Emily Mortimer father is dramatist John Mortimer, best known for his Rumpole of the Bailey series. Before becoming successful as an actress, Emily wrote a column for the Daily Telegraph, and was also screenwriter for an screen adaptation of Lorna Sage's novel, Bad Blood.
Emily Mortimer studied at St. Paul's Girls School, where she first developed an interest in acting, appearing in several student productions. After St. Paul's, she moved on to Lincoln College, Oxford, where she read Russian. Mortimer found time to perform in several plays while studying at Oxford, and while acting in a student production she was spotted by a producer who cast her in a supporting role in a television adaptation of Catherine Cookson's The Glass Virgin in 1995. Subsequent television roles included Sharpe's Sword. Her first film role was opposite Val Kilmer in 1996's The Ghost and the Darkness. Mortimer had a stronger role in the Irish coming-of-age story, The Last of the High Kings, released later the same year, and in 1998, she played Miss Flynn in the TV miniseries Cider With Rosie, which was adapted for television by her father.
Also in 1998, Emily Mortimer appeared as Kat Ashley in the international hit Elizabeth, and in 1999, she enjoyed three roles that raised her profile outside the U.K.: She was the ill-fated "Perfect Girl" dropped by Hugh Grant in Notting Hill, appeared as Esther in the American TV miniseries Noah's Ark, and was Angelina, the star of the film-within-a-film, in the upscale slasher flick Scream 3. In 2000, Mortimer was cast as Katherine in Kenneth Branagh's ill-fated musical adaptation of Love's Labour's Lost, but the experience had a happy ending for her -- she met actor Alessandro Nivola, and the two soon fell in love and have been together ever since. That same year, Mortimer took on her biggest role in an American film to date, playing opposite Bruce Willis in The Kid, and 2002 was another big year for her, with major roles in two major releases -- The 51st State, starring opposite Samuel L. Jackson, and a key supporting character in John Woo's war drama Windtalkers.
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