vera-drake.jpgImelda Staunton is an appropriately lauded acting talent in her native England, but has only recently come to wider recognition in the United States. The British actress, born on this day in 1956, received many awards and innumerable nominations (including an Oscar nod) for her turn as the accommodating, doting mother who moonlighted as an abortionist in Mike Leigh’s Vera Drake (2004). Despite the accolades, Staunton lost the Academy Award to Hilary Swank, with whom she is currently starring in this month’s Freedom Writers. You can also catch the actress alongside many of the U.K.’s most respected entertainers in the latest Harry Potter installment, to be released later this year.

Film Star Factoid:
Before turning to minor roles in films such as Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility (she played the peppy wife to Hugh Laurie’s stoic Mr. Palmer) and John Madden’s Shakespeare In Love (whre she guarded the door during a nighttime tryst), Staunton was heralded as a major stage talent in her home country. She is a three-time winner of the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award—for 1986’s A Chorus of Disapproval and The Corn is Green and in 1991 for .