British actress, who is known for both her films and her political activity.
The daughter of Sir Michael Redgrave, whose own parents were actors, Vanessa Redgrave trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama and joined the Frinton Summer Repertory in 1957. Since then she has appeared in a variety of stage roles, notably as a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company in the 1960s.
Her film debut came in Behind the Mask (1958), playing opposite her father. Among the many memorable films that followed were Morgan – A Suitable Case for Treatment (1966), which earned her the Cannes Festival Award as Best Actress and an Oscar nomination, Isadora (1968) and Mary Queen of Scots (1972), both of which brought further Academy Award nominations, and Julia (1976), for which she received both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award. She is also remembered for her roles as Queen Guinevere in Camelot and Anne Boleyn in A Man for All Seasons (both 1967). Other films include Agatha (1978), the television film Playing for Time (1980), in which she gave a commanding performance as the Auschwitz-incarcerated French entertainer, Fania Fenelon, The Bostonians (1984), Comrades (1987), Howards End (1992), and Mrs Dalloway (1998). Highlights of her later stage career include a London production of Three Sisters (1990) with her sister, Lynn Redgrave (1944– ). Her daughters Natasha (1963– ) and Joely Richardson (1966– ), both by her marriage (1962–67) to director Tony Richardson (1928–91), have also begun successful acting careers.
Politically active, Redgrave has stood unsuccessfully as the parliamentary candidate for the Workers' Revolutionary Party on several occasions.