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Lia Williams (born 26 November 1964) is an English actress and director, known for stage, film, and television appearances.
Williams's breakthrough performance came in 1991 when she appeared in The Revengers' Comedies, for which she won the Critics' Circle Theatre Award; Most Promising Newcomer and an Olivier Award nomination for Best Comedy Performance. In 1993, she created the role of Carol in the London production of David Mamet's Oleanna. In 1997, Williams appeared opposite Michael Gambon in London's West End and on Broadway in David Hare's Skylight, (Olivier and Tony Award nominations). In 2001, Williams appeared again in the West End and on Broadway, playing Ruth in Harold Pinter's The Homecoming. Her long standing collaboration with Harold Pinter included roles in The Collection, Celebration, The Room, The Lover, The Hothouse and Old Times.
Other leading theatre performances include Rosalind in As You Like It for the RSC, Alan Ayckbourn's Absurd Person Singular, Henryk Ibsen's The Lady from the Sea, and in Pinter's Old Times she alternated the roles of Anna and Kate with Kristin Scott Thomas.
As Klytemnestra in Robert Icke's 'Oresteia' Williams was nominated for both Olivier and Evening Standard Awards. Also for Robert Icke, she alternated the roles of Elizabeth I and Mary Stuart with Juliet Stevenson in 'Mary Stuart'.
In Dublin, Williams appeared at the Gate Theatre as Alma in The Eccentricities of a Nightingale and Blanche du Bois in Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire. She won The Irish Times best Actress Award for both roles.
Film and television
In 1993, Williams made her film debut in Michael Winner's Dirty Weekend. Winner chose her after seeing her in an Alan Ayckbourn play. Subsequent film appearances have included supporting roles in Firelight (1997), Shot Through the Heart (1998), The King Is Alive (2000), Girl from Rio (2001), and The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey (2007).
Williams played the lead role in May 33rd for the BBC for which she won a FIPA Award for Best Actress and was nominated for a BAFTA.
She played Wallis, Duchess of Windsor in the Netflix series The Crown, Nadia Herz, in the second series of The Missing and she starred in Kiri, a Channel 4 series, alongside Sarah Lancashire and Steven Mackintosh. Most recently she has played Dr Cooper in His Dark Materials (season 1) and DCI Garland in the BBC six-part mystery thriller,The Capture.
Williams has been directing short films since 2002, her debut being Feathers (2002), which was based on a short story by Raymond Carver. In 2008, her short film The Stronger (2007) was nominated for the Best Short Film Award at the BAFTA Film Awards, and won Best Short Film at Raindance. In 2009, Williams directed Dog Alone, a dialogue-free short film which was broadcast as part of British Sky Broadcasting's Ten Minute Tales season. In 2016 she directed Nanabozhung, a feature length documentary about the Batchewana First Nations, Canada.
On stage, she has also directed The Matchbox by Frank McGuinness for Liverpool Playhouse and the Tricycle Theatre and Ashes to Ashes as part of the Harold Pinter Season in the West End (2019)
Lia Williams lives in Portobello, London.
Selected stage credits
|Year||Play||Role||Awards and Nominations|
|1991||The Revengers' Comedies||Karen||Critics' Circle Theatre Award for Most Promising Newcomer|
|1996||Skylight||Kyra Hollis||Theatre World Special Award for Best Ensemble Performance (shared with Michael Gambon and Christian Camargo)|
Nominated – Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play
Nominated – Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress
Nominated – Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play
|2005||As You Like It||Rosalind|
|2007||Absurd Person Singular||Eva|
|2008||The Lady from the Sea||Ellida Wangel|
|2009||God of Carnage||Véronique|
|2010||Earthquakes in London||Sarah|
|2015||Oresteia||Clytemnestra||Nominated - Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress
Nominated - Evening Standard Award for Best Actress
|2016||Mary Stuart||Queen Elizabeth I / Mary, Queen of Scots|
|2018||The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie||Jean Brodie|
|2019||The Night of the Iguana||Hannah Jelkes|
Selected television credits
|Year||Title||Role||Awards and Nominations|
|1993||Mr Wroe's Virgins||Joanna|
|1997||The Uninvited||Melissa Gates|
|2001||The Russian Bride||Natasha Cherniavskaya||Festival International de Programmes Audiovisuels Award for Best Actress|
|2003||Sparkling Cyanide||Ruth Lessing|
|2004||May 33rd||Ella Wilson||Nominated – British Academy Television Award for Best Actress|
Nominated – Royal Television Society Award for Best Actress
|2006||Marple: By the Pricking of My Thumbs||Nellie Bligh|
|2009||Doc Martin||Edith Montgomery||Series Regular, Season 4|
|2012||Secret State||Laura Duchenne|
|2013||Lewis||Emma Barnes||Guest Star, 2 episodes|
|2015||Midsomer Murders||Maggie Markham||Guest Star, 1 episode|
|2016||The Crown||Wallis, Duchess of Windsor|
|2016||The Missing||Nadia Herz|
|2019||The Capture||DSU Gemma Garland|
|2019||His Dark Materials||Dr Cooper|
|2021||Death in Paradise||Grace Verdinikov||Guest Star, 2 episodes|
|1996||Different for Girls||Defence Solicitor|
|1997||The Fifth Province||Diana de Brie|
|1998||Shot Through the Heart||Maida|
|2000||The King is Alive||Amanda|
|2001||Chica de Rio||Cathy|
|2007||Blanche-Neige, la suite||Sleeping Beauty|
|The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey||Joan Tyler|