'I am very happy to make this website, designed by Liz, official.'
ZoŽ Wanamaker CBE
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My name's Liz, and I manage the website. For details of when and why it was created, please see the section about this website.
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ZoŽ has an official Twitter account, @ZoeWanamaker, that she runs with her PA, Vanessa. I tweet at @LizLockhart1985.


Sam Wanamaker Playhouse:
You can donate to the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, and find out more about this recreation of an indoor Jacobean theatre, on the Shakespeare's Globe website. ZoŽ, who is Honorary President of the Globe, talks about the history and significance of the project in a video by the theatre. 

Current and upcoming projects:
  • Girlfriends (starts 3 January, 9pm, ITV1; also being streamed from 29 January on Acorn TV): ZoŽ stars as Gail, part of a trio of childhood friends rocked by tragedy in this six-part drama series.
  • The Birthday Party (9 January-14 April at the Harold Pinter Theatre, London): ZoŽ stars as Meg, who runs a seaside boarding house, in this West End revival of Pinter's dark, classic play.
  • Britannia (All episodes to be released on 18 January on Sky Atlantic and Now TV; also coming to Amazon Prime Video): ZoŽ stars as Queen Antedia, a key figure in the Celtic resistance movement, in this epic, nine-part historical drama series about the Roman invasion of ancient Britain.
  • Inside Number 9 (2018, BBC2): ZoŽ guest stars in an episode from this cult comedy-drama's fourth series.

Guestbook - To sign the guestbook, please click the picture below. Your comments are much appreciated.
Guestbook

Welcome to the official website for Zoë Wanamaker!


ZoŽ chats about ITV's Girlfriends: 'it's not glossy, it's not chic, it's very real'

15 December 2017 22:11

With Girlfriends set to be a New Year TV treat, thereís plenty of press coverage to enjoy, some of which reveals intriguing details about ZoŽís character Gail Stanley and the challenges she faces with her best pals Linda Hutchinson (played by Phyllis Logan) and Sue Thackery (Miranda Richardson). The friends will need each other more than ever in the six-part drama. ĎEverybodyís in a crisis when you meet them,í ZoŽ points out in the Total TV Guide, Ďbut it all develops much more as the series goes on.í

Ď[Gail is] going through a divorce [from] a man she realises she still loves and her son Tom has just been released from prison,í ZoŽ tells the magazine. ĎOn top of this, sheís juggling her job as a lollipop lady with looking after Tomís young son [Ben] and visiting her elderly mother [Edna], whoís developing dementia.í Gail is her familyís linchpin; her relatives, young and old, rely on her. Sheís also supporting recently bereaved housewife Linda and Sue, who encounters age discrimination at work.

Gail is busy looking after everyone except herself...

Gail is so caught up in her nearest and dearestís problems, and is trying to cope with so many different responsibilities, that sheís in danger of neglecting her own needs and hopes. As ZoŽ remarks in Girlfriendsí press pack, ĎGail puts herself furthest down the list, for looking after people. She has very little self-esteem.í Although Gail has difficulty believing in herself, she possesses many admirable qualities. ZoŽ views her as Ďa very perceptive human being [who] isnít at all judgmentalí, while Miranda Richardson says that Gail Ďis the one who shows the initiativeí in tough situations.

If youíve watched dramas such as Prime Suspect, Love Hurts or The English Wife, youíll know that ZoŽ excels at playing strong yet vulnerable characters. Girlfriendsí creator Kay Mellor is evidently impressed by ZoŽís performance in this series, as the acclaimed scriptwriter emphasises in the press pack that Ďshe is brilliant as Gailí.

In its profile of this resourceful, working-class Yorkshirewoman, the press pack notes that Gail was politically active in her younger days, campaigning for a better world and singing protest songs as part of the band she formed with Linda and Sue. ĎNow she feels like sheís lost her fighting spirit somewhere along the way,í the profile concludes. Will Gail be able to find it in time to save her marriage and family?

Strong storylines with mature women at the forefront

Girlfriends is a bold, emotive drama and breaks new ground by focusing on ordinary women in late middle age as they tackle contemporary issues. As ZoŽ says in the press pack, Ďitís not glossy, itís not chic, itís very real [and that] was very appealingí.

A major source of drama in put-upon Gailís life is petty criminal Tom, whoís released from prison in episode one (to save face, sheís been pretending that he has a job in Thailand). The tension between her wayward son and his step-father Dave is the reason why Gailís marriage is on the rocks. Itís difficult to envisage her attempts to rekindle her romance with Dave succeeding unless Tom can be persuaded to change his attitude drastically.

