British actress Sally Hawkins parlayed her English refinement into an extremely varied series of roles beginning in the early 2000s -- including occasional crime-themed action pictures, social-consciousness dramas, and contemporary suspensers. She took one of her first international bows as a 19th century lesbian in the U.K. miniseries Tipping the Velvet (2002), appeared as Slasher in Matthew Vaughn's Guy Ritchie-influenced gangster film Layer Cake (2004), and played Susan, a pregnant rich girl desperate for an abortion, in Mike Leigh's searing, heart-wrenching character study Vera Drake (2004). The actress then signed for one of the key roles in Woody Allen's European thriller Cassandra's Dream. She scored her greatest success so far reteaming with Mike Leigh for 2008's Happy-Go-Lucky. Her work earned her a number of year end critics awards including the New York Film Critics award for Best Actress. She followed that up with a small part in the Best Picture nominee An Education, playing a teacher in the sci-fi drama Never Let Me Go, and playing the unlikely leader of a worker's revolt in the British period piece Made in Dagenham. She appeared in the quirky romantic comedy Submarine, and played Mrs. Reed in the well-reviewed 2011 adaptation of Jane Eyre.
Biography by Nathan Southern
- Her parents are authors and illustrators of children's books.
- In 2000, she performed in theatrical versions of Much Ado About Nothing and A Midsummer Night's Dream.
- Wrote and performed for the BBC 4 Radio series Concrete Cow.
- Portrayed Frankenstein author Mary Shelley in the 2003 made-for-TV film Byron.