Belfast Telegraph

Palace trip for stage queen Kristin

Kristin Scott Thomas could well be playing the Queen on stage by the time she visits the palace to be made a dame after she was named in the New Year Honours List.

The actress is set to inherit Dame Helen Mirren's theatrical throne and play the monarch in an updated version of the hit play The Audience while its original star takes the show to Broadway.

She said she "could not believe" that she was included on the honours list, saying: "In fact, I thought someone was playing a trick. But it's true apparently, and I am thrilled, astonished and worried that I might suddenly wake up."

The Audience, which is set to open in April, is inspired by the Queen's private weekly meetings with the country's prime ministers over her six-decade reign and is the latest role for an actress whose career has seen her honoured on both sides of the Channel.

She was made an OBE in 2003 and two years later was presented with the Legion of Honour in her adopted home of France in recognition of a career which has included roles in Four Weddings And A Funeral and The English Patient.

Her role in the latter saw her nominated for the best actress Oscar in 1996, but she lost out to Fargo star Frances McDormand.

The 54-year-old, who lives in Paris, was born in Cornwall and initially studied her craft at London's Central School of Speech and Drama.

But she abandoned England while still a teenager for France where she studied acting again and secured her first major role opposite Prince in his musical flop Under The Cherry Moon.

John Hurt, one of the grand figures of TV and film, has been awarded a knighthood for his services to drama in the latest list.

His distinguished career has taken him through a series of mesmerising performances, from the groundbreaking TV portrayal of Quentin Crisp in The Naked Civil Servant, through his title role in The Elephant Man to his brief incarnation as The Doctor last year in BBC One's Doctor Who.

Few viewers would ever forget the heart-stopping moment Sir John met his end in Alien, or his role as Winston Smith in 1984.

The 74-year-old, the son of a clergyman, developed an interest in acting at school but was discouraged by his parents and headteacher, and instead went to art college with an eye to becoming a teacher.

However, he went on to land a scholarship for the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (Rada) and picked up TV and film roles until he had his major breakthrough, appearing in A Man For All Seasons as Richard Rich.

Sir John achieved further prominence in the film 10 Rillington Place as Timothy Evans who was wrongly executed for the crimes of serial killer John Christie (played by Richard Attenborough), and as Caligula in the celebrated BBC drama I, Claudius.

Other roles have included occasional appearances as wand-maker Mr Ollivander in the Harry Potter films, his performance as Stephen Ward - a key figure in the Profumo affair - in Scandal and a reprisal of his role as Crisp for An Englishman In New York in 2009, 34 years after his original portrayal of the flamboyant figure.

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