MCM: Rafe Spall


English actor Rafe Spall has been turning up in frock flicks since 2003, most notably in Desperate Romantics and The War of the Worlds. Well, he’s starring with Emily Blunt in The English, the 1890-set western that everyone’s talking about (will we review it? IDK, how costumey is it?), and so it seemed like a good time to take a look at his career so far in historical movies and TV series! AND I JUST FIGURED OUT HE’S ACTOR TIMOTHY SPALL’S (Topsy-Turvy, the Harry Potter films) SON!


John in The Lion in Winter (2003)

Another adaptation of the play about Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine — a remake of the classic. Spall played whiny and annoying youngest son John, the future King John.

2003 The Lion in Winter

What appears to be an educated attempt at period costume, to my uneducated eye.

2003 The Lion in Winter

I think he’s on the right?


Jonathan in Dracula (2006)

He played the fiancé of Mina/protege of Dracula in this pretty-bad TV miniseries adaptation.

Dracula (2006) Dracula (2006)


Keith in The Chatterley Affair (2006)

The trial of the D.H. Lawrence novel that took place in 1960. Spall plays a fictional juror.

2006 The Chatterley Affair


Edward Rochester in Wide Sargasso Sea (2006)

Another attempt to adapt the modern-written prequel to Jane Eyre, wherein Mr. Rochester meets Bertha while living in Jamaica.

Wide Sargasso Sea (2006)

Truly DIRE costumes in this.

Wide Sargasso Sea (2006)

RIFE with fitting issues!

Wide Sargasso Sea (2006) Wide Sargasso Sea (2006)


George Emerson in A Room with a View (2007)

I was just about to write that I refuse to watch this more recent adaptation of the E.M. Forster, Edwardian-period novel, only to see I wrote a short review! Clearly I have blocked out the experience based on my love for the 1986 adaptation.

2007 A Room with a View

I like her blouse print?

2007 A Room with a View

With dad!

2007 A Room with a View


Roger Bassington in Marple: Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?  (2009)

Because as Trystan recently wrote, “Because every British actor shows up in Marple at some point!”

2009 marple- Why Didn't They Ask Evans?


William Hunt in Desperate Romantics (2009)

Spall played Pre-Raphaelite artist William Holman Hunt in the TV miniseries.

Desperate Romantics 2009

© BBC 2009

Desperate Romantics (2009)
2009 Desperate Romantics

He’s got a chrysanthemum waistcoat!

2009 Desperate Romantics
2009 Desperate Romantics

Just back from Palestine with a wardrobe and beard to match.


William Shakespeare in Anonymous (2011)

He played an actor-but-not-playwright version of the bard in this stupid but pretty movie.

Rafe Spall in Anonymous (2011)

He pulls off the goatee well!

2011 Anonymous


Harry Price in Harry Price: Ghost Hunter (2015)

A TV movie about a real-life ghost hunter, set in the 1920s.

2015 Harry Price- Ghost Hunter 2015 Harry Price- Ghost Hunter


John Hancock in Sons of Liberty (2015)

What appears to be an attempt to make the American Revolution badass? He plays the famous signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Sons of Liberty

Ok blondes in lavender is a good thing!

2015 Sons of Liberty

He pulls off that wig!


Jim Turner/Captain Flint/Polski the Parrot in Swallows and Amazons (2016)

A classic mid-century English children’s tale.

2016 Swallows and Amazons


George in The War of the Worlds (2019)

The recent adaptation of the H.G. Wells alien-invasion story, reset in Edwardian Britain.

The War of the Worlds (2019) 2019 The War of the Worlds


David Melmont in The English (2022)

He’s the villain in this 1890-set miniseries about a woman looking for revenge for her murdered son.

2022 The English

Which is your favorite of Rafe Spall’s frock flick roles?

17 Responses

  1. Jillian

    Be thankful you blocked out the remake of A Room With A View. It was shit, and the ending was absolutely rage inducing.

  2. M.E. Lawrence

    “Desperate Romantics” looks like fun–is it? Spall the Younger has one of those baby-bird faces that really improves with age and a beard. (His dad used to be downright homely, and I love looking at him now–probably something to do with “Mr. Turner.”

  3. Kat

    My only memories of Anonymous are going to see it the weekend my dad helped me move into my grad school apartment; I’m pretty sure he regretted his choice when I spent the entirety of dinner complaining about how they mucked up the history. I still think the best summation of it I’ve ever heard comes from Kyle Kallgren on YouTube: “Shakespeare must be posh dude because poors can’t art good.”

    • Coco

      Partway through watching it I realized, “Oh, it’s not just Shakespeare – they’re assassinating everyone’s character in the most over the top manner possible.”
      Then it became pretty funny.

      • Kat

        I lost it when they decided that not only was Elizabeth I in fact not a virgin, but she’d had so many bastard babies that she managed to lose track of at least one of them, only to end up incestuously banging him later in life.

        • Coco

          Yep, that’s the one – but it’s suggested that she actually might have known the Earl of Oxford was her son but wanted to marry him anyway.
          Plus the framing device where Derek Jacobi couldn’t get a cab is also amusing in its uselessness.

    • Al Don

      Haha well put! David Mitchell on the same subject: “[Shakespeare’s] sort of, you’d think, exactly as far up the society as you’d expect a major writer to be. It’s not like now the best novels are written by the Duke of Westminster.”

      • Kat

        Kyle was going off an interview with director Roland Emmerich where he was basically was like, well why does Shakespeare feature so much royalty and things a POOR would never know about (like geography and history), unless he was secretly a well-connected rich aristocrat. 1) Because appealing to the royals meant patronage which meant more money so sure throw some characters of royal blood in your play and 2) Shakespeare routinely got a lot of stuff wrong so either he was a guy with a middle-class education winging the details he didn’t know about or an aristocrat who had some really, really bad tutors in his lifetime.

        • Gill

          Shakespeare’s geography of almost everywhere is really crap. Except, oddly enough, whenever Warwickshire is in a play. (Henry IV, for example.) THEN he gets it absolutely totally right.

          Strange, isn’t it? Almost as if he was born there.

        • Teresa

          If the Shakespeare controversy (conspiracy “theory”) interests you, I recommend Kipling’s short story “The Propagation of Knowledge.” Oh, well played!

  4. GinaP

    He was truly awful in the English. Not bad acting wise, he’s very good actually. He just portrayed a really awful character. It is a very dark mini series.

    • LadySlippers

      Wasn’t he? His acting was brilliant but his character is absolutely vile. I loved The English and am sad there won’t be more.

  5. Linda Merrill

    I wasn’t really familiar with him until I saw “Trying” which is a modern day tv series where he plays a nice, decent fellow. But then there he was as a true villain in The English. He’s got range.

  6. Lily Lotus Rose

    I thought he was hilarious in Anonymous, which I thought was hilarious overall. Not a FrockFlick, but I thought he was good in What If (that’s the American title, anyway) in a charming little movie starring Daniel Radcliffe and Adam Driver. And since you brought up Wide Sargasso Sea, I have to campaign for a Man Candy Monday featuring Nathaniel Parker (who was in the original film), if he hasn’t yet been featured. Sons of Liberty will make you want to point a musket at your TV or die with laughter or both. Either way, Ben Barnes looks hot, but he always looks hot…


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