Tara's mother, Sarah Fitzgerald, is Irish, while her father, Michael Callaby, was Italian. The family moved to the Bahamas, where Tara's grandfather, David Fitzgerald, was a lawyer, and her sister Arabella was born there. Their parents separated when Tara was four, and her mother took her daughters to Clapham, London, where she soon married the actor Norman Rodway
. Another sister, Bianca, was born, but when Tara was seven this marriage also broke up.
Tara's great aunt Geraldine Fitzgerald
(1913-2005) was an Irish movie star of the 1930s and 1940s who continued to act well into her seventies, and Tara and her sisters knew her well when they were children. Geraldine's son Michael Lindsay-Hogg
is a well-known film director (Brideshead Revisited, The Object of Beauty, Waiting for Godot
Tara is also a second cousin of the Australian writer Nevil Shute
After the Bahamas, Tara and her sisters grew up in many places, going to schools in London, Glasgow, Dublin, and Stratford-upon-Avon, then London again, where Tara went to Walsingham Comprehensive School, in Clapham, leaving there at the age of sixteen after her "O" levels. Next she auditioned for RADA and the Guildhall drama school, and after being turned down by both she spent the next two years working her way around Europe as a waitress. At the age of eighteen, she was accepted by the Drama Centre, London, continuing to work in a Kensington restaurant to pay her way. During her final term, an agent saw her in an amateur production and set her up with an audition for the leading part of Nancy Doyle in the movie Hear My Song
(1991). So just days after graduating from the Drama Centre in July 1990, Tara was at work on a film which turned into a hit. Other roles quickly followed.
Tara was married to John Sharian (her co-star in A Streetcar Named Desire
) between 2001 and 2003.