Julie Christie (born 14 April 1941) is a British actress. She was a
pop icon of the "swinging London" era of the 1960s, and has won the Academy
Award, Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Screen Actors Guild Awards.
Julie was born in Chabua, Assam, India, then part of the British Empire, the first of two children of Rosemary (née Ramsden) and Frank St. John Christie. Christie's mother was a Welsh-born painter and childhood friend of actor Richard Burton, while Christie's father ran the tea plantation around which Julie grew up. Julie Christie had a brother and a half-sibling from her father's affair with an Indian mistress. Christie's parents separated during her childhood. She was baptized in the Anglican church, and studied as a boarder at the independent Convent of Our Lady School in St. Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex, (from which she was later expelled), and then at the independent Wycombe Court School in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, also living with a foster mother from the age of six. After her parents' divorce, Julie spent time with her mother in rural Wales. As a teenager at Wycombe Court School, she played the role of the Dauphin in a school production of George Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan. She later studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama before getting her big break in 1961 in a science fiction series on BBC television, A for Andromeda.
Christie's first major film role was in The Fast Lady, a 1962 romantic comedy, but she was first gained notice as Liz, the friend and would-be lover of the eponymous Billy Liar (1963) played by Tom Courtenay. The director, John Schlesinger, cast Julie only after another actress dropped out of the film.
It was 1965 when Julie became known internationally. Schlesinger, directed her in her breakthrough role, as the amoral model Diana Scott in Darling, a role which the producers originally offered to Shirley MacLaine. More significantly though, Julie appeared as Lara Antipova in David Lean's adaptation of Boris Pasternak's novel Doctor Zhivago (1965), one of the all-time box office hits, and as Daisy Battles in Young Cassidy, a biopic of Irish playwright Seán O'Casey, co-directed by Jack Cardiff and (uncredited) John Ford. In 1966, the 25-year-old Julie was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role when she played a double role in François Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451 and won the Academy Award for Best Actress and BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for Darling. Later, she played Thomas Hardy's heroine Bathsheba Everdene in Schlesinger's Far from the Madding Crowd (1967) and the lead character, Petulia Danner, (opposite George C. Scott) in Richard Lester's Petulia (1968).
In the 1970s, Julie starred in such films as Robert Altman's McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), with Warren Beatty, where her role as a brothel 'madam' gained her a second Best Actress Oscar nomination, The Go-Between (again co-starring Alan Bates, 1971), Don't Look Now (1973), Shampoo (1975), Altman's classic Nashville (also 1975, in an amusing cameo as herself opposite Karen Black and Henry Gibson), Demon Seed (1977), and Heaven Can Wait (1978), again with Beatty. She moved to Hollywood during the decade, where she had a high-profile (1967-1974), but intermittent relationship with Warren Beatty who described her as "the most beautiful and at the same time the most nervous person I had ever known."
Following the end of the relationship with Beatty, she returned to the United Kingdom, where she lived on a farm in Wales. Never a prolific actress, even at the height of her fame and bankability in the 1960s, Julie made fewer and fewer films in the 1980s. She had a major supporting role in Sidney Lumet's Power (1986), but other than that, she avoided appearances in large budget films and appeared in non-mainstream films. She narrated the 1981 documentary The Animals Film (directed by Myriam Alaux and Victor Schonfeld), which argues against vivisection.
Julie has turned down many leading roles in films such as They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, Anne of the Thousand Days and The Greek Tycoon. Julie also signed on to play the female lead in American Gigolo opposite Richard Gere, however when Gere dropped out and John Travolta was cast in the role, Julie too dropped out from the project. Gere changed his mind and took back the role, however it was too late for Julie as her part was already taken by Lauren Hutton. Julie Christie also had to drop out of the leading role in Agatha due to breaking her wrist whilst roller-skating; the part was filled by Vanessa Redgrave.
Julie appeared as Gertrude in Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet (1996). Despite her classical training as an actor, it was her first-ever venture into Shakespeare. Her next critically acclaimed role was the unhappy wife in Alan Rudolph's domestic comedy-drama Afterglow (1997), and she was rewarded with a third Oscar nomination.
Julie made a brief appearance in the third Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), playing Madame Rosmerta. That same year, she also appeared in two other high-profile films: Wolfgang Petersen's Troy and Marc Forster's Finding Neverland, in which she played Kate Winslet's mother. The latter performance earned Julie a BAFTA nomination as supporting actress in film.
Julie 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 is the first feature film directed by Christie's sometime co-star, Canadian actress Sarah Polley. She only took the role, she says, as Polley is her friend. On her part, Polley said that Julie liked the script but initially turned it down as she was ambivalent about acting. It took several months of persuasion by Polley before Julie finally accepted the role, which was written with her in mind.
Debuting at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 11, 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. The critics singled out the performances of Julie and her co-star, Canadian actor Gordon Pinsent, and Polley's assured direction. Her luminous performance created an "Oscar buzz", leading the distributor, Lions Gate Entertainment, who bought the film at the TIFF to release the film in 2007 in order to build up momentum during the awards season. On December 5, 2007, Julie won the Best Actress Award from the National Board of Review for her performance in Away From Her.
Julie Christie also 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 - Motion Picture, and the Genie Award for
Best Actress for the same film. On January 22, 2008, Julie received her
fourth Oscar nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
for the 80th Academy Awards. She appeared at the ceremony wearing a pin
calling for the closure of the prison in Guantanamo Bay.
In 2008 Julie narrated Uncontacted Tribes, a short film for the British-based charity Survival International, featuring previously unseen footage of remote and endangered peoples. Julie has been a long-standing supporter of the charity, and in February 2008 was named as its first 'Ambassador'.
Julie 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. In 2009 she had a role in the British film 1939 about a British family at the beginning of the Second World War.
Julie dated Warren Beatty (1967-1973). She is best friends with his sister Shirley MacLaine. In November 2007, aged 66, Julie discreetly married her long-time partner (since 1979), The Guardian journalist Duncan Campbell. It was her first marriage and the wedding surprised many as Julie had long insisted for many years that marriage was not an option for her. She has owned a farm in Montgomeryshire, Wales, since the late 1970s, where she spends most of her time. She is active in various causes, including animal rights, environmental protection, the anti-nuclear power movement and is also a Patron of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
This Julie Christie Biography Page is Copyright © 2004 - 2009 Chuck Ayoub