Harriet Mary Walter
24 September 1950
London, England, UK
|Alma mater||London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art|
|Partner||Peter Blythe (1996–2004; his death)|
Dame Harriet Mary Walter(born 24 September 1950) is a British actress. Known for her extensive work in numerous Royal Shakespeare Company productions, Walter has received an Olivier Award as well as nominations for a Tony Award, five Emmy Awards, and a Screen Actors Guild Award. In 2011, she was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for services to drama.
Walter began her career acting with the Royal Shakespeare Company in productions of Twelfth Night (1987–88) and Three Sisters (1988), for which she received the Olivier Award for Best Actress. She received further Olivier nominations for Life x 3 (2001), and Mary Stuart (2006). Her other notable work for the RSC includes leading roles in Macbeth (1999) and Antony and Cleopatra (2006).
She made her Broadway debut in the 1983 revival of the William Shakespeare play All's Well That Ends Well (1983). She returned to Broadway in Mary Stuart for which she was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play. She reprised her roles of Brutus in Julius Caesar (2012) and the title role in Henry IV (2014), as well as playing Prospero in The Tempest, as part of an all-female Shakespeare trilogy in 2016.
Walter has acted in the films Sense and Sensibility (1995), The Governess (1998), Atonement (2007), The Young Victoria (2009), A Royal Affair (2012), Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), Denial (2016), The Sense of an Ending (2017), Rocketman (2019) and The Last Duel (2021). On television she starred as Harriet Vane in the 1987 BBC Wimsey dramatisations and as Natalie Chandler in the ITV drama series Law & Order: UK from 2009 to 2014. She has also acted in Downton Abbey (2013–15), London Spy (2015), The Crown (2016), Patrick Melrose (2018), Killing Eve (2020), and Silo (2023). She has earned Primetime Emmy Award nominations for her roles in Succession (2018–2023) and Ted Lasso (2021–2023).
Walter was born in London, England. She is the niece of British actor Sir Christopher Lee, being the daughter of his elder sister Xandra Lee. On her father's side, Walter is a great-great-great-great-granddaughter of John Walter, founder of The Times. She was educated at Cranborne Chase School. After turning down a university education, she was in turn rejected by five different drama schools before being admitted to the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. Following her training, she gained early experience with the Joint Stock Theatre Company, Paines Plough touring, and the Duke's Playhouse, Lancaster.
She has worked many times throughout her career with the Royal Shakespeare Company, in productions including Nicholas Nickleby (1980), A Midsummer Night's Dream (1981), as Helena in All's Well That Ends Well (1981), The Castle (1985), Dasha in A Question of Geography, Viola in Twelfth Night (1988), Masha in Three Sisters (1988), The Duchess of Malfi (1989), Macbeth (1999) and Much Ado about Nothing (2002). She returned to the RSC in 2015 to play Linda Loman in Death of a Salesman, directed by Gregory Doran.
She was made an associate artist of the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1987. Her other theatre work includes Three Birds Alighting on a Field (1991), Arcadia (1993), Hedda Gabler (1996), Ivanov (1997) and Mary Stuart (2005).
In New York, she made her Broadway debut in 1983, when the RSC production of All's Well That Ends Well transferred there. In 1993 she starred as Biddy in the Off-Broadway production of Three Birds Alighting on a Field, for which she received a Drama Desk Award nomination. She returned to the Broadway stage in 2009 when she and Janet McTeer reprised their roles in Mary Stuart. In 2014 Walter starred as Brutus in an all-female production of Julius Caesar Off-Broadway and received her second Drama Desk nomination.
Her films include Sense and Sensibility (1995), Bedrooms and Hallways (1998), The Governess (1998), Onegin (1999), Villa des Roses (2002) and Bright Young Things (2003). On television, in 1987, she portrayed Lord Peter Wimsey's love interest Harriet Vane for three instalments of the BBC's A Dorothy L. Sayers Mystery, played Detective Inspector Natalie Chandler from 2009 to 2012 in the ITV drama series Law & Order: UK. Other TV roles include Annie Keel in the 2001 series Waking the Dead, Mrs. Gowan in the 2008 BBC adaptation of Little Dorrit, Clare in A Short Stay in Switzerland (2009) and Lady Shackleton in four episodes of the series Downton Abbey (2013–15). In 2016, she played Clementine Churchill on the Netflix series The Crown, and in 2017, appeared in two episodes of the BBC drama Call the Midwife as Sister Ursula. She appeared in the HBO series Succession (2018–23) as recurring character Lady Caroline Collingwood, mother of the Roy siblings.
