Spotted! Austen actors in other roles, by Rose Fairbanks

Spotted! Austen actors in other roles, by Rose Fairbanks

My last post was about NaNoWriMo and I had great hopes to write 50,000 words last month. I didn’t make it, however, because I’ve been having terrible migraines nearly every day and a few illnesses. It was still worth it to me, though, because now I have firmly started on something and have re-honed my plans for another series. During convalesce time, I’ve been spending it watching more films and TV shows than I usually do (i.e.: never).

Some people have a favorite actor or actress and will watch nearly anything so long as it has them in it. I admit, I do have a few favorites, but in other times a person is cast so firmly in my mind in one role it is difficult to see them with a different personality later. Although, sometimes it is pleasant as well. Here are some actors from Austen films that I’ve recognized in other films that I’ve spotted in the last weeks.

THE CROWN: Portrays the early reign of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom.

Elizabeth’s consort, Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh, is played by Matt Smith. Earlier this year, Smith gave an unforgettable rendition of Mr. Collins in PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES.

Jeremy Northam, whose George Knightley in 1996’s EMMA still sets hearts aflutter, joins the cast as Anthony Eden, the UK’s foreign secretary and Prime Minister hopeful.

Long time Austen film fans will recognize Victoria Hamilton as the Queen Mother. She has played Mrs. Forster in the BBC’s 1995 production of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE and was cast as Maria Bertram the 1999 film MANSFIELD PARK.

I recognized Harriet Walker’s voice before her face. How strange it was to see Fanny Dashwood from 1995’s SENSE AND SENSIBILITY with a heart as Clementine Churchill!

Finally, appearing only for a few minutes in the episodes I watched, was Greg Wise, the unforgettable Willoughby from 1995’s SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, as Lord Mountbatten.

NORTH AND SOUTH (BBC, 2004). The dramatization of Elizabeth Gaskell’s Victorian novel of the same title about class division between laborers and masters in a fictionalized industrial city. Richard Armitage plays Mr. John Thornton and Daniela Denby-Ashby plays Margaret Hale.

Despite a nearly cult-following of wishers who would love to see Armitage as Darcy, that has yet to be granted. Instead, the Austen viewer will recall Anna Maxwell Martin, who plays Margaret’s friend Bessy Higgins, went on to play Cassandra Austen in BECOMING JANE and Elizabeth Bennet Darcy in DEATH COMES TO PEMBERLEY in 2013.

Rupert Evans was cast as Frederick Hale, Margaret’s brother, and later played Frank Churchill in the BBC’s EMMA in 2009.

THE HARRY POTTER SERIES (2001-2011) There are several actors that reprised roles in both Harry Potter and Austen films.

Alan Rickman’s death earlier this year was mourned in multiple fandoms. His role as Christopher Brandon touched the hearts of Janeites in SENSE AND SENSIBILITY.  Potter fans loved his portrayal as Professor Severus Snape, one of Harry’s teachers with a complicated back story that takes the length of the series to unveil.

Maggie Smith brought Professor Minerva McGonagall, a stern but mentoring teacher, to life. In 2007, she played Lady Gresham, Jane Austen’s neighbor and aunt to one of Jane’s suitors, in BECOMING JANE.

Mark Williams portrayed Arthur Weasley, father of Harry’s best friend, in all eight films and was also Sir John Middleton in the 2008 production of SENSE AND SENSIBILITY.

Julie Waters was the amazing Molly Weasley in all eight films. Along with the rest of the Weasley clan, they provide Harry a family and happy home for the misused orphan. Ms. Walters also played Mrs. Austen in BECOMING JANE.

Gemma Jones portrayed Madame Pomfrey, the wizarding healer, and Mrs. Dashwood in the 1995 production of SENSE AND SENSIBILITY. Additionally, she was Bridget’s mother in Bridget Jones’s Diary and subsequent sequels.

Jim Broadbent played Bridget Jones’ father and Professor Horace Slughorn in several Harry Potter films.

