Keisha Castle-Hughes (born 24 March 1990) is a New Zealand actress who rose to prominence for playing Paikea "Pai" Apirana in the film Whale Rider. The film was nominated for many awards, including an Academy Award for Best Actress (at the time the youngest person nominated in the Best Actress category) and an award at the Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards for Best Young Actor/Actress, which she won in 2004.
Castle-Hughes at a press conference for The Vintner's Luck, September 2009
(m. 2013; div. 2016)
|Partner(s)||Bradley Hull (2003–2010)|
Since she made her film debut, Castle-Hughes has appeared in various films including Hey, Hey, It's Esther Blueburger, Piece of My Heart and Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. She also performed as Mary of Nazareth in the 2006 film The Nativity Story. In 2015, she joined the cast of the HBO TV series Game of Thrones in Season 5 as Obara Sand.
Castle-Hughes was born in 1990 in Donnybrook, Western Australia, to a Māori mother, Desrae Hughes, and Tim Castle, an Anglo-Australian father. Her family moved to Auckland, New Zealand when she was four years old. She attained citizenship in 2001. Castle-Hughes attended Penrose High School and graduated from Senior College of New Zealand in Auckland.
In 2002, Castle-Hughes made her debut in the film Whale Rider, in which she played the main role of Paikea Apirana (Pai). Due to not having any previous acting experience, she went directly from her Auckland school classroom to the film set when the shoot began in New Zealand in late 2001. Castle-Hughes received widespread critical acclaim for her performance, and in 2004 she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress at the 76th Academy Awards. Although she did not win the Best Actress award (it went to Charlize Theron for Monster), at age 13 she became the youngest person nominated in this category at the time and the second Polynesian actress, after Jocelyne LaGarde, to be nominated for an Oscar.
She soon followed the role by appearing in Prince's controversial "Cinnamon Girl" music video and with a shoot in Vanity Fair magazine. In 2004, Castle-Hughes was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
In 2005, Castle-Hughes had a small part as Queen Apailana in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. In 2006, she portrayed the starring role of the Virgin Mary in The Nativity Story. New York Times critic, A. O. Scott, said that she "seemed entirely unfazed by the demands of playing Mary. She had the poise and intelligence to play the character not as an icon of maternity, but rather as a headstrong, thoughtful adolescent transformed by an unimaginable responsibility." The Christian-themed film earned only $8 million during its opening week, but its box office surged during the week of Christmas.
Castle-Hughes starred in the Japanese horror film Vampire, and she also played a recurring role as Axl's flatmate in The Almighty Johnsons which premiered in 2011. In 2011 Castle-Hughes also played a minor part in the film Red Dog as Rosa the veterinary assistant and wife of Vanno.
In 2015 she joined the cast of the HBO TV series Game of Thrones in Season 5 as Obara Sand. She pursued a role on the show in part because she is a fan of the books. Castle-Hughes found out that she had won the role the night the Season 4 episode "The Mountain and the Viper" aired, in which her on-screen father's death was shown. She described having a very intense emotional reaction to the scene, because of the connection between the characters on the show.
Castle-Hughes campaigned for Greenpeace as part of the SignOn.org.nz climate campaign in 2009. New Zealand Prime Minister John Key initially admonished her to "stick to acting", but offered a week later to discuss the issues with her over tea after she maintained she knew more about them than he gave her credit for.
In October 2006, when she was 16, it was announced that Castle-Hughes and boyfriend Bradley Hull were expecting a child together. Their daughter, Felicity-Amore Hull, was born on 25 April 2007. Castle-Hughes and Hull broke up in 2010 after seven years together.
