MCM: Jonny Lee Miller


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)

Jonny Lee Miller, Mansfield Park (1983)

Really just a guess — he plays one of Fanny Price’s little brothers in this version. Who doesn’t love a bowl-cut?


Edwin Gurney in Cadfael, “Monk’s Hood” (1994)

Jonny Lee Miller, Cadfael, (1994)

More like Jonny Lee Mullet, but everyone loves this medieval murder-mystery.


Woodrow F. Call in Dead Man’s Walk (1996)

Jonny Lee Miller, Dead Man's Walk (1996)

Eh, it’s a western.


2nd Lt. Billy Prior in Behind the Lines (1997)

Jonny Lee Miller, Behind the Lines (1997)

Eh, it’s a World War I thing.


Macleane in Plunkett & Macleane (1999)

Jonny Lee Miller, Plunkett & Macleane (1999)

OK, this is one hilariously bad / fun movie! Now I wish I could watch it again.


Edmund Bertram in Mansfield Park (1999)

Jonny Lee Miller, Mansfield Park (1999)

Mansfield Park is such an underrated Austen novel, & I love this adaption.


Lord Byron in Byron (2003)

Jonny Lee Miller, Byron (2003)

Quite possibly his best role, in a very good biopic.


Mr. Knightley in Emma (2009)

Jonny Lee Miller, Emma (2009)

A really quite good adaption. Jonny, come back to period drama, you are missed!



What’s your favorite historical costume movie or TV show of Jonny Lee Miller’s?


About the author

Trystan L. Bass

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A self-described ElderGoth, Trystan has been haunting the internet since the early 1990s. Always passionate about costume, from everyday office wear to outrageous twisted historical creations, she has maintained some of the earliest online costuming-focused resources on the web. Her costuming adventures are chronicled on her website, TrystanCraft. She also ran a popular fashion blog, This Is CorpGoth, dedicated to her “office drag.”

14 Responses

  1. Misty

    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.)

    • Colleen

      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.

    • Orian Hutton

      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.

    • Kate

      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.

  2. Nzie

    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.)

    • TSTooth

      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.

  3. Lily Lotus Rose

    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?

  4. MrsC (Maryanne)

    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.

  5. KS

    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.

  6. Kate

    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.