Anne-Marie Duff (born 8 October 1970) is an English actress and narrator.

Anne-Marie Duff
Duff in 2007
Born (1970-10-08) 8 October 1970 (age 53)[1]
EducationDrama Centre London (BA)
  • Actress
  • narrator
Years active1995–present
(m. 2006; div. 2016)

After graduating from Drama Centre London, Duff made television appearances in Trial & Retribution, Amongst Women and Aristocrats in the late 1990s. She made her breakthrough as Fiona Gallagher on the Channel 4 drama series Shameless and as Queen Elizabeth I in The Virgin Queen; both earned her BAFTA nominations for Best Actress. She was awarded the BAFTA Cymru Award for Best Actress for her work in the 2007 television film The History of Mr Polly. Further television roles include Claire Church in From Darkness (2015), Ma Costa in the BBC and HBO series His Dark Materials (2019), Erin Wiley in Sex Education (2020–2021), Tracy Daszkiewicz in The Salisbury Poisonings (2020) and Grace Williams in Apple TV+ series Bad Sisters (2022–present); earning her a British Academy Television Award for Best Supporting Actress for the latter.

In film, Duff has had roles in Enigma (2001), The Magdalene Sisters (2002), Notes on a Scandal (2006), French Film (2008), The Last Station (2009) and Nowhere Boy (2009), alongside Shameless co-star David Threlfall; the latter earned her a nomination for the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. She later appeared in Before I Go to Sleep (2014) and Suffragette (2015).

Early life and education


Duff was born in London on 8 October 1970, the youngest of two children of Irish immigrants: her father, a painter and decorator at Fuller's Brewery in Chiswick, was from County Meath and her mother was from County Donegal and worked in a shoe shop.[3][4] The family lived in Southall, London, and Duff attended Mellow Lane School. While at school, she joined the school choir, where she discovered she could 'really sing'. She paid for singing lessons with a woman who taught classical singing, who made a huge impact. Duff initially thought about pursuing a career as a singer and talked about it in great depth with her teacher, who looked at her and said, 'I think you have the soul of an actor.'[5] At an early age, Duff attended a local youth theatre, Young Argosy, linked to the Argosy Players, in order to battle her shy nature; she soon became hooked on the stage. After further study of Film and Theatre, at the age of 19, she attended the Drama Centre in London, alongside John Simm, Anastasia Hille and her good friend Paul Bettany.[6]



Screen work


Duff made her first television appearance in ITV drama Trial & Retribution as Cathy Gillingham for two episodes in 1997. She later made appearances in series such as Amongst Women, in Aristocrats as Lady Louisa Lennox and in 2003 BBC television film Charles II: The Power and the Passion as Henrietta of England. She first came to the attention of the British public in 2002 for her work playing Margaret in The Magdalene Sisters.[7] She also had a minor role in Holby City as Alison McCarthy. Duff played Holly in the first series of Simon Nye sitcom, Wild West, alongside Dawn French and Catherine Tate in 2002. In 2002, Duff appeared in her first major film role as Margaret McGuire in The Magdalene Sisters.

Duff's first critical acclaim came for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth I in the lavish 2005 BBC television miniseries The Virgin Queen, which also starred Tom Hardy, Emilia Fox and Sienna Guillory. For Elizabeth I, she was nominated for the British Academy Television Award for Best Actress in both 2006 and 2007.

Following her breakthrough, Duff ventured into films, first appearing in Notes on a Scandal, alongside Judi Dench. After film roles in Irish film Garage and The Waiting Room, she next appeared in a main role in comedy film French Film and Is Anybody There? in 2008. In 2009, Duff received further attention when she played the mother of John Lennon, Julia Stanley, a role for which she won British Independent Film Award for Best Supporting Actress in Nowhere Boy. She also appeared in The Last Station, a biopic about Leo Tolstoy's later years, in which she played his devoted daughter Sasha. She appeared in less known film roles following this before her appearance in 2014 film Before I Go to Sleep. Throughout this time, Duff continued to appear on mainstream television in Parade's End, a five-part BBC/HBO/VRT television serial adapted from the tetralogy of eponymous novels (1924–1928) by Ford Madox Ford as Edith Duchemin and in BBC One crime drama From Darkness which premiered in October 2015, appearing in the starring role. Of Duff's performance, Metro stated "Not a fan of police procedural dramas? Good, because this ain't that. From Darkness is a character-driven tale of one women's journey and resolve and it includes a bloody brilliant performance by Duff."[8]

In 2015, she played Violet Miller in the film Suffragette, a working-woman who introduces Maud Watts (Carey Mulligan) to the fight for women's rights in east London. "Violet is extraordinary, she's a firebrand - a tornado that comes into Maud's life and changes it forever. I found her thrilling," says Duff.

Duff at the press night for the Royal Exchange Theatre's play Husbands & Sons in 2016

In 2016, Duff was cast in a new BBC animated miniseries of Watership Down, alongside her former husband James McAvoy. It premiered in December 2018; Duff appeared as Hyzenthlay. In 2019, Duff once again appeared with McAvoy in the BBC One and HBO adaption of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials.

