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Actors Who Have Embraced Austen and Shakespeare on Screen

Jane Austen and Shakespeare’s works have proved to be timeless in popular culture. Countless adaptations and related films have featured some of Hollywood’s biggest stars over the decades. Here is a sampling of actors and a few of the Austen and Shakespeare movies in which they've appeared. This list is by no means comprehensive! Which actors have you seen in your favorite Austen and Shakespeare productions?

Emma Thompson: Goneril in “King Lear” (2018), Elinor Dashwood in “Sense and Sensibility” (1995) and Beatrice in “Much Ado About Nothing” (1993). Thompson received more than 10 awards for her adaptation of “Sense and Sensibility,” including the Academy Award for best adapted screenplay. She is the only person to win Oscars for both writing and acting (for 1992's “Howard’s End”).

Emma Thompson, right, and Kate Winslet, left, in "Sense and Sensibility."

Kate Winslet: Ophelia in “Hamlet” (1996) and Marianne Dashwood in “Sense & Sensibility” (1995).

Judi Dench: Anne Shakespeare in “All Is True” (2018), Lady Catherine de Bourgh in “Pride & Prejudice” (2005), Queen Elizabeth I in “Shakespeare in Love” (1998), and Hecuba in “Hamlet” (1996). Dench won an Oscar for her turn as Queen Elizabeth I — in one of the shortest performances on record to win an Oscar.

Tom Hiddleston: Caius Martius Coriolanus in “National Theatre Live: Coriolanus” (2014), Prince Hal and Henry V in TV's "The Hollow Crown" (2012), and Mr. Plumptre in “Miss Austen Regrets” (2007).

Indira Varma, center, in "Bride and Prejudice."
Indira Varma, center, in "Bride and Prejudice."

Indira Varma: Tamora in “Shakespeare’s Globe: Titus Andronicus” (2015) and Kiran in “Bride and Prejudice” (2004).

Colin Firth: Lord Wessex in “Shakespeare in Love” (1998) and Fitzwilliam Darcy in the TV miniseries “Pride and Prejudice” (1995). In one interview, Firth said he thinks he was only about five pages into the script for “Pride and Prejudice" when he became hooked by the romantic story.

Firth as Mr. Darcy.

Alan Rickman: Colonel Brandon in “Sense and Sensibility” (1995) and Tybalt in the BBC's “Romeo & Juliet” (1978).

Michael Gambon: Sir Edmund Mortimer in “Henry VI, Part 1,” part of the TV series “The Hollow Crown” (2016); Mr. Woodhouse in the TV miniseries “Emma” (2009); Watchman #4 in “Much Ado About Nothing” (1967); and Senator, Soldier, and Cypriot in “Othello” (1965).

Billie Piper: Fanny Price in “Mansfield Park” (2007) and Hero in “Much Ado About Nothing,” part of the TV miniseries “ShakespeaRe-Told” (2005). In an interview with the BBC, Piper revealed that the main challenge of filming “Much Ado About Nothing” was pronouncing tongue twister-like phrases such as “Altostratus castellanus.”

James McAvoy: Tom Lefroy in “Becoming Jane” (2007) and Joe Macbeth in “Macbeth,” part of the TV miniseries “ShakespeaRe-Told” (2005).

Jennifer Ehle: Lady Macbeth in “Shakespeare in Central Park” at New York's Delacorte Theater (2006) and Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” (1995). Ehle won a BAFTA Award for best actress for her performance as Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice.”

Tobias Menzies in "King Lear."
Tobias Menzies in "King Lear."

Tobias Menzies: Duke of Cornwall in “King Lear” (2018) and Mr. Elliot in “Persuasion” (2007).

Gwyneth Paltrow: Viola de Lesseps in “Shakespeare in Love” (1998) and “Emma” (1996).

Reminder: Don't forget to register for JASP and our Sunday tea! Teachers, you can also apply for scholarships now!


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