Britannia

Sky Atlantic's epic drama about the Romans invading ancient Britain, starring Zoë as vengeful Queen Antedia, returned for a second series on 7 November.

Worzel Gummidge

Zoë plays eccentric aristocrat Lady Bloomsbury Barton in the second episode of the BBC’s new adaptation of Barbara Euphan Todd’s classic children’s stories, which aired just after Christmas.

Shadow and Bone

Zoë is currently filming this major new fantasy series for Netflix, based on Leigh Bardugo’s novels. She's been cast as Baghra, a ruthless teacher.

Social

In celebration of Sam Wanamaker’s centenary

14 June 2019 21:47

Shakespeare’s Globe is today celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of its founder, Sam Wanamaker CBE. The theatre has been sharing insights about the life and career of Zoë’s dad, who was an accomplished actor and director, on social media. You can join the discussion and share your own memories by using the hashtag #Wanamaker100.

Yesterday, The Globe’s companion theatre, the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, hosted the annual Sam Wanamaker Fellowship Lecture, which was introduced by the Director of Education, Patrick Spottiswoode. Fittingly, the subject was Zoe's dad himself. The Deputy Chair of Shakespeare’s Globe Council, Dr Diana Devlin, addressed an enthusiastic audience - including many people who had known Sam Wanamaker and are involved with The Globe - about his many achievements in theatre.

Having been a long-time friend and colleague of Zoë’s dad, Dr Devlin spoke knowledgeably about his commitment to ‘believable, meaningful’ performances and talent for inspiring other performers. His vision and attention to detail led to a new dawn in British theatre during the fifties.

Dr Devlin pointed out that Sam Wanamaker’s desire to rebuild Shakespeare’s Globe on London's south bank didn’t stem solely from his awareness of the historical significance of our greatest writer’s theatre. Zoë’s dad felt that the open-air performance space, supported by an indoor Jacobean-style theatre, educational work and related activities, would also have immense value as a community arts hub.

As Dr Devlin explained, Sam Wanamaker was convinced that plays performed in a recognisably Shakespearean theatre would ‘speak powerfully and directly to a modern playgoer’. And, of course, he’s been proved right.

The launch of Sam Wanamaker's first biography

Zoë was joined by her elder sister, Abby, at the special event. In addition to the lecture, the evening saw the launch of the first full-length, illustrated biography of its subject. Sam Wanamaker: A Global Performer has been written by Dr Devlin and is published by performing arts specialist Oberon Books.

As its author emphasised, the book aims to highlight Sam Wanamaker’s work on stage and screen, in addition to celebrating his tireless struggle to rebuild Shakespeare’s theatre.

That struggle is something the actor Keith Baxter remembers well. The Telegraph has today republished his poignant account of his friendship with Sam Wanamaker, written in 1996.

'It is difficult to express how much pleasure it was just to be with him,' Baxter writes. 'And no-one could be with him for a moment without being swept away by his enthusiasm, by his passionate conviction that he had been vouchsafed a task which must be completed, no matter what it cost.'

The Globe's 22nd anniversary

The centenary of Sam Wanamaker’s birth comes just days after The Globe marked another milestone: its 22nd anniversary. On 12 June 1997, Zoë became the first person to speak on the stage. During the official opening ceremony, she performed the Prologue to Henry V in the presence of the Queen and Prince Philip, as featured in the documentary below.

The anniversary reminds me of this lovely photo of Zoë and her dad from 1992, which The Globe shared online a couple of years ago. They’re pictured in the Forest of Dean alongside one of the oak trees that would be used to build the theatre, which is nicknamed the Wooden O.

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Happy Sam Day one and all! The founder of our Theatre, Sam Wanamaker, would have been 98 today. We have a lot to be thankful to him for. Help us celebrate his birthday by sharing your memories - here\u0026#39;s one of ours: Sam with his daughter, Zoe Wanamaker, in the Forest of Dean with a tree to be turned into timber for the frame of our Globe Theatre, circa 1992. #samwanamaker #happybirthdaysam #shakespeare #shakespearesglobe #globetheatre #memories

A post shared by Shakespeare\u0026#39;s Globe (@the_globe) on

Fundraising for The Globe's future

As well as looking back over its founder’s achievements and 22 years of amazing productions, Shakespeare’s Globe is looking to the future. The theatre has launched the Sam Wanamaker centenary fundraising campaign, with the aim of raising £100,000 to continue the incredible work its founder began for the benefit of the millions of theatregoers it entertains and inspires.

Zoë appears in this short video designed to raise awareness of the campaign, celebrating her dad’s achievements and thanking those who support The Globe.

