Beyond her obvious physical beauty, British-born actress Julia Ormond, through her work with refugees and human rights organizations and as co-founder of FilmAid International, is also a beautiful soul.
Made famous for her dynamic performances with A-list leading men in Legends of the Fall (with Brad Pitt), Sabrina (Harrison Ford), First Knight (Sean Connery), and Smilla’s Sense of Snow (Gabriel Byrne), Ormond was set to be Hollywood’s newest leading lady in the mid-1990s. But after a year spent in Russia shooting the epic Sibirskij tsiryulnik (The Barber of Siberia) with Oscar-winning director Nikita Mikhalkov, Ormond returned to the United States creatively spent, and took time off because she “couldn't relate to scripts that were being sent to me" (as she told Film Monthly in a recent interview).
Given the chance to start her own production company, Ormand formed Indican Pictures and produced the documentary Calling the Ghosts (1997), a film about Bosnian women in Serbian detention camps that earned her an Emmy Award for Best Executive Producer, a Cable ACE for Best International Informational Special, and was shown to the Council of Foreign Relations.
In 1999, she co-founded FilmAid International with film producer Caroline Baron (Monsoon Wedding), Robert DeNiro, Susan Sarandon, and Miramax’s Harvey Weinstein. Headquartered in New York City, FAI formed in reaction to reports of the impending NATO bombings of Kosovo, and within weeks was entertaining children and their families in Macedonian refugee camps. FAI has garnered support from several international organizations including Doctors of the World, UNICEF, The International Rescue Committee, and The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
With her own involvement in FAI, driven by her divided loyalties as a child raised by a working-class mother and an upper-class father, Ormond seeks to ease the misery, fear, despair, ignorance, and prejudice that tends to breed in mass refugee camps by uplifting spirits with inspiring films, all while conveying important information about HIV/AIDS, conflict resolution, landmine awareness, and human rights. In one such camp in Africa, she talked with refugees planning to re-arm, "who thanked us for showing us the film portraying Nelson Mandela" as an example worth following.
As Co-Chair of the Advisory Committee for FAI, Ormond has testified before the Congressional Caucus on Human Rights and, at a 2003 meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, she received the prestigious Crystal Award, reserved for media figures who use their talents and influence to make substantial contributions to humanitarian causes. Other activities have included appearances at events for Human Rights Watch and Paul McCartney’s Adopt-a-Minefield Campaign.
Amazingly, in the midst of all of this, Ormond has found time to continue her noteworthy acting career. Since the founding of FAI, she has provided the voice of “Jessie” in Director John Stephenson’s 1999 made-for-TV adaptation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, and has starred in 2001’s The Prime Gig and 2003’s Resistance. She also received a 2002 Golden Satellite Award for Best Supporting Action in the TV movie Varian's War (2001), and was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Theatre Award that same year for her performance in My Zinc Bed at the Royal Court Theatre. She was even a judge at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival!
Ormond’s most recent role was as labor lawyer and suffragist Inez Mulholland (alongside Oscar-winner Hilary Swank) in the exquisite HBO special Iron Jawed Angels, which received a standing ovation at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival.
Films in which Julia Ormond has appeared include:
Iron Jawed Angels (2004) (TV)
Varian's War (2001) (TV)
The Prime Gig (2000)
Animal Farm (1999) (TV) (voice)
Sibirskij tsiryulnik (1998)
Smilla's Sense of Snow (1997)
First Knight (1995)
Legends of the Fall (1994)