Checked content

Miranda Otto

Did you know...

SOS Children have produced a selection of wikipedia articles for schools since 2005. Click here for more information on SOS Children.

Miranda Otto
Miranda Otto 2012.jpg
Otto at InStyle Women Of Style Awards: Red Carpet 2012
Born (1967-12-16) 16 December 1967
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Occupation Actress
Years active 1985–present
Spouse(s) Peter O'Brien (m. 2003–present)

Miranda Otto (born 16 December 1967) is an Australian actress. The daughter of actors Lindsay and Barry Otto and the sister of actress Gracie Otto, she began acting at age eighteen, and has performed in a variety of independent and major studio films.

Her first major film appearance was in the 1986 film Emma's War, in which she played a teenager who moves to Australia's bush country during World War II. After a decade of critically acclaimed roles in Australian films, she gained Hollywood's attention after appearing in supporting roles in The Thin Red Line (1998) and What Lies Beneath (2000). Her breakthrough role came in 2002, when she portrayed Éowyn in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. More recent work includes a starring role in the 2008 now-cancelled American television series Cashmere Mafia, and Australian films such as In Her Skin and Blessed (2009).

Early life

Otto was born in Brisbane to stage and film actor Barry Otto and former actress Lindsay Otto (who retired from acting upon Miranda Otto's birth). Gracie Otto, Miranda's half-sister, is also an actress. Otto was raised in Newcastle and Brisbane, and briefly resided in Hong Kong following her parents' separation in 1973. She spent weekends and holidays with her father in Sydney and developed an interest in acting through him.

In her childhood, Otto and her friends wrote scripts and designed costumes and flyers in their spare time. She appeared in several plays at the Nimrod Theatre, which attracted the attention of casting director Faith Martin. Subsequently, Otto received a role in the 1986 World War II drama Emma's War. As a teenager, Otto excelled in academics and in ballet, which she considered as a career option. However, she had to abandon this goal due to moderate scoliosis. Otto graduated from the National Institute of Dramatic Art in Sydney in 1990. Prior to graduation, she appeared in minor film roles including Initiation (1987) and The 13th Floor (1988).


Early career

Otto's first post-graduation film role in 1991, as Nell Tiscowitz in The Girl Who Came Late, was her breakthrough role, which brought her to the attention of the Australian film industry and the general public. In the film, directed by Kathy Mueller, she starred as a young woman who could communicate with horses. Her appearance garnered Otto her first Australian Film Institute nomination for "Best Actress" the following year.

Otto's next role was in the film The Last Days of Chez Nous, which portrayed the complex relationships between the members of an Australian family. The film earned Otto her second Australian Film Institute nomination, this time for "Best Supporting Actress". In 1993, Otto co-starred with Noah Taylor in the sexually provocative comedy film The Nostradamus Kid, which was based on the memories of author Bob Ellis during the 1960s. Otto was drawn to the film because she was "fascinated by the period and the people who came out of it." A small role in the independent film Sex Is a Four Letter Word followed in 1995.

In 1995, Otto began to doubt her career choice as she failed to get the parts for which she auditioned. She fled to her home in Newcastle for almost a year, during which she painted her mother's house. In 1996, director Shirley Barrett cast Otto as a shy waitress in the film Love Serenade. She played Dimity Hurley, a lonely young woman, who competes with her older sister Vicki-Ann for the attention of a famous DJ from Brisbane. The film was met with positive reviews and Otto's performance was praised: Steve Rhodes of Internet Reviews felt that Otto's performance was "the most interesting and funniest" of the film.

Otto's first starring roles were in the 1997 films The Well and Doing Time for Patsy Cline. When Otto received the film script for The Well, she refused to read it, fearing that she would not get the part. Otto believed that she could not convincingly play the role of Katherine, who is supposed to be eighteen, as she was thirty years old at the time. The film, directed by Samantha Lang, starred Otto as a teenager involved in a claustrophobic relationship with a lonely older woman. The Well received mixed reviews; critic Paul Fisher wrote that Otto's performance was not "convincing" as she was "playing another repetitious character about whom little is revealed", while Louise Keller stated that Otto had delivered "her best screen performance yet." Otto earned her third Australian Film Institute nomination for the film. Later that year, she co-starred with Richard Roxburgh in the drama Doing Time for Patsy Cline. The low-budget Australian film required Otto to perform country music standards and also received mixed reviews from film critics.

