Embeth Davidtz

Embeth Jean Davidtz (born August 11, 1965) is a South African-American actress. Her screen roles include movies such as Army of Darkness, Schindler's List, Matilda, Junebug, Mansfield Park, Bicentennial Man, and Fracture, and the television series Californication and Mad Men.

Embeth Davidtz
Embeth Jean Davidtz

(1965-08-11) August 11, 1965
Years active1989–present
Jason Sloane (m. 2002)

Early life

Davidtz was born in Lafayette, Indiana, while her father was studying chemical engineering at Purdue University. Her parents, John and Jean, later moved to Trenton, New Jersey, and then back to their native South Africa when Davidtz was nine years old.[1] Davidtz has Dutch, English, and French ancestry.[2] She had to learn Afrikaans before attending school classes in South Africa,[1] where her father took up a teaching post at Potchefstroom University. Davidtz graduated from The Glen High School in Pretoria in 1983 and studied at Rhodes University in Grahamstown.[3]

Debut and early career

Davidtz made her acting debut at age 21 with CAPAB (Cape Performing Arts Board, now known as Artscape) in Cape Town, playing Juliet in a stage production of Romeo and Juliet at the Maynardville Open-Air Theatre. Performing in English and Afrikaans, she also starred in other local plays, including Stille Nag (Silent Night) and A Chain of Voices, both earning her nominations for the South African equivalent of the Tony Award.[3]

Her film debut came in 1988 with a small role in South African-filmed American horror Mutator.[4] Shortly after, she won a bigger part in South African short telemovie A Private Life, as the daughter of an interracial couple.[3] Davidtz won a DALRO Award for Best Supporting Actress for her work in the 1990 play Houd-den-bek.[5] For the same play, she was nominated in 1991 for the Esther Roos Award for Best Actress in a Supporting role in Afrikaans film. Steven Spielberg noticed her performance in the 1992 South African film, Nag van die Negentiende and offered her the role of Helen Hirsch in Schindler's List.[6]

Hollywood career

In 1993, Davidtz played the role of Helen Hirsch in Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List.

Davidtz had a central role in the fact-based film Murder in the First (1995), followed by the Merchant Ivory production Feast of July (also 1995). In Matilda (1996), a feature based on Roald Dahl's children's fantasy, she played the role of Miss Honey, the grade-one teacher of the title character.

In 1998, Davidtz played a theologian helping Denzel Washington crack a supernatural wave of crimes in the mystery drama Fallen and a femme fatale linked to Kenneth Branagh in Robert Altman's take on a previously unused John Grisham manuscript, The Gingerbread Man. The following year, Davidtz portrayed a 19th-century woman of the world in Patricia Rozema's reworking of the Jane Austen comedy Mansfield Park and played a dual role opposite Robin Williams in the futuristic fable Bicentennial Man.

A supporting role in the film adaptation of Bridget Jones' Diary (2001) saw Davidtz play Natasha, a colleague and one of the love interests of Mark Darcy (Colin Firth). That year, she began her run on the CBS drama Citizen Baines, playing the daughter of a defeated United States Senate incumbent (James Cromwell) who is herself leaning towards a career in politics. Other roles included horror thrillers like 2001's Thir13en Ghosts alongside Tony Shalhoub. In 2002, she appeared in the Michael Hoffman drama The Emperor's Club, which co-starred Kevin Kline and Emile Hirsch.

In Junebug (2005), Davidtz played an outsider art dealer from Chicago brought to North Carolina by her husband (Alessandro Nivola) to meet his family for the first time. Davidtz has also guest-starred on the hit ABC drama series Grey's Anatomy as Dr. Derek Shepherd's sister Nancy in the Season 3 episode "Let the Angels Commit". In 2008, she had a regular role on HBO's In Treatment as Amy, part of a fractious couple alongside Josh Charles's Jake.

She portrayed the unfaithful and unfortunate wife of Anthony Hopkins's character in the 2007 drama Fracture.

From 2009 to 2012, she played Rebecca Pryce, wife of Lane Pryce, in the hit AMC television show Mad Men.[7] She also played Felicia Koons, the wife of the dean and the mother of Becca's best friend, Chelsea, on Showtime's Californication.

Davidtz played Annika Blomkvist in David Fincher's adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. She also appeared in Marc Webb's Spider-Man reboot The Amazing Spider-Man as Mary Parker, Peter Parker's mother who vanished under mysterious circumstances along with Richard Parker.