In 2020, Duff portrayed Erin Wiley, the estranged heroin addict mother of established character Maeve in the second season of critically acclaimed Netflix original series Sex Education. She later returned to the role for the third season. In June 2020, Duff appeared in a main role as Tracy Daszkiewicz in three-part drama The Salisbury Poisonings. The series portrays the 2018 Novichok poisoning crisis in Salisbury, England, and the subsequent Amesbury poisonings.

Duff narrated the BBC Two documentary Hospital in 2017. The series followed the National Health Service in unprecedented times.

Stage work


An accomplished theatre actor, she has worked extensively with the Royal National Theatre, including its 1996 production of Helen Edmundson's adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace, and also in London's West End (Vassa, Collected Stories). Credits at the National Theatre include Collected Stories, King Lear and the title character in Marianne Elliott's production of George Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan to great acclaim.[9][10] In 2011 she played Alma Rattenbury in Terence Rattigan's final play Cause Célèbre at The Old Vic, directed by Thea Sharrock.[11]

Duff was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award in 2000.

Personal life


Duff married Scottish actor James McAvoy in 2006, and gave birth to their son in 2010.[12] On 13 May 2016, Duff and McAvoy announced they were divorcing.[13] To minimise disruption to their son's life, they initially shared a home in North London when not working elsewhere.[14]

She admits to being "a hopeless romantic. And that means sometimes I'll burn with pain as well as burn with desire, I will. 'Cos that's the nature of opening your heart up to someone else ... This sounds ironic, of course, but sometimes in a marriage you are never closer than the moment at which the two of you decide it's time to finish."[15]

Duff's father called her by the nickname Smudge when she was growing up.[16]



In 2007 she was one of nine female celebrities to take part in the What's it going to take? campaign promoting awareness of domestic abuse in the United Kingdom.[17]




Year Production Role Notes
1998 Mild and Better The Woman Short film
2001 Enigma Kay
2002 The Magdalene Sisters Margaret
2006 Notes on a Scandal Annabel
2007 Garage Carmel
The Waiting Room Anna
2008 French Film Sophie
2009 Is Anybody There? Mum
The Last Station Sasha Tolstoy
Nowhere Boy Julia Lennon
2012 Sanctuary Maire
2013 Closed Circuit Melissa
2014 Before I Go to Sleep Claire
2015 Molly Moon and the Incredible Book of Hypnotism Lucy Logan the Librarian
Suffragette Violet Miller
2016 Miranda's Letter Mother Short film
2017 On Chesil Beach Marjorie Mayhew


Year Production Role Notes
1997 Trial & Retribution Cathy Gillingham 2 episodes
1998 Amongst Women Sheila 2 episodes
1999 Aristocrats Louisa 4 episodes
2000 Reach for the Moon Cath Bird
2001 The Way We Live Now Georgiana 4 episodes
2002 Doctor Zhivago Olya
Holby City Alison McCarthy 1 episode
Wild West Holly 6 episodes
Sinners Anne Marie/Theresa TV film
2003 Charles II: The Power and The Passion Princess Henrietta of England 1 episode
2004–2005, 2013 Shameless Fiona Gallagher Main role
2006 The Virgin Queen Queen Elizabeth I 4 episodes
Born Equal Michelle TV film
2007 The History of Mr Polly Miriam
2008 Pop Britannia Narrator
2009 Margot Margot Fonteyn TV film
2012 Accused Mo Murray 1 episode
Parade's End Edith Duchemin 4 episodes
2015 From Darkness Claire Church All 4 episodes
2016 Murder[18] DCI Mirella Goss 1 episode
2017 Hospital Narrator All 6 episodes
2018 Watership Down Hyzenthlay Miniseries
2019 His Dark Materials Ma Costa TV series
2020–2021 Sex Education Erin Wiley Netflix Original series
2020 The Salisbury Poisonings Tracy Daszkiewicz TV series[19]
2022 Olivier Awards Guest Presenter 1 episode
Suspect Susannah 2 episodes
2022–present Bad Sisters Grace Williams Apple TV+ series
TBA Reunion Christine Filming[20]

Radio and audio

Year Production Role Notes
1997 The Playboy of the Western World Sarah Tansey Radio drama
1998 Twelfth Night Viola
2000 The Art of Love Cypassis
Diary of a Provincial Lady Mamselle Radio series
2001 A Time That Was Sim Radio drama
2003 Stranges and Brothers Rosalind
Carmilla Laura
2004 Life Half Spent Joanne Radio Play
Jane Eyre Narrator Radio drama
2005 Ears Wide Open Diane
Othello Desdemona Audiobook
2006 The Queen at 80 Narrator Radio series
The Possessed Liza/Marya Radio drama
Look Back in Anger Alison Rehearsed reading
2007 Kingdom of the Golden Dragon Narrator Radio drama
2008 Twenty Chickens for a Saddle
2009 The Little Mermaid
2010 Thumbelina
2011 Cause Celebre Alma Rattenbury
2015 Kingdom of Cloud Juliet
The Master and Margarita Margarita
2017 A Streetcar Named Desire Blanche DuBois
2020 Tess of the D'Urbervilles Narrator Audiobook
The Mill on the Floss
2021 The Absolute Book
2022 Unmade Movies: Dennis Potter's The White Hotel


