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Though we think we know Dame Kristin Scott Thomas for playing a certain type of woman – intelligent, formidable, crisp as a chilled glass of Chardonnay – she’s actually one of the most daring actresses of our time, often picking inherently unsympathetic parts that some performers might shy away from.

With her latest film Military Wives, a stirring dramedy co-starring Sharon Horgan, getting a V.O.D. release on May 22 and Scott Thomas celebrating her 60th birthday two days later, here’s a reminder of some of her most memorable roles.

Four Weddings and a Funeral

Scott Thomas deservedly won a BAFTA Award for her performance in Richard Curtis‘ beloved British rom-com. As stylish, sharp-tongued, and super-poised Fiona, whose love for Hugh Grant‘s Charles is sadly unrequited, she’s both haughty and heartbreaking – a classic Scott Thomas combination.

The English Patient

Scott Thomas earned an Oscar nomination for her performance in director Anthony Minghella‘s glorious romantic epic. She plays Katharine Clinton, a married Englishwoman who falls for Ralph Fiennes‘ Hungarian count, Almásy, during the tail end of World War II. Even if you’ve seen it many times before, the conclusion remains supremely moving.

The Horse Whisperer

Following The English Patient, Scott Thomas landed roles in a few blockbusters including the original Mission: Impossible movie, but later drily described the Hollywood juggernaut as “such a palaver.” Still, there’s no denying she delivers a winning performance opposite Robert Redford in the 1998 adaptation of Nicholas EvansThe Horse Whisperer. Her character’s tension with her injured, horse-loving daughter, played by a young Scarlett Johansson, is all too believable.

Darkest Hour

Gary Oldman won an Oscar for his portrayal of Sir Winston Churchill in this handsome biopic, but Scott Thomas injects some levity as his loyal and playful wife Clementine Churchill. Scott Thomas asked director Joe Wright to make the character more fully rounded, saying: “Give her more of a motor, and then I might want to do it,” and she was duly rewarded with a BAFTA nomination.

Only God Forgives

Scott Thomas plays fabulously against type in this super-violent crime film which reunites Ryan Gosling with his Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn. While promoting Only God Forgives at Cannes, she even said: “This kind of film is really not my thing.” Still, in a very un-KST platinum blonde wig, she adds terrific value as the domineering, potty-mouthed mother of Gosling’s taciturn drug dealer.

Gosford Park

Before creating Downton Abbey, Julian Fellowes wrote this satirical murder-mystery film set in a lavish English country house. The awesome ensemble cast includes Dame Maggie Smith, Dame Helen Mirren, Clive Owen, Ryan Phillippe, and Stephen Fry, but Scott Thomas definitely shines through as the imperious Lady of the manor.

I’ve Loved You So Long

Scott Thomas’ willingness to take on unsympathetic characters peaks in this gut-wrenching French film from 2008. She plays Juliette Fontaine, a former doctor struggling to rebuild her life after spending 15 years in prison for one of the grimmest crimes imaginable. It’s a careful and affecting performance which earned Scott Thomas a nomination at France’s top film awards, the Césars.

Leaving

Scott Thomas also earned a César Award nomination for her impressive work in this emotional French romantic drama. She plays Suzanne, a wealthy psychotherapist who gives up just about everything after falling for an ex-con hired to build her new treatment room. It’s another role which highlights her ability to make you invest in a character who might not seem especially likeable.

Nowhere Boy

Aaron Taylor Johnson portrays a young John Lennon in this classy biopic from his future wife Sam Taylor Johnson. In a BAFTA-nominated performance, Scott Thomas adds gravity as Lennon’s stern and stifling Aunt Mimi, who played a key role in the Beatle’s formative years.

Easy Virtue

Scott Thomas is in waspish form in this amusing Noël Coward adaptation. She plays Veronica Whittaker, a snobbish English woman who makes no secret of the fact that she disapproves of her son John (Ben Barnes) getting engaged to glamorous American widow Larita (Jessica Biel). Watching KST and Biel aim zingers at one another is just as much fun as you’d imagine.

Fleabag

Scott Thomas makes a poignant but hilarious guest appearance in season two of Phoebe Waller-Bridge‘s zeitgeist-grabbing sitcom. She plays Belinda, an elegant businesswomen whom Fleabag bonds with as they sip martinis and the older woman delivers a few home truths about gender imbalance, pain, and menopause.

Have we missed out one of your favorite Kristin Scott Thomas roles?

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By Nick Levine