Thankfully, there was no drama with ĎTomí off-camera. ĎI last met Matthew [Lewis] when he was in Harry Potter [playing accident-prone wizard Neville Longbottom], so it was a shock to see him now, as a gorgeous hunk!í ZoŽ laughs in TV Choice.

Celebrating female friendship on and off-screen

She enjoyed a great working relationship with her co-stars as well, and that close bond enriches the scenes they share. As Kay Mellor points out in the press pack, ĎOne of my favourite scenes has to be towards the end of episode one when the three women are in the kitchen and they all come together. It kind of encapsulates whatís going on in their lives and the friendship, that theyíre there for each other. You can see it, itís palpable, you can touch it, the warmth is there, genuinely, you know. I think ZoŽ and Miranda and Phyllis had bonded at that time and there was genuine affection there for one another and they end up all hugging each other.í

ĎIíd never met Phyllis before but it has been lovely. Miranda and I worked together a long time ago [in 1989ís quirky Ball-Trap on the CŰte Sauvage] and weíve often bobbed into each otherís lives, so this is terrific,í ZoŽ tells the TV Times.

Female friendship is celebrated in the Radio Timesí Girlfriends feature, for which ZoŽ and her co-stars took part in a glamorous, festive photoshoot. Reflecting on what having friends of the same gender means to her, ZoŽ highlights the importance of female solidarity: ĎWhen I went out into the world and started working, I was young and vulnerable, so I formed immediate strong bonds with women along the way.í

Gail and her friends will always be there for each other

Gail, Linda and Sue got to know each other at a youth club, enjoying exactly the kind of Ďimmediate strong bondsí ZoŽ experienced early in her career. (The fact that the first letter of each character's name appears in the drama's title is a nice touch and underscores the trio's closeness.) As she remarks in the Total TV Guide, Ďif you have that kind of connection [with your friends], it never goes awayí. Time passes and lives change, but true friendship endures.

The drama's producer Josh Dynevor sums up what's in store brilliantly in the press pack when he says that Ď[the trio have been] knocked back and this is them fighting backí. Itís no wonder that Girlfriends, with its compelling plot and characters, is one of Metroís top festive TV shows and among the Radio Timesí Christmas and New Year highlights! This Ďbig boiling pot of a dramaí, as the latter magazine describes it, begins on 3 January (ITV1, 9pm) in the UK and 29 January in the US (Acorn TV).

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Check out ITV's extended trailer for Girlfriends

11 December 2017 21:43

ITV has today released this extended version of the first trailer for drama series Girlfriends, which is due to begin on 3 January.

ZoŽ's character, Gail, surely speaks for many women trying to cope with the pressures of modern life when she says, 'I just want to feel like I used to feel, like I'm alive.' Gail's words suggest that there'll be plenty the audience can relate to in her experiences.

With thanks to Karoline for bringing the trailer to my attention.

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First Girlfriends trailer airs on ITV - expect laughter, tears and drama!

8 December 2017 23:56

The brand new trailer for ZoŽ's drama series Girlfriends made its debut on ITV1 tonight. 'Three best friends trying their best to get through life' was its clear, compelling message about the eagerly awaited six-part show, which sees a trio of childhood friends, including ZoŽ's Gail, reunited by tragedy.

Fellow cast member Rhea Bailey spoke warmly about ZoŽ when sharing the trailer on Twitter. As you can see, there'll be plenty of highs and lows, laughter and tears, for Gail and her family and friends.

Fans in the UK can catch Girlfriends' first episode on 3 January (ITV1, 9pm). There's great news for those of you in the US, too: the series will be streamed on Acorn TV from 29 January. Not long to wait now for what promises to be a first-class drama!

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The Birthday Party in rehearsals, Britannia release date, Girlfriends photos and much more!

5 December 2017 21:31

There's been an extraordinary, dizzying amount of news over the past few weeks or so (my head's still spinning!). Much of it suggests that 2018 will be a particularly exciting year for ZoŽ and her fans.

There's so much to look forward to; I've done my very best to bring together all the relevant details here, so you won't miss a thing...

ZoŽ sparkles at ES Theatre Awards

On 3 December, ZoŽ and her husband Gawn Grainger attended the London Evening Standard Theatre Awards at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. They were photographed looking fantastic on the red carpet for Getty Images and Zimbio. In fact, one of the shots made it onto Popsugar's list of must-see photos from the star-studded event.

The Birthday Party opens next month

Theatre is likely to be very much on ZoŽ's mind at the moment, as Sonia Friedman Productions' major West End revival of The Birthday Party, in which she'll appear as seaside boarding house owner Meg, begins in a matter of weeks. The prestigious, 60th anniversary production has been in rehearsals since late November.

