Imelda Staunton in Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? (Photo: Johan Persson)

9 things you probably don’t know about Imelda Staunton

By Carly-Ann Clements, Published March 28, 2018

We all know Imelda Staunton. She’s a wildly successful actress in all fields. Throughout her career she’s starred in some of the most highly-acclaimed films and TV shows, as well as stage productions. And at 62, she’s appearing on stage and in the West End more than ever. She’s also winning and being nominated for awards left, right, and centre. And though she has one of the most recognisable faces and voices in the UK, she’s a bit of an enigma. So here are nine facts about the legend, Imelda Staunton.

Looking for more fascinating theatre star facts? Here are 10 things you didn’t know about Andrew Lloyd Webber, and 7 about Chicago star Cuba Gooding Jr.

Imelda Staunton earned an Olivier Award nomination in her first London show

After attending RADA, Imelda spent six years between 1976 to 1982 in English repertory theatre. In 1982, she made her London debut in The Beggar’s Opera at the National Theatre Cottlesloe – now known as the Dorfman Theatre. Her turn as Lucy Lockit won her her first Olivier nomination. 1982 is also the year Sir Kenneth Branagh won his first Olivier Award and the year Dame Judi Dench won two Olivier Awards.

Imelda Staunton is an Olivier Award magnet

So far in her career, Imelda has won 4 Olivier Awards and has been nominated for 13. The only other woman who has won or been nominated for more Olivier Awards is Judi Dench, who has been nominated 15 times and won 8 – including the Special Award in 2004.

Imelda Staunton holds an Olivier Award record with Dame Judi Dench

Judi and Imelda are the only actresses to be nominated for two awards in the same year, too. Judi was nominated (and won) Best Actress and Best Actress in a Musical in 1996. She was also nominated for Best Actress in a New Play and Best Actress in a Revival in 1982.

Imelda has been nominated for this year’s Best Actress in a Musical for Follies, as well as Best Actress for Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?. She was also nominated for Best Actress in a Musical and Most Promising Newcomer in 1982 for The Beggar’s Opera.

Imelda has been honoured by the Queen

In 2006, Imelda was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE). A decade later, in 2016, she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). Both honours were for services to drama.

Imelda Staunton is married to actor Jim Carter

For the past 35 years, Imelda has been married to Downton Abbey’s Jim Carter. They met while performing in Guys And Dolls at the National Theatre in 1982 and are still happily married today. The couple have one child together, actress Bessie Carter, who was born in 1993.

The whole Staunton-Carter family have performed together

In 2007, Imelda, Jim, and Bessie all appeared in the BBC series Cranford.

Imelda Staunton’s dog is a stage star, too

Imelda doesn’t stop at performing with the human members of her family, she’s acted with her dog, too. Her terrier Molly appeared as Momma Rose’s pup Chowsie in the Chichester run of Gypsy alongside her.  

Imelda hates Professor Dolores Umbridge

Next to her Oscar-nominated role in Vera Drake, Professor Dolores is probably what she’s known best for internationally. She appeared in Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix, Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince, and Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 as the character, but that much time didn’t warm her up to Dolores’… charms. During an interview on podcast EW’s Binge, she called Dolores Umbridge “a bloody monster” – a sentiment echoed by many, we’re sure.

Imelda Staunton is not a stranger to nerves

Though she’s a powerhouse, Imelda is very humble when it comes to her talents. Prior to appearing in Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?, she admitted that she likes “new writing, mostly,” in an interview with The Guardian. “Maybe it’s that I’m slightly intimidated by having to follow in very, very big shoes,” she continued, showing not only her immense humility but also seriousness towards her craft.

Imelda Staunton is nominated for two Olivier Awards this year. Follow along on Sunday 8 April 2018 to find out if she wins.

imelda staunton jim carter Olivier Awards who's afraid of virginia woolf