Robert Hardy acted as Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge for the series run. Hardy was Sir John Middleton in the 1995 SENSE AND SENSIBILITY.

Imelda Staunton was the evil Professor Dolores Jane Umbridge and the vivacious Charlotte Palmer in SENSE AND SENSIBILITY.

The talented Emma Thompson appeared as eccentric divination professor Sybill Trelawney and the practical and clam Elinor Dashwood in SENSE AND SENSIBILITY.

Helen McCrory played Narcissa Malfoy, the mother of Harry’s school nemesis who learned his prejudices at her knee. In BECOMING JANE, she portrayed Ann Radcliffe, a popular Georgian author Jane met and inspired her to earn income by her pen rather than settle for an unhappy marriage.

Elizabeth Spriggs became the uncouth Mrs. Jennings in SENSE AND SENSIBILITY and The Fat Lady, a talking portrait that protects the Griffyndor common room, in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Whew! That was a lot! Emma Thompson’s roles were polar opposites. It was also interesting to see some of the actors had collaborated together before! Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was the first thing I had seen Matt Smith in and finding his acting just as compelling in The Crown is inspiring me to try his other works even though I have avoided Doctor Who until now (only because among my geeky friends I felt I needed to have some way to set myself apart). Does seeing any of these Austen actors named make you interested in trying one of these productions if you’ve not watched them before?

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36 Responses to Spotted! Austen actors in other roles, by Rose Fairbanks

  1. I always play the game “find the Austen actor” when I watch British shows. If it”s a murder mystery, it’s often the Austen actor that did it, esp. Wickham or Collins, but I have seen Jane and Lizzie be the bad guy as well. I need to use IMDB, but a friend once said a real fan doesn’t need to look it up. Prior to 2005 it was two degrees (actor was in film/show with an Austen actor), but after the films in 2005, now it’s direct.

  2. Colin Firth (Darcy) and Anna Chancellor (Caroline Bingley) were in a movie “What a Girl Wants” with Amanda Bynes. It’s a fun chick flick, but you’ll like the outcome of what happens to Caroline Bingley in this one too! Always trying to go after Mr. Darcy… I think you’ll like Firth in his leather pants! Ok, no spoliers!

    • I have seen that movie several times. Have you ever looked at Anna Chancellor’s family background…look her up and be surprised at who she is related to if you can’t guess or don’t know.

  3. When I was watching The Crown, I picked out four of those five Rose. I missed Victoria Hamilton, though. I just KNEW that the actress playing the Queen Mother was familiar but coudn’t place her. Never got around to checking up on it on imdb.

    As I’ve been catching up on my blog reading tonight, the TV has been on in the background and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves has just finished. Remember Alan Rickman’s wonderful pantomime villain performance as the Sheriff of Nottingham in that?

    You should definitely try Doctor Who. I’m old enough to have seen it right from the beginnng in 1963 when it was in black and white. The revival of the series since 2005 has been top notch. All of the actors who’ve played our eponymous time traveller have brought something new and different to the role. Matt Smith was excellent as Eleven. What I’d love to see is Peter Capaldi’s irascible, Scottish Twelfth Doctor meet Jane Austen (after all, Christopher Eccleston’s Nine met Charles Dickens). I can just imagine the verbal sparring that would go on. Who would we cast as Jane?

  4. Don’t forget Robert Hardy was also General Tilney in the 2005 Northanger Abby. Although, some choose to forget that movie with its inaccuracies.
    Alan Rickman… I love him in anything.
    I have yet to see North & South… I know… I must.
    I also want to see The Crown.
    Anything Jane Austen… I already own. Yeah, I am a sucker for anything Jane.

    • Your reply took a bit of research because I was coming up stumped looking at! I think you mean the 1986 adaptation of Northanger Abbey. I’ve not seen that one but perhaps one day I will! And you’re right. Robert Hardy did play General Tilney in that one. I chose to not go past the mid-90s when looking through filmography records. You absolutely MUST watch North and South. Richard Armitage as John Thornton haunted my dreams the first time I watched.

