With a penchant for taking on provocative, intelligent and unconventional roles in off-kilter dramas, Natalie Press possessed the qualities of a true cinematic chameleon. The British actress first ignited the big screen with her moving portrayal of a working class tomboy experiencing an unforgettable adolescent romance in "My Summer of Love" (2004). The coming-of-age piece introduced film lovers to Press' natural ability to expose her character's inner complexities without losing her ability to charm and connect with the audience. Press captivated even when the subject matter - including incest and religion in the 2005 drama "Song of Songs" - proved difficult to watch. Her tour-de-force performance as a young woman unknowingly thrust into the dangerous world of the British underground and espionage in the drama "Fifty Dead Men Walking" (2008) won critical raves and carved her a niche as one of the most fearlessly committed actresses of her generation.
Born on Aug. 15, 1980 in London, England, Natalie Press moved away from home at age 15 to attend art school. Early on, she discovered that her creative outlet leaned more towards performing so made the decision to pursue acting instead. Press waited tables for many years and appeared in minor onscreen roles before making her feature debut in the short film, "Wasp" (2003). The story of a young single mother raising four children won the Academy Award for Best Short Film in 2005. Press rose out of career obscurity in 2004 with a starring role on "My Summer of Love." The Pawel Pawlikowski-directed art house hit centered around two young women from different social classes who develop a passionate summer romance. Press played the tough as nails and intelligent Mona who falls in love with the cynical and sophisticated socialite Tamsin (Blunt). The two young women educate each other on various topics including sex, politics, and ultimately, the idea of living for the moment. Press received multiple accolades in 2005 for "My Summer of Love," including a London Critics Circle Film Award for British Newcomer of the Year and a British Independent Film Award nomination for Best Actress. Her otherworldly beauty and enigmatic presence also sparked comparisons with fellow indie cinema darling and iconoclast Tilda Swinton.
Press followed up her stunning performance in "My Summer of Love" with the BBC miniseries, "Masterpiece Theater: Bleak House" (2005). Based on the series of novels written by Charles Dickens, "Bleak House" explored the flawed British judiciary system of the 19th Century. Press played Caddy Turveydrop, the best friend to the story's heroine Esther Summerson (Anna Maxwell Martin) who marries the proprietor of a dance studio. "Bleak House" was critically lauded not only in England but also in the U.S., where it received several Emmy Award nods and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television. That same year, Press portrayed a devout Orthodox Jew who attempts to bring her estranged brother back to the fold, yet ends up having an incestuous affair with him in the film "Song of Songs." In 2006, she appeared in the dramatic thriller "Red Road," about a female security guard who becomes obsessed with a man she watches from her surveillance cameras. Press acted opposite Martin Freeman who essayed influential Dutch painter Rembrandt, in the biopic "Nightwatching" (2007). The film exposed the conspiracy behind the artist's most famous work, the 1942 painting "The Night Watch," and the profound effects it had on his personal life.
In 2008, Press appeared in a handful of films, from the war drama "In Tranzit" to the crime biopic "Cass," yet none received as much critical acclaim and attention as the Kari Skogland-directed thriller "Fifty Dead Men Walking." The film told the true story of Martin McGartland, a 22-year-old Belfast street hustler (Jim Sturgess) hired by British law enforcement and trained to infiltrate the IRA. Press played McGartland's girlfriend, Lara, who was unaware of her lover's double life. The film also starred Ben Kingsley, Kevin Zegers, and Rose McGowan, but it was Press' scene-stealing performance that won her a Best Supporting Female nomination at the 2010 Independent Spirit Awards. In 2010, she acted opposite Janet McTeer in the drama "Island" and switched gears to star in the sci-fi thriller "Telepathy" alongside Miranda Richardson and Sam Neill.