Formerly known as Jessica Stevenson (she officially changed her name in 2007 to her married name, despite having used her maiden name professionally for more than a decade), actress and screenwriter Jessica Hynes was born in Lewisham, England, but raised in Brighton. As a youth, Hynes gravitated to stage performance and enlisted in the National Youth Theatre ensemble when she was in her teens. Hynes broke into features at the age of 21, with a role in Peter Greenaway's The Baby of Macon; several years of various performance activities then ensued, including a substantial part in a straight-faced nursing drama on British television and participation in a two-woman comedy act called "the Liz Hurleys" (opposite actress Katy Carmichael). Hynes' most substantial acclaim, however, arose from two long-running comedic stints on television: the role of nutty neighbor Cheryl in the situation comedy The Royle Family and an assignment developing, writing, and starring in the popular sitcom Spaced (1999), as Daisy Steiner, alongside Simon Pegg.
Taking the success of these ventures as a cue, Hynes then branched out into feature films, with small offbeat characterizations in productions including Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004), Shaun of the Dead (done with several Spaced creators including Pegg), and Son of Rambow. Fantasy enthusiasts may also recall her voice work as Mafalda Hopkirk, who reprimands Harry via a letter from the Ministry of Magic for his improper use of magic in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007). Off-camera, Hynes remained fully active in stage pursuits and was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Theatre Award for her contribution to the play The Night Heron in 2003.