In 2012, Castle-Hughes began dating Jonathan Morrison. After six weeks together, the couple became engaged in August 2012. Their wedding took place on Valentine's Day 2013. They were divorced in December 2016.
|2002||Whale Rider||Paikea||Nominated for Academy Award for Best Actress.|
|2005||Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith||Queen Apailana of Naboo|
|2006||The Nativity Story||Mary|
|2008||Hey Hey It's Esther Blueburger||Sunni|
|2009||A Heavenly Vintage||Celeste|
|2009||Piece of My Heart||Young Kat||TV movie|
|2010||Legend of the Seeker||Maia / The Creator||Episode: "Creator"|
|2011–2013||The Almighty Johnsons||Gaia||Series Regular - seasons 1-2, Recurring - season 3|
|2012||Rewind||Priya||TV movie, post-production|
|2014||The Walking Dead||Joan||Episode: "Slabtown"|
|2015–2017||Game of Thrones||Obara Sand||8 episodes|
|2014||Queen of Carthage||Simi||Film|
|2016||Roadies||Donna Mancini||Series regular|
|2017||Thank You for Your Service||Alea|
|2017||Manhunt: Unabomber||Tabby Milgrim|
|2019||FBI||Hana Gibson||Guest Starring Season 1 Episode 18|
|2020||FBI: Most Wanted||Main|
|2003||New Zealand Film and TV Awards||Best Actress||Whale Rider||Won|
|Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Awards||Best Actress||Nominated|
|Academy Awards||Best Actress||Nominated|
|2004||Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards||Best Young Actor/Actress||Won|
|Chicago Film Critics Association Awards||Best Actress||Nominated|
|Image Awards||Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture||Nominated|
|Online Film Critics Society Awards||Best Breakthrough Performance||Won|
|Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards||Best Performance by a Youth in a Lead or Supporting Role – Female||Nominated|
|Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role||Nominated|
|Teen Choice Awards||Choice Breakout Movie Star – Female||Nominated|
|Young Artist Awards||Best Young Actress in an International Film||Won|
|2007||Young Artist Awards||Best Performance in a Feature Film – Leading Young Actress||The Nativity Story||Nominated|
|2009||Qantas TV and Film Awards||Best Supporting Actress||Piece of My Heart||Won|
- "Game of Thrones season five cast announced at Comic Con!". Watchers on the Wall. 25 July 2014. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
- "Keisha Castle Hughes". The New York Times. 9 April 2015. Archived from the original on 10 April 2015.
- "Keisha Castle-Hughes Biography". Encyclopedia of World Biography. Retrieved 6 June 2012.
- Jonathan Marshall; Stephen Cook (8 October 2006). "From Virgin Mary to mum". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 8 December 2012.
- "Academy Invites 127 To Membership". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on 30 June 2004. Retrieved 28 July 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
- The Virgin Mary as a Teenager With Worries The New York Times. 1 December 2006.
- "The Nativity Story (2006)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 5 December 2006.
- For Keisha, the show must go on The Adelaide Advertiser. 23 October 2006.
- "A Visit to the Set of 'Vampire' with Star Kevin Zegers - Bloody Disgusting!". Bloody Disgusting!. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
- "Keisha Castle-Hughes to star in zombie smash". New Zealand Herald. 20 October 2014. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
- "Keisha Castle-Hughes on joining Game of Thrones and playing a 'warrior monk'". Watchers on the Wall. 17 January 2015. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
- "Keisha and Key may talk over tea". Dominion Post. 11 August 2009. Retrieved 17 November 2009.
- "Introducing Felicity-Amore Hull – Keisha speaks about her labor, delivery, and new little girl". celebritybabies.people.com. 8 June 2007. Retrieved 19 January 2011.
- "Keisha in Oscar night assault". New Zealand Herald. 29 February 2012. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
- "Keisha Castle-Hughes engaged". 3 News. 30 August 2012. Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
- Caroll, Joanne; Land, Emma (2 September 2012). "Keisha's wedding shock after six-week romance". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
- "What the gossip mags say". Stuff. 18 February 2013.
- Lu, Anne (22 February 2014). "Keisha Castle-Hughes Opens Up About Bipolar Disorder Following Charlotte Dawson's Death". International Business Times. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
Rangiahua, Sonny. Māori in media. Cambridge, N.Z. : Kina Film Productions, ©2003.