Christie's first big-screen roles were in Crooks Anonymous and The Fast Lady (both 1962), and her breakthrough was in 1963's Billy Liar. In 1965, she won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance as Diana Scott in Darling. That same year, she starred as Lara Antipova in Doctor Zhivago, the eighth highest grossing film of all time after adjustment for inflation. In the following years, she starred in Fahrenheit 451 (1966), Far from the Madding Crowd (1967), Petulia (1968), McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), Don't Look Now (1973), and Heaven Can Wait (1978).
She was engaged to Don Bessant, a lithographer and art teacher, in 1965,before dating actor Warren Beatty for several years. In November 2007, she marriedThe Guardian journalist Duncan Campbell, her partner since 1979. Her many other lovers included actors Terence Stamp and Donald Sutherland.
She is active in various causes, including animal rights, environmental protection, and the anti-nuclear power movement and is also a Patron of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, as well as Reprieve.