Harry Potter star Imelda Stauntons famous family including ITV star husband

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Imelda Staunton is famed for playing the evil teacher of Professor Umbridge in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

However, she's not the only famous actor in her family because she's married to a Downton Abbey legend and her daughter has appeared in Netflix's racy period drama Bridgerton.

The 65-year-old movie star already had a whole host of Hollywood hits under her belt before she wound up at Hogwarts, including roles in Comrades, Sense and Sensibility, Chicken Run and Nanny McPhee.

She's also starred in Downton Abbey herself, and is now taking a lead role playing The Queen in the fifth season of The Crown, which will air in November 2022.

But her petrifying performance as Umbridge in the later Harry Potter films is what fantasy fans will recognise Imelda for most.

As frighteningly strict as her Umbridge character may be, Imelda is actually a kind, caring individual with a strong sense of family values.

In a 2015 interview with The Guardian, Imelda described how she became an actor after her drama teacher told her parents she should, as their approval was always very important to her.

She even drew inspiration from her mum for many of her strong female roles.

Imelda's parents were both Irish immigrants who moved to north London to raise their children.

Speaking about her parents, Imelda said: "They taught me that kindness is not a wet thing. So trying to be generous is a very big part of my life."

Imelda has been married to another big name actor, Jim Carter, 73, who is best known for his long-running role as Mr Carson in Downton Abbey between 2010 and 2015.

The pair met in 1982, during rehearsals of Richard Eyre's Guys and Dolls at the National Theatre, and they've been married for the best part of 40 years.

However, it wasn't love at first sight, and Imelda told The Telegraph that she thought Jim was just an "old bloke" on set at first.

She said: "We were doing a run-through and I remember thinking, 'Who's that old bloke sitting over there?' I did. Really, I did. I was 26 and he was 34, that was old to me."

She said it was only a matter of time though before she'd be "keeping an eye out" for Jim when she went to the canteen for lunch.

She said: "I would be thinking, 'I want to sit with that Jim'. He was – and still is – one of those men who simply loves the company of women. And women adore his sense of humour.

"There I was, 5ft, and he is 6ft 2in. And rather dark and handsome. We worked together for a year and it was a slow burn rather than a heady rush of passion."

That interview was back in 2008 – just after their silver wedding anniversary – and with the pair still going strong, Imelda has since revealed what she believes to be the "secret" to their happy marriage.

Imelda said: "We’ve always made an effort to not work apart very often,".

She added: "We always travel to where the other is working, even for a short amount of time."

The couple had their only daughter, Bessie Carter, in 1993 when Imelda was 37, and the actor said it "shifted" her entire perspective.

"When you're an actor, you are the focus of your attention," she said, adding: "Having Bessie shifted that, which is a good and healthy thing."

Bessie followed in the footsteps of both her parents to become an actor herself – starring in Howards End, Beecham House and Bridgerton.

Both Jim and Imelda have described how "proud" they are of their daughter in interviews.

Imelda said: "Seeing her hold her own was so uplifting. She's used to being on set. She knows the rules, the language. But it was pretty impressive to see her in action."

After Bessie played the role of Prudence Featherington in last year's racy Netflix period drama Bridgerton, Jim Carter appeared on an episode of Lorraine describing how pleased he and Imelda were at the success of the show.

He told Lorraine Kelly: "We're delighted, it's been a huge success. Bessie has had a wonderful time doing it. I'm thrilled on her behalf. They're starting out a second series soon."

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  • Downton Abbey
  • Hollywood
  • Harry Potter
  • The Crown

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