Brn in Nottingham, England, on May 13, 1977, Samantha Morton turned to television acting as a teen before embarking on a film career with projects like Emma, Under the Skin and Steven Spielberg's Minority Report. Morton earned Academy Award nominations for her roles in Sweet and Lowdown and In America, with additional work including Morvern Callar, The Libertine and Elizabeth: The Golden Age.
Early Life and Career
Samantha Jane Morton was born on May 13, 1977, in Nottingham, England. One of six children, Morton's parents divorced when she was 3 years old, and due to an abusive family environment, she spent much of her childhood in foster care. Morton dropped out of school at the age of 13. Having long dreamed of becoming an actress, she enrolled in an acting workshop in Nottingham.
Morton began appearing on British television at age 14, most notably in the serial Soldier, Soldier. Her breakthrough role came in a 1994 episode of the British TV drama Cracker, on which she played a young girl who becomes pregnant by the head of a religious cult. She also appeared as a prostitute in the British miniseries Band of Gold, shown in the United States in 1995, on HBO.
Morton gained a measure of recognition for her roles in three acclaimed BBC/A+E TV productions: She played Harriet Smith in Emma (1997), the title role in Jane Eyre (also 1997) and Sophia Western in an adaptation of Tom Jones (1998). Her feature film debut, in the low-budget drama Under the Skin (1997), earned her a best actress honor from the Boston Society of Film Critics.
Career Takes Off
The pace of Samantha Morton's career moved up several notches in 1999, when she made no fewer than five films. She first garnered praise for her starring role in Dreaming of Joseph Lees (1999), also featuring Rupert Graves. Also in 1999, she turned in an impressive performance—and scored an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress—as the long-suffering mute companion of Sean Penn's dissolute jazz guitarist in Sweet and Lowdown, written and directed by Woody Allen. Other films that she completed in 1999 include Jesus' Son, the comedy caper The Last Yellow and Pandemonium, in which she played the very pregnant wife of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (played by Linus Roache).
After appearing in several small-budget films that never saw release in the United States, Morton began production on Steven Spielberg's $80 million sci-fi thriller Minority Report. In 2004, she received an Academy Award nomination for her performance in In America.
On February 5, 2000, Morton gave birth to her first child, a daughter named Esme, fathered by actor Charlie Creed-Miles (1997's The Fifth Element), Morton's co-star in The Last Yellow. The couple lives in London.
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