Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Ryan Neal
Name: Rachel Ward
Birthdate: September 12, 1957
Famous Years: 1981-Present
Currently Known For: Peter Rabbit
|Networth: $10 Million||Famous For: The Thorn Birds, Against All Odds, Rain Shadow|
September 12, 1957
The Thorn Birds, Against All Odds, Rain Shadow
Many models have broken into acting, though there have been varying levels of success for those that have. One of the bigger stars that made the transition from model to actress was Rachel Ward, who entered the acting realm in the 1980s and became a movie star. After taking some time off, Ward would hone her craft as an actress, and though she’s been partially retired for the past decade, you could see through her work how much she evolved in the profession.
Ward was born on September 12, 1957 in Cornwell, England where her family came from a notable background. Ward came from a line of Earls, and even had professional athletes in her family. Wanting to make a name for herself, as well, Ward would start to focus her early career on modeling when she was a teenager. She’d find success early on, which prompted Ward to drop out of school when she was 16 years old to focus on her career. It was a risky choice, but the early returns were fruitful as she started to grace the covers of several notable magazines.
The attention that she received as a model helped Ward to get into acting, making her debut in the 1979 TV film "Christmas Lilies of the Field". In 1981, she'd start landing more roles, appearing in an episode of "Dynasty" while also hitting the big screen with the films "Night School" and "Sharky's Machine". The latter role would earn Ward her first Golden Globe Nomination. A second Golden Globe nomination would come two years later, when she starred in the miniseries “The Thorn Birds”.
At that point, Ward knew that she wasn’t quite a polished actress, but was learning on the fly and continuing to take classes. She’d follow up her award nominated role on the big screen with “The Final Terror”, “Against All Odds” and “Fortress”. Then, feeling that she might need some more work on her acting skills, decided to step away from the limelight for a couple of years so that she could continue growing as an actress.
Around this same time, Ward would get married to actor Bryan Brown, her former co-star on The Thorn Birds”. Getting back into the groove of things in acting, Ward came back to the big screen in 1987 with her husband, starring in “The Umbrella Woman” and then in “Hotel Colonial”. She rounded out the 1980s with the film “How to Get Ahead in Advertising” and the TV movie “Shadow of the Cobra”.
Heading into the 1990s and then the new millennium, Ward would continue to rack up TV movie credits left and right. By 1994, however, she had all but disappeared from the big screen. Between then and 2016, she didn’t appear in any feature films. Over the past couple of years, however, Ward has come back to film with “The Death and Life of Otto Bloom” and did voice acting in “Peter Rabbit”. Around a decade ago, Ward did take on main roles in the Australian shows “Monarch Cove” and “Rain Shadow”, but neither one would last for more than a year.
With that said, Ward hasn’t been acting much at all in the past 10 years, but has gotten behind the camera. She’s been in charge of directing a couple of TV films, as well as episodes of TV series such as “Rake”, “The Straits” and “Devil’s Playground”. She also directed a feature film called “Beautiful Kate”.
For many that have been involved in acting, being able to stay in show business while avoiding the spotlight is ideal, especially when you get to 60s. When looking back at her most famous role in “The Thorn Birds”, Ward actually has a hard time watching it. “Pure melodramatic slush,” she called it. “I meant, that’s by far the most successful thing I was involved in. But I always felt mortified by the attention. I don’t know why I ended up being an actress. I felt very uncomfortable with it.”
Directing has become a getaway for Ward, who says she finally now feels “engaged” to her work. “I felt 100 percent more involved,” she said. “I suppose that as an actor you feel like you’re the color on the canvas,” while directing brings “many ore areas to be involved in - you’re pulling all the strings.” The transition, as Ward puts it, has been “thrilling.”
Ward doesn’t spend much time in Hollywood either these days. She didn’t like the glitz and the glamour and the string of films where she’d play the “eye candy.” According to Ward, “I think that everyone wants to feel that their own endeavours have some part to playing their success or failure,” adding that “There’s much more ownership if your looks aren’t involved. And I’m not interested in trying to stay younger or trying not to let what happens with age happen. I actually don’t put as much value to it, because I sort of had it, and I’ve kind of known that it doesn’t actually, in the long run, really bring everything.”