Who is Andrea Riseborough? British actress caught up in Oscars drama
One of the most star-studded events in Hollywood took place yesterday: the annual Oscars nominee luncheon.
It marks the unofficial start of the countdown to the Academy Awards ceremony, which this year is on March 13. Stars mingle, enjoy a fancy meal, have their photos taken, and generally get to know each other before the big night.
Tom Cruise, Paul Mescal, Jamie Lee Curtis, Bill Nighy, Colin Farrell and Austin Butler were among the 182 nominees in attendance.
But there was one notable absentee â — British actress Andrea Riseborough.
Last month, Riseborough experienced the moment every young actress dreams of: receiving a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress, for her performance in the small-budget film To Leslie.
She was included in the category with Cate Blanchett, Ana de Armas, Michelle Williams, and Michelle Yeoh.
However, the Academy launched an investigation into the legitimacy of her nomination following accusations of unfair tactics.
Her nomination was not rescinded but “responsible parties” would be dealt with, the Academy said.
So who is Andrea Riseborough and why has there been so much controversy surrounding her nomination?
Who is Andrea Riseborough?
Andrea Riseborough was born in Wallsend, near Newcastle upon Tyne, on November 20, 1981.
She is the daughter of George, a car dealer, and Isabel, a secretary, whom she described as “working-class Thatcherites”.
Riseborough’s love of acting was ignited as a child, after her mother’s hairdresser, Keith, asked her to act in a play he was producing, about an 18th-century traveller.
Andrea Riseborough -In pictures
Riseborough’s early acting career involved her taking part in the People’s Theatre in Newcastle, as well as becoming a member of the Young People’s Theatre.
After starting her A-levels, Riseborough dropped out of school and took various jobs, including one shredding duck in a Chinese restaurant. She then decided: “I’m going to audition for Rada.”
Riseborough duly won a place at the prestigious drama school, among fellow alumni Tom Hiddleston and Andrew Buchan.
Andrea Riseborough’s early career and success
She made her film debut with a small part in Venus (2006), moving on to more prominent roles in Happy-Go-Lucky (2008), Never Let Me Go, Brighton Rock, Made in Dagenham (all 2010), W.E. (2011), Shadow Dancer, and Disconnect (both 2012).
Riseborough then appeared in Welcome to the Punch and Oblivion (both 2013), Birdman (2014), Nocturnal Animals (2016), Battle of the Sexes and The Death of Stalin (both 2017), Mandy and Nancy (both 2018), The Grudge (2020), and Possessor (2020).
Aside from this eclectic mix of film appearances, Riseborough was awarded the 2006 Ian Charleson Award, which recognises exceptional classical stage performances from actors under 30, for her performances in Miss Julie and Measure for Measure.
She was hailed by the Sunday Times magazine as one of Britain’s finest rising stars along with other big names including Eddie Redmayne and Tom Sturridge.
To Leslie’s Academy Award nomination
Riseborough plays a West Texas single mother struggling to provide for her son when she wins the lottery and a new hope to turn her life around.
The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw praised Riseborough in his review, singling out “a great performance”.
Following nominations for the 95th Oscars, the British actress said she was astounded to be included in the best actress category.
Riseborough and shine: Hollywood beckons for Evening Standard Best Actress Andrea
“It’s such an unexpected ray of light,” she added. “It was so hard to believe it might ever happen because we really hadn’t been in the running for anything else.”
However, she attracted controversy after the Academy said Oscar campaigning tactics used by the independent film “caused concern”.
Questions had been asked about the actress’s surprise nod in a relatively unknown and low-budget film.
The film’s PR was said to have used unfair privilege by asking celebrity friends and contacts to campaign for To Leslie.
It is being re-released in cinemas after making only $27,000 (£21,936) upon release.