Rachel Ward

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Rachel Ward
Rachel Ward Tropfest 2012 (1).jpg
Ward in 2012
Rachel Claire Ward

(1957-09-12) 12 September 1957 (age 64)
OccupationActress, film director, screenwriter, television director
Years active1979–present
(m. 1983)
Children3, incl. Matilda Brown
WebsiteRachel Ward – New Town Films

Rachel Claire Ward AM (born 12 September 1957) is an English-Australian[1] actress, film director, screenwriter and television director.

Early life[edit]

Ward was born in Cornwell near Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, England, the daughter of Claire Leonora (née Baring) and the Hon. Peter Alistair Ward. Her grandfathers were William Ward, 3rd Earl of Dudley and the cricketer Giles Baring.[citation needed] Ward is also the great-granddaughter of William Ward, 2nd Earl of Dudley, Governor-General of Australia 1908–11, and sister of environmental campaigner and former actress Tracy Louise Ward, Duchess of Beaufort. She attended Hatherop Castle School, Hatherop, Gloucestershire,[2] then the Byam Shaw School of Art in Kensington, West London. She left school at age 16 to become a fashion and photography model.[3] She briefly dated David Kennedy, son of Robert F. Kennedy.[4]


During her modelling career, she was featured on the covers of Vogue, Harper's & Queen, and Cosmopolitan magazines. After moving to the United States in 1977, she appeared in television advertisements such as the Lincoln Mercury "Cougar Girl"[5] and Revlon's "Scoundrel Girl".[6] In 1981, she received a Golden Globe Award nomination for "New Star of the Year" for her role in the film Sharky's Machine starring with Burt Reynolds. The following year, she starred in Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid with Steve Martin. Her big break came in 1983, when she starred opposite Richard Chamberlain as the lead role portraying Meggie Cleary in the television miniseries The Thorn Birds, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film. Ward assigns much of the credit for this breakthrough performance to acting coach Sandra Seacat, first for simply helping her get the job (after her disastrous first reading)[7] and then for the quality of the finished performance, assembled over the course of a grueling five-month shooting schedule, while undergoing a simultaneous and no less grueling makeover program at the hands of Seacat.[8] Also in 1983, U.S. audiences voted Ward one of the world's 10 most beautiful women.[4] In 1984, she played Jess in the film noir remake Against All Odds, with Jeff Bridges. After filming Fortress in 1985, Ward then disappeared from film for several years to study acting.

She reappeared in 1987 playing opposite her husband, Bryan Brown (whom she met on the set of The Thorn Birds), in The Umbrella Woman. In 2001, she was again nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film for her role in On the Beach (2000). Also in 2001, Ward won the Australian Film Institute Award for Best Short Fiction Film for The Big House,[9] and Best Australian Film at Flickerfest. The film also won the Film Critics Circle of Australia award, as did her 2003 film Martha's New Coat. That film also won the 2003 ATOM Award.

External images
image icon 1970s photo of Ward with Peter Cook by Michael White, The Daily Telegraph
image icon Portrait of Rachel Ward by Jan Williamson

In 2003, a portrait of Ward by artist Jan Williamson won the Packing Room Prize at the Archibald Prize competition.[10] In 2005, Ward was made a Member of the Order of Australia "for service to raising awareness of social justice through lobbying, mentoring and advocacy for the rights of disadvantaged and at-risk young people, and support for the Australian film and television industry".[11]

In 2006, Ward acted in Kevin Connor's mini-series Blackbeard, made for the Hallmark Channel.[12]

In 2007, Ward returned to television, headlining the new ABC drama Rain Shadow. She played a country veterinarian named Kate McDonald, a free spirit who confronts personal and professional obstacles in a rural, drought-affected town.

In 2009, she directed her first feature-length film titled Beautiful Kate, adapted by Ward from a 1982 Newton Thornburg novel, and premiered at the Sydney Film Festival.

