Emily Kathleen A. Mortimer was born on 1 December 1971 in Finsbury Park, London, United Kingdom, is an English actress. She began performing on stage, and has since appeared in several film and television roles, including Scream 3, Match Point, Lars and the Real Girl, and Shutter Island.
Mortimer was born to Sir John Mortimer, QC (a lawyer and writer who created Rumpole of the Bailey) and his second wife, Penelope. She has a younger sister, Rosie; two older half-siblings, Sally Silverman and Jeremy, by her father’s first marriage, to author Penelope Fletcher; and a half-brother, Ross Bentley, by her father’s liaison with actress Wendy Craig. Her maternal grandfather was a pig farmer.
Mortimer studied at St Paul’s Girls’ School in west London (she was in the year below actress Rachel Weisz), where she appeared in several student productions. She then went on to Oxford University, where she read Russian at Lincoln College and performed in several plays. Before becoming an actress, Mortimer wrote a column for the Daily Telegraph, and was also screenwriter for a screen adaptation of Lorna Sage’s memoir, Bad Blood…
Mortimer performed in several plays while studying at Oxford University, and while acting in a student production she was spotted by a producer who later cast her in a supporting role in a television adaptation of Dame Catherine Cookson’s The Glass Virgin (1995). Subsequent television roles included Sharpe’s Sword and Coming Home. Her first film role was opposite Val Kilmer in 1996′s The Ghost and the Darkness. Mortimer was then in the Irish coming-of-age story The Last of the High Kings, released later the same year.
In the 1997 Midsomer Murders pilot episode The Killings at Badger’s Drift, she appeared as Katherine Lacey.
In 1998 she appeared as Kat Ashley in Elizabeth, and played Miss Flynn in the TV mini-series Cider with Rosie, which was adapted for television by her father.
In 1999, she played three roles that raised her profile outside the UK: She was the ill-fated “Perfect Girl” dropped by Hugh Grant in Notting Hill, appeared as Esther in the American TV mini-series Noah’s Ark, and was Angelina, the star of the film-within-a-film, in the upscale slasher flick Scream 3.
In 2000, Mortimer was cast as Katherine in Kenneth Branagh’s musical adaptation of Love’s Labour’s Lost, where she met actor and future husband Alessandro Nivola. She took on her biggest role in an American film to date, playing opposite Bruce Willis in Disney’s The Kid. In 2002, she had a major role in The 51st State (also known as Formula 51), starring opposite Samuel L. Jackson and Robert Carlyle, and was a supporting character in John Woo’s war drama Windtalkers.
In 2003, Mortimer appeared in Stephen Fry’s film Bright Young Things. In 2004, Mortimer appeared in the movie Dear Frankie. In 2005, she played a major role as the oblivious spouse of an adulterous Jonathan Rhys Meyers in Woody Allen’s Match Point, as well as voicing young Sophie in the English-dubbed version of Howl’s Moving Castle. In 2007 she played a supporting role in Lars and the Real Girl as the supportive sister-in-law of Ryan Gosling’s title character. She also appeared in The Pink Panther in 2006 and in its 2009 sequel, as the love interest of Inspector Clouseau (Steve Martin). In the last three episodes of 30 Rock’s first season, she played Phoebe, a love interest of Alec Baldwin’s character, Jack Donaghy.
Mortimer played an aspiring actress opposite Andy García in City Island (2009) and a nurse in Martin Scorsese’s 2010 film Shutter Island. She played Leonie Gilmour in the film Leonie, released in the fall of 2010.
In 2000, Mortimer met American actor Alessandro Nivola, while both were starring in Love’s Labour’s Lost. The couple married in Chiltern, Buckinghamshire, on 3 January 2003. A Mexican punk band performed at their wedding. Mortimer gave birth to their son, Samuel John, in Westminster, London, on 23 September 2003. Their second child, May Rose, was born on 15 January 2010. During the same year, Mortimer naturalised as an American citizen for “cynical reasons” in order to avoid paying inheritance tax in the event of anything happening to her husband. She now holds dual British and American citizenship. Mortimer is an atheist.