He may be better known for films like Trainspotting and TV shows such as Elementary, but Jonny Lee Miller once had a career in costume drama, and we’re not going to let him forget it. Especially since all of these Jane Austen adaptions are currently available online for streaming or rental. Heck, all of these are online except Plunkett & Macleane, for some reason, so have yourself a little Jonny Lee Miller historical costume movie film fest!
Charles Price in Mansfield Park (1983)
Edwin Gurney in Cadfael, “Monk’s Hood” (1994)
Woodrow F. Call in Dead Man’s Walk (1996)
2nd Lt. Billy Prior in Behind the Lines (1997)
Macleane in Plunkett & Macleane (1999)
Edmund Bertram in Mansfield Park (1999)
Lord Byron in Byron (2003)
Mr. Knightley in Emma (2009)
What’s your favorite historical costume movie or TV show of Jonny Lee Miller’s?
Hardest -non-serious- question to answer in my world: who’s the best Mr. Knightley? JL Miller or J Northam? I always get stuck on it. (although M Strong was great in the role as well.)
I’m for Mark Strong. I just enjoyed that he was more stern. Jonny played him stern, but playfully so, and I cannot stand the Billie Piper adaptation.
I liked John Carson in the 1972 television series. He was perhaps a little too old looking, but his gravitas, greying hair and slight portly-ness made it more convincing that Emma didn’t realise her own mind sooner. How on earth could anyone miss a Mr Knightley that looked like any of the others! The 1972 series also has the best Mr. Woodhouse and Miss Bates, plus a very pretty, but silly Harriet.
Click the Mr. Knightly link above for a whole MCM about the character to help compare :)
I like Miller the best. Northam was good, don’t get me wrong, but I like the 2009 Emma better and I also like the personality that Miller brought to Knightley. You get a slightly “gentleman oddball” from Miller’s portrayal that I think is a bit interesting.
The guy’s just good, no matter what.
I first saw him in a short-lived show called Eli Stone which I enjoyed. Then I don’t think I saw him until I finally watched Emma–and thought what a great job he was doing on a British accent for an American… and then I learned it was really that he did a fantastic American accent as a Brit. Definitely a solid and likable actor. Kicking myself that I missed the free period for Frankenstein with him and Cumberbatch. (What else was I doing? Probably zoom and existential angst and pandemic brain.)
Zoom and existential angst and pandemic brain explains why I missed it too! Dangit.
Eli Stone is terrific, and set in San Francisco to boot. Miller’s American English is really good.
My medieval-loving heart is with the Cadfael role, which was the first place I encountered Jonny Lee Miller, but my kid worships the Byron portrayal.
Caedfael is my favorite, hands-down because it is totally awesome!! I’m so “meh” about Mansfield Park in general–the book which I am currently re-reading (why????) and the 1999 movie. Jonny Lee Miller was very good as Edmund Bertram. Even so, how could I concentrate on him when I was drooling every time my husband in an alternate universe, James Purefoy, was on screen?
I did watch the National Theatre version of Frankenstein, and he was EXCELLENT as the Creature. Benedict Cumberbatch was excellent as Frankenstein. I only watched a few minutes of the “other” version with Cumberbatch as the Creature and Jonny Lee Miller as Frankenstein. I didn’t like the “other” version nearly as much.
Regarding some of his other work–Eli Stone was great and I wished it had a longer run. He was awesome as a Sherlock Holmes in Elementary. He’s a very good actor whose presence in a piece always intrigues me. As FrockFlicks go, I’d love to see him in A Christmas Carol as Fred or Bob Cratchitt (or later on in life as Scrooge). I’d also like to see him in a toga–maybe as any role in Julius Caesar?
I have an irrational and indefensible soft spot for the ridiculousness of Plunket and Mclean. It’s absolutely troppo. But it has Alan Cummings in it!! And JLM!! And they all act their bits SO WELL. And the mad costumes, so much fun.
I adore Plunkett and McLean!!
His role in Byzantium (2012) was also a period piece, though he plays a major creep. In terms of his Austen-based work, I much prefer his Knightley to his Edmund, though tbh I much prefer Knightley to Edmund as a character in general.
I’m a huge fan of Jonny Lee Miller. He’s just great in everything. I adore Plunkett & Macleane. It’s so ridiculous, but pure fun. Also loved him in Emma, that’s my favorite adaptation, and he’s perfect as Knightley.