An attractive and talented actress who is as comfortable in historical dramas as in modern day thrillers and comedies, Emily Mortimer was born in Great Britain in 1971. Mortimer's father is author John Mortimer, best known for his series of Rumpole of the Bailey mystery novels, and she seems to have absorbed her father's literary influence -- before her career as an actress took off, Mortimer wrote a column for the London Telegraph, and she's served as screenwriter for an screen adaptation of Lorna Sage's book Bad Blood. Mortimer was a student at the prestigious St. Paul's Girls School when she first developed an interest in acting, appearing in several student productions. After graduating from St. Paul's, she moved on to Oxford, where she majored in Russian. Mortimer found time to perform in several plays while studying at Oxford, and while acting in a student production she impressed a producer who cast her in a supporting role in a television adaptation of Catherine Cookson's The Glass Virgin in 1995. Several more television roles followed, including the British TV movie Sharpe's Sword, before she won her first film role, playing the wife of John Patterson (Val Kilmer) in 1996's The Ghost and the Darkness. Mortimer had a much showier role in the Irish coming-of-age story The Last of the High Kings, released later the same year, and in 1998, Mortimer played Miss Flynn in the TV miniseries Cider With Rosie, which was adapted for television by her father, John Mortimer. Also in 1998, Mortimer appeared as Kat Ashley in the international hit Elizabeth, and in 1999, she enjoyed three showy roles that raised her profile outside the U.K.: She was the ill-fated "Perfect Girl" dropped by Hugh Grant in Notting Hill, appeared as Esther in the American TV miniseries Noah's Ark, and was Angelina, the star of the film-within-a-film, in the upscale slasher flick Scream 3. In 2000, Mortimer was cast as Katherine in Kenneth Branagh's ill-fated musical adaptation of Love's Labour's Lost, but the experience had a happy ending for her -- she met actor Alessandro Nivola, and the two soon fell in love and have been together ever since. That same year, Mortimer took on her biggest role in an American film to date, playing opposite Bruce Willis in The Kid, and 2002 promised to be a big year for her, with major roles in two major releases -- The 51st State, starring opposite Samuel L. Jackson, and a key supporting character in John Woo's war drama Windtalkers.
Biography by Mark Deming
- Father John Mortimer authored the popular Rumpole of the Bailey books.
- Was one year behind Rachel Weisz at St Paul's Girls' School.
- Studied English and Russian at Oxford.
- Attended Moscow Arts Theater Drama School for two semesters.
- Played Ophelia in Hamlet at the Oxford Shakespeare Festival while still in school.
- Met husband Alessandro Nivola while they were filming Love's Labour's Lost.
- Holds dual citizenship in the U.S. and England.