Oscar Actors: Manville, Lesley–Background, Career, Awards

Updated July 1, 2022
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Lesley Ann Manville CBE (born March 12, 1956) is an English actress known for her frequent collaborations with Mike Leigh, appearing in Grown-Ups (1980), High Hopes (1988), Secrets & Lies (1996), Topsy-Turvy (1999), All or Nothing (2002), Vera Drake (2004), Another Year (2010), and Mr. Turner (2014).

She has been nominated for two British Academy Film Award for Best Supporting Actress for her roles in Another Year (2010) and Phantom Thread (2017); with the latter earning her Supporting Actress Oscar nomination.

Manville has also appeared in the films Dance with a Stranger (1985), A Christmas Carol (2009), Maleficent (2014), Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019), and Let Him Go (2020), as well as the TV series Emmerdale (1974–1976), Cranford (2007), Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond (2014), River (2015), and Mum (2016–2019). She has been nominated for three British Academy Television Awards for the lattermost.

A three-time Laurence Olivier Award nominee, she has won once for her role in the 2013–2014 revival of the play Ghosts. She will portray Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon in the final two seasons of the TV series The Crown.

Manville was born in Brighton, East Sussex, the daughter of Jean, a former ballet dancer, and Ron Manville, a taxi driver. She was brought up in nearby Hove, the youngest of three daughters. Training as a soprano singer from age 8, she was twice under-18 champion of Sussex. She began acting as a teenager, appearing in TV series such as King Cinder. At age 15, she gained a place at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts.

After turning down teacher Arlene Phillips’s invitation to join her new dance troupe Hot Gossip, she was taught improvisation by Italia Conti teacher Julia Carey. She made her professional stage debut in the 1972 West End musical I and Albert directed by John Schlesinger and paid for her first flat by taking part in the ITV soap opera Emmerdale Farm (1974–76), appearing in 80 episodes.

Manville built a career as theatre actress, appearing in new plays at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Warehouse and Royal Court Theatre from 1978.

She met Mike Leigh in 1979, when he was looking for RSC actors who could improvise. In the 1980s, her work for the Royal Court included Andrea Dunbar’s Rita, Sue and Bob Too (1981) and Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls (1982) and Serious Money (1987). She also starred in the Top Girls Off-Broadway production in 1983.

For the RSC, she starred in As You Like It (1985) and Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1985–86).

Film Debut

She made her film debut in 1985s Dance with a Stranger directed by Mike Newell, and went on to appear in Sammy and Rosie Get Laid (1987) directed by Stephen Frears, and High Season (1987).

Back on the stage, she starred in The Cherry Orchard at the Aldwych Theatre in 1989, directed by Sam Mendes, and in Three Sisters at the Royal Court in 1990.

In 1994, Manville starred in the first series of the BBC sitcom Ain’t Misbehavin’. For her work in the 2000 miniseries Other People’s Children, and the 2002 TV film Bodily Harm, she received nominations for Best Female Actor at the Royal Television Society Awards.

Her extensive television credits include prominent roles in the dramas Holding On (1997), Real Women (1998–99), The Cazalets (2001), North & South (2004) and Cranford (2007).

She also starred in Cards on the Table, a 2006 feature-length episode of Agatha Christie’s Poirot.

Manville has starred in several National Theatre productions, including His Dark Materials (2005), The Alchemist (2006) and Her Naked Skin (2008). She also starred in The Old Vic productions of All About My Mother (2007) and Six Degrees of Separation (2010). In 2009, she played Margaret Thatcher in the Channel 4 drama The Queen.

Manville has appeared in numerous Mike Leigh films throughout her career, including High Hopes (1988), Secrets & Lies (1996), Topsy-Turvy (1999), Vera Drake (2004) and Mr. Turner (2014). Her most notable Mike Leigh films are All or Nothing in 2002 and Another Year in 2010. For both, she won the London Film Critics Circle Award for British Actress of the Year.[14] For Another Year, she also won the National Board of Review Award for Best Actress, and was nominated for the British Independent Film Award for Best Supporting Actress and the European Film Award for Best Actress, as well as the Chicago Film Critics Award for Best Actress.[15][16] She also won Best Supporting Actress from the San Diego Film Critics Society.[17] On 18 January 2011, she received a BAFTA nomination in the Best Supporting Actress category.

On February 7, 2011, former Charlie’s Angels stars Jaclyn Smith and Cheryl Ladd presented the Best Actress Award to her at the “Movies for Grownups Awards.”

In 2011, Manville starred in Mike Leigh’s play Grief at the National Theatre which earned her a Best Actress Olivier Award nomination.

For her role as Helene Alving in the 2013 revival of the Ibsen play Ghosts, she won the 2014 Olivier Award for Best Actress and the Critics’ Circle Theatre Award for Best Actress.

She also appeared in the films Romeo and Juliet (2013) and Maleficent (2014).

