Judy Davis was born in Perth, Western Australia, on 23rd April 1955. Raised in a Catholic household, where films and television were frowned upon, she attended covent school - a formative experience which made a powerful impact, but left her questioning the religious teachings, leading eventually to her lapse from the faith.
At eighteen she travelled across Asia, contributing lead vocals to a friend's band, before making the decision to pursue a career as an actress. Returning to Sydney, she was accepted into the prestigious National Institute Of Dramatic Art (NIDA), where Mel Gibson was a classmate, later playing Romeo to her Juliet in a college production.
Judy graduated from NIDA in 1977 and immediately found herself in demand. Whilst still a student, she had been cast in a film ("Clean Straw For Nothing") to be directed by the then unknown Gillian Armstrong. Although that project never came to realisation, the match with Armstrong was a proven a success when Judy took on the role of Sybylla Melvyn in the director's adaptation of Miles Franklin's semi- autobiographical novel, "My Brilliant Career". The film was an international hit, garnering accolades and applause worldwide, whilst being credited, closer to home, with kick-starting a New Wave of Australian film-making.
Judy was launched onto the global stage, picking up two BATFA awards, for best actress and best newcomer, amongst myriad other trophies. However, despite her unquestionable acting ability, she was not about to play the malleable starlet. Refusing to compromise her opinions or principles for the sake of self-promotion, she frequently criticised or dismissed her own films in interviews ("My Brilliant Career" being the most prolific in the firing line) and resisted Hollywood's attempts to seduce her.
Instead, she commuted between London and Sydney, continuing to work in the theatre, whilst lending her skills to a number of modest cinematic efforts. These films, whilst well-intentioned and sometimes intriguing, tended not to fulfill the promise suggested by Judy's involvement with them - her performance, more often than not, the film's only remarkable feature. However, within this varied collection of roles (as a bleached-blonde hooker in "Winter Of Our Dreams", an anti-nuclear terrorist in "Who Dares Wins"/"The Final Option", or an evironmentalist caught in a murder-mystery in "Heatwave") she, at the very least, sealed her reputation as one of the most exciting young actresses in the world - a well-worn piece of praise given further credibility following the phenomenal performance she gave as Adela Quested in David Lean's "A Passage To India", which resulted in her recieving an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in 1984.
Although Sally Field walked off with the statuette (for "Places In The Heart"), Judy's nomination can be seen as some compensation for the experience of working on the film, which was not, by all accounts, an especially happy one. Lean clashed with many members of the cast and crew, but, aged 84 and lacking in energy, his impatience with many vital aspects of film production took their toll on his relationship with Judy in particular and reports abounded from the set that have subsequently contributed to an image of Judy as "difficult"; a notion which reared it's head again during the making of "Dark Blood" (the film River Phoenix was working on when he died), when Judy and director George Sluzier had a hard time reconciling several differences of opinion. However, one suspects that this tiresome label is unfairly applied and has most likely been handed down by those who feel threatened by an actress with such intelligence and perception. It is hardly surprising, given statements such as this