characters: MIRIAM MARGOLYES
Basing a career off of primarily silly, bubbly behavior and an uncanny knack for voice work, Miriam Margolyes is the perfect lovable British woman in just about every movie she’s taken part in. From the portly herbology Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter movies, to the zany confidant, the nurse in Baz Luhrmann’s decadent William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet, Margolyes is great at the friendly (though sometimes self-serving) sidekick to the lead protagonist. Speaking of, one of my favorite Miriam Margolyes performances (live action, that is) has to be as Dolly, the doting biggest fan of aging actress Julia Lambert in 2004’s Being Julia. Her feeble attempts at spotting Ms. Lambert in the nude (as her silly obsession borders on the romantic) are pretty hysterical.
Perhaps what I am more familiar with in Ms. Margolyes’ repertoire is her scads of voice work. Most notable of those is probably as surrogate mother to the title character sheepdog Fly in 1995’s Babe (and it’s amazing how little it seems to sound like her!). Her other voice credits include Grandma Rosy in 1995’s Balto, the Glowworm in 1996’s James and the Giant Peach, Grandma in 2006’s Flushed Away, Mrs. Astrakhan the vocal teacher in 2006’s Happy Feet, and even, oh yes, the Matchmaker in 1998’s Mulan. Probably the most astounding thing about this list of roles is how completely unlike the actress herself any of these characters sound. I for one was greatly surprised to find out about the ones in Mulan and Happy Feet in particular. She’s got some amazing capabilities.
So here’s to the Brit with the best googly-eyed, often crazy-induced stare — Miriam Margolyes.