Born in Perth, Western Australia, on April 23, 1955, Judy Davis was forbidden to see films as a child. She attended a Catholic convent school in her hometown, and her family can trace its ancestry back to the original 1831 British settlement in Perth. She began acting as a young girl in the neighborhood church. She trained at the National Institute of Dramatic Arts and played opposite Mel Gibson in a production of Romeo and Juliet. She also performed with Collin Friels who would become her husband in 1984. The couple has two children, a boy named Jack and a girl named Charlotte.
In the early 1980s, she became associated with a movement that would come to be known as the “Australian New Wave.” Not unlike the Sergio Leone “spaghetti Westerns” of the late 1960s that catapulted many heretofore unknown stars to fame (notably Charles Bronson and Clint Eastwood), this movement was comprised of film makers and performers from Australia who found work and fame in other parts of the world.
Known for her pale and chalky complexion, Davis’s trademark is the portrayal of brittle and neurotic women. She played author Lillian Hellman opposite Sam Shepherd in “Dash and Lilly, and to prepare for her role as Judy Garland in “Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows,” she saw almost all of Garland’s thirty-two films and studied every piece of footage she could get her hands on. She also wore dark contact lenses for the role to disguise her blue eyes.
Judy Davis has appeared in many films, her least favorite of which is the one that catapulted her to stardom. In “My Brilliant Career” made in 1979, Judy delivers an unforgettable performance as Sybilla Melvyn. She was miserable during its filming and claims that she cannot stand to watch it even to this day. She played all of her own piano solos in this wonderful film. She often works with Woody Allen who has called her “one of the most exciting actresses in the world.”
She lives with her family in Australia but continues to work in America.
Lucky us! Keep up the good work, Judy!