      • I am sure that more than a few of us have our mouths hanging open at the thought YOU HAVE NOT watched N&S. OMG – run, don’t walk to your store to rent or buy that DVD. It is a classic which is up at the top of favorites for JAFF lovers…I am positive…as well as most warm blooded women everywhere!

        • Already on it Sheila, it is on my list of To Buy NOW movies. Thanks. In fact, I have some shopping to do at the Mall Tomorrow and I will see if the movie place has a copy.

          Rose… yes it was the ’86 version. Don’t know what I was looking at when I typed the date. Don’t worry about rushing to watch it. It was slammed in the reviews and so much OOC [out of character] and not to canon, that it was hardly recognizable.

          • Don’t feel too bad about not having seen N&S yet Jeanne. I only saw it for the first time around two years ago! How I missed it when it was first shown, I’m not sure, but I may have got it confused with the US civil war drama staring Patrick Swayze when I saw it in the TV listings.

          • Sheila, I have returned [as my grandmother used to say] from ‘be’n amongst ’em’. OMG!!! the Christmas shoppers are out in force. Anyway, I went to 4 stores and no one has N&S. I may have to order it.

            Anji… one store did have the Civil War DVD. At one store, this young man was helping me. I was trying to describe which movie I wanted… I mentioned England and industrialization of the north vs the south…etc. I swear he said, “the one based on Gaskell?” I nearly hugged him. I was so impressed. Of course I was shopping in a college town so he was probably a college student. I’ve never had that happen before. It tickled me to no end.

            I still have other shopping to do so I will keep an eye out.

          • Jeanne, I will admit that I didn’t watch this movie until I retired…but then I watched little on TV or movies while working as I just didn’t have the time. I had watched and then read Wives and Daughters by the same author (It is an unfinished novel.) and when I got on Goodreads I read of many others praising it so I had to buy it and watch it and then bought the book in July of 2014 so I am not that far ahead of you. I thought for a long time it was a Civil War novel also.

  5. It certainly does! I’ve been really enjoying The Crown, btw, but haven’t yet seen P&P and Zombies. Gotta do that! To me the most jarring portrayal was Rosamund Pike as Jane in P&P 2005, and then the lead role of the psychopath Amy Dunne in Gone Girl! No! Not our sweet Jane!

    • I thought PPZ was a fun romp and I enjoyed it more than the book. I have heard, however, from people that quite loved the book that they didn’t like the movie as much. I haven’t watched Gone Girl but I have heard about Rosamund Pike in it! Seems like such a twist!

  6. Rose you have my heartfelt sympathies with the migraines. I suffer from them too and it’s hard to describe the pain of them to anyone who hasn’t had one.

    • It really is awful how much time I lost every week, every day, to the migraines. There were a few times I wanted to bang my head against the wall to relieve the pain. I’m on some medicine now and am starting with a chiropractor, hoping to banish them!

      • Rose, I have triggers that I have to watch… certain foods, additives, artificial sugars, stress, etc. Have you been tested for allergies? I don’t mean to be personal… and of course you do not have to respond. I’m just saying that if I am not careful… very careful, I too have to pull the blinds and hide my head under the covers to get away from light and sound.

      • So sorry to hear about your suffering. I’ve never had a migraine myself, but I’ve come across a lot of people who do during my work as a pharmacist. If your first medication doesn’t help, make sure you get to try others as not all of them suit or work for everyone. Sending hugs!

  7. I love what a small world it seems to be for UK actors as many of them appear in all my favorite movies and tv shows. Thanks for sharing all these instances. I’ve seen all the films/tv shows mentioned but for some of them I had forgotten that an actor appeared. The most disconcerting instance for me is Matthew Macfadyen appearing as both Mr. Darcy and Arthur Clennam. I saw him as Arthur first so when I watch him in P&P, I sometimes think of him as Arthur instead.

