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Suzanna Hamilton (actress)
Known for Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)

  • Birth Place: London, England
  • Nick Name: Zanna
  • Aka: Zanna Hamilton
  • Biography: This under-acclaimed and rather obscure British actress is best known on the big and small screen alike for playing beguiling, often enigmatic characters who tend to combine an appearance of childlike tenderness and vulnerability with provocative sexuality underneath. Suzanna Hamilton was discovered by filmmaker, Claude Whatham, at age 12 in a children's experimental theater in north London in the early 1970s. She starred in her first feature, "Swallows and Amazons", based on the popular Arthur Ransome children's book, in 1974. Whatham also cast her as Princess Alexandra in the BBC miniseries, "Disraeli". She received her acting training at the Anna Scher Theatre School and the Centre School of Speech and Drama in London. For her first major screen role, she played Izz Huett, the lovesick dairymaid, in Roman Polanski's 1979 film, "Tess", based on the classic Thomas Hardy novel, "Tess of the d'Urbervilles", and starring Nastassja Kinski in the title role. Her next significant role was in Richard Loncraine's 1982 film, "Brimstone and Treacle", based on Dennis Potter's play of the same name. In this film, Suzanna starred as Patricia Bates, the traumatized, catatonic daughter of a devoutly religious, middle-aged Home Counties couple whose lives are changed by a demonic drifter and con man played by Sting. She was also featured in the BBC television mystery, "A Pattern of Roses", with a young Helena Bonham Carter, in 1983. Her next major big-screen appearance is also her most famous and arguably her finest. In "Nineteen Eighty-Four", she was perfectly cast as Julia in writer/director Michael Radford's film of George Orwell's classic dystopian novel. Her uncommonly bold, affecting and physically revealing performance, opposite John Hurt's Winston Smith, earned her some notoriety and a bit of a minor cult following over the years as the film's reputation has steadily grown. Looking back, it is not hard to see why. 1985 was a very active year. She starred in British playwright David Hare's film, "Wetherby", opposite Vanessa Redgrave. In this film, Hamilton's character, Karen Creasy, is the sullen former friend of a young man who committed suicide, and she represents the emotional void at the heart of contemporary British life with all its repressions, denials, and disaffection -- "a central disfiguring blankness" as one character calls it. Her next role was as the equestrienne, Felicity, in Sydney Pollack's Oscar-winning "Out of Africa", based on the memoirs of the famed Danish writer, Karen Blixen (AKA Isak Dinesen). In one memorable exchange, she steals a scene from Meryl Streep. After this point, Ms. Hamilton's major film career was effectively over. In a magazine interview she said that she felt all of her ambitions had been realized about this time, and her subsequent screen roles were mostly in obscure European films made in exotic locations as well as numerous British television dramas. In the 1987 German film, "Devil's Paradise", which was shot in Thailand and based on a Joseph Conrad story, she plays a saxophonist in an all-woman band touring colonial dives in southeast Asia. In 1988, she starred in another low-budget German film, a short called "The Voice", opposite the British cult actor, Jon Finch (of Polanski's "Macbeth" and Hitchcock's "Frenzy" fame). Hamilton also starred in the well-received 1986 television drama called "Johnny Bull", with Peter MacNichol, Jason Robards, Colleen Dewhurst, and Kathy Bates. Shortly after, she played the winsome Anglo-French spy, Matty Firman, in "Wish Me Luck", a British World War II miniseries from 1987, and starred in the miniseries based on Barbara Taylor Bradford's "Hold the Dream." She made a striking appearance as the inscrutable femme fatale, Anna Raven, in the 1989 BBC miniseries "Never Come Back", a murky, noirish conspiracy thriller which takes place on the eve of the London blitz. Suzanna also turned in an admirable performance in the excellent 1990 British television film, "Small Zones", as a strong-willed Russian poetess whose subversive writings have led to her indefinite imprisonment in a bleak Soviet holding cell. She had a supporting role in a 1992 TV film of Barbara Cartland's Regency-period bodice-ripper, "Duel of Hearts". Her next film role came with 1992's low-budget Gothic horror romance, "Tale of a Vampire". Written and directed by a 27-year-old Japanese-British film student, Shimako Sato, Suzanna made a dual appearance, both as Ann, a librarian mourning the death of her boyfriend, as well as Virgina Clemm, the wife of Edgar Allan Poe and long-lost love of a lonely melancholic vampire played by Julian Sands. In the 1990s, she had a recurring role as Dr. Karen Goodliffe on the British TV hospital drama series, "Casualty". When she became pregnant in early 1993, her character had to be written out of the show. Her last film of note was 1997's "Island on Bird Street", a Danish period drama made in the Dogme 95 style concerning an orphaned Jewish boy who dodges the Nazis in occupied Europe during World War II. In this film, Suzanna has a brief cameo as the mother of a girl whom the boy befriends. She is also an accomplished theater and radio actress. She made her first West End appearance on the London stage in 1982, starring in Tom Stoppard's play, "The Real Thing". In 1993, she played the lead as a Welsh maid who gets in over her head in the Bush Theater production of Lucinda Coxon's "Waiting at the Water's Edge"; in 2002, she was cast as Creusa in a Gate Theater production of Euripides' "Ion"; and in early 2005, she appeared as Dora, a tough, bereaved, guilt-ridden lesbian incarcerated in a 1920s asylum in the Salisbury Playhouse production of Charlotte Jones' chamber drama, "Airswimming". She also lent her voice to a 1991 audio-book recording of Julian Barnes' novel about a love triangle called "Talking It Over". Suzanna Hamilton has since retired from film-acting to raise her son, Lowell, who was born in October 1993. However, she still makes the occasional television appearance and continues to do theater and voice work.
    This under-acclaimed and rather obscure British actress is best known on the big and small screen alike for playing beguiling, often enigmatic characters who tend to combine an appearance of childlike tenderness and vulnerability with provocative sexuality underneath.

