Olivia Williams was born July 26, 1968 in Camden Town, London. She was educated at South Hampstead High School, an independent school for girls in Hampstead, North London, followed by Newnham College at the University of Cambridge. She graduated with a degree in English literature. She went on to study drama at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School for two years and spent three years at the Royal Shakespeare Company. After having made appearances in several theater productions, her first significant appearance in the made-for-television film Emma (1996), based on Jane Austen's 1816 novel. She made her film debut in The Postman (1997), and went on to play the part of Rosemary Cross in Wes Anderson's Rushmore (1998), Bruce Willis's wife in M. Night Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense (1999), Madeleine in The Heart of Me (2002) (for which she won the British Independent Film Award for Best Actress), and Ruth Lang in Roman Polanski's The Ghost Writer (2010). Her performance earned her ALFS, and NSFC Awards.