Her first stage performance was at 14, when she played a 60-year-old woman, the lead in Brecht's The Mother.
Her hero growing up was Mrs. Overall, a character played by actress Julie Walters in the BBC spoof Acorn Antiques; years later she and Walters appeared together in an Arthur Miller play.
Her breakthrough role came as Mel Gibson's love interest in his Oscar-winning Braveheart (1995).
In 2008, starred in British stage productions of A Doll's House and The Portrait of a Lady.
The following year, she appeared in another British stage production, Six Characters in Search of an Author.
Has directed small films, and says that, had acting not panned out, she may instead have "been a film director in a different life" or owned "a small cinema somewhere where I could program my own seasons."