    Suzanna Hamilton was discovered by filmmaker, Claude Whatham, at age 12 in a children's experimental theater in north London in the early 1970s. She starred in her first feature, "Swallows and Amazons", based on the popular Arthur Ransome children's book, in 1974. Whatham also cast her as Princess Alexandra in the BBC miniseries, "Disraeli". She received her acting training at the Anna Scher Theatre School and the Centre School of Speech and Drama in London.

    For her first major screen role, she played Izz Huett, the lovesick dairymaid, in Roman Polanski's 1979 film, "Tess", based on the classic Thomas Hardy novel, "Tess of the d'Urbervilles", and starring Nastassja Kinski in the title role.

    Her next significant role was in Richard Loncraine's 1982 film, "Brimstone and Treacle", based on Dennis Potter's play of the same name. In this film, Suzanna starred as Patricia Bates, the traumatized, catatonic daughter of a devoutly religious, middle-aged Home Counties couple whose lives are changed by a demonic drifter and con man played by Sting. She was also featured in the BBC television mystery, "A Pattern of Roses", with a young Helena Bonham Carter, in 1983.

    Her next major big-screen appearance is also her most famous and arguably her finest. In "Nineteen Eighty-Four", she was perfectly cast as Julia in writer/director Michael Radford's film of George Orwell's classic dystopian novel. Her uncommonly bold, affecting and physically revealing performance, opposite John Hurt's Winston Smith, earned her some notoriety and a bit of a minor cult following over the years as the film's reputation has steadily grown. Looking back, it is not hard to see why.

    1985 was a very active year. She starred in British playwright David Hare's film, "Wetherby", opposite Vanessa Redgrave. In this film, Hamilton's character, Karen Creasy, is the sullen former friend of a young man who committed suicide, and she represents the emotional void at the heart of contemporary British life with all its repressions, denials, and disaffection -- "a central disfiguring blankness" as one character calls it. Her next role was as the equestrienne, Felicity, in Sydney Pollack's Oscar-winning "Out of Africa", based on the memoirs of the famed Danish writer, Karen Blixen (AKA Isak Dinesen). In one memorable exchange, she steals a scene from Meryl Streep.

    After this point, Ms. Hamilton's major film career was effectively over. In a magazine interview she said that she felt all of her ambitions had been realized about this time, and her subsequent screen roles were mostly in obscure European films made in exotic locations as well as numerous British television dramas. In the 1987 German film, "Devil's Paradise", which was shot in Thailand and based on a Joseph Conrad story, she plays a saxophonist in an all-woman band touring colonial dives in southeast Asia. In 1988, she starred in another low-budget German film, a short called "The Voice", opposite the British cult actor, Jon Finch (of Polanski's "Macbeth" and Hitchcock's "Frenzy" fame).

    Hamilton also starred in the well-received 1986 television drama called "Johnny Bull", with Peter MacNichol, Jason Robards, Colleen Dewhurst, and Kathy Bates. Shortly after, she played the winsome Anglo-French spy, Matty Firman, in "Wish Me Luck", a British World War II miniseries from 1987, and starred in the miniseries based on Barbara Taylor Bradford's "Hold the Dream."

    She made a striking appearance as the inscrutable femme fatale, Anna Raven, in the 1989 BBC miniseries "Never Come Back", a murky, noirish conspiracy thriller which takes place on the eve of the London blitz. Suzanna also turned in an admirable performance in the excellent 1990 British television film, "Small Zones", as a strong-willed Russian poetess whose subversive writings have led to her indefinite imprisonment in a bleak Soviet holding cell. She had a supporting role in a 1992 TV film of Barbara Cartland's Regency-period bodice-ripper, "Duel of Hearts".

    Her next film role came with 1992's low-budget Gothic horror romance, "Tale of a Vampire". Written and directed by a 27-year-old Japanese-British film student, Shimako Sato, Suzanna made a dual appearance, both as Ann, a librarian mourning the death of her boyfriend, as well as Virgina Clemm, the wife of Edgar Allan Poe and long-lost love of a lonely melancholic vampire played by Julian Sands.

    In the 1990s, she had a recurring role as Dr. Karen Goodliffe on the British TV hospital drama series, "Casualty". When she became pregnant in early 1993, her character had to be written out of the show. Her last film of note was 1997's "Island on Bird Street", a Danish period drama made in the Dogme 95 style concerning an orphaned Jewish boy who dodges the Nazis in occupied Europe during World War II. In this film, Suzanna has a brief cameo as the mother of a girl whom the boy befriends.

    She is also an accomplished theater and radio actress. She made her first West End appearance on the London stage in 1982, starring in Tom Stoppard's play, "The Real Thing". In 1993, she played the lead as a Welsh maid who gets in over her head in the Bush Theater production of Lucinda Coxon's "Waiting at the Water's Edge"; in 2002, she was cast as Creusa in a Gate Theater production of Euripides' "Ion"; and in early 2005, she appeared as Dora, a tough, bereaved, guilt-ridden lesbian incarcerated in a 1920s asylum in the Salisbury Playhouse production of Charlotte Jones' chamber drama, "Airswimming". She also lent her voice to a 1991 audio-book recording of Julian Barnes' novel about a love triangle called "Talking It Over".

    Suzanna Hamilton has since retired from film-acting to raise her son, Lowell, who was born in October 1993. However, she still makes the occasional television appearance and continues to do theater and voice work.

Movies - View all clips

1984 (1984) 3 clips of total 3 clips Full Frontal 2006-07-09
Brimstone And Treacle (1982) 3 clips of total 3 clips Full Frontal 2006-05-15