Soon after the release of The Well and Doing Time for Patsy Cline, magazines and other media outlets were eager to profile the actress. In 1997, Otto began dating her Doing Time for Patsy Cline co-star Richard Roxburgh. Her involvement with Roxburgh made her a regular subject of Australian tabloid magazines and media at the time, a role to which she was unaccustomed.

Otto's next project was the romantic comedy Dead Letter Office (1998). The film was Otto's first with her father, Barry, who makes a brief appearance. In the Winter Dark, directed by James Bogle, followed later that year. Otto played Ronnie, a pregnant woman recently abandoned by her boyfriend. The film was a critical success in Australia, and Otto was nominated for her fourth Australian Film Institute Award. A small role in the big-budget World War II film The Thin Red Line, starring George Clooney and Sean Penn, led to further film roles outside of Australia, such as in Italy, where she co-starred as Ruth in the low-budget Italian film La volpe a tre zampe ("The Three-legged Fox"), produced in 2001 and broadcasted for the first time on Italian television in March 2009.


Otto's first Hollywood role was opposite Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer in the suspense thriller What Lies Beneath in 2000. She played Mary Feur, a mysterious next-door neighbour. The film was met with mixed reviews, but was an international success, grossing US$291 million. In 2001, Otto was cast as a naturalist in the comedy Human Nature. Writer Charlie Kaufman, impressed by her audition two years earlier for his film Being John Malkovich, arranged for Otto to audition and meet with the film's director Michel Gondry. Human Nature was both a commercial and critical disappointment. Critic Jeffrey M. Anderson criticized Otto's French accent and wrote that she "doesn't seem to mesh with what's going on around her". That same year, she also appeared in the BBC adaptation of Anthony Trollope's The Way We Live Now, as a strong-willed American Southerner determined to manipulate Cillian Murphy's character into marrying her.

In 1999, Otto was cast as Éowyn, a shieldmaiden of Rohan, in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Director Peter Jackson cast her immediately after viewing the audition video she had filmed in Australia. For the role, Otto spent six weeks learning stunt choreography and horseback riding. Otto's character was introduced in the trilogy's second film The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers in 2002 and appeared in the third film, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, the following year. The Lord of the Rings trilogy was a critical and financial success, and the third film won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2004. Otto's performance earned her an Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

Otto's next project was the Australian television miniseries Through My Eyes: The Lindy Chamberlain Story (2004). The film is a drama that portrays the story of Lindy Chamberlain, who was convicted (in 1982) of killing her baby daughter, Azaria, in one of Australia's most publicized murder trials. Otto was cast as Chamberlain after her husband, Peter O'Brien, had been cast as prosecutor Ian Barker. She was drawn to the role because it provided her with the "prospect of exploring an unconventional character." At the 2005 Logie Awards, Otto won "Most Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series" for her role.

Director Steven Spielberg, impressed by Otto's performance in The Lord of the Rings, called her to ask if she would play opposite Tom Cruise in the big-budget science fiction film War of the Worlds (2005). Otto, pregnant at the time, believed she would have to turn down the role, but the script was reworked to accommodate her. After the birth of her daughter in 2005, Otto took a rest from films to concentrate on motherhood and theatre roles in Australia.

In 2007, Otto starred as Cricket Stewart, the wife of a successful director, in the television miniseries The Starter Wife. That same year, she was cast in the American television series Cashmere Mafia. In the series she plays Juliet Draper, a successful female executive who must rely on her friends to juggle the demands of a career and family in New York City. Otto chose to star in the series because "American television at the moment is so interesting and, particularly, the characters for women are so fantastic" and she "liked the idea of having a character over a long period of time and developing it." The series was cancelled in May 2008.


