About the Players
Eileen Atkins (Mrs Croft)
Dame Eileen Atkins was born in London and attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Her initial London stage appearance was in Robert Atkins' staging of Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost, at the Open Air Theatre in Regents Park. Seasons in repertory followed, including two years with the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-upon-Avon. She went on to star at the Old Vic in many Shakespeare roles, among them Miranda and Viola.
Venturing into contemporary plays, Dame Eileen starred opposite Laurence Olivier and Alec Guinness, among others. She won the 1965 (London)
Evening Standard Award for Best Actress for her performance as Childie in Frank Marcus' play The Killing of Sister George, and then made her New York stage debut in the play. Her wealth of U.K. stage credits also includes portraying Saint Joan and Medea; and presenting an evening of T.S. Eliot's poetry at the Lyric Theatre. She won a Variety Club Award for her role as Elizabeth in Robert Bolt's Vivat! Vivat! Regina.; won the London Critics Circle Award., and was nominated for an Olivier Award, for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Richard Eyre's staging of Tennessee Williams' The Night of the Iguana; and received an Olivier Award for her performance in Peter Hall's staging of Shakespeare's A Winter's Tale.
In 1989, Dame Eileen garnered unanimous acclaim for her one-woman show, A Room of One's Own, in which she portrayed Virginia Woolf. The off- Broadway production brought her a Drama Desk Award for Best Solo Performance; and a Special Citation from the New York Drama Critics Circle.
She then toured the U.S. in the show, later taping the project for U.K. television on location at Girton College, Cambridge (the venue of Mrs
Woolf's original lecture). She would return to the role in 1992 with Vita and Virginia, which she wrote and starred in (opposite Penelope Wilton as Vita Sackville-West) for the U.K. stage as well as in the U.S. (opposite Vanessa Redgrave). The latter production earned Dame Eileen a second Special Citation from the New York Drama Critics Circle, for both her playwriting and her performance.
Among her recent stage credits are, in the U.K., Anthony Page's staging of Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance (with her fellow Gosford Park star Maggie Smith), which brought her a (London) Evening Standard Award; and, in the U.K. and New York, Matthew Warchus' staging of Yasmina Reza's The Unexpected Man (opposite her fellow Gosford Park star Michael Gambon, and then her fellow Gosford Park star Alan Bates, respectively). Her performance earned her an Olivier Award for Best Actress.
Dame Eileen's many television appearances include Simon Langton's miniseries Smiley's People (with Alec Guinness), Norman Stone's telefilm The Vision (with Dirk Bogarde and Lee Remick), and Nigel Finch's telefilm The Lost Language of Cranes. Recently, she played opposite Emma Thompson in Mike Nichols' telefilm Wit.
In addition, she co-created, with Jean Marsh, the classic television series Upstairs Downstairs. For her screenplay adaptation of Virginia Woolf's Mrs
Dalloway (which starred Vanessa Redgrave and was directed by Marleen Gorris), she won the (London) Evening Standard Award for Best Screenplay.
Dame Eileen's other film acting roles include ones in Sidney Lumet's Equus, Peter Yates' The Dresser, Peter Medak's Let Him Have It, Mike Nichols' Wolf, and Stephen Daldry's upcomingThe Hours.
Bob Balaban (Morris Weissman) Please refer to bio in About the Filmmakers section.
Alan Bates (Jennings)
Alan Bates was one of the first actors to appear with the English Stage Company at the Royal Court, where he created the role of Cliff in John Osborne's Look Back in Anger, which he later also performed in New York and Moscow.
His numerous stage credits include O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night; Chekhov's The Seagull; Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, The Taming of the Shrew, and Hamlet; John Osborne's A Patriot for Me (in the U.K. and in Los Angeles); his own one-man show, A Muse of Fire; and, more recently, opposite fellow Gosford Park star Eileen Atkins, Yasmina Reza's The Unexpected Man (in New York).
Bates has starred onstage in numerous plays by Simon Gray, including Otherwise Engaged, Simply Disconnected, Life Support, and, in London and New York, Butley, directed by Harold Pinter, for which he won the Evening Standard Award and the Tony Award for Best Actor. Among the plays by David Storey that he has performed in are Stages, Life Class, and In Celebration.
The latter two were both directed by Lindsay Anderson, who also directed him in the film version of In Celebration. Bates also starred in Harold Pinter's The Caretaker in both London and New York, and in Clive Donner's film version (titled The Guest in the U.S.).
His film credits also include these notable features: Tony Richardson's The Entertainer, Bryan Forbes' Whistle Down the Wind, John Schlesinger's A Kind of Loving (for which he received a BAFTA Award nomination) and Far From the Madding Crowd (for which he received a Golden Globe Award nomination)
Michael Cacoyannis' Zorba the Greek, Silvio Narizzano's Georgy Girl (which brought him a Golden Globe Award nomination), Philippe De Broca's King of Hearts, John Frankenheimer's The Fixer (which earned him Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations), Ken Russell's Women in Love (for which he received a BAFTA Award nomination), Joseph Losey's The Go- Between, Peter Medak's A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, Laurence Olivier's Three Sisters (1970), Paul Mazursky's An Unmarried Woman, Mark Rydell's The Rose, Herbert Ross' Nijinsky, Merchant Ivory's Quartet (which he starred in with Maggie Smith of Gosford Park), Alan Bridges' The Return of the Soldier, Colin Gregg's We Think the World of You, Franco Zeffirelli's Hamlet ( for which he was nominated for a BAFTA Award), Dennis Potter's Secret Friends, and Sam Shepard's Silent Tongue.
Bates has recently completed filming Mark Pellington's The Mothman Prophecies (with Richard Gere and Laura Linney) as well as Phil Alden Robinson's The Sum of All Fears (from the Tom Clancy novel of the same name, and starring Ben Affleck as Jack Ryan).
He has starred in a number of U.K. television productions, including Alvin Rakoff's telefilm version of John Mortimer's A Voyage Round My Father (opposite Laurence Olivier), John Schlesinger's telefilm An Englishman Abroad (written by Alan Bennett, and for which Bates won a BAFTA Award), and Christopher Morahan's telefilm Unnatural Pursuits (written by Simon Gray, and for which Bates was nominated for a BAFTA Award). His U.S. telefilm credits include Anthony Page's Pack of Lies, Robert Markowitz' Nicholas' Gift, Steve Barron's miniseries Arabian Nights, and Joseph Sargent's upcoming CBS miniseries Salem Witch Trials (starring Shirley MacLaine).
In December, 2003 Bates died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 69.