This stunning publicity photo shows the darkly comic play's full cast. The show will be performed at the Harold Pinter Theatre, named after The Birthday Party's legendary writer, from 9 January to 14 April 2018. Tickets are on sale now Ė and going quickly.

Sky to release Britannia in January

On 18 January (the same date as The Birthday Party's press night, in fact) all ten episodes of Britannia, Jez Butterworth's epic historical drama series, will be made available as a boxset to viewers of Sky Atlantic and streaming service Now TV. The series, in which ZoŽ stars as the formidable Celtic Queen Antedia, was filmed in the Czech Republic and Wales back in 2016, and now the wait is almost over!

In this new publicity photo, Antedia comes face to face with invading Roman general Aulus Plautius (David Morrissey). As is clear from the photo, as well as the trailer, Britannia looks spectactular!

Zoe's character, in particular, is bound to be an unforgettable element of the show. 'I'm channelling Tina Turner in Mad Max!' she quipped when Empire Magazine went behind-the-scenesIn The Times' words, '[Antedia's] face is tattooed, she swears like a trooper and her hair deserves a Bafta to itself'!

Appropriately enough, BAFTA in London provided the setting for Britannia's press screening, held at the end of November. ZoŽ joined Morrissey and Butterworth for a panel discussion at the event.

Girlfriends is coming to ITV very soon

ZoŽ attended another press screening in early December Ė this time for ITV's brand new drama series Girlfriends. Also present were her co-stars Miranda Richardson and Phyllis Logan, as well as Girlfriends' creator Kay Mellor. They all took part in a panel discussion at the London event.

According to the Radio Times website, Girlfriends begins on 3 January (ITV, 9pm). No clips so far, but the newly released publicity photos give us a sense of the three very different, distinctive women at the heart of the series, including ZoŽ's Gail.

Filmed in Yorkshire over the summer, the series sees the trio of childhood friends reunited in the aftermath of a tragedy while tackling all sorts of problems in their lives. Gail certainly has a lot on her plate: she's helping her son Tom make a fresh start after his time in prison while also trying to rescue her marriage to Dave.

Actor Chris Fountain, who's also in Girlfriends' cast, is full of praise for ZoŽ and her co-stars. Interviewed by What's on TV magazine, he said, 'I'm totally in awe of them. Just watching them work is like doing an acting masterclass.'

If you've seen any other dramas by Mellor, you'll know that she's a brilliant storyteller. Expect punchy but warmhearted plots and dialogue. In fact, ZoŽ's talent for bringing tough yet vulnerable characters to life seems absolutely tailor-made for Girlfriends.

Death of a Salesman returns to Radio 3

BBC Radio 3 gave listeners another chance to hear the stunning 2015 production of Arthur Miller's masterpiece Death of a Salesman, which stars ZoŽ and David Suchet and was directed by the late Howard Davies, on 26 November.

As ZoŽ pointed out when it was originally broadcast, 'the drama is so brilliantly constructed, you donít realise the power of it until you perform it'.

You can listen to Death of a Salesman on the BBC iPlayer for the next few weeks.

ZoŽ helps Samaritans #GivetheGift of listening

The charity Samaritans, which offers emotional support to people going through tough times, is auctioning an elegant scarf kindly donated by ZoŽ. The item is one of a number of scarves and similar accessories from well-known individuals that you can bid for on eBay as part of Samaritans' #GivetheGift Christmas fundraising campaign.

You have until 10 December to bid for Zoe's scarf. Good luck!

With thanks to Janet, Karoline, @KellyReillyWeb and Ilona for their help.

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Celebrating the 20th anniversary of ZoŽ's 'towering performance' as Electra at the Donmar Warehouse

24 October 2017 02:11

It's now twenty years, almost to the day, since Sophocles' Electra, which featured ZoŽ's mesmerising portrayal of the grieving, vengeful title character, came to the Donmar Warehouse in London. It's hard to believe that so much time has passed, but Electra lives on in the minds of those who were lucky enough to see it. Their memories of this landmark production are surely as vivid now as they were in 1997.

Director David Leveaux's startling, stimulating and highly successful revival of the Ancient Greek tragedy, freshly adapted by Frank McGuinness, had already wowed audiences during its initial run in Chichester and on tour. 'Zoe Wanamaker as the heroine gives an immaculate, moving and physical performance of star quality in which her emotions are exposed to the bone and the audience is left breathless,' emphasised Michael Sell in The Stage. Now the Capital's theatregoers Ė and reviewers Ė were to be treated to this unforgettable performance and production.