If you’d like to play a part in the theatre’s future, you can make a donation on Shakespeare’s Globe’s website.

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News round-up: Zoë on stage, Killing Eve UK air date, Refugee Week portrait and more

31 May 2019 02:43

Wow, it's been an incredibly busy few weeks for Zoë Wanamaker fans, as this huuuge news update makes clear.

Zoë returns to the theatre for Two Ladies

The Bridge Theatre in London has announced that Zoë will make her first appearance there later in the year, starring in Two Ladies. This will be the world premiere of Nancy Harris’ new play focused on the wives of heads of state. It has the intriguing tagline ‘Keep your enemies close, and your wives closer.’

The women of the title are the (fictional) First Ladies of France and the US. Politics gets personal when Zoë’s character, Hélène, comes face-to-face with Sophia (played by Zrinka Cvitešic). Here’s a brief summary from the theatre:

'As their husbands clash over an international crisis, the first ladies of France and America find themselves alone together in a side room.

'Friends, or enemies? When the stakes are so high, can they trust each other?

'Can they trust their husbands?'

The news that Zoë is returning to the stage following the success of Pinter’s The Birthday Party in 2018 has been warmly received by the press and fans alike.


Two Ladies sees Zoë reunited with her friend Nicholas Hytner, a director she’s worked with on a number of previous plays, most recently the acclaimed and well-remembered revival of Much Ado About Nothing, just over ten years ago.

The play is due to have a limited run of around six weeks. Previews begin on 14 September, with the opening night scheduled for the 25th. Performances continue until 26 October.

If you’re a Priority Member of the Bridge Theatre, you can buy Two Ladies tickets now. Advance Members can do so from 4 June and everyone else from 5 June.

Killing Eve series two begins 8 June

Fantastic news for UK fans! As reported by the Radio Times, the eagerly awaited second series of thriller Killing Eve begins on 8 June (BBC One, 9:15pm).

Immediately afterwards, the full series will be available to watch on the BBC iPlayer. That means we don’t have long to wait to enjoy Zoe’s star turn in episode four, ‘Desperate Times’, as a senior – and irate – spy boss, Helen Jacobson.

The series has already delighted viewers in the US, Australia and New Zealand.

New portrait for Refugee Week

A brilliant new portrait of Zoë by talented photographer Jillian Edelstein appears in You, Me and Those Who Came Before, an exhibition created for Refugee Week 2019, the UK’s largest festival celebrating the contribution refugees make to society.

The photo is one of a series featuring prominent first and second-generation refugees. It appears on some of the Refugee Week leaflets, posters and postcards designed to help you promote the festival, which runs from 17-23 June, and any related events in your community.

In its preview of You, Me and Those Who Came Before, the Guardian noted that ‘Zoë Wanamaker was three when her family came to Britain to escape McCarthyism in the US. Her father, Sam Wanamaker, went on to found Shakespeare’s Globe theatre, while Zoë became an award-winning actor’.

The exhibition previewed at London’s Tate Exchange towards the end of May, and there are two more chances to see it in the Capital. From 17-23 June (i.e. during Refugee Week), it can be seen in the V&A Museum’s main entrance, as well as at the Southbank Centre (where the portraits will be projected onto the side of the building).

On a related note, Shakespeare's Globe and the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse will host a series of special performances for Refugee Week.

Talk at the prestigious Oxford Union

Oxford University students were treated to a Q&A with Zoë on 29 May, when she made a welcome return to Oxford Union, the prestigious debating society.

The Union shared extracts from the conversation and photos via Twitter.

Bees for Development charity auction

Zoë is among dozens of public figures who’ve created bee-inspired, postcard-sized artworks for the Bees for Development charity auction. The artworks are being auctioned anonymously – can you guess which one is Zoe’s?

Bees for Development helps impoverished families in countries such as Ethiopia and Ghana to earn a living through sustainable bee-keeping while benefitting the environment.

You have until 7:30 pm (UK time) on 12 June to place your bids. Good luck!

Zoë voices Prostate Cancer UK advert

Speaking poignant lines from Hamlet about the nobility of man, Zoë provides the voiceover for the charity Prostate Cancer UK’s powerful advert.

Featuring footage of prostate cancer patients and the families of those affected, the advert premiered on 14 May and is accompanied by the social media hashtag #MenWeAreWithYou.

‘Our main aim with this campaign is to inspire people to join with us and be a part of solving the problem – stopping a man dying every 45 minutes from prostate cancer,’ the charity emphasises. ‘And not just because the disease is so devastating, but because what it can take from us – the value of men and their lives – is so great.’