Personal life[edit]

Ward has been married to Bryan Brown since 1983. They have three children: Rosie, Matilda and Joe.[13][14]



Year Title Role Notes
1981 Night School Eleanor Adjai
1981 Sharky's Machine Dominoe Brittain Nominated – Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actress
1982 Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid Juliet Forrest
1983 The Final Terror Margaret
1984 Against All Odds Jessie Wyler
1985 Fortress Sally Jones
1987 Hotel Colonial Irene Costa
1987 The Umbrella Woman Marge Hills
1989 How to Get Ahead in Advertising Julia Bagley
1990 After Dark, My Sweet Fay Anderson
1992 Christopher Columbus: The Discovery Isabella I of Castile
1992 Double Obsession Grandmother
1993 Wide Sargasso Sea Annette Cosway
1994 The Ascent Patricia
2007 Shotgun! [An Opening Sequence] Adrianna Short
2016 The Death and Life of Otto Bloom Dr. Ada Fitzgerald
2018 Peter Rabbit Josephine Rabbit (voice)


Year Title Role Notes
1979 Christmas Lilies of the Field Jenny TV film
1981 Dynasty Edna Macready "The Dinner Party"
1983 The Thorn Birds Meggie Cleary TV miniseries
1989 Shadow of the Cobra Chris Royston TV film
1991 And the Sea Will Tell Jennifer Jenkins
1992 Black Magic Lillian Blatman
1992 Double Jeopardy Lisa Burns Donnelly
1996 Twisted Sara "Third Party"
1997 My Stepson, My Lover Caitlin Cory TV film
1999 Seasons of Love Kate Linthorne "1.1", "1.2"
2000 On the Beach Moira Davidson TV film
2001 And Never Let Her Go Christine Sheve TV film
2002 Bobbie's Girl Roberta Langham TV film
2002 Johnson County War Queenie TV film
2006 Blackbeard Sally Dunbar TV miniseries
2006 Monarch Cove Adrianna Preston Main role
2007 Rain Shadow Kate McDonald Main role

Other work[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2000 Blindman's Bluff Director, writer Short
2001 The Big House Director, writer Short
2003 Martha's New Coat Director
2006 Knot at Home Project Director TV series documentary
2006 Two Twisted Director "Heart Attack"
2009 Beautiful Kate Director, writer
2010 Rake Director "R vs Dana", "R vs Lorton"
2011 My Place Director "1848 Johanna", "1838 Davey", "1828 Alice"
2012 The Straits Director "The Hunt for Vlad", "Epiphanies", "The Price"
2013 An Accidental Soldier Director TV film
2014 Devil's Playground Director "The Tail of the Serpent", "I Will Bring Fire Onto This Earth", "He Maketh My Way Perfect"
2019 Palm Beach Director, writer


  1. ^ a b "Rachel Ward asks 'Aren’t we good enough?' " by Raymond Gill, dailyreview.com.au, 8 December 2016
  2. ^ Scobie, Claire (10 July 2010). "Rachel Ward returns to Hollywood as a director". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  3. ^ Haller, Scott (28 March 1983). "The Torrid Trio of The Thorn Birds". People.com. People magazine, cover story. Retrieved 15 February 2017. At 16, she left school to pursue a modeling career.
  4. ^ a b Wood, Stephanie (20 July 2009). "Double or nothing". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 26 February 2012.
  5. ^ Rothenberg, Fred (29 March 1983). "Thorn Birds Producers Gambled on Rachel Ward". The Hour. p. 12.
  6. ^ Thomas, Bob (18 June 1989). "Actress Rachel Ward Cooses a low-key lifestyle in Australia". Toledo Blade. p. 37.
  7. ^ "Casting Gamble in Thorn Birds". The Telegraph. Nashua. 29 March 1983. Retrieved 6 September 2012.
  8. ^ Preston, Marilyn (29 March 1983). "Tempo: Thorn Birds gives Ward chance to win her wings". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 6 September 2012. (subscription required)
  9. ^ Australian Film Institute official site, retrieved 15 March 2008.
  10. ^ "Winner: Packing Room Prize 2003: Jan Williamson, Rachel Ward", Art Gallery of New South Wales
  11. ^ "It's an Honour website". Australian Government. Retrieved 4 November 2007.
  12. ^ Marill, Alvin H. (11 October 2010). Movies Made for Television: 2005–2009. Scarecrow Press. p. 10. ISBN 978-0-8108-7659-0.
  13. ^ Lehmann, Megan (14 September 2013). "Rachel Ward is calling the shots". The Australian. Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  14. ^ "Kindred spirits: Rachel Ward & Bryan Brown". The Australian Women's Weekly. 22 July 2009. Retrieved 9 August 2019.

External links[edit]