Miriam Margolyes, OBE (/ˈmɑrɡəliːz/; born 18 May 1941) is a British Australian character actress and voice artist. Her earliest roles were in theatre and after several supporting roles in film and television she won a BAFTA Award for her role in The Age of Innocence (1993) and went on to play the role of Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter film series. She plays the role of Aunt Prudence in Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries.
Margolyes was born in Oxford, England, the daughter of Ruth (née Walters; 1905–1974), a property investor and developer, and Joseph Margolyes (1899–1996), a physician from Glasgow. She grew up in a Jewish family, her parents are descendants of immigrants fromBelarus. She attended Oxford High School, from 1945 until 1959, and later Newnham College, Cambridge, where she read English. There, she began acting in her twenties, and also appeared in productions of the comedy troupe the Cambridge Footlights.
With her distinctive voice, Margolyes first gained recognition for her work as a voice artist. She recorded a soft-porn audio called Sexy Sonia: Leaves from my Schoolgirl Notebook. She performed most of the supporting female characters in the dubbed Japanese action TV series,Monkey. She also worked with the theatre company Gay Sweatshop and provided voiceovers in the Japanese TV series The Water Margin (credited as Mirium Margolyes).
Margolyes' first major role in a film was as Elephant Ethel in Stand Up, Virgin Soldiers (1977). In the 1980s, she made appearances in Blackadderopposite Rowan Atkinson: these roles include the Spanish Infanta in The Black Adder, Lady Whiteadder in Blackadder II and Queen Victoria inBlackadder's Christmas Carol. In 1986 she played a major supporting role in the BBC drama The Life and Loves of a She-Devil. She won the 1989 LA Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Flora Finching in the 1988 film Little Dorrit. On American television, she headlined the short-lived 1992 CBS sitcom Frannie's Turn. In 1994 she won the BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Mrs Mingott in Martin Scorsese's The Age of Innocence (1993).
Margolyes came to the notice of younger audiences when she starred as Aunt Sponge in James and the Giant Peach (1996); she also provided the voice of the Glow Worm in the same film. During the same time she played the Nurse in Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet (1996). Around this time, she voiced the rabbit character in the animated commercials for Cadbury's Caramel bars and provided the voice of Fly the dog in the Australian family film Babe (1995). She played Professor Sprout in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in 2002.
She was one of the original cast of the London production of the musical Wicked in 2006, playing Madame Morrible opposite Idina Menzel, a role she also played on Broadway in 2008.
In 2009 she appeared in a new production of Endgame by Samuel Beckett at the Duchess Theatre in London's West End.
Margolyes reprised her role as Professor Sprout in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 in 2011.