Phyllida Law

Active - 1969 - 2014  |   Born - May 8, 1932 in Glasgow, Scotland  |   Genres - Drama, Comedy

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An esteemed actress, known both for her portrayals of flinty, dry-witted women and her real-life role as the mother of actresses Emma and Sophie Thompson, Phyllida Law has been acting in her native Britain for over 40 years. Born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1932 and married to fellow actor Eric Thompson until his death in 1982, Law has spent much of her career working as a character actress both on television and in film. She has done particularly notable work in Douglas McGrath's 1996 adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma, which cast her as the meddlesome Mrs. Bates (and daughter Sophie Thompson as her equally meddlesome daughter Miss Bates); Alan Rickman's acclaimed drama The Winter Guest, in which she and daughter Emma starred as an estranged mother and daughter; and Nigel Cole's Saving Grace (2000), a comedy in which she portrayed the busybody neighbor of a woman (Brenda Blethyn) who has taken to growing pot in her backyard. An accomplished performer on stage, screen, and even radio plays, Law also authored books in which she discussed her experiences caring for her mother, who suffered from dementia, with refreshing, light hearted humor and wit.

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  • Worked as a costumer for a ballet company in Scotland and at the Bristol Old Vic before becoming an actor.
  • Starred in a 1971 stage performance of A Voyage Round My Father with Sir Alec Guinness.
  • Ran an antique shop with her husband for five years.
  • Wrote a book, How Many Camels Are There in Holland?, about caring for her mother, who suffered from dementia.
  • Starred in a BBC Radio play entitled Hector's House of Windsor in 2013.
  • Named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen's 2014 Birthday Honours.