Anna Chancellor

One of those ubiquitous supporting players whose faces are instantly recognizable but whose names are rarely remembered, Anna Chancellor bolstered the casts of British films and television series for more than a quarter of a century. Breaking into notability in the mid 1990s with small screen projects like "Kavanagh QC" (ITV 1995-2001), Chancellor only grew more prominent a show business fixture with time. The years thereafter would run her through the genres of drama, romantic comedy, science fiction, and dark satire, proving that almost no corner of the cinematic or television world might aptly survive without her. Anna Theodora Chancellor was born in the town of Richmond in London, England on April 27, 1965. She hailed from an impressive family: her mother, the Hon. Mary Jolliffe, was herself a great granddaughter of Herbert Henry Asquith, the Liberal Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in the early 1900s. This lineage also makes Chancellor a distant relative of actress Helena Bonham Carter. Her paternal bloodline traces her back to a number of Earls, as well as novelist Jane Austen. Chancellor kicked off her screen career with a central role on the sci-fi soap opera series "Jupiter Moon" (Galaxy Channel 1990). The program fell into oblivion following the demolition of its home network, leading Chancellor to pursue work elsewhere. Following a minor part in the comedy "Killing Dad or How to Love Your Mother" (1990) and a handful of one-off television appearances, Chancellor landed her first role of note: Henrietta (a.k.a. "Duckface") in the Hugh Grant rom-com "Four Weddings and a Funeral" (1994), a part that Chancellor herself credited with helping to get her career off the ground in earnest. Soon after, she would take on another of her best known roles: the prominent recurring character Julia Piper on the courtroom and interpersonal drama "Kavanagh QC" (ITV 1995-2001). Also at this time, Chancellor would go onto play Miss Bingley in a miniseries adaptation of "Pride and Prejudice" (BBC One 1995), and the character Anna Griffiths in the partnered miniseries "Karaoke" (BBC One/Channel 4 1996) and "Cold Lazarus" (BBC One/Channel 4 1996). The next several years would afford Chancellor more fortune in the realm of high profile cinema. She landed roles in the Bill Murray comedy "The Man Who Knew Too Little" (1997), the Colin Firth/Amanda Bynes family film "What a Girl Wants" (2003), the Bernardo Bertolucci period piece "The Dreamers" (2003), and the sci-fi comedy "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" (2005). Chancellor juggled films, television programs, and stage productions of repute, starring notably in the dark satire series "Suburban Shootout" (Channel 5 2006-07), the TV movie "Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Irregulars" (BBC 2007) as iconic character Irene Adler, the romantic comedy film "Hysteria" (2011), and the thriller series "The Hour" (BBC Two 2011-12). In 2015, she began a recurring role as the Dowager Lady Anstruther on the esteemed television series "Downton Abbey" (ITV/PBS 2010-).