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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 January 2006, 12:34 GMT
Weisz's breakthrough to acclaim
Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz in The Constant Gardener

Actress Rachel Weisz has collected a best supporting actress award at the Academy Awards following her success in the Golden Globes.

It has been a hectic year so far for the British actress who is also expecting her first baby with her fiancÚ, film director Darren Aronofsky, in May.

Born in London in March 1971, Weisz - pronounced "Vice" - became a child model at the age of 14.

Theatre company

She attended a series of schools including the prestigious St Paul's Girls School in London, with classmate and fellow actress Emily Mortimer.

As a teenager Weisz decided she wanted to act and at the age of 18 she studied with Rada-trained Ken Campbell.

While studying English Literature at Cambridge University, Weisz helped form Talking Tongues theatre company.

My Summer With Des
My Summer With Des co-star Neil Morrissey (left) became her partner
After writing and performing numerous pieces, their final play - Slight Possession - won a Guardian award at the Edinburgh Festival.

When they took the show to London's National Theatre it was seen by director Sean Mathias, who cast Weisz in his revival of Noel Coward's Design For Living at Gielgud Theatre.

Her performance won Weisz the most promising newcomer title at the London Critics' Circle Awards.

In 1993 the actress took the first of a number of TV roles in drama Dirtysomething. This would be followed by the BBC's Scarlet And Black with Ewan McGregor, White Goods and Seventeen.

Movie debut

The first of many movie roles came in Bernardo Bertolucci's 1996 film Stealing Beauty, in a supporting part as the sexually voracious daughter of an artist.

This led to Weisz's Hollywood debut in Chain Reaction, a poorly-received special effects movie in which she starred opposite Keanu Reeves.

Unperturbed, Weisz went on to play a shipwreck survivor in 1997's Swept From the Sea and took minor roles in Going All the Way and Holocaust movie Bent.

Scarlet and Black
Weisz starred with Ewan McGregor in 1993's Scarlet and Black
After appearing alongside Anna Friel in Land Girls and in Michael Winterbottom's I Want You, Weisz co-starred with Men Behaving Badly star Neil Morrissey in BBC comedy My Summer With Des.

It led to a high-profile romance with Morrissey and press scrutiny, which Weisz did not welcome. "I'm not a celebrity, I'm an actress," she said at the time.

Her first major film role followed as she co-starred with Brendan Fraser and John Hannah in 1999's Hollywood blockbuster The Mummy.

The success of the action movie encouraged Weisz to return for an inferior sequel two years later.

In the meantime she had taken on the weightier role of Catherine in Suddenly Last Summer at London's Comedy Theatre, earning Weisz the Barclays Theatre Awards' best supporting actress prize.

She co-starred with Ralph Fiennes in World War II movie Sunshine, an actor she would be reunited with six years later in The Constant Gardener.

Weisz spent those six years in a variety of film roles, from supporting parts in About a Boy, Enemy at the Gates and Runaway Jury to co-starring in Beautiful Creatures and supernatural detective movie Constantine.

She also starred in Neil LaBute's relationship drama The Shape of Things at London's Almeida Theatre, and its subsequent movie adaptation.

In 2002 Weisz moved to New York to live with Pi director Aronofsky, describing him as "a sophisticated, educated American".

It is her 2005 portrayal of activist Tessa Quayle in The Constant Gardener which has won Weisz her greatest acclaim so far.

With a coveted Golden Globe under her belt, it was no surprise when the ex-child model walked off with the best supporting actress Oscar.

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