Julie Christie


Julie Frances Christie (born 14 April 1940)[1] is a British actress. An icon of the "Swinging Sixties," Christie is the recipient of numerous accolades including an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award. She has appeared in six films ranked in the British Film Institute's BFI Top 100 British films of the 20th century, and in 1997, she received the BAFTA Fellowship.

Julie Christie
Julie Christie - 1966.jpg
Christie in Doctor Zhivago (1965)
Julie Frances Christie

(1940-04-14) 14 April 1940 (age 82)
EducationCentral School of Speech and Drama
Years active1957–2012, 2018
Spouse(s)Duncan Campbell
Partner(s)Don Bessant (1962–1967)

Christie's breakthrough film role was in Billy Liar (1963). She came to international attention for her performances in Darling (1965), for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress, and Doctor Zhivago (also 1965), 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 (1971), 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, her appearances in mainstream films decreased, though she held cameo roles as Thetis in Wolfgang Petersen's historical epic Troy and as Madam Rosmerta 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 lifeEdit

Christie was born on 14 April 1940[3][4] at Singlijan Tea Estate, Chabua, Assam, British India. She has a younger brother, Clive, and an older (deceased) half-sister, June, from her father's relationship with an Indian tea picker on his plantation.[5] Her parents separated when Julie was a child, and after their divorce, she spent time with her mother in rural Wales.[6]

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 she had anticipated. After being asked to leave the Convent of Our Lady as well, she attended the all-girls Wycombe Court School, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, during which time she lived with a foster mother from the age of six.[6] At the Wycombe school, she played "the Dauphin" in a production of Shaw's Saint Joan. She later studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama.[7]


Christie made her professional stage debut in 1957, and her first screen roles were on British television. Her earliest role to gain attention was in BBC serial A for Andromeda (1961). 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.[8]

Christie appeared in two comedies for Independent Artists: Crooks Anonymous and The Fast Lady (both 1962). 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), for which she received a BAFTA Award nomination. The director, John Schlesinger cast Christie only after another actress, Topsy Jane, had dropped out of the film.[9][10] Christie appeared as Daisy Battles in Young Cassidy (1965), a biopic of Irish playwright Seán O'Casey, co-directed by Jack Cardiff and (uncredited) John Ford.

Her role as an amoral model in Darling (also 1965) led to Christie becoming known internationally. Directed by Schlesinger, and co-starring Dirk Bogarde and Laurence Harvey, Christie had only been cast in the lead role after Schlesinger insisted, the studio having wanted Shirley MacLaine.[11] She received the Academy Award for Best Actress and the BAFTA Award for Best British Actress in a Leading Role for her performance.[12]

In David Lean's Doctor Zhivago (also 1965), adapted from the epic/romance novel by Boris Pasternak, Christie's role as Lara Antipova became her best known. The film was a major box-office success.[13] As of 2019, Doctor Zhivago is the 8th highest-grossing film of all time, adjusted for inflation.[14] According to Life magazine, 1965 was "The Year of Julie Christie".[15]

After dual roles in François Truffaut's adaptation of the Ray Bradbury novel Fahrenheit 451 (1966), starring with Oskar Werner, she appeared as Thomas Hardy's heroine Bathsheba Everdene in Schlesinger's Far from the Madding Crowd (1967). After moving to Los Angeles in 1967 ("I was there because of a lot of American boyfriends"[16]), she appeared in the title role of Richard Lester's Petulia (1968), co-starring with George C. Scott.

Christie's persona as the swinging sixties British woman 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".[17]

In Joseph Losey's romantic drama The Go-Between (1971), Christie had a lead role along with Alan Bates. The film won the Grand Prix, then the main award at the Cannes Film Festival. She earned a second Best Actress Oscar nomination for her role as a brothel madame in Robert Altman's postmodern western McCabe & Mrs. Miller (also 1971). The film was 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".[6] The couple had a high-profile but intermittent relationship between 1967 and 1974. After the relationship ended, they worked together again in the comedies Shampoo (1975) and Heaven Can Wait (1978). Her other films during the decade were Nicolas Roeg's thriller Don't Look Now (1973), based on a story by Daphne du Maurier, in which she co-starred 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. Don't Look Now in particular has received acclaim, with Christie nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, and in 2017 a poll of 150 actors, directors, writers, producers and critics for Time Out magazine ranked it the greatest British film ever.[18]

