- Trained as a soprano singer from the age of 8, but chose to pursue a career in acting instead.
- Made her professional stage debut in the West End musical I and Albert in 1972.
- Met director Mike Leigh in 1979 and the two have frequently collaborated, beginning with a 1980 episode of BBC2 Playhouse called "Grown-Ups."
- Part of the Royal Shakespeare Company's original 1985 staging of Les liaisons dangereuses, with Alan Rickman playing Valmont.
- Appeared in The Cherry Orchard at the Aldwych Theatre in London in 1989, opposite Judi Dench and Bernard Hill, and directed by Sam Mendes.
- Played Ouisa in the 2010 revival of Six Degrees of Separation at the Old Vic.
- Was awarded the OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2015 Queen's Birthday Honours List, for her services to drama.
- 2016, BAFTA Television Awards — Best Supporting Actress: Nominee
- 2011, BAFTA Film Awards — Best Supporting Actress: Nominee
- 2010, European Film Awards — European Actress: Nominee
- 2012, Olivier Awards — Best Actress: Nominee
- 2014, Olivier Awards — Best Actress: Winner
- Joe Dixon — Ex-husband
- Alfie Oldman — Son
- Gary Oldman — Ex-husband
- Peter Duncan — Ex-significant Other
- Birth Place: Brighton, Sussex, England
- Profession: Actor
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