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Gabrielle Anwar Biography


Home > Actresses > A > Anwar, Gabrielle > Biography


Birth Name: Gabrielle Anwar
Born: 02/04/1970
Birth Place: Middlesex, England, GB




Born on Feb. 4, 1970 in Laleham, Middlesex, England, Anwar was raised in a show business family by her Persian father, Tariq, a film producer and editor who later won an Oscar for his editing work on "American Beauty" (1999), and her British-born mother, Shirley, an actress. Her active avoidance of going to school was fueled in part by her desire to become an actress herself; being kicked out of one school for fist-fighting helped kick-start her career and led to being cast in the BBC miniseries "Hideaway" (1986) when she was just 15 years old. Anwar spent the ensuing years bouncing from one acting job to another while cleaning apartments to make ends meet, though she eventually returned to formal schooling to train at the prestigious Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts in London. The actress landed a small part in the sci-fi thriller "First Born" (A&E, 1989), following up with wider exposure in minor features, including "Manifesto" (1988) and "If Looks Could Kill" (1991). She took the lead role in "Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken" (1991), playing the real-life stunt rider Sonora Webster, whose famous trick was diving into a tank of water on horseback.

In "Scent of a Woman," the coming-of-age story about a young student (Chris O'Donnell) being forced to accompany a blind Army officer (Pacino) on a hedonistic trip to New York City, Anwar danced a romantic tango that made a lasting impression with critics and audiences, despite lasting mere minutes on screen. Many stood up and took notice of the ethereal beauty, leading to bigger and more promising roles. Turning to television, Anwar was an ice skater drawn to Brandon Walsh (Jason Priestley) on an episode of "Beverly Hills 90210" (Fox, 1990-2000), before playing the dead wife of a hard-boiled detective (Gary Oldman) on Showtime's noir anthology series, "Fallen Angels" (1992-96). She made another memorable appearance as Queen Anne in Stephen Herek's modern take on "The Three Musketeers" (1993), before continuing her climb to stardom with a leading role opposite Michael J. Fox in the romantic comedy, "For Love or Money" (1993), playing the mistress of a wealthy hotel patron (Anthony Higgins) who leaves her in the care of the hotel's brash concierge (Fox). Anwar followed with the little-seen remake of the horror classic "Body Snatchers" (1993) and returned to the small screen with an appearance as the journalist daughter of an Army colonel (Rod Steiger) in the docudrama, "In Pursuit of Honor" (HBO, 1995).

In the Quentin Tarantino-inspired comic thriller "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead" (1995), Anwar glided across the screen as the love interest to a retired gangster (Andy Garcia) pulled back into the game by his ex-boss (Christopher Walken). After playing an upper-class English sibling accused alongside her brother (Stephen Dorff) of murder in "Innocent Lies" (1995), Anwar portrayed a woman with a mysterious past who helps her ex-lover - played by former real-life companion Craig Sheffer - unearth a hidden treasure in "The Grave" (1996). A leading role in the submarine thriller "Sub Down" (USA, 1997) was followed by "The Ripper" (1997), in which Anwar played a key witness who fears she will be the next victim of Jack the Ripper. Anwar received her first producing credit with "Nevada" (1997), an independently financed character study about a mysterious woman (Amy Brenneman) who swoops into an isolated Nevada town seemingly populated only by women. Continuing to appear in several films a year, Anwar journeyed to the Czech Republic to film the period comedy, "The Manor" (1999), before traveling to Vancouver to play an assistant who is sexually abused by her lawyer boss (Bill Pullman) in the straight-to-video thriller, "The Guilty" (1999).

In "My Little Assassin" (Lifetime, 1999), Anwar had the lead role as the real-life Marita Lorenz, daughter of a CIA agent (Reiner Schone) who carries on an affair with Fidel Castro (J Mantegna), only to be duped into setting up her lover for assassination. She next took on all comers in "Kimberly" (Cinemax, 1999), playing a rowing coach who trains four young men for an upcoming competition, only to become impregnated by one of them after sleeping with all four. After small parts in "How to Marry a Billionaire: A Christmas Story" (Fox, 2000) and "Stanley's Gig" (2000), Anwar was seen in the festival-bound romantic comedy "North Beach" (2000), and co-starred in the "Three's Company"-like indie comedy, "If You Only Knew" (2000). With a resume chock full of mediocre cable movies and straight-to-video releases, it was only a matter of time that Anwar worked with perennial straight-to-video king, Rutger Hauer. She starred opposite Hauer in "Turbulence 3: Heavy Metal" (Cinemax, 2001), a cheap thriller about the hijacking of a 747 by the fan of a rock star. In "Flying Virus" (2001), Anwar portrayed a journalist who investigates a scientist (David Naughton) genetically engineering killer bees in the Brazilian rainforest. Returning to series television, she made guest appearances in episodes of "The Practice" (ABC, 1996-2004) and "John D " (Fox, 2002-03), then upped her game with a co-starring turn in the revisionist Sherlock Holmes mystery, "A Case of Evil" (USA, 2002).

Anwar next starred in "Mary Higgins Clark's Try to Remember" (2004), playing a homicide detective who returns to the town she fled after her best friend's murder, only to find that the killer (Diego Wallraff) has been paroled and may be tied to fresh bodies. Anwar made further strides into higher-profile projects, particularly in television, by co-starring in "The Librarian 2: Return to King Solomon's Mines" (TNT, 2006), an action-adventure where she played a brainy archeologist opposite Noah Wyle's bookish librarian in search of the fabled mines. She then journeyed to 1920s Egypt to help find the Emerald Tablet from King Tutankhamen's tomb in "The Curse of King Tut's Tomb" (Hallmark Channel, 2006). Anwar finally landed a regular series role as Princess Margaret in "The Tudors," Showtime's lavish series depicting King Henry VIII (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) and his famous struggle to split from the Catholic Church. She next starred on the blue sky series, "Burn Notice" (USA, 2007- ), playing a gun-happy former IRA-trained guerilla helping her ex-boyfriend and former spy, Michael Weston (Jeffrey Donovan), discover who blacklisted him. Anwar's character, Fiona Glenanne, was a volatile mix of violence and skill who nonetheless retained a soft-spot for helping Michael while trading pointed barbs with rival and partner Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell). Because of her onscreen spunk and penchant for turning up in bikinis, Anwar quickly became a favorite among the show's fans.