Miranda Otto

  • Birthdate: December 16, 1967
  • Birthplace: Australia
  • Best Franchise: The Lord of the Rings
  • Married: Peter O’Brien
  • Children: 1

Miranda Otto is an Australian actress who has spent time on the small screen, the big screen, and on stage. You can almost break down her career into two parts – the “before Hollywood” portion and the “welcome to Hollywood” portion. Otto has been involved in major productions, and one very big franchise, here in the United States as well as numerous productions in Australia. Let’s take a look at Miranda Otto’s career and see what the future holds for her.


Miranda Otto

Miranda Otto was born on December 16, 1967, in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. She was raised in both Brisbane and Newcastle, though she spent some of her childhood in Hong Kong around the age of six when her parents divorced. Otto developed her interest in film while she stayed with her father, Australian actor Barry Otto, on weekends and holidays.

During Miranda Otto’s childhood, she and her friends would write scripts and design costumes for their short films. Otto appeared in a number of plays at Sydney’s Nimrod Theatre, which eventually grabbed the attention of a casting director. From that, Otto got her very first film role in 1987’s Emma’s War, an Australian World War II film that starred Otto as Emma and Lee Remick as her mother.


What Lies Beneath

Before Miranda Otto found interest in films, her desire was to be a ballerina. Unfortunately for Otto, she was forced into altering those plans when she developed moderate scoliosis. After turning her attention toward television and film, Otto went to college in Sydney at the National Institute of Dramatic Art, where she graduated in 1990.

While she was in school, she appeared in a few films – the aforementioned Emma’s War as well as Initiation and The 13th Floor, both Australian films. Also, while in school, Miranda Otto appeared in two Australian TV series, one episode of The Flying Doctors and four episodes of A Country Practice.

Miranda Otto’s first role after she graduated from the National Institute of Dramatic Art was in 1991’s The Girl Who Came Late. In it, she played Nell Tiscowitz and it was this role that opened the eyes of the Australian film industry. As Nell, she was a young woman who could communicate with horses. It was a role so well played that Otto grabbed her first Australian Film Institute nomination as best actress.

For Miranda Otto’s next role, she played Annie in The Last Days of Chez Nous. It was another role in which Otto shined, earning her a second Australian Film Institute nomination, though this time it was for Best Supporting Actress. Otto was truly beginning to shine as a young actress.

Somehow, even with all the press she received early on, roles became scarce. For the following four years, Miranda Otto only found five roles which included The Nostradamus Kid, Sex is a Four Letter Word, and Love Serenade. She also got one episode on the Australian series, G.P., and one episode on Police Rescue.

Now, Miranda Otto was beginning to doubt her career choices. She was no longer getting the parts she auditioned for, and it was becoming a major concern. Otto was at a crossroads, unsure which road was the best to take.

Fortunately, she only stepped away from acting for a year and in 1997, Miranda Otto starred in The Well, True Love and Chaos, and Doing Time for Patsy Cline. By the time The Well came to her, Otto was 30 and was to play an 18-year-old. She surprised herself by getting the part and for her efforts, she was nominated for the third time for an Australian Film Institute award.

After Doing Time for Patsy Cline, Miranda Otto began to be something of a regular subject in Australian tabloids. She has started a relationship with her co-star in the movie, Richard Roxburgh and it was press she did not want. As that unwanted press died down, Otto moved on to her next project.

In 1998, Miranda Otto starred in a romantic comedy called Dead Letter Office. What made this project special for her was that it was the first time she appeared in a film with her father. It was in 1998 that Otto made her American film debut.


Miranda Otto
Miranda Otto in The Thin Red Line

It wasn’t a big part, but it was an important one for Miranda Otto. She played Marty Bell in Terrence Malick’s war drama, The Thin Red Line. The simple fact that she made the final cut of the film is remarkable in itself.

The names that were initially in the film who eventually were chopped from the final cut are amazing – names like Bill Pullman, Lukas Haas, Mickey Rourke, and Billy Bob Thornton’s narration. Martin Sheen and Viggo Mortensen participated in the script readthroughs but never made the film.

Miranda Otto’s next American film was What Lies Beneath, where she played the mysterious neighbor to Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer. The mystery thriller was only part of what got her on the radar of director Peter Jackson. Otto was about to jump into one of the most successful movie trilogies of all time.



Perhaps Miranda Otto should be thanking Uma Thurman for saying no and maybe she already has. Ultimately Uma Thurman said it was a move she’d always regret, but it was a move that turned mainstream American audiences onto Otto.

When Thurman passed on playing Éowyn in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Jackson moved immediately to Otto after he saw her audition tape she filmed while in Australia.

Lord of the Rings

Although Miranda Otto did not appear in the first film of the trilogy, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, she did appear in the second film and returned for the third film, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

We all know how successful the trilogy ended up, clearing $3 billion at the box office. Her appearance in the films opened the eyes of another very successful director who reached out to Otto for his next project.


Miranda Otto

Needless to say, director Steven Spielberg was quite impressed with Miranda Otto’s performance in Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings films. He called her up to see if she would play opposite Tom Cruise in his remake of War of the Worlds.

But Otto was pregnant at the time and thought because of that, she would have to pass on the film. Spielberg, though, really wanted her in the film, so the script was reworked to accommodate Otto and she was able to star in the film.

Because of her success in Jackson and Spielberg’s films, Miranda Otto continued to get work in Hollywood. But also because of her success, she had options. She alternated starring in films in Hollywood and in Australia. She even took time off to spend more time with her daughter, Darcey O’Brien, and her husband, Peter O’Brien, whom she married in 2003.

As Miranda Otto’s career progressed, she found herself not only working both in the United States and Australia, but she began to also cross over to television.

She was seen in the television series, Rake, Homeland, and 24: Legacy. Most recently, Otto has been seen in the series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, The Unusual Suspects, The Moth Effect, Fires, and True Colors.


Not only has Miranda Otto kept herself busy professionally, but she is also quite active on social media. She is always posting on Instagram about her current projects.

Miranda Otto is also not shy about posting about her daughter. She recently posted a nice birthday wish to Darcey.

She also posted a picture of Darcey and herself on Mother’s Day.

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