The refined, aging former mistress of Alexander, Vanozza is also the mother of his children. Although she no longer shares the Pope's bed, she is still the matriarch of his household and a vital member of his family. She is the prime confidant and advisor to her three children, and continues to aid them in their affairs. When a younger woman unseats her for the Pope's affections, her initial fury turns into a grudging and collaborative truce with the new mistress.
Joanne Whalley was born in Manchester, England and became interested in acting at an early age, appearing in small television roles including the television adaptation of JOBY, a novel by Stan Barstow, and A QUIET LIFE, about writer Beryl Bainbridge. She also appeared in A KIND OF LOVING opposite Clive Wood in the television adaptation of the novel of the same name.
After moving to London, she subsequently appeared in several productions at the Royal Court Theatre, including The Edward Bond plays SAVED and THE POPE'S WEDDING; Howard Brenton's THE GENIUS and Middleton's WOMEN BEWARE WOMEN alongside such wonderful actors as Gary Oldman and Leslie Manville. She was also fortunate in working at the National Theater with Peter Gill in his stage adaptation of Faulkner's AS I LAY DYING; to play Masha in THREE SISTERS at the Greenwich Theater directed by Elijah Moshinsky; and the lead in the LULU PLAYS by Wedekind at the Almeida Theater.
Whalley started her career in television with the landmark British series EDGE OF DARKNESS and Dennis Potter's THE SINGING DETECTIVE. She also played Mary Bell in the BBC film WILL YOU LOVE ME TOMORROW? After brief appearances in films such as Pink Floyd's THE WALL and DANCE WITH A STRANGER, she went on to star in the dark comedy film NO SURRENDER, followed by the British film SCANDAL, opposite John Hurt. Other British film credits include THE SECRET RAPTURE and THE BIG MAN with Liam Neeson.
Her first American film was WILLOW for George Lucas and directed by Ron Howard, followed by the noir film KILL ME AGAIN for John Dahl, NAVY SEALS with Charlie Sheen, SHATTERED with Tom Berenger, THE GUILTY with Bill Pullman, THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO LITTLE with Bill Murray, and A TEXAS FUNERAL with Martin Sheen. On American television, she has played Scarlett O'Hara and Jackie Kennedy.
Her last British film was the recent 44 INCH CHEST opposite Ray Winstone, John Hurt, Tom Wilkinson, and Ian Mcshane. She also appears in the American film GOLF IN THE KINGDOM with Malcolm McDowell and Julian Sands.
More recently, Whalley starred in Francis Ford Coppola's TWIXT, CHALLENGER: FINAL FLIGHT with William Hurt, and had a recurring role on the hit television series, GOSSIP GIRL.