About Rachel Ward
This scion of an aristocratic British family left school at 16 to pursue a career as a fashion model. With her lustrous brown hair, expressive eyes and slightly exotic features (no typical English rose she), Ward was soon in demand appearing on magazine covers and eventually moving into making appearances in TV commercials. It was perhaps inevitable that she would segue to acting, making her film debut in the forgettable thriller "Night School" (1981). Legend has it that Burt Reynolds spotted her photograph in an advertisement in Time magazine and pursued her for the role of a doomed prostitute in "Sharkey's Machine" (also 1981). That role, unfortunately, led Hollywood to typecast the beauty who essayed a series of femmes fatales in fare like "Against All Odds" (1984) and "After Dark, My Sweet" (1990).
Ward became an international star, however, with her turn as the headstrong Meggie in "The Thorn Birds". While not a technically brilliant performer (like say Meryl Streep), she still managed to acquit herself, taking the character from young adulthood into old age, and she had a palpable chemistry with her two leading men, Richard Chamberlain (as the priest) and Bryan Brown (as her wayward spouse). Indeed, she and Brown became an off-screen couple and married in 1983.
Relocating to Australia, Ward concentrated on her marriage and raising a family, taking only the occasional acting role. She and Brown reunited on screen for the underrated Australian period drama "The Good Wife/The Umbrella Woman" (1987), in which she essayed a sexually frustrated Australian female who pursues disastrous relationships with a series of unsatisfying men. In 1991, Ward was one of a quartet caught up in murder in the based-on-fact CBS miniseries "And the Sea Will Tell". She was slightly miscast as Queen Isabella in "Christopher Columbus: The Discovery" (1992) and wasted in a cameo appearance as the heroine's unbalanced mother in "Wide Sargasso Sea" (1993). Around this time, Ward returned to college and did post-graduate studies in communications in Sydney, eventually channeling her interest in writing into making short films. Her first, "Overdose" grew out of a project for one of her children's primary school mentoring programs. The seven-minute film landed a berth at Sydney's Tropfest film festival and led to a secondary career as a filmmaker. Her second short, the love story "Blindman's Bluff" (1999), was screened at the St Kilda Film Festival and her third, "The Big House" (2000), was selected for the shorts program at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival.
Although she was enjoying success behind the camera, Ward did not abandon acting. She acted in the luridly titled (and somewhat ludicrous) TV-movie "My Stepson, My Lover" (USA Network, 1997), but was seen to better effect as a 19th-century farm wife in the heartwarming "Seasons of Love" (CBS, 1999). In 2000, she and Brown reteamed as former lovers caught up in a love triangle in a post-nuclear war world in the Showtime miniseries remake of "On the Beach".
|Bryan Brown. married in 1983; met during filming of the ABC miniseries "The Thorn Birds"; later starred together in "The Good Wife" (1986) and the 2000 Showtime miniseries "On the Beach"|
|Byram Art School|
|University of Technology, Sydney|
|Cast in the lead in the Australian miniseries, "Rain Shadow" (lensed 2007)|
|Helmed first short film "Overdose"; screened at Sydney's Tropfest|
|Raised in England|
|Worked as fashion model and appeared in TV commercials before entering films|
|Acting debut in the NBC TV-movie "Christmas Lillies of the Field"|
|"Discovered" by Burt Reynolds who contacted her after seeing her picture in Time magazine and suggested she read for the part of Dominoe in his film, "Sharky's Machine"|
|Feature film acting debut, "Night School"|
|Starred opposite Steve Martin in the comedy "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid"|
|Breakthrough TV role, Meggie Cleary, the heroine of "The Thorn Birds" (ABC); met future husband Bryan Brown who co-starred as her on-screen spouse|
|Played the woman torn between Jeff Bridges and James Woods in "Against All Odds", a remake of the film noir "Out of the Past"|
|Teamed with Brown for the Ausralian film "The Good Wife/The Umbrella Woman"|
|Had featured role in "How to Get Ahead in Advertising"|
|Starred opposite Jason Patric in the noirish "After Dark, My Sweet"|
|Played leading role in the CBS miniseries "And the Sea Will Tell"|
|Cast as Queen Isabella in "Christopher Columbus: The Discovery"|
|Made brief appearance as the heroine's mother in "Wide Sargasso Sea", helmed by John Duigan|
|Appeared in the Australian anthology film "Twisted"|
|Played leading role of a nurse who marries a much older man and then falls for his son in the luridly titled "My Stepson, My Lover" (USA Network)|
|Portrayed a 19th-century farming wife in the CBS movie "Seasons of Love"|
|Co-starred with husband in small screen remake of "On the Beach" (Showtime), directed by Russell Mulcahy|
|Made second short film "Blindman's Bluff"|
|Third short, "The Big House", premiered at the Sundance Film Festival|
|Co-starred with Bernadette Peters in the made for-cable movie "Bobby's Girl," (Showtime) as life partners|
|Reunited with actor Richard Chamberlain for the Hallmark Channel miniseries, "Blackbeard"|