Who is Zoë Wanamaker, American film actresse – Zoë Wanamaker biography

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Zoë Wanamaker

Wanamaker in 2013
Born (1949-05-13) 13 May 1949 (age 74)
New York City, U.S.
  • United States
  • United Kingdom
Alma materRoyal Central School of Speech and Drama
Years active1970–present
Gawn Grainger
(m. )​
  • Sam Wanamaker (father)
RelativesMarc Wanamaker (cousin)

Who is Zoë Wanamaker


Zoë Wanamaker CBE, an esteemed American-British actress, has left an indelible mark on the world of theater. Her extraordinary talent and dedication have allowed her to collaborate with renowned theater companies like the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre. The arts community has recognized her immense contributions, leading to her prestigious appointment as Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 2001. Throughout her illustrious career, Wanamaker’s extraordinary skills and performances have earned her numerous accolades, including a Laurence Olivier Award and nominations for three BAFTA Awards and four Tony Awards.

With an impressive nine Olivier Award nominations to her credit, Wanamaker has emerged victorious in two instances. In 1979, she mesmerized audiences with her exceptional portrayal in “Once in a Lifetime.” Nearly two decades later, in 1998, she captured hearts with her unforgettable performance in “Electra.” Wanamaker’s talent extends beyond the theater as she has graced the Broadway stage with her remarkable contributions. Her exceptional prowess resulted in four Tony Award nominations for productions like “Piaf” (1981), “Loot” (1986), “Electra” (1999), and “Awake and Sing!” (2006).

However, Wanamaker’s mesmerizing presence isn’t limited to the stage alone. She has also showcased her acting abilities on the big screen, leaving lasting impressions with her notable film appearances. Her talent shone through in movies such as “Wilde” (1997), “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” (2001), and “My Week with Marilyn” (2011). Wanamaker’s versatility extends to the realm of television, where she has earned well-deserved recognition. Her outstanding performances in “Prime Suspect” (1991) and “Love Hurts” (1992-1994) secured her two nominations for the BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress. The beloved sitcom “My Family” (2000-2011) also provided Wanamaker the opportunity to portray the endearing character of Susan Harper. Additionally, her captivating appearances in popular ITV dramas like “Agatha Christie’s Poirot” (2005-2013), “Mr Selfridge” (2015), and “Girlfriends” (2018) added further depth to her already remarkable career.

How old is Zoe Wanamaker?

Zoe Wanamaker was born on May 13, 1949, which makes her 74 years old as of now​​.

Are Zoe Wanamaker and Felicity Kendal related?

No, Zoe Wanamaker and Felicity Kendal are not related. They are simply two British TV regulars who have often been noted for their similar appearances​​.

Did Zoe Wanamaker play the grandmother part in Running for Grace?

No, Zoe Wanamaker did not play the grandmother part in “Running for Grace.” The role of Grace’s Grandmother in the movie was played by Juliet Mills​​.

What happened to Zoe Wanamaker in Harry Potter?

Zoe Wanamaker played the role of Madam Hooch in the first Harry Potter film, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.” However, she did not reprise her role in the subsequent films due to being appalled by the pay offered, which she described as “terrible.” Despite signing only for one film initially, she felt insulted by the rates and chose not to return. However, she reprised the role of Madama Hooch in the 2018 iOS RPG Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery​​.

Zoe Wanamaker in Harry Potter

Zoe Wanamaker portrayed the character Madam Hooch, the Quidditch instructor, in the first Harry Potter movie, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.” Despite her character’s significance, she only appeared in the first installment of the series due to disputes over pay​​.

Zoe Wanamaker age

Zoe Wanamaker is 74 years old, having been born on May 13, 1949​​.

Zoe Wanamaker net worth

As of 2023, Zoe Wanamaker’s net worth is estimated to be between $100,000 – $1M. She is renowned for her work in the theatre and film, including her role in the Harry Potter film franchise and the UK sitcom “My Family”​​.

Zoe Wanamaker’s father

Zoe Wanamaker’s father was the actor/director Sam Wanamaker. He was of Ukrainian-Jewish descent and had a significant impact on British theatre, most notably through his efforts to reconstruct Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London​​.

