Spotlight on Lesley Manville
| By London Theatre Direct
(Updated on Mar 5, 2018)
Take a look at the fabulous career of Olivier Award-winning actress, Lesley Manville, who recently reprised her role as Mary Tyrone in Long Day’s Journey Into Night.
Lesley Manville was destined to be a big-time performer from a very young age. She was born in Brighton, East Sussex to a former ballet dancer and grew up in the nearby town of Hove where she began her tutelage as a soprano singer at the tender age of eight. Shortly thereafter she demonstrated early signs of success, winning the title of Under-18 Champion Soprano of Sussex twice. When Manville was 15 years old, she was admitted into the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts where a BA (Hons) Acting Course is offered.
Shortly after getting into the vocational program, Manville began her acting career. She debuted on London's West End in John Schlesinger's I and Albert in 1972. But perhaps her most significant work of the time was her recurring role as Rosemary Kendall on the ITV soap opera Emmerdale Farm, in which she appeared in a total of 80 episodes from 1974 to 1976.
Nevertheless, Manville made a name for herself primarily as a theatre actress in these years and acted in a number of new plays at the Royal Shakespeare Company's Warehouse and the Royal Court Theatre, some of the most notable of which include Andrea Dunbar's Rita, Sue and Bob Too (1981), Caryl Churchill's Top Girls (1982), As You Like It (1985) and Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1985–86). In 2014, Manville won an Olivier Award for Best Actress for her role as Helene Alving in the Almeida Theatre production of Ghosts.
The talented actress also crossed over to the big screen, making her film debut in Mike Newell's Dance with a Stranger (1985). Some of her most recent notable work in film includes 2014's Maleficent, in which she starred alongside Angelina Jolie as Flittle, one of the three pixies (formerly known as Fauna in the 1959 animated Disney film Sleeping Beauty). She was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the 90th Annual Academy Awards for her role as Cyril Woodcock in Phantom Thread (2017).
Manville first played Mary Tyrone from Long Day’s Journey Into Night in the 2016 Bristol Old Vic production and even went so far as to call it "the hardest play I've ever done." The role required her to memorise a lot of lines (Mary Tyrone has a lot to say) and Manville reportedly had to start learning them well in advance, claiming that five weeks of rehearsal would not have given her enough time. Manville was lauded for her 2016 portrayal of Mary and it's no surprise that she was asked to come back. Mark Shenton from The Stage wrote of her performance that she brings "febrile and shattered depths" to the role and "fearlessly inhabits a character who this time is trying but failing to manage her own demons."
Be sure to catch award-winning actress Lesley Manville as Mary Tyrone in this limited run of Long Day’s Journey Into Night at Wyndham's Theatre, which will go on until 7 April 2018.