Shirley Henderson

Active - 1990 - 2020  |   Born - Nov 24, 1965 in Forres, Moray, Scotland  |   Genres - Comedy Drama, Drama, Comedy, Romance

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Biography by Jason Buchanan

A former childhood thrush who has since moved on to find success as an actress, Scottish-born stage and screen star Shirley Henderson has come a long way from her working-class roots with roles in such internationally popular features as Bridget Jones's Diary, Once Upon a Time in the Midlands, and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. The eldest of three sisters whose striking voice set her apart from the pack, Henderson found early success on the local music circuit before moving on to study drama at Kirkaldy Technical College. Her tenure at Kirkaldy eventually led her to study at the acclaimed Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and it wasn't long before Henderson made an impression on the stages of The National Theater, The Royal Court, and the Hampstead Theater. Equally adept at performances of both the classical and contemporary variety, Henderson's stage experience served her well when she appeared opposite Robert Carlyle in the 1995 television series Hamish Macbeth. After going international the following year with a role in the big-screen hit Rob Roy, Henderson would next appear opposite Carlyle once again in the heroin-flavored arthouse hit Trainspotting. A key role in director Michael Winterbottom's 1999 drama Wonderland, coupled with critical acclaim for her role in the same year's Topsy-Turvy, gave Henderson a reputation for versatility and talent onscreen, with subsequent supporting roles in The Claim and 24 Hour Party People finding her becoming something of a stock player for Winterbottom. A role as the eponymous characters' best friend in the 2001 comedy Bridget Jones' Diary found Henderson's profile rising on the other side of the Atlantic, and in 2002, the then-36-year-old actress pulled off the unlikely feat of portraying Hogwarts student Moaning Myrtle in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Arthouse success in Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself served well to balance out Henderson's mainstream success, and after appearing in a series of shorts, the increasingly busy actress appeared in no less than three films in 2004, including the eagerly anticipated sequel Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.

Movie Highlights

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  • Spotted singing in a talent competition as a teen while on a family holiday, which led to her playing gigs at local working men's clubs, singing the likes of Abba, The Carpenters and Barbara Streisand.
  • Made her breakthrough in 1995 in British comedy drama Hamish Macbeth.
  • Played the role of a 14-year-old ghost, Moaning Myrtle, in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets at the age of 35, making her the oldest actor to play a Hogwarts student.
  • Was the first actress to have won the Best Actress award at the Cherbourg-Octeville Festival of Irish and British Film twice.
  • Frequently collaborates with British director Michael Winterbottom.