She started acting when she was 5 years old, as The Virgin Mary in a school play. This led her to go to Redroofs Theatre School. During this time, she got her first acting job, dancing with the Honey Monster in a Sugar Puffs commercial. Also, she made her television debut in 1988 on the British show "Shrinks." This was followed by appearances in the show "Casualty" (1989), and "Dark Season" (1991). She stayed here until the age of 16, when she felt it was time for her to go out into the real world and work.
In 1990, just 8 days after finishing her exams, she got another job on the television series "Get Back." A big turning point in her life occured here, as she found romance with fellow actor Steven Tredre. They were together for nearly five years, but with the diagnosis of Steven's bone cancer they finally would be broken apart. During that time, he was always on her side, even during her severe weight problems, which had her going up to 185 pounds (13 stone). In 1993, she appeared on "Anglo-Saxon Attitudes," and also did theater, including a well received performance in "What the Butler Saw." It was near this time that she got her big break. She won a role in Peter Jackson's "Heavenly Creatures" playing the role of Juliet Hulme, who was later identified as mystery writer Anne Perry. Along with the critical acclaim the movie received, she also earned plenty of recognition. Along with New Zealand and Toronto Film Festival awards, she received a Best British Actress Award from Britain's Empire magazine, showing its many readers appreciated the work.
Coming with this performance was more work. In 1995, she appeared in two movies, the children's movie "A Kid in King Arthur's Court," as well as an adapted version of Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility". She played alongside and learn from some of Britains best, including Emma Thompson. This was the role that really pushed her into the limelight. In February, she learned that she had just been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
The next year, she played in an adaption of Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure. Once again, she got good critical reviews, but not many people saw her here. Also, for the first time in her life, she was given a role without trying out for it. This was as Ophelia in Kenneth Brannagh's "Hamlet," which was played alongside some of the worlds finest actors.
However, it was something in the background that would be the official welcome to stardom for her. Around the time of her Oscar nomination, she read the script to a movie written and being directed by American blockbuster director James Cameron. She won him over by convincing him that she was the only person for the part, and despite studio objections, she would star in the film.
Reports started to sneak out from the set. Cameron is nuts. The crew has been poisoned. He overworks his actors. He is going over budget. It seemed like a disaster. Already scheduled for a 100 million dollar budget and a July 4th weekend release, shooting went well through that weekend, and when finally finished, a 200 million dollar price tag loomed above everyone's head who had been involved.
After finishing the huge project, she went on to do an independent British film, an adaption of Esther Freud's "Hideous Kinky". She took leave from this movie to attend the premiere of her last project, but fell ill on her way, and was forced to stay in a hospital instead. Once again, in December, she missed the American premiere, and this time the news was worse. Her former romantic link, Steven Tredre, had died. She was heartbroken, and was in England to attend, and sing, at his funeral.
Then, on December 19, 1997, "Titanic" finally hit shore. It did well in its first week of release, garnering eight Golden Globe nominations including one for herself. But in the next few weeks, the big boat would only gain speed. By mid January, Titanic had crossed the 200 million dollar mark in America, and the star was now appearing on American TV shows to promote the film.
After winning four of the Golden Globes, the ship kept moving. Mid February brought the Academy Award nominations. Fourteen nominations, tying the all time record, and once again, she was nominated. By Monday, March 2, the once voyage that once seemed headed for disaster showed that not only was it not a disaster, but had become the first movie to ever hit 1 billion dollars worldwide. Soon, it will also become the highest grossing film in American history, being the first to ever go over a half of a billion dollars domestically.
Now her face can be seen plastered not only on the front of British and American Tabloids, but on the front of some of the worlds greatest magazines. But we all knew before hand that this would one day come. She is getting closer to doing a role in modern times.