Age & Hometown: 43; London, England
Current Role: This BAFTA and Olivier-nominated actress makes her Broadway debut as Lady Macbeth, a glamorous and scheming social climber and murderous Queen of Scotland in Lincoln Center Theater’s Macbeth.
Theatrical Sensibility: Anne-Marie Duff found her path to the stage through her passion for literature. “I was drawn toward acting because I was such a bookworm,” she says. Duff made her debut at the Royal National Theatre in 1995’s La Grande Magia and has continued performing there “on and off” for 18 years. “It’s a curiosity, the National,” she reflects. “It’s one building where every actor wants to work,” Duff says. “Daniel Day-Lewis said, ‘As British actors, you don’t expect to be movie stars.’” Duff found her greatest success, both professionally and personally, via her starring role on the TV series Shameless and went on to marry her onscreen love interest, James McAvoy, in 2006. “Being part of a huge hit garnered me amazing opportunities,” Duff recalls. “It meant that I was asked to play Elizabeth I for the BBC. One would have thought classic theater would have opened that door, rather than television, but no.”
Lady Takes the Stage: Once McAvoy was cast as Macbeth in a West End production earlier this year, Duff thought she would have to let her dream of playing Shakespeare’s great villainess go. “We are known very much in the U.K. as a couple, and I certainly felt that if I went on to play Lady Macbeth somewhere, everyone would talk about the fact that he just did it,” she says. “What a blessing to get a phone call saying you get to do this thousands of miles away.” Duff feels “spoiled” making her Broadway debut in Catherine Zuber’s “red-carpet worthy” costumes opposite the “very funny” Ethan Hawke. And she's thrilled that Jack O’Brien’s staging of the bloody classic retains all of Shakespeare’s mystery. “What’s exciting is that Jack isn’t shying away from any of the magic,” she says. “We live in a weird nightmare world, and the witches exist in that world. No cuts have been made for convenience. I think it’s going to be operatic and tremendously affecting.”
Falling for NYC: Duff, McAvoy and their three-year-old son Brendan (named after her father) are happily settling down in New York for the fall. Asked how becoming a mother has affected her career, Duff replies, “I think it affects both of us because it’s about logistics, and we try to prioritize being parents. We endeavor not to work on enormous projects at the same time because that would mean an absence in the house, and that’s not why you have a kid. Sometimes you have to let go of things you’d like to do because you want to be a good mum.” In her down time, Duff indulges in radio dramas, listening to jazz and baking. “It doesn’t matter what shit’s going down in your life, you put flour, eggs, butter and sugar in a bowl and something amazing happens; it’s a therapy,” she says with a laugh. “It’s very interesting being in this city because people don’t cook much. Everybody’s buying their food. It’s all pre-done! It’s beautifully pre-done, of course; that’s the difference. We don’t have that at home.”