    • I haven’t seen Arthur, I’ll have to check that out. I can always use more Matthew Macfadyen in my life!

  8. Hi Rose,

    That is a lot of movies! Did you really watch them all just in the past month?

    For good or bad, I generally don’t recognize an actor in a different roll. I don’t know what it is, but I usually remember people by their hair or the way they talk or move, not by their face. Since most actors change their hair or speech for a different movie, I don’t usually recognize them. Don’t get me wrong, there are some, like Keira Knightley or Colin Firth who even I recognize.

    Thank you for the list. It’s impressive!

    I hope you’re feeling better 🙂


    • Yes, I watched them all in the past month (the ones in the sub-headings). I write full time so when I was too sick to write, or reeling from the after-effects of a migraine and too tired to write, I indulged in the movies. I haven’t finished The Crown and am watching that much more slowly and usually with my husband. I read a lot too, the entire Harry Potter series and a few other books. Since I finished reading the HP series (for the first time!) I thought it only right to watch all the movies in order again.

      Some of the lesser known I did not recognize and I have never watched Miss Austen Regrets so I wouldn’t have noticed that actress anyway. I found most of them by looking up their filmography records.

  9. North & South is one of my all-time favorites. It is one of those miniseries that I return to…over and over again. Of course, there is also Nicolas Higgins, a great character played by Downton Abbey’s Bates. I haven’t watched The Crown yet, but if I’m not mistaken, the female lead is Claire Foy, who played opposite Matthew McFadden in Little Dorrit, another excellent miniseries! 🙂

    • Brendan Coyle is a terrific actor. I’ve loved his roles as Higgins and also Bates! I thought about doing a Six Degrees of Separation sort of post and taking one actor and seeing how long it would take to connect it to someone else or back to themselves. Brendan Coyle > Lily James > Matt Smith > Jenna Coleman > Anna Maxwell Martin > Brendan Coyle.

      Yes, Queen Elizabeth II is played by Claire Foy. I’ve not seen her in anything else before but am very impressed. I need to watch Little Dorrit because I can always use more Matthew Macfadyen in my life!

      • Seriously, Little Dorrit is another one of those series that didn’t get much mention here in the US when it came out, but it was amazing. Lots of other actors in it that you will recognize . Andy Serkis plays a really creepy villain…almost as creepy as Gollum.

        Oh, and sorry for my poor spelling of MM’s name. I had it right, and autocorrect must not have liked it! Grr..

        My husband and I are always doing the six degrees of separation thing when we watch shows. We often end up on IMDB. It’s fun making all those connections!

  10. How many films did you watch? I’m so sorry about your health problems and hope they soon improve. I admit I too like to spot people like that but unfortunately I then spend the entire film trying to remember what else they have been in and their name. It really annoys me when it gets to the credits and the tv company shrink the screen to advertise the upcoming programme so I still can’t see who it was. Oh well I will just have to rely on people like you who write these fascinating blogs so thank you.

    • Oh, I’m also with remembering their names and what other production I saw them in. I rely heavily on for such information. I watched the 8 Harry Potter films, the 4 episodes of North and South and a few episodes of The Crown before this post (I think 3). Keep in mind that I don’t have an out of the house job so I let myself be lazy and watch movies for a few hours every day on my sick days. I watch The Crown with my husband in the evenings, but we’ve only watched a few nights.

  11. Whew, this was overload. I will have to come back tomorrow and read the last few. I was taking time to remember them or to search your photos for help in remembering the actor/actress and the role. I play that game when I watch movies (rarely) in trying to remember the other movies and roles in which they played. It helps me keep my mind limber…I hope.

    • The photos showed up pretty small but I believe if you click on them it expands them. It drives me nuts trying to remember names and characters. I use as a resource for that and other than watching these films spent a lot of my sick time aimlessly clicking through that site. My husband and I do like to play a game where we see how long it takes to connect one actor/actress to another or back to themselves. I gave an example in a reply above. The downside is, neither of us watch much TV or movies! We get stumped fairly often.

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