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Oscar Should-Be Winners: Julie Christie

February 23, 2008
by findingDulcinea Staff
Julie Christie is an award-winning British actress and timeless beauty who spent much of the 1960s and 1970s in the spotlight, in memorable films such as “Dr. Zhivago,” “Darling,” and “McCabe and Mrs. Miller.” This year, she is nominated for an Oscar for her leading role in “Away From Her,” playing a woman suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Essential Facts on Julie Christie

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  • Born in Assam, India in 1941 to an English tea planter father and a Welsh mother who was a painter. Christie studied in England at Brighton College and the Central School of Speech and Drama in London.
  • Christie dated and starred alongside Warren Beatty in several films, including “McCabe and Mrs. Miller” (1971), “Shampoo” (1975), and “Heaven Can Wait” (1978).
  • Christie’s breakthrough in film came with the lead role in “Billy Liar” (1963). John Schlesinger, with whom Christie worked several more times, notably on “Darling” and “Far from the Madding Crowd”, directed the film.
  • Christie starred opposite Omar Sharif in “Dr. Zhivago,” the Boris Pasternak novel of Russia before and after the revolution, directed by David Lean. The film won six Academy Awards. Watch the “Dr. Zhivago” trailer here.
  • After stints with the Royal Shakespeare Company interspersed with several film roles, including “Don’t Look Now,” a mind-bending thriller set in Venice and costarring Donald Sutherland, Christie retreated somewhat from the public eye and from mainstream films. She moved back to England in the early 1980s and became an important activist for causes like nuclear disarmament and animal rights.
  • She received her third Best Actress Oscar nomination for 1997’s “Afterglow,” in which she played an aging movie star who falls for a younger man (Nick Nolte).
  • Christie was seen as an inspiration to Sarah Polley, the young Canadian director of “Away From Her,” who also tries to avoid the Hollywood limelight and carefully selects her roles. Christie earned her fourth nomination for taking the lead in Polley’s film, which is an adaptation of a short story by Alice Munro, “The Bear Came Over the Mountain.”
  • Christie is married to the investigative journalist Duncan Campbell, whom she wed in a secret ceremony in India in 2007 (they have been together since 1977). They live in England.

Christie the Evader

Like all of the stars we’ve profiled this week, Christie possesses a down-to-earth humanism that has kept her levelheaded and unaffected by stardom. She has been unreservedly cynical in her descriptions of fame. Her other interests, including activism and recording audiobooks, demonstrate that her film career is not spurred by the desire for attention as it is for many contemporary stars.
Christie sees fame, the cult of the movie star, as a “fabrication,” similar to her reading of marriage, which she calls an “invented structure that seems to have little to do with anything.” Perhaps it’s another means of getting attention? Christie claims her family pegged her as an attention-getter as a child, but she goes on to say that the urge was quelled in boarding school, where she “turned into an introvert.”
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