On 19 August 2019 Deadline reported that Walter would be joining the cast of the BBC America and AMC series Killing Eve. Walter played Dasha, a Russian exile and former Olympics gymnastics champion who trained Villanelle in assassination.
She is also a patron of several notable charities; the Shakespeare Schools Festival, a charity that enables school children across the UK to perform Shakespeare in professional theatres, Prisoners Abroad, a charity that supports the welfare of Britons imprisoned overseas and their families and Clean Break, a charity and theatre company dedicated to sharing the often hidden stories of imprisoned women, and to transforming the lives of women offenders and—through theatre education—of women at risk of offending.
Walter played Brutus in Julius Caesar in 2012, and the title role in Henry IV in 2014, in all-female productions at the Donmar Warehouse. Both productions transferred to Brooklyn's St. Ann's Warehouse in New York. She was set to reprise both roles, as well as playing Prospero in an all-female production of The Tempest, as part of director Phyllida Lloyd's Shakespeare trilogy at the Donmar's temporary, in-the-round, 420-seat theatre next to King's Cross station in 2016.
Walter's partner from 1996 until his death in 2004 was actor Peter Blythe. She met actor Guy Paul in 2009 and they married in May 2011.
|1985||The Good Father||Emmy Hooper|
|Turtle Diary||Harriet Simms|
|1993||The Hour of the Pig||Jeannie Martin|
|1995||Sense and Sensibility||Fanny Dashwood|
|1996||The Leading Man||Liz Flett|
|1997||Keep the Aspidistra Flying||Julia Comstock|
|1998||Bedrooms and Hallways||Sybil|
|The Governess||Mrs. Cavendish|
|2002||Villa des Roses||Olive Burrell|
|2003||Bright Young Things||Lady Maitland|
|The Young Victoria||Queen Adelaide|
|Morris: A Life with Bells On||Professor Compton Chamberlayne|
|From Time to Time||Lady Dresham|
|2012||A Royal Affair||Augusta of Saxe-Gotha|
|The Wedding Video||Alex|
|2014||Suite Française||Viscountess de Montmort|
|Star Wars: The Force Awakens||Kalonia|
|2017||The Sense of an Ending||Margaret|
|2021||The Last Duel||Nicole de Buchard|
|2022||Your Christmas or Mine?||Iris|
|1980||The Imitation Game||Cathy Raine||Television film|
|1981||The Cherry Orchard||Varya||Television film|
|1984||Amy||Amy Johnson||Television film|
|1985||The Price||Frances Carr||6 episodes|
|1986||Girls on Top||R.S.C. Actress 3||Episode: "Mr. Yummy Brownie"|
|1987||A Dorothy L. Sayers Mystery||Harriet Vane||Main cast, 10 episodes|
|1989||Theatre Night||Sheila||Episode: "Benefactors"|
|1991||Screen Two||Amelia Cleverly||Episode: "They Never Slept"|
|1991||The Men's Room||Charity Walton||Miniseries, 5 episodes|
|1991||Ashenden||Giulia Lazzari||Episode: "The Dark Woman"|
|1993||Inspector Morse||Dr. Esther Martin||Episode: "The Day of the Devil"|
|1993||Performance||Mrs. Dorothy Maitland||Episode: "The Maitlands"|
|1994||Hard Times||Rachel||4 episodes|
|1997||A Dance to the Music of Time||Mildred||Episode: "The Thirties"|
|1998–1999||Unfinished Business||Amy||Main cast, 12 episodes|
|1999||Dalziel and Pascoe||Mary Waddell||Episode: "Time to Go"|
|1999||The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns||Queen Morag||Television film|
|2001||Waking the Dead||Annie Keel||Episode: "A Simple Sacrifice"|
|2003||My Uncle Silas||Pamela Farrell||Episode: "Shandy Lil"|
|2004||London||Virginia Woolf||2 episodes|
|2004||Imagine||Mother||Episode: "The Smoking Diaries"|
|2004||Spooks||Deep Throat||Episode: "Who Guards the Guards?"|
|2005||New Tricks||Madeline||Episode: "Trust Me"|
|2005||Messiah||Professor Robb||3 episodes|
|2005||Midsomer Murders||Margaret Winstanley||Episode: "Orchis Fatalis"|
|2006||Agatha Christie's Marple||Duchess of Malfi||Episode: "Sleeping Murder"|
|2006||Doctors||Annie Fenton||4 episodes|
