Ruby Annabel Van der Vliet
is a British film actress. She is best
known for her roles as Cecilia Tallis in Atonement
, Anna Karenina in Anna
and her upcoming role in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Van der Vliet was born to a Dutch father and English mother in Nottingham, England on 18 September 1984. The first of two children, her younger brother Ian was born two years later and has carved a career for himself as musician, installation artist and painter. Her father, Aloysius, worked for the Netherlands Embassy and her mother, Beatrix, was a former costume designer for the West End. As a result, she grew up fluent in both Dutch and English, as well as exposed to theatre. Her childhood in Nottingham was rather ordinary and she still maintains close friendships with schoolmates from both primary and secondary school. After graduating from Trinity School in Nottingham, she attended Oxford University sitting Physics and Philosophy
at Balliol College.
While at Oxford, Van der Vliet was active in theatre and drama, as well as other sport and clubs. She is fondly remembered by fellow coursemates and she often credits her time at Oxford as the best in her life. Her younger brother attended the same school and college after her. After graduation, she moved to London with two coursemates, one of whom has gone to work for NASA in the United States and the other who now is a physics teacher at a London college. Van der Vliet has stated the philosophy angle of physics is what interested her most and has made comment she is "actually rubbish" at mathematics. That said, she has an Erdos number and she considers it more valuable than any other award. Pal Erdos is, in her own words, one of her heroes and she often uses the same idiosyncratic phrases he did in homage to the mathematician. She has theorised if she had studied pure mathematics she may not have pursued a career in acting. Her interest in "hard" sciences has led to her taking part in initiatives across Britain to encourage young girls to focus more on science and maths and in 2008 she was part of an open-day for tutoring in economically disadvantaged areas of London.
Van der Vliet is well know for lending her voice to the long-running and popular Radio 4 serial, The Archers
. While acting was something she was interested in, Van der Vliet did not consider it a serious career opportunity. After graduation from Oxford's Balliol College, she moved to London where she gave herself a deadline of one year. While her performances at Oxford in theatre were met with acclaim, and have surfaced in light of her success, she did not think she had much of a chance and took a position working at a local pub in Camden. Her audition for 2005's Pride and Prejudice
did not see her cast, but did spark an interesting relationship with director Joe Wright. Wright was very vocal about wanting to work with her, but the studio was concerned about a first time actress in any of the Bennet sister roles. Wright and Van der Vliet stayed in touch and, with his help, she was cast in three films that led to her being offered the role of Cecilia Tallis. Wright has maintained he would not have cast anyone else and she underwent no audition process for the role. Considered her break-out role, she went on to have strong performances in the following years, but maintained a close connection to smaller British productions despite interest from Hollywood.
It wasn't until 2011 she made another as critically acclaimed role with her turn in Drake Doremus' Like Crazy
. Van der Vliet was not originally on the radar for the role, but after seeing the treatment she contacted Doremus and sent her own audition tape, following up with Skype calls in character as Anna. She has stated the role of Anna is most similar to her own personality and maintains it is her favourite role to date. Van der Vliet's career stalled in 2012 with her stint in rehab, however, her candid acceptance of her problem, as well as championing from Doremus and the Coen Brothers, did not damage her career permanently. She also willingly paid her own insurance for her roles in 2013 and 2014 as a mechanism of proof to her commitment to performance and sobriety.
Van der Vliet divides her time between her flat in central London and home in Paris. Since her move to Paris in 2012 she has chosen to work in predominantly British film with locations for filming not far removed from either of her residences. While she does not discuss her personal life and relationships since her disasterous break-up with her co-star in 2011's Like Crazy
, it is speculated this is because of her relationship with Jean-Jacques Gordon
and, subsequently, her role in his child's life. While some have speculated this has harmed her career, Van der Vliet seems relatively content with her low-key lifestyle and popularity. She has publicly discussed how she could not handle the invasive life of fame after her splash success in 2007's Atonement
and how the sudden arrival into award shows and after-parties led to a drug abuse problem that put her in rehab after completion of filming on 2012's Anna Karenina
Her treatment was part of the scheduling of the film, as requirement for her to continue with the lead role, and led to her subsequent drop out of other films in the year. She completed her stint in rehab at a private facility in England for a total of 90 days and is still a regular visitor on a monthly visit, as well as keeping a therapist and sponsor she sees more frequently. Van der Vliet's issues on the set of Anna Karenina
led to a much publicised split from her then partner, a member of the crew from Shame
which concluded with him leaking private photos of her to Reddit, including videos and images of her doing cocaine and smoking marijuana. Rather than deny or pursue legal action, Van der Vliet acknowledged her drug problem in a simple statement and asked for privacy.
Van der Vliet, while not vocal, is open about her treatment for cocaine and substance abuse. She has written for various publications on the danger of "yes" culture in fame and celebrity and has taken part in academic research on drug and human trafficking into Europe. Her commitment to this has seen her work closely with the United Nations and she regularly attends various events with the organisation, including the World Economic Forum. Her career choices have reflected her interests in equality, history and feminism. She had a true breakout year with four releases in 2015, leading two and acting as supporting actress in two with a return to form that saw critical acclaim matching those of 2011 and 2007. However, that said, Van der Vliet has become something of a "meme" on celebrity websites for what is perceived as a thirst for industry accolade and recognition. Her inability to either be nominated or win has led to jokes, including a popular one of a crying Van der Vliet being pulled away from an Academy Award.
In a surprise casting, she was announced as the lead in Disney's Star Wars spinoff film, Rogue One
. Her other projects in the pipeline were all cancelled, save for one, to accommodate the gruelling filming schedule and while the role remains tightly under lock and key, so does her involvement in any future Star Wars films.
During the start of her career she was much more effervescent and free with the press, but as of 2012 she refuses to discuss her personal life and will not answer questions unrelated to her role. One of her more well known moments was during the press junket for Breathe In when she promptly walked out of an interview during what she perceived and maintains were misogynist comments.
She has two tattoos. The first is a to scale, compact illustration under her right breast of the path of an asteroid
. The second is an outline of the moon phases behind her left ear.
She has been in a long-term relationship since 2012 with her former co-star, Jean-Jacques Gordon. As a result, she is a "step-mother" to his daughter; a role she considers more fulfilling than that of actress. She has never spoken of Jacq or Olivia to the press and, despite their length of relationship, they have only been pictured together on the red carpet once, during the 87th Academy Awards when she was nominated.
(2019) swan lake
... felicity jones' role
(2018) state like sleep
(2018) the little stranger
... caroline ayres
(2017) how to talk to girls at parties
... PT stella
(2017) the death of stalin
... svetlana stalin
(2016) rogue one: a star wars story
... jyn erso
(2016) a monster calls
... christine chubbuck
(2015) far from the maddening crowd
... bathsheba everdene
(2014) the imitation game
... joan clarke
(2013) begin again
(2013) inside llewyn davis
(2013) breathe in
(2012) anna karenina
... anna karenina
(2011) a dangerous method
... sabina spielrein
(2011) like crazy
(2010) never let me go
(2010) the tempest
(2010) brighton rock
(2009) dorian gray
... emily wotton
(2008) pirate radio
(2008) the edge of love
... vera phillips
(2008) vicky cristina barcelona
... cecilia tallis
(2006) like minds
... susan mueller
(2005) the jacket
... jackie price
... dot (1 episode)