Fiona Shaw, CBE (born Fiona Mary Wilson; 10 July 1958) is an Irish actress and theatre director. Although to international audiences she is probably most familiar for her role as Petunia Dursley in theHarry Potter films, she is an accomplished classical actress. Shaw was awarded an honorary CBEin 2001.
Shaw was born in County Cork, Ireland to a mixed-religious couple, and was raised Roman Catholic. Her father was an optic surgeon and her mother was a physicist.
She attended secondary school at Scoil Mhuire in Cork City. She received her degree in University College Cork. She trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London and was part of ‘new wave’ of actors to emerge from the Academy. She received much acclaim as Julia in the National Theatre production of Richard Sheridan’s The Rivals (1983).
Her notable theatrical roles include Young Woman in Machinal, Celia in As You Like It (1984), Madame de Volanges in Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1985), Katherine in The Taming of the Shrew (1987), Winnie in Happy Days (2007), and the title roles in Electra (1988), The Good Person of Sechuan (1989), Hedda Gabler (1991), The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1998) and Medea (2000). She performed T. S. Eliot’s poem The Waste Land as a one-person show at the Liberty Theatre in New York to great acclaim in 1996, winning the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding One-Person Show for her performance.
Shaw played the lead in Richard II, directed by Deborah Warner in 1995. Shaw has collaborated with Warner on a number of occasions, on both stage and screen. Shaw has also worked in film and television, including My Left Foot, Jane Eyre, Persuasion, Gormenghast, and five of the Harry Potter films in which she played Harry Potter’s insufferable aunt Petunia Dursley. Shaw had a brief but key role in Brian DePalma’s The Black Dahlia.
In 2008, she directed her first opera, Riders to the Sea by Vaughan Williams at the ENO.
In 2009, Shaw collaborated with Deborah Warner again, taking the lead role in Tony Kushner’s translation of Bertolt Brecht‘s Mother Courage and Her Children. In a 2002 article for The Daily Telegraph, Rupert Christiansen described their professional relationship as “surely one of the most richly creative partnerships in theatrical history.” Other collaborations between the two women include productions of Brecht’s The Good Woman of Szechuan and Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, the latter was adapted for television.
Shaw appeared in The Waste Land at Wilton’s Music Hall in January 2010 and in a National Theatre revival of London Assurance in March 2010. In November 2010, Shaw starred in Ibsen’s John Gabriel Borkman at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin alongside Alan Rickman and Lindsay Duncan.[clarification needed]
Shaw has become a regular cast member of the TV Show True Blood. Shaw’s character, Marnie Stonebrook, has been described as an underachieving palm reader who is spiritually possessed by an actual witch. Her character leads a coven of necromancer witches who threaten the status quo in Bon Temps, erasing most of Eric Northman’s memories and leaving him almost helpless when he tries to break up their coven.
She has been romantically linked in the press with actress Saffron Burrows. The two appeared together in the National Theatre’s production of The PowerBook, a play based on the novel of the same name by Jeanette Winterson, in which they played lovers. In a December 2009 interview, Shaw described herself as “very happily” single.
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