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Sigrid Thornton (born 12 February 1959) is a popular Australian film (feature films and telemovies) and television actress. Her television work includes Prisoner (1979–80), All the Rivers Run (1983), SeaChange (1998–2000) and Wentworth (2016–2018). She also starred in the American Western series Paradise (1988–91). Her film appearances include Snapshot (1979), The Man from Snowy River (1982), Street Hero (1984) and Face to Face (2011). She won the AACTA Award for Best Guest or Supporting Actress in a Television Drama for the 2015 miniseries Peter Allen: Not the Boy Next Door
Thornton was born in Canberra, the daughter of Merle, a teacher and writer, and Neil Thornton, an academic. She was raised in Brisbane, attending St. Peter’s Lutheran College. For two years she lived in London, where she was a member of the Unicorn Theatre.
Back in Brisbane she attended Twelfth Night Theatre Junior Workshop and In 1970, during the Captain Cook Bicentenary Celebrations, Thornton appeared before Queen Elizabeth II as Rosa Campbell-Praed in Looking Glass on Yesterday. Thornton was a student of noted theatre director, Joan Whalley.
In 1977, Thornton made her film debut as Wendy in The FJ Holden directed by Michael Thornhill, and in the same year as Maria in the film adaptation of Henry Handel Richardson‘s colonial Australian novel, The Getting of Wisdom (1977) directed by Bruce Beresford. In 1978, Thornton appeared in the Australian television sequel of the British comedy series Father, Dear Father in Australia and Cop Shop,. The same year she played Angela in the film Snapshot (aka The Day After Halloween) directed by Simon Wincer, for which role she was nominated for Australian Film Awards Best Actress in a Feature Film in 1979.
A 1980 she appeared as Roslyn Coulson in the Australian television drama Prisoner (known overseas as Prisoner: Cell Block H). Thornton starred in 1981 in Duet for Four. 1982 saw her take on the roles of Jessica Harrison in the films The Man from Snowy River and its sequel in 1988 The Man from Snowy River II. 1983 marked an appearance in Street Hero. She starred in 1983’s miniseries All the Rivers Run. 1986 saw her in The Lighthorsemen, the TV adaptation of Nevil Shute‘s novel The Far Country, Great Expectations: The Untold Story and Slate, Wyn & Me.
From 1988 to 1991 she appeared as Amelia Lawson in the American television drama series Paradise. Syndication of All the Rivers Run and The Man from Snowy River and The Man from Snowy River II brought her to a wider international audience.
In 1991 she starred in Over the Hill directed by George T. Miller and in 1996, Love in Ambush directed by Carl Shultz. She starred as Laura Joy Gibson in the Australian television series SeaChange from 1998 to 2000, winning the Most Outstanding Actress award in 1999 and 2000.
Thornton’s stage performances include a 2002/03 touring production of The Blue Room directed by Simon Phillips for the Melbourne Theatre Company opposite Marcus Graham. In 2009 she made her debut with Opera Australia in its production at Melbourne’s Arts Centre as Desiree Armfeldt in Sondheim and Wheeler‘s A Little Night Music, directed by .
In 2015, she appeared in the premiere of Stephen Beckett’s play Diary of a Nobody, inspired by the 1892 novel The Diary of a Nobody, at the Princess Theatre, Launceston, Tasmania. The same year, Thornton played the part of Golde in Fiddler on the Roof at the Princess Theatre, Melbourne.
Recent film and television work
In 2002 Thornton starred in Australian thriller The Pact, directed by Strathford Hamilton, written by Hugh O’Brien.
In 2016, Thornton appeared in the fourth season of SoHo drama series Wentworth for seven episodes as a special guest star. She portrayed the character of Sonia Stevens (initially played by Tina Bursill in Prisoner), a woman on remand for the suspected murder of her best friend.
Thornton returned for season 5 of Wentworth as a main cast member and served as the main antagonist in season 6, until her characters death in episode 7, The Edge.
In 2018 she appeared in Anh’s Brush with Fame.
The “Sigrid factor”
In his book The Big Shift, about changing Australian demographics and culture, Bernard Salt coined the term the “Sigrid factor” pointing out that Australian towns in which movies had been made featuring Thornton had prospered since that time. More broadly he referred to changing Australian cultural values which were well reflected in the types of places in which Sigrid Thornton had acted: the Riverland during the 1980s All the Rivers Run and the coast in the 2000s SeaChange.
