Oscar Actors: Morton, Samantha

Samantha Morton


Oscar Nominations: 2

Supporting Actress, Sweet and Lowdown (1999)
Best Actress, In America (2002)

With only a handful of film credits to her name, British actress Samantha Morton earned a reputation as one of the most critically lauded thespians of the late 1990s. Small-boned and possessed of almost elfin features, Morton, who was born in Nottingham in 1977, began acting on TV at the age of 13. She appeared in a number of series, including the popular crime drama CRACKER and such costume extravaganzas as JANE EYRE and EMMA.


Morton became known to an international audience in 1997, when she won wide acclaim for her wrenching, fearless portrayal of a young woman driven to promiscuous behavior by the death of her mother in Carine Adler's UNDER THE SKIN.


The following year, she did starring work in THE LAST YELLOW and DREAMING OF JOSEPH LEES, playing the girlfriend of a small-time crook in the former and a dissatisfied young woman harboring romantic feelings for her long-absent second cousin (Rupert Graves) in the latter.


In 1999, Morton's name became an increasingly familiar one to American filmgoers, thanks to starring roles in two very different films. The first, JESUS' SON, cast the actress as a heroin addict, while the second, Woody Allen's SWEET AND LOWDOWN, featured her as a shy, mute woman who gets used and abused by a legendary jazz guitarist (Sean Penn) whose musical talent runs in inverse proportion to his qualities as a human being. Heralded for both films, Morton scored a surprise Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for the latter.


Not resting on the laurel, the actress immediately set to work with a pair of venerable cineastes, directors Julien Temple (in PANDEMONIUM) and Amos Gitai (in his first English-language production, EDEN). Director Steven


Spielberg soon cast Morton in a small but pivotal role as a shivering, near-mute, clairvoyant “Precog” in his Blade Runner-esque mystery MINORITY REPORT, which premiered in the summer of 2002. Though the film would introduce Morton to her largest audience yet, it was a pair of independent features released in late 2002 and 2003 that would garner her even more significant critical attention.


Teaming with the maverick Scottish director Lynne Ramsay, the actress would essay the enigmatic, directionless title character in MORVERN CALLAR, a dreamy, elliptical adaptation of Alan Warner's cult novel. About a year later, Morton would see the release of IN AMERICA, Jim Sheridan's acclaimed slice-of-life tale of an Irish family immigrating to New York City's Hell's Kitchen, for which she would receive her second Oscar Award nomination, this time for Best Actress.


In 2004 she appeared in two films: Michael Winterbottom's CODE 46 with Tim Robbins, and Roger Michell's ENDURING LOVE.  In 2005, she appeared in Vincent Ward's RIVER QUEEN and Laurence Dunmore's THE LIBERTINE. Morton would go on to depict the infamous child killer Myra Hindley in the 2006 television film LONGFORD, for which she received an Emmy nomination and a Golden Globe win for Best Supporting Actress.


In 2007, Morton took on the role of a Marilyn Monroe lookalike who befriends a Michael Jackson impersonator in Harmony Korine’s MISTER LONELY, which she followed up with a portrayal of Mary Stuart in ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE.


In 2008, Morton appeared in the highly anticipated Charlie Kaufman film SYNECHOCHE, NEW YORK.