|2007||Trial & Retribution||The Judge||Episode: "Paradise Lost: Part 1"|
|2007||Five Days||ACC Jennie Griffin||3 episodes|
|2007||Ballet Shoes||Dr. Smith||Television film|
|2008||The Palace||Joanna Woodward||Episode #1.1|
|2008||Fairy Tales||Charlotte Brooks||Episode: "Cinderella"|
|2008||10 Days to War||Anne Campbell||Episode: "Failure Is Not an Option"|
|2008||Agatha Christie's Poirot||Miss Bulstrode||Episode: "Cat Among the Pigeons"|
|2008||Little Dorrit||Mrs. Gowan||Miniseries, 4 episodes|
|2009||Hunter||ACC Jenny Griffin||Miniseries, 2 episodes|
|2009||A Short Stay in Switzerland||Clare||Television film|
|2009–2014||Law & Order: UK||Natalie Chandler||Main cast, 40 episodes|
|2013–2015||Downton Abbey||Lady Shackleton||Recurring role, 4 episodes|
|2013||Midsomer Murders||Diana Davenport||Episode: "Death and the Divas"|
|2013||Heading Out||Angela||2 episodes|
|2013||By Any Means||Sally Walker||Episode #1.4|
|2014||The Assets||Jeanne Vertefeuille||Miniseries, 8 episodes|
|2015||London Spy||Claire||Miniseries, 3 episodes|
|2016||The Crown||Clementine Churchill||Recurring role, 6 episodes|
|2017||Call the Midwife||Sister Ursula||3 episodes|
|2017||Black Sails||Marion Guthrie||3 episodes|
|2018||Patrick Melrose||Princess Margaret||Episode: "Some Hope"|
|2018||Flowers||Hylda||Main cast, 5 episodes|
|2018||Black Earth Rising||Eve Ashby||2 episodes|
|2018||My Dinner with Hervé||Baskin||Television film|
|2018–2023||Succession||Lady Caroline Collingwood||7 episodes|
|2019||Curfew||Helen Newman||4 episodes|
|2019||The Spanish Princess||Lady Margaret Beaufort||Miniseries, 8 episodes|
|2020||The End||Edie||10 episodes|
|2020||Belgravia||Caroline, Countess of Brockenhurst||6 episodes|
|2020||Killing Eve||Dasha||7 episodes|
|2020||Talking Heads||Muriel||Episode: "Soldiering On"|
|2021||Doctor Who||Prime Minister Jo Patterson||Episode: "Revolution of the Daleks"|
|2021–2023||Ted Lasso||Deborah||4 episodes|
|2022||Documentary Now!||Edwina||Episode: "Two Hairdressers in Bagglyport"|
|2022||This Is Going to Hurt||Veronique||Recurring character|
|2023||Silo||Martha Walker||Main cast|
|2023||The Cleaner||Lisa||Episode: "The Transaction"|
She was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2000 New Year Honours and promoted to Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2011 New Year Honours for services to drama.
In 2001 she and Kenneth Branagh were both given honorary doctorates and honorary fellowships at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford.
Her performance in Mary Stuart at the Donmar Warehouse transferred to Broadway, where it was nominated for numerous Tony Awards, including Best Actress nods for her and her co-star Janet McTeer.
|1988||Laurence Olivier||Best Actress in a Revival||A Question of Geography / Twelfth Night / Three Sisters||Won|
|1994||Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Actress in a Play||Three Birds Alighting on a Field||Nominated|
|2001||Laurence Olivier Award||Best Actress||Life x 3||Nominated|
|2005||Evening Standard Award||Best Actress||Mary Stuart||Won|
|2006||Laurence Olivier Award||Best Actress||Nominated|
|2009||Tony Award||Best Actress in a Play||Nominated|
|2014||Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Actress in a Play||Julius Caesar||Nominated|
|2016||Screen Actors Guild Award||Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama Series||The Crown||Nominated|
|2020||Primetime Emmy Award||Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series||Succession||Nominated|
|Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series||Ted Lasso||Nominated|
|2023||Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series||Succession||Pending|
|Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series||Ted Lasso||Pending|