Manville was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2015 Birthday Honours.

In the same year, she starred opposite Stellan Skarsgård in the BBC drama River, which earned her a nomination for the 2016 BAFTA TV Award for Best Supporting Actress.

She then starred opposite Peter Mullan in the BBC sitcom Mum, for which she was nominated for the BAFTA TV Award for Best Female Comedy Performance in 2017 and 2019.

In the 2017 period film Phantom Thread, Manville played Cyril Woodcock, the sister of the dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock, played by Daniel Day-Lewis. For her role, she was nominated for the Academy Award and BAFTA for Best Supporting Actress.

In 2020, she played the villainous and intimidating matriarch of an ‘off the grid’ family in the neo-western thriller Let Him Go opposite Diane Lane and Kevin Costner.

Manville was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2021 New Year Honours for services to drama and charity.

In 2022, Manville starred in Anthony Horowitz murder mystery series, Magpie Murders, alongside Daniel Mays, Alexandros Logothetis, Jude Hill, and Claire Rushbrook. Manville also played the role of the titular character in Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris.

Manville’s first boyfriend was actor Peter Duncan whom she met at stage school while attending Italia Conti.

Her first husband was actor Gary Oldman. The pair split in 1989, 3 months after their son, Alfie (born 1988), was born. Her second marriage was to actor Joe Dixon.

In 2007, Manville was living with her son in East Grinstead, West Sussex.

In 2020, she delivered monologue for the Equity Benevolent Fund to support fellow actors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Manville was appointed Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2021 New Year Honours for services to drama and charity.


1985 Dance with a Stranger Maryanne
1987 Sammy and Rosie Get Laid Margy
1987 High Season Carol
1988 High Hopes Laetitia Boothe-Braine
1996 Secrets & Lies Jenny Ford the Social Worker
1999 Milk Fiona
1999 Topsy-Turvy Lucy Gilbert
1999 Toy Boys Mrs. Allen Short film
2002 All or Nothing Penny
2004 Vera Drake Mrs. Wells
2005 The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael Sarah Carmichael
2007 Richard Is My Boyfriend Mother
2007 Sparkle Jill
2009 A Christmas Carol Mrs. Cratchit
2010 Another Year Mary
2010 Womb Judith
2013 Romeo and Juliet The Nurse
2013 A Five Star Life Kate Sherman
2013 Spike Island Margaret Titchfield
2013 The Christmas Candle Bea Haddington
2014 Maleficent Flittle
2014 Mr. Turner Mary Somerville
2015 Molly Moon, the Incredible Book of Hypnotism Miss Adderstone
2016 Rupture Dr. Nyman
2017 Hampstead Fiona
2017 Phantom Thread Cyril Woodcock
2019 Ordinary Love Joan
2019 Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Flittle
2020 Misbehaviour Dolores Hope
2020 Let Him Go Blanche Weboy
2022 Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris Ada Harris, also exec producer
TBA The Critic Not yet released Filming


