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Sarah Miles (born 31 December 1941) is an English theatre and film actress. Her best-known films include The Servant (1963), Blowup (1966), Ryan's Daughter (1970) and Hope and Glory (1987).

Sarah Miles
Christopher Miles directs his sister Sarah Miles in 1980 (cropped).jpg
Sarah Miles, 1980
Born (1941-12-31) 31 December 1941 (age 77)
Ingatestone, Essex, England
Years active1961–2004
Spouse(s)Robert Bolt
(1967–1975; divorced)
(1988–1995; his death)

Early lifeEdit

Sarah Miles was born in the town of Ingatestone, Essex, in south east England; her brother is film director, producer, and screenwriter Christopher Miles. Miles's parents were Clarice Vera Remnant and John Miles, of a family of engineers; her father's inability to secure a divorce from his first wife meant Miles and her siblings were born illegitimate.[1] Through her maternal grandfather Francis Remnant, Miles claims to be the great-granddaughter of Prince Francis of Teck (1870–1910), thus a second cousin once removed of Queen Elizabeth II.[2][3]

Unable to speak until the age of nine because of a stammer[4] and dyslexia,[5] she attended Roedean, and three other schools, but was expelled from all of them.[4] Miles enrolled at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) at the age of 15. Shortly after finishing at RADA, Miles debuted as Shirley Taylor, a "husky wide-eyed nymphet"[6] in Term of Trial (1962), which featured Laurence Olivier; she was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Newcomer.


Soon afterwards, Miles had a role as Vera from Manchester in Joseph Losey's The Servant (1963), and "thrust sexual appetite into British films" according to David Thomson.[6] She gained another BAFTA nomination, this time as Best Actress. She had a "peripheral" part in Michelangelo Antonioni's Blowup (1966).[6] At Antonioni's death in 2007, she referred to him as "a rogue and a tyrant and a brilliant man".[7]

After acting in several plays from 1966 to 1969, Miles was cast as Rosy in the leading title role of David Lean's Ryan's Daughter (1970). It was critically savaged, which discouraged Lean from making a film for some years, despite her performance gaining her an Oscar nomination and an Oscar win for John Mills, and the film making a substantial profit. In Terence Pettigrew's biography of Trevor Howard, Miles describes the filming of Ryan's Daughter in Ireland in 1969. She recalls, "My main memory is of sitting on a hilltop in a caravan at six in the morning in the rain. There was no other actor or member of the crew around me. I would sit there getting mad, waiting for either the rain to stop or someone to arrive. Film-acting is so horrifically belittling."[8]

On 11 February 1973, while filming The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing, aspiring screenwriter David Whiting, briefly one of her lovers,[9] was found dead in her motel room. She was acquitted of culpability in his death.[4][10] Miles later commented: "It went on for six months. Murder? Suicide? Murder! Suicide! Murder! Suicide! And, gradually, the truth came out, which I'm not going to speak about, but it certainly wasn't me. I had actually saved the man from three suicide attempts, so why would I want to murder him? I really can't imagine."[4]

Her performance as Anne Osborne in The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea (1976) was nominated for a Golden Globe. Interviewer Lynn Barber wrote of Miles' appearances in Hope and Glory, White Mischief, and her two earliest films that she "has that Vanessa Redgrave quality of seeming to have one skin fewer than normal people, so that the emotion comes over unmuffled and bare."[5]

Filming White Mischief on location in Kenya in 1987, Miles worked for the second and last time with Trevor Howard, who had a supporting role, but was by then seriously ill from alcoholism. The company wanted to fire him, but Miles was determined that Howard's distinguished film career would not end that way. In an interview with Terence Pettigrew for his biography of Howard, she describes how she gave an ultimatum to the executives, threatening to quit the production if they got rid of him. The gamble worked. Howard was kept on. It was his last major film; he died the following January.

