With her moony eyes, broad forehead, and chiseled facial features, British actress Polly Walker embodies a direct throwback to an earlier era -- a reincarnation of late '60s glamour goddesses such as Twiggy and Veruschka. Unsurprisingly, she continues to earn frequent comparisons to these mod cover girls in the press. Walker's depth and breadth as an actress, however, arguably far exceed that of her predecessors.
Born in 1966, Walker received classical training as an actor with that crème de la crème of acting ensembles, the Royal Shakespeare Company (or RSC). She demonstrated extraordinary versatility in her early Hollywood roles, which included everything from an assassin (in the Harrison Ford-headlined 1992 political thriller Patriot Games) to the coke-snorting, gossip-mad denizen of a Manhattan apartment complex in the Joe Eszterhas-scripted erotic thriller Sliver (1993) -- both for Aussie import director Phillip Noyce. Additional features in which Walker appeared through the end of the 1990s include Restoration (1994), Talk of Angels (1998), and Peter Greenaway's 8 1/2 Women (1999), opposite Amanda Plummer and Toni Collette. Walker earned a whole new generation of fans with her impassioned portrayal of Atia of the Julii in the HBO series Rome (2005-2007), about the evolution of the titular city from Republic to Empire.
Walker's resumé also includes a few guest appearances on the series Waking the Dead and a key role in the short-lived thriller series State of Play (both in the U.K.). She was particularly memorable and impressive -- and had an opportunity to draw on her classical roots -- with her portrayal of Lucetta, the epileptic and expectant mistress of Michael Henchard, in the made-for-television Thomas Hardy adaptation The Mayor of Casterbridge (2001). In the years to come, Smith would remain active on screen, appearing on series like Caprica and Prisoners Wives.