at Yahoo! Movies".
  12. "Doctor Zhivago (1965)". Box Office Mojo. 22 December 1965.
  13. "The private life of Julie Christie", L.A. Times, 5 January 2008.
  14. Tom Gliatto (9 February 1998). "Darling". People.com.
  15. "Berlinale 1979: Juries". berlinale.de. Retrieved 8 August 2010.
  16. "Oscar Augury – Best Actress: Julie Christie is Front-Runner for Her Performance in "Away from Her"". Yahoo!.
  17. "Julie Christie Making U.S. TV Movie". New York Times. 12 July 1988.
  18. Olsen, Mark (14 November 2007)."Julie Christie is good at being picky", Los Angeles Times
  19. Cochrane, Kira (12 April 2007). "'I felt like a crazy stalker'". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 25 December 2013.
  20. "28th Moscow International Film Festival (2006)". MIFF. Retrieved 14 April 2013.
  21. "2007 Award Winners". National Board of Review of Motion Pictures. 2016. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
  22. "Julie Christie profile". About.com. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
  23. "Uncontacted Tribes". Survival International. Retrieved 30 May 2010.
  24. "Julie Christie named 'Survival ambassador'". Survival International. Retrieved 30 May 2010.
  25. "Catherine Hardwicke's The Girl With the Red Riding Hood". Dreadcentral.com. 23 April 2010. Retrieved 30 May 2010.
  26. Julie Christie, Anthony Hayward (Robert Hale, 2000)
  27. "Julie Christie Biography". TV Guide.
  28. "Julie Christie gets married". The Guardian. London. 30 January 2008. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  29. Dimi Gaidatzi (11 February 2008). "Oscar Nominee Julie Christie: I've Been Married for Years". People.com.
  30. [1975] STC 372.
  31. "Palestine Solidarity Campaign: Patrons". Palestine Solidarity Campaign. n.d. Retrieved 10 March 2009.
  32. "Reprieve - Board and Patrons". Reprieve.
  33. List of Patrons at Action for ME official website, actionforme.org.uk; accessed 29 October 2016.
  34. "4th Moscow International Film Festival (1965)". MIFF. Retrieved 8 December 2012.

Further Reading

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