Clare Julia “Keeley” Hawes was born on this day in Marylebone, London, UK in 1976. She is 37 years old.
The youngest of four siblings she grew up in a working class family. Her father drives a taxi, and her brothers followed suit. Keeley is the only one in the family who was bit by the acting bug. They lived near the Sylvia Young Theatre School and she attended on a grant. There she took ten years of elocution lessons to lose her cockney accent. She also took acting lessons. At 16 she began modelling for a year and half before making the switch to working as a fashion assistant for Cosmopolitan magazine.
In 1996 she landed a role in Dennis Potter’s Karaoke with Albert Finney and her acting career started in earnest. She had a starring role in the BBC’s 1998 adaptation of Dicken’s Our Mutual Friend. Her Lizzie Hexam is shy, humble, poor, innocent.
Her next major mini series role, Cynthia Kirkpatrick, in Elizabeth Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters is none of those things. The only thing Lizzie and Cynthia have in common is that they both wear a corset… and Hawes is wonderful in both parts.
In 2002 she took on a much more modern role as Zoe Reynolds in the BBC One spy series Spo0ks (MI-5 in the US). She met her husband, Matthew MacFayden, while working on the series.
Speaking of modern, Hawes starred in two modernized Shakespeare plays; an Andrew Davies penned retelling of Othello for Masterpiece Theatre, and as Ella MacBeth in BBC’s Shakespeare Retold with James MacAvoy.
Hawes has been busy (I’m only mentioning the performances I’ve seen == all of which have been excellent).
Her latest “Masterpiece” was last year’s Lady Agnes Holland on the reboot of Upstairs Downstairs.