Christie returned to the United Kingdom in 1977, living on a farm in Wales. In 1979, she was a member of the jury at the 29th Berlin International Film Festival.[19] Never a prolific actress, even at the height of her career, Christie turned down many high-profile 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.[13][20]

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. She starred in the television film Dadah Is Death (1988), 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.[21]

Christie in 1997

After a lengthy absence from the screen, Christie co-starred in the fantasy adventure film Dragonheart (1996), and appeared as Gertrude in Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet (also 1996). Her next critically acclaimed role was the unhappy wife in Alan Rudolph's domestic comedy-drama Afterglow (1997) with Nick Nolte, Jonny Lee Miller and Lara Flynn Boyle. Christie received a third Oscar nomination for her role.

Appearing in six films that were ranked in the British Film Institute's 100 greatest British films of the 20th century, in recognition of her contribution to British cinema Christie received BAFTA's highest honour, the Fellowship in 1997.[22][23] In 1994, she had been awarded the title Doctor of Letters from the University of Warwick.[24]

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

Christie portrayed the female lead in Away from Her (2006), 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.[25] 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.[26]

In July 2006 she was a member of the jury at the 28th Moscow International Film Festival.[27] 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.[28] 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.[29]

Christie narrated Uncontacted Tribes (2008), a short film for the British-based charity Survival International, featuring previously unseen footage of remote and endangered peoples.[30] She has been a long-standing supporter of the charity, and in February 2008, was named as its first 'Ambassador'.[31] She appeared in a segment of the film, New York, I Love You (also 2008), written by Anthony Minghella, directed by Shekhar Kapur and co-starring Shia LaBeouf, as well as in Glorious 39 (2009), about a British family at the start of World War II.

Christie played a "sexy, bohemian" version of the grandmother role in Catherine Hardwicke's gothic retelling of Red Riding Hood (2011).[32] Her most recent role was in the political thriller The Company You Keep (2012), where she co-starred with Robert Redford and Sam Elliott.

Personal lifeEdit

In the early 1960s, Christie dated actor Terence Stamp.[13] She was in a relationship with Don Bessant, a lithographer and art teacher, from December 1962 to May 1967,[33] before dating actor Warren Beatty for seven on-and-off years (1967–1974).[6]

Christie is married to journalist Duncan Campbell; they have lived together since 1979,[34] but the date they married is disputed. In January 2008, several news outlets reported that the couple had quietly married in India two months earlier, in November 2007,[35] which Christie called "nonsense", adding, "I have been married for a few years. Don't believe what you read in the papers."[36]

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 Judge Sydney Templeman (who later became Lord Templeman), who gave judgment in favour of the Inland Revenue, ruling that the scheme was ineffective.[37]

She is active in various causes, including animal rights, environmental protection, and the anti-nuclear power movement. She is a Patron of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign,[38] as well as Reprieve,[39] and the CFS/ME charity Action for ME.[40]


Year Title Role Notes
1961 Call Oxbridge 2000 Ann Episode #1.3
A for Andromeda Christine
6 episodes
1962 Crooks Anonymous Babette LaVern
The 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 The Go-Between Lady Marian Maudsley 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 The Return of the Soldier Kitty Baldry
Les quarantièmes rugissants Catherine Dantec
1983 Heat and Dust Anne
The 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 The 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
1999 The 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 The 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
2018 The Bookshop Narrator


Christie made her professional debut in 1957 at the Frinton Repertory Company in Essex.

Year Show Location
1964 The Comedy of Errors New York State Theatre
1973 Uncle Vanya Chichester Festival Theatre (and on tour, Bath, Oxford, Richmond, and Guildford)
1997 Suzanna Andler Wyndham's Theatre & Theatre Clywd
1995 Old Times Royal Court Theatre
2007 Cries from the Heart Royal Court Theatre


