An actress who infuses her characters with luminous strength and shrewd intelligence, Jennifer Ehle emerged in the mid-'90s as one of England's most compelling new talents. A trained stage actress, she won international recognition and a BAFTA TV Award in 1996, when she starred as Elizabeth Bennet in the acclaimed BBC production of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Her career breakthrough led to both more screen work and the opportunity for Ehle, the daughter of actress Rosemary_Harris, to establish herself as an actress in her own right. Born December 29, 1969, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the home of her novelist father John Ehle, Ehle was raised largely in nearby Asheville. She spent a great deal of her childhood following her mother's career engagements back and forth between the States and the U.K., attending over 18 schools in the process. Ehle eventually settled in London to study drama at the Central School, but dropped out in 1991 to take the part of Calypso in Peter_Hall's lauded TV adaptation of The Chamomile Lawn. Further television and stage roles followed, and in 1993, Ehle made her screen debut with a small role in Iain_Softley's Backbeat as Cynthia Powell, John_Lennon's first wife. Ehle's career entered a new and more lucrative phase with her award-winning turn as Pride and Prejudice's heroine; in addition to its success in Britain, the miniseries -- which also launched Colin_Firth to international fame in his role as Mr. Darcy -- proved to be a runaway hit in the States. More film work duly came Ehle's way: she could be seen playing Oscar Wilde's wife, Constance, in Wilde (1997); a prisoner of war alongside Glenn_Close, Frances McDormand, Cate_Blanchett, and Julianna_Margulies in Paradise_Road (1997); and a woman who finds herself becoming involved with her supposedly gay former boyfriend in Bedrooms & Hallways (1998). Ehle was cast in perhaps her most high-profile screen role to date in 1999, when she starred as the wife of a Hungarian lawyer (Ralph_Fiennes) in István_Szabó's epic Sunshine, a historical drama tracing the fortunes of three generations of a Hungarian Jewish family. However, the actress' involvement in the film, which also starred real-life mother Harris as the older version of her character, was overshadowed in theatrical circles by her work on the stage that same year. For her performance as Annie, the wife of a brilliant but emotionally evasive playwright (Stephen_Dillane) in the Broadway production of Tom_Stoppard's -The Real Thing, Ehle found herself up against her mother, who starred in -Waiting in the Wings, for a 2000 Best Actress Tony Award. Ehle ultimately won the award, the latest honor in what looked to be, like her mother's, a very long and vibrant career.
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