Zoe’s beautiful voiceover will help to ensure that the ad is one people won’t forget.

Celebrating Dame Gillian Lynne

Zoë and her PA, Vanessa, have drawn attention to a forthcoming celebration of the late Dame Gillian Lynne’s illustrious career, To Gillie, With Love, which is due to be held on 2 July in London. Lynne worked on the RSC’s Once in a Lifetime (1979), for which Zoë won her first Olivier award.

The event will also launch the Lynne and Land Foundation, which Lynne and her husband, Peter Land, established to enable talented young performers to achieve their potential with the help of scholarships and bursaries.

To Gillie, With Love will be held at the theatre named after the dancer, choreographer and director on Drury Lane. Tickets are available now.

Pictured with artist Philip Sutton

And finally, here's a lovely, playful photo of Zoe and her friend Philip Sutton RA. It was taken when she opened the popular artist’s My Shakespeare exhibition at Dorset’s Bridport Arts Centre in March but not published online till just recently.

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Birthday wishes for Zoë!

13 May 2019 00:13

Sending all good wishes to the one and only Zoë Wanamaker – she’s every bit as talented, kind, witty and compassionate as you could wish an actress you admire to be.

Happy birthday, Zoë, and many happy returns!

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News round-up: Rosmersholm’s red carpet, Killing Eve praise and Cambridge Union update

2 May 2019 21:09

On Rosmersholm’s red carpet

Here’s Zoë and her husband, Gawn Grainger, on the red carpet today at Rosmersholm’s opening night in London’s West End. Ibsen’s masterpiece, newly adapted by Duncan Macmillan, is being staged at the Duke of York’s Theatre and stars Tom Burke, Hayley Atwell and Giles Terera.

Rosmersholm’s director is Ian Rickson, who you may remember worked with Zoë on the hugely successful 2018 West End revival of Pinter’s The Birthday Party.

More praise for Zoë in Killing Eve

Entertainment website Culturess has responded enthusiastically to the introduction of quirky Helen Jacobson, ‘played by the always amazing Zoe Wanamaker’, in Killing Eve episode four, ‘Desperate Times’.

The article highlights the female-centric drama’s refreshing gender dynamics, remarking that ‘Helen has a male receptionist... and anger problems’, the latter being a trait often associated with male bosses on screen.

British newspaper The Telegraph is also keeping an eye on the BBC America show, remarking that ‘Desperate Times’ was ‘enlivened by a cameo from Zoë Wanamaker’.

Zoe has made a big impression on Decider, a TV and film resource: it calls her performance 'fantastic [and] immediately three-dimensional’.

Update on Zoë’s Cambridge talk

Zoe’s talk at the prestigious Cambridge Union, originally scheduled for 1 May, has been postponed.

I’ll let you know when I hear more.

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Praise for Zoë’s ‘delightfully furious’ performance in Killing Eve’s latest episode

30 April 2019 21:31

‘Desperate Times’, the fourth episode in the second series of BBC America’s darkly comic thriller Killing Eve, premiered in the US on 28 April. Zoë’s performance as a quirky – and irate – senior British intelligence official, Helen Jacobson, has made a big impression on TV reviewers and viewers alike.

Press coverage of ‘Desperate Times’ is full of praise for Zoe and the programme as a whole (if you haven’t watched it yet, please note that the articles linked to below include spoilers).

A mini-Harry Potter cast reunion delighted Entertainment Weekly: ‘when Carolyn Martens [played by Fiona Shaw] enters an office at the start of this week’s episode, the supervisor she’s meeting is played by none other than Zoë Wanamaker, Hogwarts’ greatest flying instructor. Aunt Petunia, meet Madam Hooch!’ The article goes on to highlight Helen’s ‘unhinged rage’ and choice language.

Zoe’s screen time with Shaw also provided a Gormenghast reunion (they played the eccentric Clarice Groan and Irma Prunesquallor, respectively, in the TV epic).

TV Insider enjoyed Zoe’s ‘delightfully furious’ performance. 'In an episode of contrasts,’ the article emphasised, ‘Helen’s unconfined rage made for an excellent complement to Carolyn’s permanently unfazed demeanor.’

The encounter between Carolyn and her boss has also captured the attention of Killing Eve’s loyal audience.

Zoe’s appearance in 'Desperate Times' may have been brief, but it's certainly memorable.

UK fans (like me!) will be able to watch the show some time after the full second series has aired in the US. Broadcast and iPlayer boxset dates for the UK haven’t yet been announced by the BBC.

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