  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, an English 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. ^ "Christie's Secret World", walesonline.co.uk, 17 February 2008.
  6. ^ a b c d Adams, Tim (1 April 2007). "The divine Miss Julie". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  7. ^ Sirota, David (12 June 2001). "Salon.com". Archive.salon.com. Retrieved 30 May 2010.
  8. ^ "Kiss Of Death", 12 November 1995, New York Daily News
  9. ^ Barton, Laura (1 September 2010). "Billy Liar – still in town". The Guardian. London.
  10. ^ Draycott, Helen (25 January 2014). "Erdington star of the stage and screen, Topsy Jane Garnet, dies aged 75". Royal Sutton Coldfield Observer. Sutton Coldfield. Archived from the original on 31 August 2014.
  11. ^ Mell, Eila (2005). Casting Might-Have-Beens: A Film by Film Directory of Actors Considered for Roles Given to Others. Jeffereson, N.C. & London: McFarland. p. 65. ISBN 9780786420179.
  12. ^ "The 38th Academy Awards (1966) Nominees and Winners". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 27 August 2013.
  13. ^ a b c "Julie Christie Biography at Yahoo! Movies".
  14. ^ "Doctor Zhivago (1965)". Box Office Mojo. 15 March 2022.
  15. ^ Tiffin, George (2015). A Star is Born: The Moment an Actress becomes an Icon. London: House of Zeus. p. 332. ISBN 9781781859360.
  16. ^ Tom Gliatto (9 February 1998). "Darling". People.com.
  17. ^ "The private life of Julie Christie", Los Angeles Times, 5 January 2008.
  18. ^ "The 100 best British films". Time Out. Retrieved 24 October 2017
  19. ^ "Berlinale 1979: Juries". berlinale.de. Retrieved 8 August 2010.
  20. ^ "Oscar Augury – Best Actress: Julie Christie is Front-Runner for Her Performance in "Away from Her"". Yahoo!. Archived from the original on 16 January 2013.
  21. ^ "Julie Christie Making U.S. TV Movie". The New York Times. 12 July 1988.
  22. ^ "Fellowship", British Academy of Film and Television Arts
  23. ^ British Film Institute - Top 100 British Films (1999). Retrieved August 27, 2016
  24. ^ "List of all Honorary Graduates and Chancellor's Medallists". warwick.ac.uk. Retrieved 14 June 2020.
  25. ^ Olsen, Mark (14 November 2007)."Julie Christie is good at being picky", Los Angeles Times
  26. ^ Cochrane, Kira (12 April 2007). "I felt like a crazy stalker". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 25 December 2013.
  27. ^ "28th Moscow International Film Festival (2006)". MIFF. Archived from the original on 21 April 2013. Retrieved 14 April 2013.
  28. ^ "2007 Award Winners". National Board of Review of Motion Pictures. 2016. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
  29. ^ "Julie Christie profile". About.com. Archived from the original on 15 June 2008. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
  30. ^ "Uncontacted Tribes". Survival International. Retrieved 30 May 2010.
  31. ^ "Julie Christie named 'Survival ambassador'". Survival International. Retrieved 30 May 2010.
  32. ^ "Catherine Hardwicke's The Girl With the Red Riding Hood". Dreadcentral.com. 23 April 2010. Retrieved 30 May 2010.
  33. ^ Julie Christie, Anthony Hayward (Robert Hale, 2000)
  34. ^ "Julie Christie Biography". TV Guide.
  35. ^ "Julie Christie gets married". The Guardian. London. 30 January 2008. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  36. ^ Dimi Gaidatzi (11 February 2008). "Oscar Nominee Julie Christie: I've Been Married for Years". People.com.
  37. ^ [1975] STC 372.
  38. ^ "Palestine Solidarity Campaign: Patrons". Palestine Solidarity Campaign. n.d. Archived from the original on 2 March 2009. Retrieved 10 March 2009.
  39. ^ "Reprieve - Board and Patrons". Reprieve.
  40. ^ List of Patrons at Action for ME official website, actionforme.org.uk; accessed 29 October 2016.
  41. ^ "4th Moscow International Film Festival (1965)". MIFF. Archived from the original on 16 January 2013. Retrieved 8 December 2012.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

Biography and filmography
  • Pearce, Garth (3 February 2008). "Oscar winner and nominee Julie Christie talks about getting older". Sunday Times. Arts and Entertainment. Archived from the original on 17 May 2011.
  • Sagall, Sabby; Orr, Judith (March 2009). "Playing a part against injustice". Socialist Review. Interview (334).
  • Webb, Oliver (23 September 2020) https://www.closelyobservedframes.com/post/an-interview-with-julie-christie. An interview with Julie Christie