Joanne Whalley Biography

Joanne Whalley photo

Born: August 25, 1964


Date of Birth: August 25, 1964

Chosen by People magazine as one of the "50 Most Beautiful People in the World" in 1991, Joanne Whalley was born in Manchester, England. Encouraged by her parents to get into acting after they saw her perform in a school play, she landed her first professional role at the age of 10, playing a recurring role on the long-running British serial Coronation Street. The role only lasted one year, but she was soon asked back to do a guest appearance. By 1977, she'd landed another recurring role, this time on the long-running television series Emmerdale Farm, where she played precocious Angela Read for one season.

At about this time, Joanne auditioned for England's Royal Court Theatre and began performing in their plays, becoming an established stage actress by the time she was 20. She was called back to the small screen once again in 1982 for a recurring role in the short-lived series A Kind of Loving. The 18-year-old beauty came to international attention when she made her feature film debut in Pink Floyd The Wall (1982). She next appeared on the big screen in a more substantial role in Dance with a Stranger (1985), co-starring with Miranda Richardson, Rupert Everett and Ian Holm. Roles in two more films followed, No Surrender and The Good Father, (both 1985), and her climb to stardom had begun.

The following year found Joanne back on television, this time in a lead role in the highly acclaimed mini-series The Singing Detective, followed by the lead in another mini-series called Edge of Darkness, for which she received a BAFTA Best Actress nomination. She returned to the big screen in 1987 to play the lead role in Will You Love Me Tomorrow.

The following year would bring a big change in her life. Having landed the role of a bad girl turned good in the fantasy feature Willow(1988), Joanne fell in love with her co-star, Val Kilmer. While filming Willow in London, she did double duty, leaving the studio each day in time to play the role of Masha in a stage production of Chekhov's The Three Sisters. Less than a year after meeting, Joanne married Kilmer and began using the name Joanne Whalley-Kilmer.

Marriage didn't slow her career down, however, and she filmed two more features before pairing up with Kilmer again, this time playing a con artist in Kill Me Again (1989). Joanne kept to the big screen mostly, moving back to television only occasionally, to appear in mini-series such as Scarlet, in which she played the title role in the much anticipated sequel to the classic movie, Gone With The Wind.

The Kilmers became the proud parents of daughter Mercedes in 1991, and in 1995, Joanne had just given birth to a son, Jack, when she visited her husband on the set of his latest movie, Batman Forever. It was there that she became aware that her 35-year-old husband was having an affair with 20-year-old Drew Barrymore, who was playing the role of "Sugar" in the movie. Joanne immediately filed for divorce.

Her career continued to go strong, playing a variety of starring roles, including in the comedy The Man Who Knew Too Little (1997) opposite Bill Murray, the family drama Run The Wild Fields (2000), and the thriller The Guilty (2000) opposite Bill Pullman.

She once again returned to television for a blockbuster mini-series, this time playing the title role in Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. In the feature film Virginia's Run(2002), Joanne, who describes herself as having been a "horsy teenager," found that her horseback riding experience came in handy as she played the role of a horse trainer, performing many of her own riding stunts.

More recently she's been back on television, playing Princess Sophie Grimaldi from 2011 to 2012 on Gossip Girl; Vanozza Cattaneo from 2011 to 2013 on The Borgias; Katherine of Aragon on the mini-series Wolf Hall in 2015 and Sister Maggie on Daredevil (2017 to 2018), to name a few.

Joanne moved to the Los Angeles area in 1988 and lives there with her two children. Her hobbies include reading and playing guitar.


Muse (2007)
Twixt (2011)
Golf in the Kingdom (2010)
44 Inch Chest (2009)
Flood (2007)
Played (2006)
The Californians (2005)
Virginia's Run (2002)
Before You Go (2002)
Breathtaking (2000)
The Guilty (2000)
Run the Wild Fields (2000)
A Texas Funeral (1999)
The Man Who Knew Too Little (1997)
Trial by Jury (1994)
A Good Man in Africa (1994)
Mother's Boys (1993)
The Secret Rapture (1993)
Storyville (1992)
Shattered (1991)
The Big Man (1990)
Navy SEALS (1990)
Kill Me Again (1989)
Scandal (1989)
To Kill a Priest (1988)
Willow (1988)
Will You Love Me Tomorrow (1987)
The Good Father (1985)
No Surrender (1985)
Dance with a Stranger (1985)
Pink Floyd The Wall (1982)

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