Year Production Role Notes
1994 Uncle Silas Maud Ruthyn
The Mill on the Floss First Maggie
1995 La Grande Magia Amelia
1995–1996 Peter Pan Wendy
1996 War and Peace Natasha
1997–1998 King Lear Cordelia
1999 Vassa Lyudmila
1999–2000 Collected Stories Lisa
2000 A Doll's House Nora
2002 The Daughter in Law Minnie
2004 The Playboy of the Western World Pegín maidhc
2005 Days of Wine and Roses Mona
2007 The Soldier's Fortune Lady Dunce
Saint Joan Joan Olivier Theatre, London[21]
2011 Cause Célèbre Alma Rattenbury Old Vic, London
2012 Berenice Berenice Donmar Warehouse, London
2013 Strange Interlude Nina Leeds National Theatre, London[22]
Macbeth Lady Macbeth Broadway debut, Lincoln Center Theater
2015 Husbands & Sons Lizzie Holroyd Co-production between National Theatre, London and Royal Exchange, Manchester
2016 Oil[23] May Almeida Theatre
2017 Common[24] Mary Royal National Theatre, London
Heisenberg[25] Georgie Wyndhams Theatre, London
2018 Macbeth[26] Lady Macbeth Royal National Theatre, London
2019 Sweet Charity Charity Hope Valentine Donmar Warehouse, London
2022 The House of Shades[27] Constance Webster Almeida Theatre, London

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
2001 Shanghai Television Festival Best Actress
2004 Irish Film and Television Awards Best Actress in a TV Drama Won
2005 Nominated
Broadcasting Press Guild Best Actress Won
British Academy Television Awards Best Actress Nominated
2006 Nominated
Royal Television Society Best Female Actor Won
2007 British Academy Television Awards Best Actress Nominated
Evening Standard Theatre Awards Best Actress Won
Irish Film and Television Awards Best Actress in a Lead Role in Television Nominated
2008 Laurence Olivier Awards Best Actress in a Supporting Role Nominated
Best Actress Nominated
BAFTA Cymru Best Actress Won
Irish Film and Television Awards Best Actress in a Supporting Role Nominated
2010 Evening Standard British Film Awards Best Actress Nowhere Boy Won[28]
BIFA Award Best Supporting Actress Won
London Film Critics' Circle Award British Supporting Actress of the Year Won
BAFTA Award Best Actress in a Supporting Role Nominated
Empire Award Best Actress Nominated
Irish Film and Television Awards Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Film Nominated
Satellite Award Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture Nominated
2012 Irish Film and Television Awards Best Actress in a Film
2015 BIFA Award Best Supporting Actress Nominated
2019 Evening Standard Theatre Awards Best Musical Performance Won
2022 Peabody Award Entertainment Bad Sisters Won
2023 British Academy Television Award British Academy Television Award for Best Supporting Actress Won


  1. ^ "Famous birthdays for Oct. 8: Bella Thorne, Chevy Chase". UPI. 8 October 2022. Retrieved 5 March 2023.
  2. ^ Lane, Harriet (8 February 2004). "Real-life romance". The Observer. Retrieved 31 July 2009.
  3. ^ Day, Elizabeth (20 May 2017). "Anne-Marie Duff on starting over, divorce and her sexually charged role". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022.
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  5. ^ "Desert Island Discs - Anne-Marie Duff - BBC Sounds". Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  6. ^ Lane, Harriet (8 February 2004). "Harriet Lane meets Shameless star Anne-Marie Duff". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 December 2022.
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  8. ^ Lewis, Rebecca (4 October 2015). "Everything you need to know about Anne-Marie Duff's BBC thriller from Darkness". Retrieved 1 September 2016.
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  10. ^ Brown, Peter (13 July 2007). "Saint Joan". Retrieved 31 July 2009.
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  14. ^ Andrew Purcell Archived 3 April 2019 at the Wayback Machine, "James McAvoy, man of many faces, adds another 24 in Split", The Age, 13 January 2017
  15. ^ "Desert Island Discs - Anne-Marie Duff - BBC Sounds". Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  16. ^ "Desert Island Discs - Anne-Marie Duff - BBC Sounds". Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  17. ^ "Women's Aid official collectable card by philropy". Women's Aid. Retrieved 22 October 2021.
  18. ^ "BBC Two - Murder". BBC. Retrieved 16 August 2022.
  19. ^ McIntosh, Steven (14 June 2020). "TV drama revisits Salisbury poison attack 'horror'". BBC News. Retrieved 14 June 2020.
  20. ^ Kessen, David (16 May 2024). "Doncaster film set: This Is England producer starts work shooting his latest film in locations across city". Doncaster Freepress. Retrieved 16 May 2024.
  21. ^ Billington, Michael (12 July 2007). "Theatre review: Saint Joan / Olivier Theatre, London". the Guardian. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
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  28. ^ Masters, Tim (8 February 2010). "Duff and Serkis scoop Standard film awards". BBC News. Archived from the original on 11 February 2010. Retrieved 9 February 2010.