Birth Place: Oxford, Oxfordshire, England, UK
Education: BA in literature from Curtin University in Western Australia
Fact: Frances was raised in Perth, Australia from the age 2.
Father: Nuclear physicist
"We all like to think we are in control of our lives, but I don't think we are."
First impressing an international audience with her award-winning portrayal of Nikki, a con artist with a tumultuous past in Kiss or Kill (1997), Frances O'Connor has emerged as one of Australia's most talked-about young performers. The daughter of a nuclear physicist father and pianist mother, O'Connor trained at the West Australia Academy for the Performing Arts. Like so many other Australian actors, she got her start on television, earning an Australian Film Institute award nomination for her role in an episode of the forensic pathology drama Halifax f.p.. Her nomination led to her being cast in the successful romantic comedy Love and Other Catastrophes (1996); her portrayal of a university student undergoing a messy break-up with her girlfriend (Radha Mitchell) was responsible for her second AFI nomination.
The acclaim surrounding O'Connor's work opened a number of doors for her, one of which led to Kiss or Kill, a romantic thriller that met with critical success both in Australia and overseas. The actress' giddy, haunting performance in the film earned her both her third AFI nomination (she earned her fourth that same year for her work in Thank God He Met Lizzie, a romantic comedy starring Cate Blanchett, and a Best Actress award at the Montreal Film Festival. Further acclaim greeted O'Connor the following year with Patricia Rozema's adaptation of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park . Although the film -- which injected the story with lesbian subtext, plenty of cleavage, and a dollop of nudity to boot -- sparked controversy among Austen purists, O'Connor's portrayal of thoughtful and spirited heroine Fanny Price was one of the few aspects of Mansfield Park that earned almost unanimous approval.
She followed up her success with About Adam (2000), a romantic comedy that cast her as one of a group of siblings who are all seduced by a charming stranger (Stuart Townsend) brought home by their sister (Kate Hudson). Her supporting work in the limited-release film was nothing, however, when compared to her role in 2001's long-gestating sci-fi morality play A.I. Hand-picked by director Steven Spielberg to play the mother of an android boy with uniquely human qualities, O'Connor was poised to reach her largest audience to date.
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