She most recently (2008) appeared in Well at the Trafalgar Studios and the Apollo Theatre opposite Natalie Casey.[citation needed]

Personal life and familyEdit

Miles was married twice to the British playwright Robert Bolt, 1967–1975 and 1988–1995.[11] He wrote and directed the film Lady Caroline Lamb, in which Miles played the eponymous heroine, and wrote Ryan's Daughter, as well. After his stroke, the couple reunited and Miles cared for him. "I would be dead without her", Bolt said in 1987, "When she's away, my life takes a nosedive. When she returns, my life soars."[12] The couple had a son, Tom, who is now a watch dealer.[13]

Miles stated, in 2012, that she has been drinking her own urine for over 30 years, as she feels it improves her health in a variety of ways.[14]


Year Film Role Notes
1962 Term of trial Shirley Taylor Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Newcomer
1963 The Servant Vera Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best British Actress
The Ceremony Catherine
1965 Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines Patricia Rawnsley
I Was Happy Here Cass Langdon Also known as Time Lost and Time Remembered
1966 Blowup Patricia
1970 Ryan's Daughter Rosy Ryan Nominated – Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
1972 Lady Caroline Lamb Lady Caroline Lamb
1973 The Hireling Lady Franklin
The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing Catherine Crocker
1974 Great Expectations Estella
1975 Bride to Be Pepita Jiménez
1976 The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea Anne Osborne Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
1978 The Big Sleep Charlotte Sternwood
1981 Priest of Love Film Star
Venom Dr. Marion Stowe
1984 Ordeal by Innocence Mary Durant
1985 Steaming Sarah
1986 The Harem Lady Ashley [15]
1987 Hope and Glory Grace Rowan Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
White Mischief Alice de Janzé
1992 The Silent Touch [pl] Helena
2001 Days of Grace Sissi, La Madre
Jurij Martina, directrice clinica
2003 The Accidental Detective Smeralda Mazzi Tinghi


Year Title Role Notes
1974 Great Expectations Estella Dynasty Jennifer Blackwood
1983 Walter and June June
1987 Queenie Lady Sybil
1990 A Ghost in Monte Carlo Emilie/Mme. Bluet
1994 Dandelion Dead Catherine Armstrong TV mini-series
2004 Poirot: The Hollow Lady Angkatell


Sarah Miles has written the following books:

  • A Right Royal Bastard. Pan Book. 1994. p. 368. ISBN 0-330-33142-6. 1st part of memoirs
  • Serves Me Right. Macmillan. 1994. p. 384. ISBN 0-333-60141-6. 2nd part of memoirs
  • Bolt from the Blue. Phoenix. 1997. p. 272. ISBN 0-7538-0229-5.
  • Beautiful Mourning. Orion. 1998. p. 352. ISBN 0-7528-0140-6.


  1. ^ A Right Royal Bastard, Sarah Miles, Macmillan, 1993, p. 26
  2. ^ Sarah Miles, A Right Royal Bastard (1993), p. 20: "Clarice... the eldest child of Francis (Frank) Remnant, bastard son of Prince Francis of Teck, Queen Mary's brother. Sexy old Frank, as he was known, came over when Mary married Prince George, who became George V, and had a cuddle with the seamstress in the White Lodge at Richmond."
  3. ^ Rhoda Koenig, BOOK REVIEW Confessions of a willful Pusscat: 'A Right Royal Bastard' dated Sunday 12 December 1993 at Retrieved 2 December 2011
  4. ^ a b c d Barry Egan "I can't wait to get off this planet", The Independent (Ireland), 16 September 2007
  5. ^ a b Lynn Barber "Interview: Out to lunch with Sarah", The Independent, 12 July 1992
  6. ^ a b c David Thomson A New Biographical Dictionary of Film, London: Little Brown, 2002, p.594
  7. ^ "Blow-Up director Antonioni dies", BBC News, 31 July 2007
  8. ^ Terence Pettigrew Trevor Howard: A Personal Biography, London: Peter Owen, 2001, p.149
  9. ^ Christopher Hastings "Sarah Miles: Sex, Spooks and Steven Spielberg", The Sunday Telegraph, 7 September 2008
  10. ^ Ron Rosenbaum, "The Corpse as Big as the Ritz", The Secret Parts of Fortune (reprinted from Esquire)
  11. ^ Calder, John (23 February 1995). "Obituary: Robert Bolt". The Independent. Retrieved 6 February 2012.
  12. ^ John Stark "Sarah Miles Stars in An Incredible Story of Scandal and Love—and No, It's Not Her New Film, Hope and Glory, It's Her Life", People, 28:21, 23 November 1987
  13. ^ "Case Study". Caroline Phillips. Retrieved 25 July 2014.
  14. ^ Daven Hiskey (15 November 2012). "Death by Golden Shower". Retrieved 25 November 2012.
  15. ^ VHS Tape – 1992 R&G VIDEO L.P. Sherman Oaks, CA 91403. ISBN 1-56068-536-0

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