Duff was born on 8 October 1970, the younger of two children of Irish immigrants – her father was a painter and decorator and her mother worked in a shoe shop. The family lived in Southall, Middlesex, and Anne-Marie went to a comprehensive school - Mellow Lane Hayes. At an early age, Anne-Marie attended a local youth theatre in order to battle her shy nature and soon became hooked on the stage.
In her mid-teens, involved in an amateur theatre company, she began to think seriously about applying to drama schools. Her first application was rejected. “At the time, I was desperately unhappy about it, but I just wasn’t polished. I got too nervous in the audition. It wasn’t a world I was familiar with…” So she went away and did some more A levels and studied Film and Theatre Studies.
At the age of 19, she studied alongside John Simm, Anastasia Hille and her good friend, Paul Bettany at the Drama Centre in London.
Duff was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award in 2000, but first became well known as Fiona in the television programme Shameless, and for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth I in the lavish 2005 BBC television miniseries, The Virgin Queen which also starred Tom Hardy, Joanne Whalley and Tara Fitzgerald. In 2007 she was one of nine female celebrities to take part in the What's it going to take' campaign promoting awareness of domestic abuse in the United Kingdom.
She also played Julia Stanley in Nowhere Boy, playing John Lennon's mother. The film is about John Lennon's teenage years. In The Last Station, a biopic about the events before Count Leo Tolstoy's death, she played Sasha, the much devoted daughter.
An accomplished theatre actor, she has worked extensively with the Royal National Theatre and also in London's West End (Vassa, Collected Stories). Credits at the National Theatre include Collected Stories, King Lear and most recently the title character in Marianne Elliott's production of George Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan to great acclaim.
In 2011 she played Alma Rattenbury in Rattigan's final play Cause Célèbre at The Old Vic directed by Thea Sharrock.
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