When you hear the name “Sarah Douglas”, most people immediately associate the name of the actress to her breakout role as Ursa in both Superman (1978) and Superman II (1980). And with good reason. For generations of audiences, this career-defining role helped bring in a slew of roles that took Sarah from her home-town of Stratford Upon Avon in England to the bright lights of Hollywood where she either starred in, or featured prominently, in a wide variety of high profile films and television shows, ranging from Conan The Destroyer (1984) alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger, Return of Swamp Thing (1989) with screen legend Louis Jordan, hit show Falcon Crest for 2 seasons, the sci-fi classic mini-series V: The Final Battle (1984) and fan favourites Stargate SG1, Babylon 5, Remington Steele, Magnum P.I. With an impressive body of voice work in animated projects encompassing Batman, 2012’s Green Lantern, numerous Doctor Who audio stories and even a brief return to the Superman universe as Mala, Sarah Douglas is an actress with extraordinary range.
Being raised in a theatrical town no doubt inspired the young Sarah Douglas to pursue an acting career. Having attended the prestigious Rose Bruford training school and working with the National Youth Theatre, Sarah quickly became a rising star and soon found herself working on her first feature The Final Programme (1973), or known to American audiences as The Last Days of Man on Earth. Having this initial success quickly led to further career exposure and soon she became a familiar face to British tv audiences. 1976 brought Sarah’s first lead role, starring in The Brute, a film that became something of a talking point, owing to its graphic portrayal of domestic violence. Despite the controversy surrounding the film and its depiction of abuse, Sarah’s career continued to climb rapidly and soon she found herself surrounded by what the actress, in her usual sense of playful humour, affectionately refers to as “cardboard dinosaurs…..or half of one, as we could only afford the tail”. The People That Time Forgot (1977) opened and immediately established itself as a cult favourite film, repeatedly shown on American television networks and British channels to this day. During production, Sarah began the interview process for what was to become her next role, the monstrous villainess Ursa in the twoSuperman movies, to be shot concurrently. Despite fierce competition from 600 others, Sarah was cast and began a 3 year process of making both movies, an extraordinary feat of film-making that resulted in box office records, Academy Awards, reshooting much of the second film and then a World Tour as the sole cast member to promote the movie.
Despite massive success with Superman II, Sarah found herself soon needing to evaluate her career and decided to go to America for 3 months to try her luck. As luck would have it, 3 months soon turned into a Hollywood career that still endures to this day. On the day she was due to leave America, the actress received a call to say that she was being cast in the night-time soap, Falcon Crest. At the time, tv networks were dominated with shows such as Dallas, Dynasty and Knots Landing, so the role of the scheming Pamela Lynch was a major casting coup for both show and actress, a role the actress looks back on fondly and played for 2 seasons.
During the 1980s, Sarah was to be found in many of the decade’s hit shows and movies, forging a strong career, albeit unintentionally, in the sci-fi genre. Keen to break out of the “Sarah Douglas type” roles that she was being offered by studios, Sarah entered the 1990s with a brilliant performance as Gala in Dali (1991), the real-life wife of Salvador Dali, co-starring Lorenzo Quinn, acclaimed sculptor and acting son of screen icon Anthony Quinn. Expanding on her range, Sarah chose to appear in many more character pieces rather than the bigger budget movies she was offered and discovered a love for voice work in many animated projects, work she continues to do in 2013.
Throughout the first decade of this century, Sarah has repeatedly appeared on the UK stage and tv, earning critical praise for her performances on the Open Air Shakespeare Tour and, more recently, in 2012 in The Hallowe’en Sessions. Back in 2010, SyFy cast Sarah as The Red Queen in Witchville, directed by rising-star Pearry Teo and co-starring Twilight actress MyAnna Buring, with the actress spending a few weeks working in China, where the film was shot.
In recent years, the actress furthered her comedic talents by appearing alongside former V co-star Robert Englund in 2012’s Strippers Vs Werewolves. Spending much of her time working on Green Lantern, Doctor Who audio stories for Big Finish Productions and being in much-demand on the convention circuit, this year has found Sarah equally busy recording on productions of Dorian Gray and Torchwood, recently wrapping up the L.A production on Displacement, a film by Kenneth Mader and working extensively with Disney’s audio department.
In addition, Sarah is often to be found making guest appearances world-wide at conventions, something the actress feels is “a must” so she can remain connected to her fans. With further plans in the pipeline aiming to make Sarah very busy, the future looks to be a prosperous and engaging time in the actress’s life.