While only in her mid-twenties, British actress Victoria Hamilton won laudatory reviews from every important London newspaper for roles in the plays of William Shakespeare and Henrik Ibsen and in film adaptations of the novels of Jane Austen. "I have rarely seen an actress more movingly convey the ravages of time and experience," a Daily Telegraph critic wrote in May 1997 of her performance as Nina in Ibsen's The Seagull. "Victoria Hamilton's Cressida...is a remarkable creation," a Guardian critic opined in July 1996 after seeing Hamilton play Cressida in Shakespeare's play Troilus and Cressida. In October 1995, a Daily Mail critic wrote of her stage presence in Ibsen's The Master Builder: "There are moments when a new young artist arrives on a stage and instantly the performance ignites the entire production." For her Master Builder performance as Hilde Wangel, she earned a nomination for a 1995 Ian Charleson Award for Best Classical Actor (under the age of 30). In 1996, she won the London Critics' Circle Award for Best Newcomer and, in 2000, the London Critics' Circle Award as Best Actress for her role as Rosalind in Shakespeare's As You Like It. These achievements helped win her the lead role as Queen Victoria (1819-1901) in a major TV miniseries, Victoria and Albert. After the production debuted in 2001, she received the commendation of critics worldwide as an actress of rare talent. While preparing for the role, she made a spooky discovery: Her height (5'4"), head, wrist, and ankle size were exactly the same as the queen's. While growing up in Guildford, Surrey, Hamilton attended Priors Field, a private school where her curriculum included drama. One week before she was to enroll at Bristol University to work toward an English degree, she told her father (a Guildford advertising executive) and mother (a teacher) that she had decided to study acting instead. But after she performed auditions for the most important drama schools, they rejected her one after another, saying her acting was poor. One year after these rejections, the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art finally accepted her and trained her in the classical tradition. After another year passed, she was performing on the London stage in Sir Peter Hall's production of The Master Builder. Though self-effacing and sweetly pretty, Hamilton can breathe fire and exude sensuality when performing -- but only if she is serving art and the scenes are tasteful. Because she is devoted to classic literature, she has rejected roles in high-profile, Hollywood-style movies in favor of parts in film and television productions such as Mansfield Park (1999), King Lear (1997), The Merchant of Venice (1996), Pride and Prejudice (1995), and Persuasion (1995). However, she has not ruled out performances in big-budget motion pictures for sometime in the future.
Biography by Mike Cummings
- Was visited by actors from the National Theatre while in high school, after working with them, one told her she should pursue drama professionally.
- Was rejected from several prominent drama schools; one year after finally being accepted, was on stage in Peter Hall's The Master Builder.
- Chose to do five years of classical theater before film, to emulate idols like Judi Dench and Ian Holm.
- Has a reputation for costume drama, having spent much of her career on Jane Austen and Shakespeare adaptations.
- Promoted a Buy a Brick fundraiser for the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford.