Miranda Richardson in Black Adder with Patsy Byrne

Happy Birthday to Miranda Richardson, the chameleon queen of actresses - garlanded with Oscar nominations and winner of the Bafta for the role of best-supporting actress for Damage and two Golden Globes for the 'wisteria and sunshine' longings in the delightful The Enchanted April.

She is surely one of the most outstanding actresses to emerge out of the eighties and one who has skillfully resisted typecasting, ever since she burst into the world of film, stage and television as Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in Britain in Dance with a Stranger with Rupert Everett. Richardson was offered a plethora of femme fatale roles after her visceral and tragic debut as Ruth and turned them all down including the role of Michael Douglas's spurned lover in Fatal Attraction which went to Glenn Close.

While it is hard to pigeonhole Miranda Richardson, the teenage Miranda devoured all the great Shakespeare plays and decided to miss university and go straight to drama school at the Bristol Old Vic where she was a contemporary of Daniel Day-Lewis.

Miranda Richardson and a Falcon in World Without End

Perhaps that is why she has also talked in interviews of having an affinity with Birds of Prey, after coming to the aid of kestrel, as a teenager. The bird was badly dazed after crashing into a wall, and the young Miranda calmed the bird and looked after it for hours until it was well enough to rejoin its mate and fly away.

Who else but Richardson could play Queen Bess in Black Adder as a flighty, cold-hearted coquette with such casually superb comic timing? While her portrait of the fearless labour minister Barbara Castle in Made in Dagenham is a triumph of bouffant hair, lipstick and Lara-croft chutzpah.

Miranda Richardson as Rita Skeeter in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire 2005

As a teenager, Richardson was drawn to the roles of Lawrence Olivier, especially his Shakespearean parts in Henry V and Richard 111, so perhaps the unifying link is that she is drawn to play strong women including her 2005 portrait of Rita Skeeter the acid blonde and puke green satin nightmare in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Rita Skeeter is an inspired and rather malevolent incarnation of a ruthless female tabloid journalist. Skeeter is a masterpiece of cruelty, bullying, insinuation and manipulation. The scary thing is that I have met the real version of Rita Skeeter and Miranda may well have done too!

Stephen Rea and Miranda Richardson in The Crying Game

Watch the Harry Potter Films on Now TV

Watch The Crying Game on the BFI

Watch The Enchanted April

Learn the ancient art of falconry with the Falconry Conservancy Trust.