Otto made her theatrical debut in the 1986 production of The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant for the Sydney Theatre Company. Three more theatrical productions for the Sydney Theatre Company followed in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In 2002, she returned to the stage playing Nora Helmer in A Doll's House opposite her future husband Peter O'Brien. Otto's performance earned her a 2003 Helpmann Award nomination and the MO Award for "Best Female Actor in a Play".

Her next theatre role was in the psychological thriller Boy Gets Girl (2005), in which she played Theresa, a journalist for a New York magazine. Otto committed to the project days before she found out she was pregnant. Robyn Nevin, the director, rescheduled the production from December 2004 to September 2005 so Otto could appear in it. In 2005, Nevin began pre-production on a play that she commissioned especially for Otto.

Personal life

On 1 January 2003, she married actor Peter O'Brien, after the two had met while performing in A Doll's House. Otto and O'Brien have one child, a daughter Darcey, who was born on 1 April 2005. The pregnancy almost forced her to turn down her role in War of the Worlds. Since the birth of her daughter, Otto has limited her work so she can spend time with her family at their home in Australia.

In a 2004 interview, Otto stated that she hopes she will never be as famous as fellow Australian actress Nicole Kidman because she's "not sure [she] could ever deal with that."


Year Title Role Notes
1986 Emma's War Emma Grange
1987 Initiation Stevie
1988 The 13th Floor Rebecca
1991 Girl Who Came Late, The The Girl Who Came Late Nell Tiscowitz Nominated- Australian Film Institute "Actress in a leading role"
1992 Heroes II: The Return Roma Page Television film
1992 Last Days of Chez Nous, The The Last Days of Chez Nous Annie Nominated- Australian Film Institute "Best Supporting Actress"
Nominated- Film Critics Circle of Australia "Best Female Supporting actor"
1993 Nostradamus Kid, The The Nostradamus Kid Jennie O'Brien
1995 Sex Is a Four Letter Word Viv
1996 Love Serenade Dimity Hurley
1997 Well, The The Well Katherine Nominated- Australian Film Institute "Actress in a Leading role"
Nominated- Film Critics Circle of Australia award "Best female actor"
1997 True Love and Chaos Mimi
1997 Doing Time for Patsy Cline Patsy
1998 Dead Letter Office Alice Walsh Nominated- Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards "Best Female actor"
1998 In the Winter Dark Ronnie Nominated- Australian Film Institute "Best Supporting Actress"
1998 Thin Red Line, The The Thin Red Line Marty Bell
1999 Jack Bull, The The Jack Bull Cora Redding Television film
2000 Kin Anna
2000 What Lies Beneath Mary Feur
2001 La volpe a tre zampe ("The Three-legged Wolf") Ruth Filmed in Italian
2001 Human Nature Gabrielle
2001 Way We Live Now, The The Way We Live Now Mrs. Hurtle Television miniseries
2002 Doctor Sleep Clara Strother
2002 Julie Walking Home Julie
2002 Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Éowyn Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
Nominated— Empire Award for Best Actress
Nominated— Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
Nominated— Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2003 Danny Deckchair Glenda Lake
2003 Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Éowyn Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast
National Board of Review Award for Best Cast
Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Nominated— Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress
2004 In My Father's Den Penny
2004 Through My Eyes: The Lindy Chamberlain Story Lindy Chamberlain Television miniseries;

Logie Award "Silver Logie for Most Outstanding Drama Actress"
Nominated- Australian Film Institute "Best Lead television actress"

2004 Flight of the Phoenix Kelly Johnson
2005 War of the Worlds Mary Ann Ferrier
2007 Starter Wife, The The Starter Wife Cricket Stewart Television miniseries
2007 Cashmere Mafia Juliet Draper Television series
2009 In Her Skin Mrs. Barber
2009 Blessed Bianca
2010 South Solitary Meredith
2010 Get It at Goode's Patty Williams
2012 Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries Linda Television series, the 1-st episode
2013 I, Frankenstein Unknown role Pre-production
Retrieved from ""