1974 Village Hall Merle Episode: “Dancing in the Dark”
Softly, Softly: Task Force Janet Episode: “Pop Goes the Weasel”
1974–1976 Emmerdale Farm Rosemary Kendall 48 episodes
1975 Barlow at Large Christine West Episode: “Protection”
1976 The Emigrants Janice Parker 3 episodes
1977 A Bunch of Fives Helen Wyatt 14 episodes
Leap in the Dark Julie Episode: “The Fetch”
King Cinder Nikki 6 episodes
1978 Wings Francoise Episode: “Dawn Attack”
1980 The Gentle Touch Shirley Davis 2 episodes
Grown-Ups Mandy Television film
1982 Objects of Affection Liz Episode: “Our Winnie”
Coronation Street Jill Mason 2 episodes
Our Winnie Student Television short
1984 Play for Today Vivienne Episode: “Dog Ends”
1985 Bulman Karen Tait Episode: “The Name of the Game”
1989 The Firm Sue Bissel Television film
1991 Performance Marlene Episode: “Top Girls”
1992 Soldier Soldier Rachel Elliot 5 episodes
1993 The Mushroom Picker Margot 3 episodes
A Statement of Affairs Carol Episode #1.1
Goggle-Eyes Rosalind Killin 4 episodes
Crime Story Gail Episode: “When the Lies Run Out”
1994 Ain’t Misbehavin’ Melissa Quigley 6 episodes
Little Napoleons Judith Silver 4 episodes
A Skirt Through History Bessie Parkes Episode: “A Lady’s Portion”
1995 Tears Before Bedtime Beattie Freman 4 episodes
1996 The Bite Ellie Shannon 2 episodes
Kavanagh QC Lucy Cartwright Episode: “The Commitment”
1997 Holding On Hilary 7 episodes
Painted Lady Susie Peel Television film
1998–1999 Real Women Karen 7 episodes
1998 Silent Witness Suzy Franklin Episode: “Fallen Idol”
1999 Real Women II Karen Turner 4 episodes
2000 Other People’s Children Nadine 2 episodes
Black Cab Yvonne Episode: “Lost & Found”
David Copperfield Mrs. Micawber Television film
2001 The Cazalets Villy Cazalet 6 episodes
2002 Bodily Harm Mandy Greenfield 2 episodes
Plain Jane Dora Bruce Television film
2003 Promoted to Glory Capt. Annie Sullivan Television film
2004 Rose and Maloney Professor Diane Marquis 2 episodes
North & South Maria Hale 4 episodes
2005 Agatha Christie’s Poirot Mrs. Lorrimer Episode: “Cards on the Table”
2006 Perfect Parents Sister Antonia Television film
2007 Cranford Mrs. Rose 5 episodes
2009–2011 Law & Order: UK Phyllis Gladstone 3 episodes
2009 The Queen Margaret Thatcher Episode: “The Rivals”
2011 Midsomer Murders Phoebe Archbold Episode: “Fit for Murder”
2013 An Adventure in Space and Time Heather Hartnell Television film
Mayday Gail Spicer 5 episodes
2014 Fleming Evelyn St. Croix Fleming 4 episodes
2015 The Go-Between Mrs. Maudsley Television film
River DCI Chrissie Read 6 episodes
2016–2019 Mum Cathy 18 episodes
2017 A Very British Brothel Narrator Documentary
2017–2019 Harlots Lydia Quigley 24 episodes
2019 World on Fire Robina Chase 7 episodes
2020 Save Me Too Jennifer Charles 4 episodes
Love Life Narrator 10 episodes
Talking Heads Susan Episode: “Bed Among the Lentils”
2021 I Am… Maria Episode: “I Am Maria”
2022 Magpie Murders Susan Ryeland 6 episodes
Sherwood Julie Jackson 5 episodes
2022–2023 The Crown Not yet released Princess Margaret Seasons 5 & 6
TBA Dangerous Liaisons Not yet released Genevieve de Merteuil

TBA Disclaimer Not yet released Nancy Upcoming miniseries


1978 Savage Amusement Ali John Caird RSC – Warehouse
1978 The Sons of Light Sister Croy Ron Daniels RSC – Warehouse
1980 Fear of the Dark Jen Walter Donohue Royal Shakespeare Company
1981 Chorus Girls Performer Adrian Shergold Theatre Royal, Stratford East
1978 Who Needs Enemies? Second Student Walter Donohue RSC – Warehouse
1981 Borderline Susan, Valerie Max Stafford-Clark Royal Court
1981 Rita, Sue and Bob Too Sue Andrea Dunbar Royal Court Theatre, London
1982 Top Girls Patient Griselda Caryl Churchill The Public Theater, Off-Broadway
1983 Falkland Sound Performer Max Stafford-Clark Royal Court Theatre, London
1984 The Pope’s Wedding Pat Max Stafford-Clark Royal Court Theatre, London
1984 Saved Liz Danny Boyle Royal Court Theatre, London
1985 Philistines Polya — Royal Shakespeare Company, London
1985 The Dead Monkey Dolores Roger Michell Royal Shakespeare Company, London
1985–1986 As You Like It Phebe Adrian Noble Royal Shakespeare Theatre, London
1986 Les Liaisons Dangereuses Cécile Howard Davies Barbican Centre, London
1989 Serious Money Scilla Max Stafford-Clark Royal Court Theatre, London
1989 American Bagpipes Sandra Lindsay Posner Royal Court Theatre, London
1989 The Cherry Orchard Varya Sam Mendes Aldwych Theatre, London
1990 Three Sisters Natasha Adrian Noble Royal Court Theatre, London
1990 Miss Julie Miss Julie — Greenwich Theatre
2005 Some Girl(s) Lindsay David Grindley Gielgud Theatre[36]
2005 His Dark Materials Mrs. Coulter Nicholas Hytner National Theatre, London
2006 Pillars of the Community Lona Marianne Elliott Lyttelton, NT, London
2006 The Alchemist Dol Common Nicholas Hytner National Theatre, London
2007 All About My Mother Manuela Tom Cairns The Old Vic, London
2008 Her Naked Skin Celia Cain Nicholas Hytner National Theatre
2010 Six Degrees of Separation Ouisa Kittredge David Grindley The Old Vic, London
2011 Grief Dorothy Mike Leigh National Theatre
2013 Ghosts Helene Alving Richard Eyre Almeida Theatre, London
2015 The Illiad Performer Rupert Gould Almeida Theatre, London
2015 Ghosts Helene Alving Richard Eyre Brooklyn Academy of Music
2016 Long Day’s Journey into Night Mary Tyrone Richard Eyre Bristol Old Vic
2018 Wyndham’s Theatre
Brooklyn Academy of Music
Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
2020 The Visit Claire Zachanassian Jeremy Herrin National