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Jennifer Ann Agutter OBE is a British actress best known for her roles in Walkabout (1971) and The Snow Goose (1971), both for which she received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama[1], and for her role as Sister Julienne in Call the Midwife.

Early Life[]

Agutter was born on 20 December 1952 in Taunton, Somerset, England. She is the daughter of Derek Agutter (an entertainments manager in the British Army) and Catherine, and was raised Roman Catholic. She has Irish ancestry on her mother's side. As a child, she lived in Singapore, Dhekelia (Cyprus) and Kuala Lumpur (Malaya). She was discovered at Elmhurst Ballet School, a boarding school she attended from ages eight to sixteen, when a casting agent was looking for a young English-speaking girl for a film. She did not get that part, but he recommended her to the producers of East of Sudan (1964).

Career[]

Agutter became known to television audiences for her role in the twice-weekly BBC series The Newcomers. (She played Kirsty, the daughter of the new managing director of Eden Brothers, the fictional firm that is at the centre of the series.) Agutter could appear only during school holidays. At this stage of her career, she was listed in credits as “Jennifer”. In 1966, she portrayed a ballet pupil in Disney's film Ballerina. In 1968, she was featured in the lavish big-budget 20th Century Fox film musical Star! which featured Julie Andrews as Gertrude Lawrence; Agutter played Lawrence's neglected daughter Pamela. Later, she played Roberta in a BBC adaptation of The Railway Children (1968) and in Lionel Jeffries's 1970 film of the book. She followed this with a more serious role in the thriller I Start Counting (1969). She also won an Emmy as supporting actress for her television role as Fritha in a British television adaptation of The Snow Goose (1971).

Agutter then moved into adult roles, beginning with Walkabout (1971), in which she played a teenage schoolgirl who is lost with her younger brother in the Australian outback. She auditioned for the role in 1967, but funding problems delayed filming until 1969. The delay meant Agutter was sixteen at the time of filming, which allowed the director to include nude scenes. Among them was a five-minute skinny-dipping scene, which was cut from the original US release. She said at the 2005 Bradford Film Festival at the National Media Museum that she was shocked by the film's explicitness, but remained on good terms with director Nicolas Roeg.

Agutter moved to Hollywood at twenty-one and appeared in a number of films over the next decade, including The Eagle Has Landed (1976), Logan's Run (1976), Equus (1977)(for which she won a BAFTA as Best Supporting Actress), An American Werewolf in London (1981), and an adaptation of the James Herbert novel The Survivor (1981). Agutter has commented that the innocence of the characters she played in her early films, combined with the costumes and nudity in later adult roles such as Logan's Run, Equus, and An American Werewolf in London, are "perfect fantasy fodder".

In 1990, Agutter returned to the UK to concentrate on family life and her focus shifted towards British television. During the 1990s, she was cast in an adaptation of Jeffrey Archer's novel Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less and as the scandalous Idina Hatton in the BBC miniseries The Buccaneers, inspired by Edith Wharton's unfinished 1938 book, and made guest appearances in television series such as Red Dwarf and Heartbeat. In 2000, she starred in a third adaptation of The Railway Children, produced by Carlton TV, this time playing the mother. Since then Agutter has had recurring roles in several television series including Spooks, The Invisibles, Monday Monday and The Alan Clark Diaries. In 2012 Agutter resumed her Hollywood career, appearing as a member of the World Security Council in the blockbuster film The Avengers; she reprised her role in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014). Since 2012, Agutter has played Sister Julienne in the BBC television drama series Call the Midwife.

Agutter has appeared in numerous theatre productions since her stage debut in 1970, including stints at the National Theatre in 1972–73, the title role in a derivation of Hedda Gabler at the Roundhouse in 1980 and with the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1982–83, playing Alice in Arden of Faversham, Regan in King Lear and Fontanelle in Lear. In 1987–88, Agutter played the role of Pat Green in the Broadway production of the Hugh Whitemore play Breaking the Code, about computer pioneer Alan Turing. In 1995 she was in an RSC production of Love's Labour's Lost staged in Tokyo. She is also a patron of the Shakespeare Schools Festival, a charity that enables school children in the UK to perform Shakespeare in professional theatres.

Personal Life[]

At a 1989 arts festival in Bath, Somerset, Agutter met Johan Tham, a Swedish hotelier who was a director of Cliveden Hotel in Buckinghamshire. They married in August 1990, and their son Jonathan was born on 25 December 1990. Agutter lives in London, but has a keen interest in Cornwall and once owned a second home there on the Trelowarren Estate, in one of the parishes on the Lizard peninsula.

She was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2012 Birthday Honours, for her charitable services.

Agutter has been attached to several causes throughout her career. She has been involved in raising awareness of the illness cystic fibrosis, which she believes was responsible for the deaths of two of her siblings. Her niece has the disease. At Agutter's suggestion, an episode of Call the Midwife focused on cystic fibrosis. She has also worked in support of charities, in particular the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, of which she is a patron (she is also a carrier of the genetic mutation).

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