Sally Cecilia Hawkins (born 27 April 1976) is an English actress. She made her film debut in Mike Leigh's All or Nothing in 2002. She continued working with Leigh, appearing in Vera Drake (2004) and in Happy-Go-Lucky (2008), for which she won several awards including the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy, and the Silver Bear for Best Actress at the Berlin Film Festival.
She next starred in Made in Dagenham (2010) and Paddington (2014). She appeared in two Woody Allen films, Cassandra's Dream (2007), and in Blue Jasmine (2013), the latter for which she received nominations for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, the BAFTA and the Golden Globe. Hawkins has appeared in many stage productions with the Royal Court Theatre, and in 2010 she made her Broadway debut in Mrs Warren's Profession.
On television, she starred in the BBC adaptations of Tipping The Velvet as Zena Blake, and Fingersmith (2005) as Sue Trinder. She also appeared in ITV's Persuasion (2007) as Anne Elliot.
Hawkins was born in Dulwich and brought up in Blackheath, the daughter of Jacqui Hawkins (née Jacqueline Sinfield) and Colin Hawkins, authors and illustrators of children's books. Her parents both have Irish Catholic ancestry. She has a brother, Finbar Hawkins, a producer. Hawkins first developed an interest in acting at the age of three when she went to a circus show. She intended to go into comedy but ended up doing theatre plays. Hawkins attended James Allen's Girls' School in Dulwich, and later graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1998. She has dyslexia.
Hawkins started her career primarily as a stage actress in such productions as Accidental Death of an Anarchist, Romeo and Juliet, The Cherry Orchard, Much Ado About Nothing, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Misconceptions. She also had small appearances on television series such as Casualty and Doctors. In 1998 while still a student, Hawkins was cast as an extra in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.
Hawkins made her first notable screen performance in the 2002 Mike Leigh film All or Nothing as Samantha. This was the first of three films that Hawkins and Leigh worked on together, the second of which was the 2004 film Vera Drake. She appeared as Slasher in the 2004 action film Layer Cake. Her first major television role came in 2005, when she played Susan Trinder in the BAFTA-nominated BBC drama Fingersmith, an adaptation of Sarah Waters' novel of the same name, in which she co-starred with Imelda Staunton. She then starred in another BBC adaptation, Patrick Hamilton's Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky. Between 2003 and 2005 Hawkins appeared in four episodes of the BBC comedy series Little Britain. Hawkins acted in David Hare's adaptation of Federico García Lorca's play The House of Bernarda Alba in 2005, at Royal National Theatre.
She has also lent her voice to numerous radio series such as Concrete Cow, on which she also was a writer, Ed Reardon's Week, Think the Unthinkable, Cash Cows, War with the Newts and The Party Line. In 2006, Hawkins returned to the stage, appearing at the Royal Court Theatre in Jez Butterworth's The Winterling. During 2006 she also made uncredited appearances in Richard Ayoade's Man to Man with Dean Learner where she played various uncredited roles in various deleted scenes included on the series DVD. Hawkins would later be directed by Ayoade on two of his films.
In 2007, she played Anne Elliot in the television film of Jane Austen's Persuasion. Her performance was well received by critics and was awarded a Golden Nymph. She also had a supporting role in the Woody Allen film Cassandra's Dream, starring Colin Farrell and Ewan McGregor. Hawkins reunited with Leigh for a third time in the 2008 comedy-drama film Happy-Go-Lucky, portraying Poppy Cross, a kind-hearted primary school teacher. Hawkins' performance received critical acclaim and received many accolades, including winning a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and the Silver Bear for Best Actress.
Three films starring Hawkins, Made in Dagenham, Submarine and Never Let Me Go, all premiered at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival. All three received positive reviews and Hawkins' performances were met with critical acclaim. In October 2010, she appeared on Broadway as Vivie in Mrs Warren's Profession at the American Airlines Theatre. In 2011, Hawkins had a supporting role in the film adaptation of Jane Eyre and was the female lead in the romantic comedy film Love Birds. In 2012, she and Rafe Spall co-starred in the play Constellations at the Royal Court Theatre and later Duke of York's Theatre. The play was met with positive reviews and won the best play category at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards. She also had a small role as Mrs Joe in the 2012 adaption of Great Expectations.
In 2013, Hawkins starred opposite Cate Blanchett and was directed by Woody Allen for the second time in the critically acclaimed film Blue Jasmine, a role for which she received her first Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress, as well as nods for the BAFTA, the Golden Globe and received various other accolades. The same year she starred in All Is Bright, alongside Paul Giamatti and Paul Rudd and had a small appearance as a receptionist in the Richard Ayoade film The Double. In 2014, Hawkins appeared in Godzilla, as Dr Vivienne Graham, a scientist assisting Dr Ishiro Serizawa played by Ken Watanabe. She also co-starred with John Hawkes and Michael Cera in the Charlie Kaufman television pilot, How and Why. The pilot was not given a series order.
Hawkins portrayed the mother of Asa Butterfield's character in the drama film X+Y, which premiered at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. In November 2014, she portrayed Mrs Brown in Paddington, based on the children's books by Michael Bond.