This is what Rachel Ward, who played Meggie Cleary in “The Thorn Birds,” looks like today

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Do you recognize her?

Every actor has a unique story to tell of their rise to stardom. This is the one of Rachel Ward, an incredible actress whose career has spanned for decades.

In the beginning of her journey to fame, Ward was a famous fashion model who graced the covers of influential magazines like Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and Harper’s & Queen. Her appearances in numerous commercials also paved the way for her entry into Hollywood. In 1979, Ward made her debut in the movie Christmas Lilies of the Field. After that, she took on several smaller roles before finally achieving her breakthrough as Meggie Cleary in the iconic miniseries The Thorn Birds, where she starred alongside the renowned Richard Chamberlain.

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It was quite challenging to find the perfect actress for this role. Stan Marguiles, one of the producers of the 10-hour-long series, shared the difficulties they faced. The character needs to portray a transformation from a young and innocent girl in her late teens to a bitter woman in her 30s, and eventually to a woman who gains wisdom in her 50s. This journey requires a wide range of emotions and expressions.

Ward mentioned the time she landed a role that had a lasting impact on her life. She remembered feeling a bit scared when they first aged her for the role. She had to wear a body suit under her clothes, but as she grew older, she started to appreciate the outfits, which had a slightly more masculine touch than before.

“My audition was quite light and I had a sense of humor” the actress added. “I remember I was taking it seriously but I wasn’t acting with a capital A. It is so subjective, performances pieces, and I was probably spot on the first time. I got like 10/10 for looks and 4/10 for acting.” 

The show was very successful and is seen as one of the greatest ever. It won four Golden Globes, such as Best Miniseries, and six Emmy awards. Ward got a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Miniseries or TV Movie.

Speaking to Closer, Ward opened up about her insecurities after many criticized her acting.

She remembered the New York Times calling her a “miscast.” But as time passed, she learned not to be too hard on herself because many people admired her performance. One of them was her daughter, who watched The Thorn Birds years later and said, “Mom, you were amazing.” The actress considered this the most significant feedback she could receive.

Instagram/RachelWard

This TV series not only made Ward famous, but also led her to find her soulmate. The real love story between Ward and her co-star Bryan Brown blossomed behind the scenes. Their on-screen chemistry translated into a genuine connection off-screen, making their love scenes truly authentic, Ward revealed to the UK’s Daily Express.

Everyone on the set noticed that they were developing feelings for one another. Chamberlain remarked, “I have never witnessed such a deep love between two individuals. She appeared to grow happier with each passing day, and her performance improved significantly.”

Ward and Brown tied the knot in 1983 and now have three kids. Their love remains strong after all these years.

Ward, 63, continues to act in movies like The Big House and TV series like Rake. She was nominated for a Golden Globe in 2001 for her role in On the Beach.

In 2019, Ward and Brown became first-time grandparents when their daughter Matilda gave birth to their grandson Zan. It was a special moment because both of them were there to witness his arrival.

Matilda shared with Over Sixty that during the moment she was giving birth to Zan, her dad was comforting her while her mom was encouraging her, crying and saying, ‘Come on, Till! He’s almost here.’ It was really meaningful to have both of her parents by her side during such an important moment in her life.

Ward, who appears amazing as always, is occupied with charity work in addition to her acting career. In 2005, she received the A.M (Member of the Order of Australia) for her efforts in “raising awareness of social justice through lobbying, mentoring, and advocating for the rights of disadvantaged and at-risk young individuals.”

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