Personal life

Davidtz married entertainment attorney Jason Sloane on June 22, 2002, and they have two children.

Davidtz has a younger sister who is a psychologist at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.[8]

In an interview regarding her guest appearances on Ray Donovan, in which she portrayed a breast-cancer survivor, Davidtz revealed that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013, which had caused her to stop working and for which she underwent a mastectomy.[9] The role was Davidtz's first after undergoing treatment, and when informed that it required nudity, Davidtz worked with producer David Hollander to incorporate her partially-reconstructed right breast into the story, turning down the use of a prosthetic as a substitute for her right nipple that was due to be restored through surgery.[9] "Somebody might not believe it if an actress pretended to have their nipple gone and said, 'Look, I'm still sexual and pretty.' But when it's real, I hope it makes someone feel beautiful. I still feel beautiful," said Davidtz regarding the message she wished to convey by taking the role.[9]



Year Title Role Notes
1992 Army of Darkness Sheila Fangoria Chainsaw Award for Best Supporting Actress
1993 Schindler's List Helen Hirsch
1995 Murder in the First Mary McCasslin
1995 Feast of July Bella Ford
1996 Matilda Miss Jennifer Honey
1998 Fallen Gretta Milano
The Gingerbread Man Mallory Doss
1999 Simon Magus Leah
Mansfield Park Mary Crawford
Bicentennial Man "Little Miss" Amanda Martin / Portia Charney Nominated – Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Actress, Comedy
2001 Bridget Jones's Diary Natasha
The Hole Dr. Philippa Horwood
Thir13en Ghosts Kalina Oretzia
2002 The Emperor's Club Elizabeth
2005 Junebug Madeleine Johnsten
2007 Fracture Jennifer Crawford
2009 Fragments Joan Laraby
2010 3 Backyards The Actress
2011 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Annika Giannini
2012 The Amazing Spider-Man Mary Parker
2013 Paranoia Dr. Judith Bolton
Europa Report Dr. Samantha Unger
Miracle Rising: South Africa Herself
2014 The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Mary Parker


Year Title Role Notes
1989 Screen Two Older Karen Episode: "A Private Life"
1992 Till Death Us Do Part Katherine Palliko TV movie
Deadly Matrimony Dianne Masters TV movie
1997 The Garden of Redemption Adriana TV movie
1998 Last Rites Dr. Lauren Riggs TV movie
2001 Citizen Baines Ellen Baines Croland 7 episodes
2002 Shackleton Rosalind Chetwynd TV movie
2004 Scrubs Maddie Episode: "My Tormented Mentor"
2006, 2019 Grey's Anatomy Nancy Shepherd Episodes: "Let the Angels Commit", "Good Shepherd"
2008 In Treatment Amy 8 episodes
2009 Californication Felicia Koons 10 episodes
2009–2012 Mad Men Rebecca Pryce 8 episodes
2015 The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe Natasha Lytess TV Miniseries
2016 Ray Donovan Sonia Kovitzky 7 episodes
2019 The Morning Show Paige Kessler 2 episodes


  1. "Cinema: The star of Davidtz". The Independent. Archived from the original on December 29, 2008.
  2. Schaeffer, Stephen (March 3, 1998). "Movies; Actress Davidtz leaves out sweetness in 'Gingerbread Man'". Boston Herald. Retrieved January 11, 2011.
  3. "Embeth Davidtz Biography And Images". Oregon Herald. Archived from the original on January 7, 2016. Retrieved July 11, 2017.
  4. "Mutator (1989): Overview". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved May 17, 2015.
  5. "Houd-den-Bek". Encyclopaedia of South African Theatre, Film, Media and Performance (ESAT). Retrieved July 28, 2016.
  6. "Embeth Davidtz". Encyclopaedia of South African Theatre, Film, Media and Performance (ESAT). Retrieved July 28, 2016.
  7. Mad Men cast Archived 2010-03-13 at the Wayback Machine AMC TV
  8. "Embeth Davidtz - Rotten Tomatoes Celebrity Profile". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on June 8, 2009. Retrieved April 25, 2009.
  9. Fretts, Bruce (August 1, 2016). "Ray Donovan's Embeth Davidtz Opens Up About Fighting Breast Cancer and Her Complicated Nude Scene". Vulture.com. Archived from the original on August 1, 2016. Retrieved August 1, 2016.
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