An intense British theater and film actress who has specialized in neurotic and or frightened woman, Katrin Cartlidge first caught the attention of the art house crowd as the junkie Sophie in Mike Leigh's "Naked" (1993). With her long brunette hair, sharp, malleable features and dancer-like comportment, the talented actress has amassed an impressive list of credits and has been fortunate to work with several of the late 20th Century's most gifted filmmakers, including the aforementioned Leigh, Lars von Trier, and Michael Cacoyannis. Although she has tended to excel as very contemporary characters, the stage-trained Cartlidge has proven equally at home in period films.
The youngest child of a Jewish mother whose family fled Germany in the late 1930s and a Scottish foundling jailed for his pacifist beliefs, Cartlidge began her career in the theater, first working as a dresser for actress Jill Bennett and then as a performer in fringe theater before moving to more "legit" work such as playing Juliet. She made headlines in the London tabloids when she was atypically cast as a violent schoolgirl in the premiere of the popular serial "Brookside" in 1982. After a year on the drama series, Cartlidge returned to the stage to hone her craft, making the occasional appearance on TV (e.g., "Sacred Hearts" 1984) or in film (a cameo in "Eat the Rich" 1987).
Director Mike Leigh was impressed with the actress and cast her in the breakthrough role as the bitter punk bedmate of a grungy loser (David Thewlis) in "Naked." Other roles quickly followed, including Carine Adler's short "Fever" (1994, the precursor of the director's 1997 feature "Under the Skin"), in which she played a promiscuous woman, and the Oscar-nominated foreign film "Before the Sun" (1994), as the married lover of a Macedonian-born photographer. Lars von Trier then cast her as Emily Watson's overprotective sister-in-law in "Breaking the Waves" (1996). While Watson had the showier part and thereby garnered all the acclaim, Cartlidge matched her intensity and to paraphrase Janet Maslin's The New York Times review, represented the rationality which the movie ultimately abandons.
Reteaming with Mike Leigh, Cartlidge starred as the acerbic Hannah, one of the titular "Career Girls" (1997), university chums whose reunion makes them realize where they've been and where they are. The actress then adopted an American accent to star as "Claire Dolan" (1998; released in the USA in 2000), a working girl who attempts to leave behind that way of life in order to have a child. Cartlidge, who was in virtually every scene of the film, bravely undertook this complex and contradictory role and delivered an astonishing tour de force that was nothing short of brilliant. Abandoning contemporary times, the actress played Varya in Michael Cacoyannis' long-awaited filming of Chekhov's "The Cherry Orchard" and then made a cameo appearance as the owner of a Parisian brothel frequented by Sir Arthur Sullivan in Leigh's "Topsy-Turvy" (both 1999).
Cast (Feature Film)
Misc. Crew (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
London stage debut as Juliet in "Romeo and Juliet"
Stage acting debut in "One Rule" at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith
TV series debut as a troubled schoolgirl on the debut episode of the popular British series "Brookside"
Acted in the British TV-movie "Sacred Hearts" (Channel Four)
Feature film debut, "Eat the Rich"
First major film role as the brooding Goth Sophie in "Naked", directed by Mike Leigh
Played featured role in Milcho Manchevski's "Before the Rain"
US TV-movie debut, "Nobody's Children" (USA Network)
Had major supporting role as Emily Watson's repressed sister-in-law in Lars von Trier's "Breaking the Waves"
Teamed again with Mike Leigh for "Career Girls"; played the acerbic Hannah
Had title role of a call girl attempting to break free from her life in "Claire Dolan"; screened at Cannes; released theatrically in the USA in 2000
Made cameo appearance as a Parisian brothel owner in "Topsy-Turvy". directed by Mike Leigh
Portrayed Varya in Michael Cacoyannis' adaptation of "The Cherry Orchard"; released theatrically in the United Kingdom in 2000
Returned to the stage in "Mnemonic" at the Riverside Studios
Had featured role in the murder mystery "Weight of Water"
Cast as one of the ugly stepsisters in Beeban Kidron's modern take on "Cinderella"; aired on Channel 4 on January 1
Appeared on the NYC stage in "Mnemonic" with the Theatre de Complicite
Played a woman who is stalked by a man she once dated in the London stage premiere of "Boy Gets Girl"