Family & Companions
An acclaimed British actress noted for her portrayals of high-strung females, Jane Lapotaire has more or less concentrated on the stage but has offered memorable turns in features and TV programs. Born and raised in Ipswitch, she was trained for the stage at the prestigious Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, joining their company in 1965. After two seasons, Lapotaire moved to the newly-formed National Theatre where she distinguished herself in secondary roles. She moved up to leading lady as one of the co-founders of the Young Vic Theatre, undertaking Katherine in "The Taming of the Shrew" and Jocasta in "Oedipus" (both 1970-71). After a decade spent playing leads in many of Shakespeare's comedies, Lapotaire landed the breakthrough role of Edith Piaf in Pam Gems' acclaimed "Piaf." Fully capturing the petite chanteuse, she earned numerous accolades and traveled to the USA to recreate the role on Broadway in 1981. (The show was filmed and aired in syndication.) Since her acclaimed turn, she has continued to create finely etched characters in plays as varied as "Shadowlands" (1989-90), "Ghosts" (1993) and "Henry VIII" (1998).
After a bit role in the biopic "Isadora" (1968), Lapotaire made an impression as the doomed French maid in the thriller "Crescendo" (1969). She again played a servant, this time the handmaiden Charmian to Hildegard Neff's Queen of the Nile in Charlton Heston's film adaptation of "Antony and Cleopatra" (1971). Among her other occasional forays into film are the title role in the 1977 TV biopic "Marie Curie," the alcoholic wife of a wealthy man (Gene Hackman) in "Eureka" (1983), a troubled Mary Tudor in "Lady Jane" (1986) and the Russian-born wife of the phlegmatic artist in "Surviving Picasso" (1996).
Cast (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
After mother's marriage, "adopted" by stepfather when she was 12 years old (date approximate)
Member of Bristol Old Vic Company; made professional stage debut in "When We Were Married"
Had early film role in "Isadora"
Supported Laurence Olivier in the National Theatre production of "The Merchant of Venice"
Played the servant Charmian in "Antony and Cleopatra", directed and adapted by and starring Charlton Heston
Played title role in British TV production, "Marie Curie"
Returned to the RSC for three years
Played Cleopatra in "Anthony and Cleopatra" on the PBS broadcast of "The Shakespeare Plays"
Recreated London stage role of "Piaf" on Broadway; received Tony Award as Best Actress in a Play
Played "Piaf" in syndicated TV version
American TV-movie debut "To Catch a King" (HBO)
Had featured role in ABC miniseries "Napoleon and Josephine: A Love Story"
Rejoined the RSC as company member
Played the artist's first wife in the Merchant-Ivory film "Surviving Picasso"
Toured USA in RSC production of "Henry VIII", playing Katherine of Aragon
Starred as Maria Callas in "Master Class" on tour in the United Kingdom; tour interrupted when she underwent emergency brain surgery