Thornton has won:
- Silver Logie for Best Lead Actress (1984) All the Rivers Run
- Silver Logie for Most Outstanding Actress (1999) for SeaChange.
- Silver Logie for Most Outstanding Actress (2000) SeaChange
- AACTA Award for Best Guest or Supporting Actress in a Television Drama for Peter Allen: Not the Boy Next Door
She has been nominated for:
- the Gold Logie (in 2000 and 2001)
- Most Outstanding Actress (in 2001)
- Most Popular Actress (in 2000 and 2001)
Thornton is married to Tom Burstall and has two children.
Thornton is known for her work with World Vision, the Royal Children’s Hospital, Vision Australia, Reach Foundation and other charitable causes. She has lobbied successive governments to keep libraries open and to resource the Australian film and television industry. She has been appointed to several federal and state film bodies, including Film Victoria and is involved in helping to sustain and develop the industry.
Title Year Role Notes The FJ Holden 1977 Wendy The Getting of Wisdom 1978 Maria The King of the Two Day Wonder 1978 Maria Snapshot 1979 Angela The Last Outlaw 1980 Kate Kelly Duet for Four 1982 Carline Martin The Man from Snowy River 1982 Jessica Harrison Street Hero 1984 Gloria Best Enemies 1985 Fennimore Slate, Wyn & Me 1987 Blanche McBride The Lighthorsemen 1987 Anne The Man from Snowy River II 1988 Jessica Harrison Over the Hill 1992 Elizabeth Whipping Boy 1996 Cass Meridith Inspector Gadget 2 2003 Mayor Wilson Direct-to-video The Pact 2003 Susan Tuttle Face to Face 2011 Claire Baldoni BFFs 2014 Jacqueline Peter Allen: Not the Boy Next Door 2015 Judy Garland Scare Campaign 2016 Vicki
- Sigrid Thornton: biography and credits
- A Looking Glass On Yesterday by Jill Morris
- Griffin, Michelle (18 September 2005). “The Sigrid weapon”. The Age. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
- Warden, Ian (2 April 1984). “Familiar damsel saved from ravagingly good shipwreck”. Canberra Times. p. 26. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
- Wallace, Lisa (14 September 1987). “An Australian miniseries for everyone”. Canberra Times. p. 6. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
- Idato, Michael; Lallo, Michael (17 October 2018). “Nine revives ABC drama SeaChange – with Sigrid Thornton at the helm”. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
- “Thornton, Graham red hot in the Blue Room” by Helen Thomson, The Age, 16 January 2003
- A Little Night Music Archived 3 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Opera Australia
- “Sigrid Thornton shines as Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire“ by Jay Hanna, Perth Now, 20 March 2014
- “Event Details: Sigrid Thornton in Diary of a Nobody“
- “Anthony Warlow returns to Australian stage for Fiddler on the Roof”. Herald-Sun. 13 September 2015.
- McWhirter, Erin (8 September 2009). “Sigrid Thornton plays hard cop in Underbelly The Golden Mile”. Adelaide Now. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
- “Face to Face”. The Sydney Morning Herald. 10 September 2011. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
- “Season 2, episodes – Who Do You Think You Are“. SBS. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
- “Sigrid Thornton joins Wentworth as part of Foxtel’s home-grown roser for 2016”. smh.com.au. Retrieved August 4, 2016.
- The Big Shift by Bernard Salt
- Quinn, Karl (5 December 2015). “‘There is no endgame’: Sigrid Thornton on a life embracing change”. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
- Thornton, Sigrid (28 March 2006). “National Press Club Address: Expanding Horizons”. National Press Club, Council of the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences. Archived from the original on 17 March 2012. Retrieved 23 January 2012.
- Morris, Jill (April 1970). A Looking Glass On Yesterday. Brisbane: Captain Cook Bicentennary Committee.
- Plum Role for 14-year-old. Brisbane: Queensland Newspapers. November 1974.
- Salt, Bernard (2001). The Big Shift. Hardie Grant Publishing. ISBN 978-1-876719-29-6.
- Denton, Andrew (2005). Enough Rope: Sigrid Thornton. Sydney: Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
- Sigrid Thornton on IMDb
- The Sigrid Thornton WebSite
- Thornton, Sigrid (1959–) in The Encyclopedia of Women and Leadership in Twentieth-Century Australia
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