Andrea Riseborough went from stage school with Cheryl to Oscars

From Geordie girl to Hollywood star! Andrea Riseborough whose parents were ‘working class Thatcherites’ went from stage school with Cheryl and is 2023’s most surprising Oscar nominee after A-listers lobbied for her

There aren’t many Hollywood stars who had such a down-to-earth start to life as Oscar nominee Andrea Riseborough

Andrea, the daughter of a used car salesman and a secretary, grew up in Wallsend and went to school with Cheryl Cole –  now has Hollywood at her feet. 

The performer, whose first major role came when she starred in 2010’s Made in Dagenham has steadily seen her star rise – with appearances opposite Tom Cruise and Emma Stone in blockbusters like Oblivion and Battle of the Sexes.

Now she has revealed her shock after being nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress for her role in To Leslie, a little-known indie movie about an alcoholic mother – after a string of A-listers including Kate Winslet and Ed Norton lobbied for her on social media. 

There aren't many Hollywood stars who had such a down-to-earth start to life as Oscar nominee Andrea Riseborough (pictured last year)

There aren’t many Hollywood stars who had such a down-to-earth start to life as Oscar nominee Andrea Riseborough (pictured last year) 

It’s all the more remarkable given the film made just over $23,000 at the US box office before being ousted on to streatming services.  

Andrea, who was born in Wallsend, once remarked that as a child she used to like watching strangers – a factor which surely helped with her later transition into acting. 

She previously told the Daily Mail: ‘Maybe it’s genetic because my sister Laura is similar – we must have been the most extraordinarily creepy kids, sitting there staring at people! 

‘But don’t misunderstand me, we are both reasonably well-adjusted.’

Andrea has previously explained that her parents were, initially, working-class Thatcherites who did well. 

Andrea, the daughter of a used car salesman and a secretary, grew up in Wallsend and went to school with Cheryl Cole - before becoming an actress of enormous talent

Andrea, the daughter of a used car salesman and a secretary, grew up in Wallsend and went to school with Cheryl Cole – before becoming an actress of enormous talent

She said: ‘I grew up and formed my own political opinions and I realised that she wasn’t my cup of tea at all.’

Growing up in Whitley Bay, the eldest of two daughters (her younger sister Laura is also an actress), Andrea was a promising student, but surprised everyone by dropping out of school halfway through her A-levels, even though she was seemingly Oxford-bound. 

She once remarked that it was Shakespeare, or ‘my friend William’ as she put it, who inspired her to become an actress. 

‘At that point in my life, it was very obvious that I needed to leave,’ she said, ‘but that’s not to say that it wasn’t a big deal. 

Her first big role came with an appearance in the 2010 Made to Dagenham, before she quickly starred in the 2010 film Never Let Me Go

Her first big role came with an appearance in the 2010 Made to Dagenham, before she quickly starred in the 2010 film Never Let Me Go 

She has previously hit headlines when she said she found it easier to film sex scenes with women (pictured with Naomi Watts)

She has previously hit headlines when she said she found it easier to film sex scenes with women (pictured with Naomi Watts) 

‘Truly, I’ve not yet talked to my parents about it and I’d love to do so now because they must have been apprehensive that it wasn’t a conventional path I was taking.

‘But I think they also trusted that I knew what I had to do. I was just compelled to leave, so I did…with abandon!’ 

Without any clear career plan, she moved to Newcastle, ploughing through a variety of jobs including dance choreography and working in a Chinese restaurant (‘those years gave me such diverse experiences that were really valuable to me’) before realising that her heart lay in acting.

She had starred in several school plays, ‘although I was a very shy child,’ she said, ‘so for me, it wasn’t about being seen or noticed – I just enjoyed performing and having that rapport with the audience.’

Now she has revealed her shock after being nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress for her role in To Leslie - which A-listers like Jennifer Aniston, Sarah Paulson and Charlize Theron are backing her to win

Now she has revealed her shock after being nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress for her role in To Leslie – which A-listers like Jennifer Aniston, Sarah Paulson and Charlize Theron are backing her to win

By 20, she had won a place at Rada, and, after graduating in 2005, has worked pretty much nonstop. 

In 2006 she won the Ian Charleson Award (which recognises exceptional classical stage work from actors under 30) for her performances in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s productions of Measure for Measure and Miss Julie.

She earned plaudits for her subsequent TV work, including her gutsy English Civil War heroine in Channel 4’s The Devil’s Whore, as well as The Long Walk to Finchley. 

Her first big role came with an appearance in the 2010 Made to  Dagenham, before she quickly starred in the 2010 film Never Let Me Go.

The performer, whose first major role came when she starred in 2010's Made in Dagenham has steadily seen her star rise (pictured in the film The Kindness of Strangers)

The performer, whose first major role came when she starred in 2010’s Made in Dagenham has steadily seen her star rise (pictured in the film The Kindness of Strangers) 

Meanwhile the British actress also starred opposite Emma Stone in The Battle of the Sexes in 2017

Meanwhile the British actress also starred opposite Emma Stone in The Battle of the Sexes in 2017 

Agents fell over themselves in the scramble to sign her, and she quickly added to her extensive list of accolades by winning the Best Actress gongs at both the British Independent Film Awards and the London Evening Standard British Film Awards for her role as an IRA operative in Shadow Dancer.

