Lesley Manville

Active - 1970 - 2022  |   Born - Mar 12, 1956 in Brighton, Sussex, England  |   Genres - Drama, Comedy

Share on

Biography by Andrea LeVasseur

A member of director Mike Leigh's hardworking repertory cast, British actress Lesley Manville started acting in U.K. television dramas during the early '80s. After her debut feature in 1985 for the crime drama Dance With a Stranger, she found her place in comedy-dramas with Clare Peploe's High Season. The next year, she began her longtime collaboration with Mike Leigh for the comedy High Hopes, followed by Secrets and Lies and Topsy-Turvy. She married actor Gary Oldman and had a son, but the couple divorced soon after they both appeared in the made-for-TV movie The Firm in 1988. She continued to work in British miniseries, TV movies, and short films throughout the '90s, including an appearance as Mrs. Micawber in a TNT version of David Copperfield. Manville finally gained a lead role in Leigh's All or Nothing in 2002, as Penny, a grocery store clerk married to taxi cab driver Phil (frequent Leigh leading man Timothy Spall).

Movie Highlights

See Full Filmography


  • Trained as a soprano singer from the age of 8, but chose to pursue a career in acting instead.
  • Made her professional stage debut in the West End musical I and Albert in 1972.
  • Met director Mike Leigh in 1979 and the two have frequently collaborated, beginning with a 1980 episode of BBC2 Playhouse called "Grown-Ups."
  • Part of the Royal Shakespeare Company's original 1985 staging of Les liaisons dangereuses, with Alan Rickman playing Valmont.
  • Appeared in The Cherry Orchard at the Aldwych Theatre in London in 1989, opposite Judi Dench and Bernard Hill, and directed by Sam Mendes.
  • Played Ouisa in the 2010 revival of Six Degrees of Separation at the Old Vic. 
  • Was awarded the OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2015 Queen's Birthday Honours List, for her services to drama.