Talking to The New York Times about their bold choice of play, Leveaux recalled, 'I said [to ZoŽ]: ''Don't you think it's time you had a really good scream? Why don't we do something we really want to do, something that is dangerous and a challenge?'' I wanted to see her go up and show what she's got.' ZoŽ rose to the challenge by tackling one of the most physically and emotionally demanding roles of her career.

Electra's heart, soul, mind and body are warped by her obsessive mourning for her father, Agamemnon. He'd sacrificed her sister, Iphigenia, during wartime and was then himself murdered by her mother, Clytemnestra, many years before the play begins. The impact of those traumatic early experiences is symbolised by Electra's spiky, unruly hair and the huge, threadbare coat that once belonged to Agamemnon and now engulfs her petite frame. She's dangerously unstable, a child-woman consumed by grief coupled with a bloodthirsty desire for revenge. Electra is desperate to be reunited with her brother, Orestes, and equally desperate for him to perpetuate the brutal cycle of familial violence by killing their mother. Johan Engels' set design called for earth to cover the stage, like an open grave, ensuring that death was never far from the characters' and audience's thoughts.

'To me, it's about a soul who is troubled, an avenging angel, a terrorist and yet a heroine of huge proportions,' ZoŽ explained in an insightful interview conducted by writer Mark Glubke to accompany the publication of McGuinness' text. Her remarks point to the complexity of both the role and our responses to it. Electra wants terrible things Ė but it's impossible to ignore the fact that she's suffered terribly too. 'David's vision of it is that the play is about love, families and the destruction of families,' ZoŽ added. 'For me, it raises the question of what becomes of the children of war. What will become of those kids when they become 20? What have we created?'

The production drew parallels between Electra's suffering and that of the children caught up in late twentieth-century conflicts, such as those affected by the Bosnian War. Leveaux writes persuasively in the Donmar's theatre programme that 'the arguments of the play are so fundamental, and so originally human, that they literally echo down through history' to reach our ears. As shown at the top of this article, one of the images designed to publicise the production features a photo of ZoŽ Ė or Electra Ė as a child with Electra as an adult just visible in her eyes. The image is a subtle reminder that Electra finds herself trapped in her past, unable to move on from the terrible events of her youth. She therefore brings the emotional instability of childhood to bear on her behaviour during adulthood.

The immediacy and 'physicality' of McGuinness' adaptation prompted ZoŽ to change her usual working methods. 'When I create a role, I usually do quite a bit of research. For this play, I did a little bit, but I didn't go any further than I thought would be necessary for the bare essentials of this play. I wanted it to be completely new and fresh,' she told Glubke. McGuinness' stripped-back retelling of Electra's heart-stopping, heart-breaking story brought Ancient Greek drama into the late 1990s and resonated powerfully with contemporary audiences. The Times' Peter Stothard called the production 'an Electra for today', its relevance making it all the more powerful.

'What I love about Frank's adaptation is he's pared Sophocles down to the fishbone,' ZoŽ also told Glubke. The language of McGuinness' version is fierce and urgent yet suffused with poetry, as exemplified by Electra describing her formidable determination: 'I have harmed myself by the harm done to me. I know the hardness of my heart. But as long as there is breath left in my body, I will not change direction no matter how harmful.' ZoŽ captured the mood of the intense production, which ran for an hour and a half without pausing for an interval, by describing it as 'startlingly modern'. The compelling text, staging and performances enabled theatregoers to look on an ancient story with fresh eyes. As ZoŽ concluded, '[Electra] became a new play'.

'This will be remembered as the production in which ZoŽ Wanamaker staked her claim to greatness,' Charles Spencer emphasised in the Telegraph. His praise was echoed by numerous other critics; in particular, the Financial Times' Ian Shuttleworth was hugely impressed by Zoe's 'towering performance' and the Guardian's Michael Billington drew attention to her 'genuine tragic power'. ZoŽ won the Olivier and Variety Club Best Actress awards for her portrayal of Electra Ė and caught the attention of Broadway.

Having triumphed in the UK, Electra repeated its success in the US in 1998-9. By the time the show was lighting up Broadway, Zoe's portrayal of Agamemnon's troubled daughter was being hailed as 'a miraculous achievement' (in the words of John Heilpern on Observer.com). She subsequently earned a Tony nomination.

Quoted in The New York Times, ZoŽ summed up Electra as 'a meteoric soul'. By thrilling theatregoers and the press on both sides of the Atlantic, Zoe's portrayal of this compelling character, ancient and modern by turns, undoubtedly became a meteoric success.

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