She went on to appear alongside Hollywood heavyweights Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman in the £92 million sci-fi thriller Oblivion. 

She co-starred in the acting ensemble of Birdman before appearing as Emma Stone’s love interest in the biographical sports film Battle of the Sexes, based on the 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs.

At the time, she said she filming love scenes with women is easier because of men’s ‘delicate egos’. 

She went on to appear alongside Hollywood heavyweights Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman in the £92 million sci-fi thriller Oblivion

She went on to appear alongside Hollywood heavyweights Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman in the £92 million sci-fi thriller Oblivion

The actress has also appeared in a host of TV programmes, including the hit show Black Mirror (pictured)

The actress has also appeared in a host of TV programmes, including the hit show Black Mirror (pictured) 

Andrea has also portrayed a number of characters from real life, including Wallis Simpson

As Margaret Thatcher

Andrea has also portrayed a number of characters from real life, including Wallis Simpson (left) and Margaret Thatcher (right) 

Miss Riseborough said: ‘I’ve worked opposite so many male actors whose egos have been so delicate that it was just so hard to do the work.

‘And it just takes that extra bit of energy and you think, “am I enabling this”, but you just get through the day and do what you can’.

She told the London Evening Standard: ‘I think we both felt relieved that the other was going to play opposite each other in this because we had a connection.

‘There was a pressure on Emma and I to honour this very magical time in their lives, which was also a very confusing time in Billie Jean’s life’.

Perhaps her most ‘high profile’ role to date came last year, when she appeared in the musical film version of Matilda. 

Perhaps her most 'high profile' role to date came last year, when she appeared in the musical film version of Matilda

Perhaps her most ‘high profile’ role to date came last year, when she appeared in the musical film version of Matilda  

She starred as Mrs Wormwood, winning praise from critics and fans of the musical alike. 

Despite wracking up a number of celebrity fans, she has remained under the radar – and likes it that way.

She previously told DailyMail: ‘I think playing lots of different characters has afforded me an anonymity that lots of actors don’t have.

‘It means I can quite happily get the bus or do whatever I want to do.’ 

Andrea has previously revealed how she was inspired to become an actress after reading Shakespeare

Andrea has previously revealed how she was inspired to become an actress after reading Shakespeare

Andrea has previously revealed how she was inspired to become an actress after reading Shakespeare

Speaking of her motivation to become an actress, she said: ‘There’s no point in being a canvas if you remain blank.

‘All I want to do is explore people from all kinds of different backgrounds and situations. I’m not interested in playing the same character over and over again.’ 

But she has been open about the challenges of working in her industry – and previously spoke out about sexual harassment in Hollywood.

Speaking to Five News in 2017, Riseborough said: ‘Sexual inappropriacy in my industry? Absolutely. Almost every week.’

While she tends to stay low-key about her private life, Andrea previously revealed how she fell in love with a co-star Karim Saleh while filming Luxor

While she tends to stay low-key about her private life, Andrea previously revealed how she fell in love with a co-star Karim Saleh while filming Luxor 

Karim and Andrea are still believed to be together, having met on the set of their 2020 film Luxor

Karim and Andrea are still believed to be together, having met on the set of their 2020 film Luxor 

She added: ‘Until you’re, as a woman, in that situation, the pressure that you feel and that awkwardness and the inappropriate comments. The way that makes you feel, what it does to you, eventually it’s psychologically very damaging.’

She tends to keep private about her personal life –  but in 2020 revealed she had ‘fallen in  love’ while working on the set of her latest movie Luxor.

The actress told how she fell for co-star Karim Saleh, 42, during filming and said it couldn’t have been more of a ‘celebratory experience’ for her.

It’s her most recent role which has won her an Oscar nomination – and has won her a number of high profile celebrity fans.

Andrea plays a recovering alcoholic reuniting with her estranged son in To Leslie, and will go up against a number of other stars including Cate Blanchett for the gong.

The surprise nomination came after A-listers took to social media to praise her, with Edward Norton writing on Instagram that her performance ‘knocked me sideways’. 

‘It’s about the most fully committed, emotionally deep, physically harrowing performance I’ve seen in a while,’ he said. 

 Titanic megastar Kate Winslet said of the Black Mirror actress: ‘You should be up for everything, you should be winning everything, and Andrea Riseborough this is the greatest female performance on screen I have ever seen in my life, I love you.’ 

Meanwhile Andrea told Deadline she was ‘astounded’ by the nomination: ‘It’s such an unexpected ray of light. It was so hard to believe it might ever happen because we really hadn’t been in the running for anything else.

‘Even though we had a lot of support, the idea it might actually happen seemed so far away.’  

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