Daughter of Australian actor Barry Otto and graduate of the prestigious NIDA theatrical school (which spawned such down-under luminaries as Mel Gibson and Judy Davis), Miranda Otto's role as Eowyn in the Lord of the Rings trilogy had the four-time AFA nominated actress excited and overwhelmed. Likening the experience to being in The Wizard of Oz, Otto speculated that the trilogy will withstand the test of time, endearing itself to generations to come as a timeless fantasy for all ages.
Gaining critical recognition for roles in such films as The Girl Who Came Late (1991) and Gillian Anderson's Last Days of Chez Nous, Otto made her feature debut in Emma's War (1986). Otto's portrayal of a daughter who is blind to the crippling tolls that World War II has taken on her fragile mother led the actress to roles in many critically acclaimed but little-seen films. After a decade of powerful roles in Australian films, Otto gained Hollywood recognition in the late '90s with roles in Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line (1998) and as the mysterious neighbor in Robert Zemeckis' supernatural thriller What Lies Beneath (2000). In addition to her appearance in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Otto's other 2001 films include the offbeat comedy Human Nature, scripted by Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich). Her role as an affectionate French lab assistant proving without question that her comic skills were indeed as intact as her dramatic skills, it wasn't long before the offers were rolling in and Otto was deemed the new "it" girl.
Next turning up in the barely-released thriller Hypnotic (aka Doctor Sleep), Otto gained positive notice for her supporting role despite the fact that the film went largely unseen. Both that film and the subsequent indie-drama Julie Walking Home (2002) proved a perfect low-key balance to the grandiose second chapter in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. A bleak tale of a mother's desperate and unyielding last ditch attempts to save her cancer-stircken son when mainstream medicine fails him, Julie Walking Home ultimately proved too melodramatic for many though Otto was frequently singled out for praise by critics for her powerful and moving performance. In 2003 Otto re-teamed with Human Nature star Rhys Ifans for the quirky comedy Danny Deckchair. The tale of a man who, desperate to escape his mundane day-to-day reality, takes to the sky by means of some large helium balloons and a sturdy deck chair, Donny Deckchair once again found the genre hopping Otto utilizing her comic abilities to charming effect as a parking cop who becomes the eponymous character's love interest.
In the years to follow, Otto would find no shortage of varied and interesting roles, enjoying TV success with shows like Cashmere Mafia and the mini-series The Starter Wife, as well as in movies like In Her Skin and Blessed.