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Meet Janet McTeer, the Legendary Actress Behind BERNHARDT/HAMLET's Legendary Actress

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

Roundabout Theatre Company's Bernhardt/Hamlet tells the story of stage legend Sarah Bernhardt and her battle to take on one of the most sacred roles in theatre canon. Bernhardt was unrivaled in her day and recognized as the epitome of talent. There is no better actress to tackle the inimitable performer than legend in her own right Janet McTeer.

English born McTeer made a significant splash as soon as her career began. RADA educated, she first began her career with the Royal Exchange Theatre. She made her professional stage debut in 1984 and by 1986 had already earned an Olivier Award nomination for Best Newcomer based on her performance in The Grace of Mary Traverse.

Following a 1986 screen debut, she appeared in the 1991 film The Black Velvet Gown, which won the International Emmy Award for Best Drama. She appeared in numerous other films opposite stars such as Juliette Binoche (Wuthering Heights) and Emma Thompson (Carrington).

McTeer gained true recognition when she took on the role of Nora in Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House opposite Owen Teale, Jan Maxwell, and others. The show ran to critical acclaim in the West End, then transferred to Broadway. McTeer collected an astonishing number of awards: an Olivier Award, Critics' Circle Theatre Award, a Theatre World Award, Drama Desk Award, and the Tony Award.

Flash back to 1997 and watch McTeer's Tony acceptance speech below:

Ben Brantley reviewed the production for the New York Times saying, "What Ms. McTeer achieves, with the magnificent support of the director Anthony Page and a flawless supporting cast, is the sense that the landmark, century-old role of Ibsen's Nora Helmer, the childlike housewife who comes so painfully of age, was only just written, and written specifically for her."

Returning to the screen, McTeer starred in the 1999 film Tumbleweeds, the story of oft on the move and serial marrying Mary Jo Walker and her life with a young daughter in tow. The indie film was expected to fade without a recognizable American star, but instead it became a Sundance Film Festival favorite, won McTeer a Golden Globe Award, and earned her nominations for Screen Actors Guild and Academy Awards.

McTeer returned to Broadway in 2009, again with a West End transfer. Peter Oswald's new version of Friedrich Schiller's play Mary Stuart played the West End in 2005. Phyllida Lloyd directed.

Mary Stuart told the story of two iconic women whose lust for power reveals a thrilling display of passion and politics. After being implicated in her husband's murder, Mary (Janet McTeer) turns to Elizabeth I (Harriet Walter) for help but finds her cousin distrustful of her motives. A feud begins that threatens not just their family bond, but the crown of England.

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

With McTeer's return to Broadway came the accolades and she garnered a Tony nomination and Drama Desk Award.

Straddling her run in Mary Stuart in the West End and on Broadway, McTeer created the role of Veronica in the West End premiere of God of Carnage. A comedy of manners without the manners, God of Carnage deals with the aftermath of a playground altercation between two boys and what happens when their parents meet to talk about it.

In London the play also starred Tamsin Greig, Ken Stott and Ralph Fiennes. Upon joining the Broadway production, McTeer starred opposite Jeff Daniels, Lucy Liu, and current Bernhardt/Hamlet co-star Dylan Baker.

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

Again taking time off the stage to focus on the screen, McTeer appeared in numerous films and television series including Albert Nobbs with Glenn Close, The Woman in Black with Daniel Radcliffe, and The White Queen with Rebecca Ferguson. Her role in Albert Nobbs earned her an Academy Award nomination followed by a Golden Globe nomination for The White Queen.

In 2016, McTeer reunited with Phyllida Lloyd and in true Sarah Bernhardt style assumed the typically male role of Petruchio in The Public Theater's The Taming of the Shrew.

With her name solidly up in lights on the New York stage, McTeer again forayed to Broadway starring opposite Liev Schreiber in Les Liaisons Dangereuses. The Donmar Warehouse production told of former lovers, La Marquise de Merteuil and Le Vicomte de Valmont, who compete in games of seduction and revenge toying with the hearts and reputations of innocents.

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

Now, McTeer commands the stage in Theresa Rebeck's Bernhardt/Hamlet, finding out if Sarah Bernhardt's seemingly mad endeavor is to be or not to be. Roundabout's production showcases the unstoppable talent of Janet McTeer through November 18th.

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