Kristin Scott Thomas, the eldest of five children, was born on 24 May 1960 in Redruth, Cornwall.
Her father Simon was a pilot for the British Royal Navy, but died in a flying accident when Kristin was only four, and her mother Deborah had studied drama before her marriage. The Scott Thomas name derives from the amalgamation of her uncle, Admiral Sir Richard Thomas and her distant relation to Captain Robert F Scott, the ill-fated South Pole explorer.
The family grew up in Dorset and after her father's death in 1964, Scott Thomas's mother remarried another Royal Navy pilot. Tragedy was to strike twice though when, aged 11, her stepfather suffered the same tragic accident as her father, dying when his plane crashed. Contrary to what her film roles and demeanor may suggest, Scott Thomas was left to help her mother raise her siblings alone and their situation was far from aristocratic.
Despite her own past experiences with acting, Scott Thomas's mother was deterred by her daughter's interest in the same career path and immediately packed her off to Cheltenham Ladies' College. Scott Thomas had stubborn determination though and left school at 16 to enroll at London's Central School of Speech and Drama, initially to train as a drama teacher. The acting hunger could not escape her though and she quietly also began to study drama, even though she was discouraged by the staff, who told her that her talents weren't strong enough to make her passion a vocation.
Aged 18, Scott Thomas took the advice of her peers to forget drama all together and she opted to wave goodbye to education and make use of her fluency in French to begin working as an au pair in Paris. Her trip to France had originally begun as a two week trip with friends but resulted in her living there permanently and falling in love with the Frenchman who would later become her husband – obstetrician Francois Oliviennes.
Deciding that in fact a career minding rich people's children wasn't the fulfillment she'd hoped for, she chose to prove her LCSS colleagues wrong and began to study acting at Ecole Nationale Superieure d'Arts et Techniques du Theatre (ENSATT) in Paris. She gained minor experience in stage roles and some minor television work and hit her first big screen role opposite pop star Prince as the French girl in the film 'Under the Cherry Moon' (1986). More parts in French films were to follow but it wasn't until the 1990s that Scott Thomas began to raise her profile outside of Europe.
Two years after starring as Hugh Grant's wife in Roman Polanski's 'Bitter Moon' (1992), she came to the attention of an international audience in 'Four Weddings and a Funeral'. The film became the highest-grossing British film in the country's history, winning her a BAFTA for Best Actress in a Supporting Role and instantly propelled her status in the acting world to dizzier heights.
Following the film's success, Scott Thomas applied her talents to smaller films, appearing as Alfred Hitchcock's thorny assistant in the French-Canadian 'Le Confessional' (1994) and as a plain-jane entomologist who finds herself embroiled in family dysfunction in 'Angels and Insects' (1995). It did seem that Scott Thomas may become forever cast as the elegant British aristocrat, such as her part in 'Four Weddings', but her highly acclaimed role as Katharine Clifton in 1996's 'The English Patient' proved she was capable of far more.
With this passionate, tragic character, Scott Thomas managed to finally break her high-maintenance Brit stereotype. The international spotlight became fixated on Scott Thomas and earned her a Best Actress Oscar nomination as well as a second nomination in the same category at the BAFTAs.
'Mission Impossible' was released in the same year as her hiatus from 'The English Patient' and, as her first big-budget film alongside stars like Tom Cruise and Jon Voight, represented another step away from any of Scott Thomas' previous work. With Hollywood now taking full notice, she was cast in the coveted lead role in Robert Redford's 1998 adaptation of Nicholas Evans' 'The Horse Whisperer'. Unfortunately the film was not a major hit, but she was praised for her strong performance.
Remaining in the A-list mainstream, in 1999 Scott Thomas she found herself involved in another high-profile project, starring opposite Harrison Ford in 'Random Hearts'. Playing a woman who discovers that her husband, who died in a plane crash, was having an affair with Ford's wife, who also died in the crash, she was once again able to demonstrate that her acting talents went far beyond the confines of the tea-sipping British aristocracy.
Scott Thomas' popularity in her birth country has always been equaled with that of her country of residence, as her OBE in the Queen's 2003 Birthday Honours List proved when matched by a Legion d'honneur from the French government in 2005. She has continued to work steadily in TV and film, both in the UK and France and despite not reaching the same success as her starry 1996 Oscar year, she is well loved internationally.
In 2008, she was seen as Anne Boleyn's mother in 'The Other Boleyn Girl' (2008), also starring Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson, proving she is still in line to star with the hot young talent of today.
She has gone on to appear in a number of films since then, including French movie 'Seuls Two', 'Easy Virtue' and 'Largo Winch' in 2008. The following year, she starred in 'Leaving', 'Nowhere Boy' and the popular 'Confessions of a Shopaholic' alongside Isla Fisher.
In 2010, Scott Thomas acted in 'Love Crime', 'Sarah's Key' and 'In Your Hands', while 2011 saw her appear in 'Salmon Fishing On The Yemen' with Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt. She also starred in 'The Woman In The Fifth'.
Scott Thomas kicked off 2012 appearing in 'Bel Ami' with Robert Pattinson playing a man who rises to power in Paris by manipulating women. She appeared in 'Only God Forgives', 'In The House' and 'Before The Winter Chill', showing that she still continues to act in French films.
In 2013, she was seen acting alongside 'The English Patient' co-star Ralph Fiennes once again. They will both be appearing in 'The Invisible Woman', which tells the story of Charles Dickens' secret mistress.
Not one to parade on the red carpet or air her dirty laundry in public, Scott Thomas has always managed to avoid any significant limelight in Britain. Known for her somewhat cold exterior and reluctance to give interviews, her only blip on the saintly paparazzi radar came in 2003 when she was starring on stage in London in 'As You Desire Me'.
Scott Thomas was photographed with younger actor (by 13 years) Tobias Menzies, sharing what appeared to be a romantic meal. Chinese whispers of a marriage on the rocks were confirmed when he was snapped leaving her flat in the same clothes as the night before.
Her agent confirmed they were dating and her husband Professor Olivennes was reportedly devastated back home in Paris. In 2005 it was announced that after 17 years of marriage and three children, Hannah, Joseph and George, together, the pair were to split up. She now lives alone in Paris with her two youngest sons.