Constance Collier was a British-born American film actress and acting coach.
Born Laura Constance Hardie, in Windsor, Berkshire, Collier made her stage debut at the age of 3, when she played Fairy Peasblossom in A Midsummer’s Night Dream. In 1893, at the age of 15, she joined the Gaiety Girls, the famous dance troupe based at the Gaiety Theatre in London. She was a very beautiful woman and soon became so tall that she towered over all the other dancers. In addition, she had an enormous personality and considerable determination. She naturally attracted considerable attention. On 27 December 1906, Beerbohm Tree’s extravagant revival of Antony and Cleopatra opened at His Majesty’s Theatre, with Tree as Mark Antony and Constance Collier as Cleopatra, a performance for which she received much critical praise.
Famed for his realistic productions, Tree and his designer, Percy Macquoid, dressed Collier in a range of spectacular costumes. Later, Constance Collier commented: “There is only a mention in the play of Cleopatra appearing as the goddess Isis. Tree elaborated this into a great tableau. Cleopatra, robed in silver, crowned in silver, carrying a golden scepter and the symbol of the sacred golden calf in her hand, went in procession through the streets of Alexandria, the ragged, screaming populace acclaiming the Queen, half in hate, half in superstitious fear and joy as she made her sacrilegious ascent to her high throne in the market-place.”
Constance Collier was now established as a popular and distinguished actress. In January 1908, she starred with Beerbohm Tree at His Majesty’s Theatre in J. Comyn’s new play The Mystery of Edwin Drood, based on Charles Dickens’s unfinished novel of the same name. Later that year, she made the first of several tours of the United States. During the second, made with Beerbohm Tree in 1916, she made four silent films, including an uncredited appearance in D. W. Griffith’s Intolerance and as Lady Macbeth in Tree’s first and disastrous film interpretation of Shakespeare’s MacBeth.