Movies and Shows by Zoë Wanamaker

1. My Family (2000-2011) In the long-running British sitcom “My Family,” Zoë Wanamaker stars as Susan Harper, the matriarch of a quirky and often dysfunctional family. Her character is a control-obsessed, yet loving and somewhat neurotic dentist who tries to keep her family in check. Wanamaker’s performance is a delightful blend of wit, sarcasm, and warmth, making Susan one of the most memorable characters on British television.

2. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001) Though her role is brief, Wanamaker made a lasting impression as Madam Hooch, the flying instructor and Quidditch referee at Hogwarts in the first “Harry Potter” film. Her portrayal of the stern yet fair teacher, with piercing yellow eyes and an authoritative demeanor, perfectly captures the character from J.K. Rowling’s beloved series.

3. Love Hurts (1992-1994) In the British drama series “Love Hurts,” Wanamaker plays Tessa Piggott, a woman who reinvents her life by leaving her corporate job and cheating boyfriend to start anew. The series follows her emotional journey and the ups and downs of her subsequent relationship with a rugged and charming entrepreneur, played by Adam Faith. Wanamaker’s performance is nuanced and relatable, bringing depth to the series’ exploration of love, betrayal, and personal growth.

4. Agatha Christie’s Poirot (Various Episodes, 1989-2013) Zoë Wanamaker appeared in several episodes of “Agatha Christie’s Poirot,” most notably as the recurring character Ariadne Oliver, a crime novelist who often assists Poirot in his cases. Wanamaker’s portrayal is delightfully eccentric and provides a humorous counterpoint to Poirot’s meticulous nature. Her chemistry with David Suchet’s Poirot is a highlight of the series.

5. Mr. Selfridge (2013-2016) In the period drama “Mr. Selfridge,” about the life of American retail magnate Harry Selfridge, Wanamaker plays Lady Mae Loxley, a wealthy and influential woman with a complex personal life. Her character is a key figure in the series, using her social standing and wit to influence the success of the Selfridge department store. Wanamaker’s performance is commanding and stylish, fitting perfectly into the lavish world of early 20th-century London.

6. The Cherry Orchard (1999) In this film adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s classic play, Wanamaker stars as Madame Ranevsky, a Russian aristocrat who returns to her family estate to find it in disarray and on the brink of being sold. Her portrayal captures the character’s nostalgia, denial, and ultimately, her tragic inability to adapt to the changing world. Wanamaker’s performance is both touching and profound, bringing depth to the themes of loss and social change.

7. Prime Suspect (1991) In the first series of the critically acclaimed “Prime Suspect,” Wanamaker plays Moyra Henson, the mother of a murder victim. Her intense and emotional performance adds a significant layer to this gritty and realistic crime drama, which stars Helen Mirren as the formidable Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison.

8. Doctor Who (2005) Wanamaker voiced Cassandra, the last pure human, in the “Doctor Who” episodes “The End of the World” and “New Earth.” Cassandra is a memorable and somewhat tragic figure, reduced to little more than a piece of skin stretched on a frame. Wanamaker’s vocal performance is both humorous and poignant, adding depth to the character’s outlandish appearance.

9. Wilde (1997) In this biographical film about the life of Oscar Wilde, Wanamaker plays Ada Leverson, a close friend, and confidante of the famous writer. Her performance captures the witty and supportive nature of Leverson, providing a glimpse into the intellectual and artistic circles of the time.

10. Edge of Darkness (1985) In this British television thriller, Wanamaker plays the role of Clementine, an activist involved in the anti-nuclear movement. The series is a mix of espionage, drama, and supernatural elements, with Wanamaker’s character playing a crucial part in the unfolding mystery.

11. Five Children and It (2004) In this family adventure film based on the novel by E. Nesbit, Wanamaker plays the eccentric and kind-hearted Aunt Polly. The story revolves around five children who discover a sand fairy that can grant wishes, leading to a series of magical and unexpected adventures. Wanamaker’s character provides a touch of humor and wisdom to the story.

12. Britz (2007) In this two-part drama exploring the impact of terrorism on a British-Pakistani family, Wanamaker plays the head of the counter-terrorism unit. Her character is a determined and complex figure, navigating the moral and ethical dilemmas involved in national security. Wanamaker’s performance is both commanding and nuanced, reflecting the series’ exploration of challenging themes.