Miranda Otto plays Ã‰owyn, niece of King Theoden of Rohan.
The actress that so wonderfully captures the fiery spirit of Eowyn -The White Lady of Rohan in the final two installments of “Lord of the Rings”, is Miranda Otto. The 5’9″ willowy blonde was born on December 16th, 1967 in Queensland Australia. Her parents are Barry Otto (Strictly Ballroom), a well know stage and film actor both in his native country of Australia as well as world-wide. Her mother, Lindsay, also on stage and in radio, left that world after Miranda was born and is now in fashion design. After seven years of marriage, her parents separated and Miranda moved to Newcastle with her mother. One of her favorite after school activities was to create and perform in plays together with her school mates, no doubt her path was already set.
Married herself for little over a year, she and her husband, fellow actor Peter O’Brien, met in 2002 in Sydney when Otto appeared on stage in “A Doll’s House” – playing Nora Helmer in the Henrik Isben masterpiece. Although adamant about not getting involved with another member of her chosen profession after the break with long time companion Richard Roxburgh, she felt an immediate connection between herself and Peter. Eight months after the production was over they were wed in St. Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney. They are currently in the process of relocating to London.
Surrounded all her life by actors and their world, it was no surprise that after a brief flirtation with medicine, Miranda decided her true love was acting. Her film debut in 1986’s “Emma’s War” playing the daughter opposite Lee Remick, cemented that decision and she has never looked back.
Her quest to perfect her craft brought her to Australia’s premiere theater school, the National Institute of Dramatic Art ( NIDA), in 1990, who’s alumni include: Mel Gibson, Judy Davis and the bewitching “Lady Galadriel” – Cate Blanchett. Critical recognition came in 1991’s, “The Girl Who Came Late” and Otto has been nominated four separate times by Australia’s Film Institute along with another nomination by Australia’s Film Critics Circle.
Finally making it over to the United States in 1999 for “The Jack Bull” as John Cusack’s wife, Miranda went on to small but well received parts in “The Thin Red Line”, “Human Nature” and “What Lies Beneath” playing the ghostly wife of Harrison Ford. Her name has been linked with these projects currently in the works – “In My Father’s Den”, a murder-mystery and “Flight of the Phoenix”, an action-adventure with Dennis Quaid.
Much like the character she portrays in the Trilogy, Ms. Otto has carved her own niche in a male-dominated industry and done it with an equal measure of grace combined with fierce determination not to be categorized. Hence, the diversity of her choices over the years.
Role of a lifetime:
Out of the three strong female roles Tolkien created, Eowyn-“The White Lady of Rohan”, is the only mortal in the bunch and as such Otto had the luxury of playing someone with inner demons. A woman at odds with the role life has handed her and an unrequited love for the heir of Gondor. Tough, determined but idealistic, Eowyn is a character easily identified with. Not the untouchable ethereal other-worldliness of the Elves but a woman struggling against the bonds her station and gender have assigned her, looking to carve her own place in the world and among her people.
To the movie community, Peter Jackson was considered an avant-garde and independent film maker, so when Miranda Otto auditioned for the role ( in both an American and English accent) she expected a small, quirky film. Not until she stepped on set after having been accepted by Peter Jackson on the strength of just that one audition did Miranda realize the scope of the production. What she had stepped into was, Middle-earth, PJ style and loved every exhausting, exhilarating moment of it.
To make the Lady Eowyn come alive, Otto relied heavily on Tolkien’s own words and the keen insights of others to help her create the internal dialogue of “The White Lady of Rohan”. Otto also gives high praise to the stunt people and costume designer, Ngila Dickson, for bringing Eowyn totally in focus; the outward trappings of costume and armor ( approx. 22lbs./10 kilos worth ) plus the extensive physical training in sword play and horseback riding completed the picture.
Of all the wonderful memories of her time in New Zealand, the fondest one for Miranda Otto was the arrival on the set of Edoras and seeing the Golden Hall, life size, nestled against white mountains for the first time. She said she felt like a princess arriving at her castle. Miranda Otto will remain forever a princess on the screen and in our minds, the epitome of grace under fire both in this world and Tolkien’s.
"Cashmere Mafia" (2007) TV Series .... Juliet Draper
War of the Worlds (2005) .... Mary Ann Flight of the Phoenix (2004) .... Kelly
"Through My Eyes" (2004) (mini) TV Series .... Lindy Chamberlain
In My Father's Den (2004) .... Penny
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) .... Eowyn
Danny Deckchair (2003) .... Glenda Lake
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) .... Eowyn
Julie Walking Home (2002) .... Julie Makowsky
Doctor Sleep (2002) .... Clara Strother
More: Miranda Otto on IMDb