Date of Birth: February 20, 1946
Blethyn's early stage experience included stints in the stock companies of the
Bubble Theatre and the Belgrade Theatre of Coventry.
In 1975, she joined the Royal National Theatre, where she worked with some of
Britain's leading stage directors. Her roles ranged from Nora in A Doll's
House to Billie Dawn in Born Yesterday.
In 1991, following her work in the Royal Shakespeare Company, Blethyn received
the British Drama Awards' Best Actress prize for her role in Steaming, and The
Theatre World Awards' Outstanding New Talent prize for her role in the Broadway
production of Absent Friends.
Blethyn made her film debut in 1990 with small parts in The Witches and A River
Runs Through It. But it was in 1996 that Blethyn found international success with
the film Secrets and Lies. The film's story was developed through six months of
improvisations with director/writer Mike Leigh and the cast. Blethyn's performance as a woman getting
to know the daughter she never met made her a sensation almost overnight, earning
a Golden Globe and an Academy Award nomination for what was only her third film.
Blethyn received her second Oscar nomination in 1999 for her role as the overbearing mother in Little Voice; and her nomination complemented her growing popularity in Hollywood. She would soon add films such as Billy Bob Thornton's
Daddy and Them (1999), Saving Grace (2000), The Sleeping Dictionary (2003) and Pride & Prejudice (2005) to her resumé.
On television, Blethyn has appeared in BBC productions of King Lear and Henry VI, Part One as well as several series, including The Labours of Erica, The Buddha of Suburbia,Outside Edge and Anne Frank: The Whole Story for which she received a 2001 Emmy nomination. In 2002, Blethyn took part in the London Marathon, and she was awarded an O.B.E. (Officer of the British Empire) in the 2002 New Year's Eve Honors List.
Brenda remains constantly in the awards for her work. To name just a few of the honors she's received, she was nominated a fifth time in 2006 for a BAFTA award for the motion picture Pride and Prejudice and in 2009, she was nominated for an Emmy her guest appearance in the long-running TV series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.