WCW: Julia Ormond

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Julia Ormond got her start doing some period work, playing Catherine the Great and Guinevere. Then they put her in that horrible reboot of Sabrina, and it seemed like she was headed for mass-market appeal. And then I’m not quite sure what happened! She’s been working steadily — apparently she was on CSI and Law & Order, and I loved seeing her in Mad Men and (modern-set) Witches of East End (oh the hair extensions!), and apparently she’ll be back to form in the rebooted Howards’ End and a forthcoming comedy/drama set in an Australian department store in the 1950s (Ladies in Black).

Young Catherine (1991)

Playing an excellent version of Catherine the Great in Young Catherine (1991). It’s not her fault the costumes were utter, laughable shit.

Stalin (1992)

She then played the wife of Stalin (1992) in a TV movie.

The Baby of Mâcon (1993)

And was in a very odd-sounding film about a possible miracle birth called The Baby of Mâcon (1993).

Nostradamus (1994)

She played “Marie” in a TV movie about Nostradamus (1994), which sounds like it could be comedy gold.

Legends of the Fall (1994)

She (and her fab costumes) were the ONLY redeeming thing about Legends of the Fall (1994)

First Knight (1995)

Oh, First Knight (1995). One day we will snark you properly.

First Knight (1995)

Until then, we can admire Julia’s hair and scoff at her faux-medieval-oid costumes (First Knight, 1995).

The Barber of Siberia (1998)

The plot of The Barber of Siberia (1998) is something about harvesters in Siberia, which sounds potentially bad … But then you’ve got a hat like this, and I’m into it.

Iron Jawed Angels (2004)

Julia played real-life suffragist Inez Millholland in Iron Jawed Angels (2004), a title in need of an em dash.

Kit Kittredge- An American Girl (2008)

She was mom to spunky Kit Kittredge: An American Girl (2008) in the Depression era, family-friendly, surprisingly enjoyable TV movie.

The Conspiracy (2008)

She played the Princesa de Éboli in The Conspiracy (2008), which, EYEPATCH. I keep hoping Trystan will review this!

My Week with Marilyn (2008)

She was cast as Vivien Leigh (genius!) in My Week with Marilyn (2008).

Mad Men (2012-15)

And I LOVED her ultra-French (Canadian), ultra-elegant role as Megan’s mother Marie on Mad Men (2012-15).

Howards End (2017)

She’ll be playing Mrs. Wilcox (the role played by Vanessa Redgrave?) in the new Howards End adaptation, which we haven’t yet gotten in the States.

 

What’s your favorite of Julia Ormond’s historical costume roles?

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About the author

Kendra

Website

Kendra has been a fixture in the online costuming world since the late 1990s. Her website, Démodé Couture, is one of the most well-known online resources for historical costumers. In the summer of 2014, she published a book on 18th-century wig and hair styling. Kendra is a librarian at a university, specializing in history and fashion. She’s also an academic, with several articles on fashion history published in research journals.

11 Responses

  1. mmcquown

    Not seen her period work, alas. My first view of her was in “Similla’s Sense of Snow,” which was a murder mystery set in Scandinavia. I particularly liked the fact that they showed a woman who was not a trained fighter still able to handle herself when things got rough.

    Reply
  2. Charity

    Always gorgeous, although she let me down with Vivien Leigh. She didn’t even try to act / sound / look anything like her, which to me is a cardinal sin — here you are, playing one of the bitchiest, most gorgeous actresses ever to walk the earth and you give a bland performance?

    Perhaps Kenneth Branagh didn’t want her to BE Vivien, because then everyone would notice how he also did not bother to BE Laurence Olivier?

    I need answers.

    Try not to snark First Knight too hard. I kinda love it. ;)

    Reply
  3. Lady St. Columb

    In college there was the drinking game “Camelot” for how many times Sean Connery said Camelot in First Knight. Basically you have to stop it ten minutes in – it is that bad.

    In high school my sister and I loved to hate watch Julia Ormond in her films – she was cast opposite with pretty much every eye candy guy back in the 90’s.

    As an adult, I will have to check out her recent work. Her role of Catherine was my favourite back in the day.

    I think it mostly comes down to writing/directing/how much did they bother with spending on accurate costumes and hairstyles, etc.

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  4. Janet Nickerson

    There is the novel by Kate O’Brien, ‘That Lady’, based on the Princess Eboli, Ana de Mendoza. It was made into a 1955 film with Olivia de Haviland (with eyepatch!).

    Reply
  5. K

    Barber of Siberia is……quirky and hard to follow at times but it’s really cute and good overall. Plus THE BUSTLE GOWNSSSSSSSSSS

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  6. Dana L

    She was great as Hannah in the English Patient, don’t forget that one. She was the best part of that movie.

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  7. lesartsdecoratifs

    A word of warning and a spoiler: The Baby of Macon ends with de facto executing Ormond’s character via gang rape. I first saw this movie as a fairly young teen and it was legitimately traumatizing.

    Reply
  8. Carrie Carolin

    Ooh, my straight-girl crush on her started in First Knight. She’s elegant and her skin is porcelain and ethereal and perfect! Thanks for the update on the forthcoming “Ladies in Black!” I’ll be watching for it.

    Reply

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