Samantha Morton

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On Oscar night 2000, new mum and best supporting actress nominee Samantha Morton found her planned outfit was a bit tight, thanks to her curvaceous post-pregnancy figure. So instead, she donned a Sex Pistols t-shirt because, well, it was the only clean thing that fitted.

But seeing "all the real movie star outfits" at the ceremony, she says, "I looked and felt ridiculous I'm sure people thought I was trying to make a political statement. As I walked up the red carpet, I vowed: 'If this Oscar thing ever happens for me again, I'll get a proper frock'."

Her chance would come sooner than she thought. Just four years later, Samantha would once again need to find an ensemble for the most highly-anticipated awards show of the year. But this time she'd be up for the big one best actress for In America.

Born on May 13, 1977, the daughter of a coal miner and a factory worker, Samantha was raised alongside eight siblings in a three-bedroom council house in a poor Nottingham neighbourhood. As a small child, however, an abusive family situation led to her being placed in foster care. "I was finally taken away from home when I went to school with bruises all over me and a bust lip," she explains.

The troubled youngster, who says she felt like "an unwanted parcel", cut loose at the age of 13. Dropping out of school she began to attend Central TV junior workshops. "For the first time in my life I was taken seriously," she says. "I was told I had talent. I was encouraged and it saved me."

Though she says she doesn't want to be treated as "some Nottingham urchin", Samantha has an unequivocal approach to her humble beginnings. "All I will say about my past is I'm very proud that I've been in care and I am who I am now," she says, "because there are millions of people in care and it's like a stigma."

She was just 14 when she landed her first professional job, presenting a wildlife show for kids, and throughout the Nineties she continued to earn a living through TV work and small films. By the end of the decade Samantha, who'd never seen a Woody Allen film, landed her breakthrough role in the director's acclaimed 1999 movie Sweet And Lowdown, which garnered her a best supporting actress nomination. Since then, her movie choices which are, she says, "never based on money" have been varied, with her role alongside Tom Cruise in Minority Report marking her first blockbuster.

"Intense", "tenacious", "willful" and "Meryl Streep with an edge" is how filmmakers have described her, and Samantha agrees that she is "incredibly difficult to work with". That determination and striving for excellence has served her well, however. Happy with daughter Esme whose father is the actress' The Last Yellow costar Charlie Creed Miles she's also enjoying a skyrocketing career and a flourishing relationship with boyfriend Brett Shaw.

The straight-talking young star reckons her experience is the ultimate Cinderella story. "Without sounding conceited," she says, "I'm living a fairytale."
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