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Miranda Catherine Millais Harcourt ONZM (born c. 1962) is a New Zealand actress and acting coach. She is the daughter of actress Dame Kate Harcourt.
Harcourt's acting career began playing boy character on Radio New Zealand in the early 1970s. She is best known for her role as "Gemma" in the 1980s TV drama series Gloss. Harcourt spent three years acting on the show, and her character was so despicable that people spat at and insulted Harcourt in public. Harcourt received a nomination in the 1989 Film and TV Awards for best actress for the role.
Harcourt has starred in countless productions across New Zealand and in Australia. The exhaustive and comprehensive list can be found at Theatre Aotearoa Database.
Miranda graduated Toi Whakaari, New Zealand Drama School, in 1984. In 1990, a sponsored year at London's Central School of Speech and Drama led to an exploration of drama therapy in psychiatric institutions, with the deaf, and in prisons - the latter inspiring her collaboration with writer William Brandt for the solo play Verbatim, where Harcourt acted, solo, portraying nine characters, inmates' families and as the families of victims.
Miranda Harcourt was also a pioneer of verbatim theatre in New Zealand, in creating Verbatim (1993), in collaboration with William Brandt and Portraits (1997) in collaboration with Stuart McKenzie. Performed in front of people convicted of violent crimes, Harcourt says Verbatim "was a reflection back at the people on the inside; what their mothers, their sisters and their children had said about them". The show was well received in New Zealand theatres and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and from the inmates themselves. Miranda recollects one inmate, a year after the show, asking her where the other actresses were who had starred, having remembered the distinct characters that Miranda portrayed solo so distinctly that he remembered them as separate, individual women. The Sunday Star-Times described Verbatim as “a small miracle of dramatic theatre”. And the NZ Times said Miranda’s performance was “frightening in its stamina and emotional range”. In The Guardian, renowned reviewer Michael Billington praised Verbatim as “a remarkable solo show about violence.”
Miranda and her mother, Kate Harcourt, acted together in Flowers From My Mother's Garden, a collection of shared anecdotes, reminiscences and stories centred around their relationship and family, and co-written by Miranda and her husband, Stuart McKenzie. The play was commissioned by 1998 International Festival of the Arts and has since been staged in Auckland, Dunedin and Christchurch.
Miranda’s first short film as a director, Voiceover, written and produced by Stuart McKenzie, won Best Short Film at the 1997 NZ Film and Television Awards, and her first play as a director won a slew of awards at the Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards including Best Actor and Best Set Design.
Boy (ADR voice coach), 2010.
As an actress Miranda has twice been awarded Best Actress at the Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards (A Doll’s House and Biography of my Skin). She received a NZ Suffrage Medal in 1993. Miranda was awarded an ONZM for her services to theatre and the community in 2004. She has won NZ Film and TV Awards Best Short Film (VOICE OVER) and was a finalist as Best Actress (ACT OF MURDER and GLOSS) and as Best Supporting Actress (DUGGAN and FOR GOOD). She has received the Media Peace Prize (VERBATIM) and the NZ Suffrage Medal. Miranda was nominated Best Supporting Actress, a Film Award, For Good in 2003. Nominated Best Performance by a Supporting Actress, a General TV Award, Tangiwai in 2011.
Teaching and Coaching.
Miranda is currently an featuring acting and technique coach for The Actors Programme, Auckland, New Zealand. She was the Head of Acting at Toi Whakaari, New Zealand Drama School, for seven years, and is widely acknowledged for her contributions to the school.
As well as coaching NZ actors and casts, Harcourt has grown her professional scope to include overseas actors in Australia and America, including Anna Sophia Robb and Carrie Underwood. She both travels to and skype coaches international actors requiring her expertise. As part of her role on the board of Film New Zealand, she also helps to market Kiwi actors to overseas film-makers.
Miranda was the acting coach on a number of international and local feature films BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA (Best Actress 2008 Young Artist Awards as well as Best Ensemble Cast) directed by Gabor Csupo. Rehearsal coach for BRIGHT STAR directed by Jane Campion (in competition for the 2009 Palme d'Or). Coach for the two New Zealand actresses in THE LOVELY BONES (Peter Jackson). Audition coach for Melanie Lynskey in Peter Jackson’s Oscar-winning HEAVENLY CREATURES. On-set cast coach for UNDER THE MOUNTAIN directed by Jonathan King (Best Foreign Actress China’s Golden Lion). Acting coach for HOME BY CHRISTMAS directed by Gaylene Preston (London Film Festival 2010). Cast -on-set coach for 13 part TV series KAITANGATA TWITCH directed by Yvonne MacKay (finalist for the 2010 Prix de Jeunesse, platinum winner WorldFest Houston). ADR coach for KAITANGATA TWITCH and also for Taika Waititi Cohen’s BOY (Sundance 2010, winner Best Film NZFTV Awards 2010).
Miranda also teaches Professional Level - Teen Acting for Stage and Screen, as the head tutor at Scots College Creative and Performing Arts School.
Harcourt is a partner in the company MAP Film Productions, alongside McKenzie and producer/director Neil Pardington. She has appeared in short films directed by each, including Pardington's The Dig (which was invited to Cannes as part of a special NZ showcase) and McKenzie's darkly comic Ends Meat.
Miranda also produced A&E (Accident & Eternity) (Short) (executive producer), 2006, and For Good (co-producer), 2003.
Access and Representation.
As well as her past work in prisons and institutions, Miranda also volunteers with disabled and deaf communities.
Harcourt is the daughter of Dame Kate Harcourt. Her younger brother Gordon is a presenter on Fair Go.
She is married to Stuart McKenzie. Together they have three children: Peter (born 1998), Thomasin (born 2000) and Davida (born 2006). Thomasin started following her mother and grandmother into acting in 2014, portraying the teenage Louise Nicholas in the television film Consent, and Pixie Hannah on Shortland Street.
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