Multi-award winning actress Essie Davis, who was born and raised in Hobart, has appeared in Hollywood movies; on television and in stage productions in Australia; in the National and West End theatres in London; and on Broadway.
Essie appeared in amateur productions in Hobart with the Old Nick Theatre Company and Diana Large’s Apprentice Theatre Company before successfully auditioning for the National Institute of Drama Art (NIDA) in Sydney in the late 1980s. Essie graduated from NIDA in 1992.
Local theatre and youth participation in the arts remain important to Essie, who returned to Tasmania to launch the Tasmanian Theatre Company in 2008.
Essie’s acting career began in theatre when she was cast as Juliet in the Bell Shakespeare Company’s 1993 production of Romeo and Juliet, soon after graduating from NIDA. Essie received a Best Newcomer nomination in the Sydney Theatre Critics Awards for her performance in Romeo and Juliet.
Essie is also an established stage actress and has earned critical acclaim for her theatre roles. She won the Laurence Olivier Award for her performance in the National Theatre (UK) production of Tennessee William’s A Streetcar Named Desire with Glenn Close. She starred in Tom Stoppard's Jumpers, again at the National Theatre, with Simon Russel Beale, for which she earned a Tony Award nomination following its transfer to Broadway.
Essie earned rave reviews for her performances in A View from the Bridge (Belvoir St Theatre), The Cripple of Inishmaan (Sydney Theatre Company), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Melbourne Theatre Company) and Romeo and Juliet (Bell Shakespeare Company). Her further credits include The School for Scandal with Judy Davis, and Stephen Soderbergh's Tot Mom, both for the Sydney Theatre Company, as well as The Importance of Being Earnest.
Essie’s film credits include the The Babadook; Girl with a Pearl Earring; The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions; Code 46; Charlotte’s Web; Isolation; Australia; The Wedding Party; The Sound of One Hand Clapping; Hey, Hey, It's Esther Blueburger; and South Solitary. She earned her Film Critics Circle of Australia award for Best Supporting Actress in South Solitary.
Playing the leading role of Amelia in The Babadook saw Essie win many awards, including:
- Actor of the Year at the 2015 Rolling Stone Awards;
- Best Actress at the 2015 Australian Film Critics Association Film & Writing Awards;
- In 2014, Essie won Best Actress awards for her role in The Babadook at the:
- Stiges International Film Festival (Spain)
- Fantastic Fest (USA)
- Fright Fest (UK)
- Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival (South Korea); and
- Toronto After Dark.
TIME magazine highlighted The Babadook as an Academy Awards contender. Essie’s role in The Babadook resulted in a role in the popular television show Games of Thrones.
In 2016, Essie appeared in Assassin’s Creed and Mindhorn, which premiered to rave reviews at the London Film Festival.
In 2012, Essie starred in Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries on ABC TV, playing 1920s private detective Phryne Fisher. The hit crime drama has screened in 120 countries. In 2014, Essie received Logie nominations for Most Popular Actress and Most Popular Personality on TV. Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries was also nominated for a Logie for Most Popular Drama Series.
Essie’s other television roles have included:
- Anouk in The Slap
- Dorothy Pickles, trapped in a miserable marriage and trying to fill up her life with alcohol and love with other men in Cloudstreet
- the BBC production of Sweeney Todd
- Corridors of Power
- Kings in Grass Castles
- The Ripper
- Water Rats
- A Poet in New York
- The Last Post
- The White Princess
Essie’s role in the television movie After the Deluge earned her an Australian Film Institute (AFI) Award for Best Supporting Actress. Her role in “The Spider and the Fly” Halifax f.p saw her nominated for an AFI Award for Best Performance by an Actress. Essie recently filmed Starz TV mini-series and Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams which will screen in the United States and Britain.
Essie retains a strong connection with Tasmania, and is a Patron for Education Ambassadors Tasmania.