English/Australian actress Frances O’Connor has starred in some pivotal frock flicks, from 1999’s Mansfield Park through the recent series Mr. Selfridge. Well, she’s now directing a film about Emily
Dickinson BRONTË!, so I thought it was time to look back at her career in historical movies and TV series!
Mansfield Park (1999)
As Fanny Price in this tweaked but not-as-bad-as-the-Billie-Piper-version adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel.
Madame Bovary (2000)
O’Connor plays title character Emma Bovary in this adaptation of the Flaubert novel about a French woman chafing against her middle-class life.
The Importance of Being Earnest (2002)
As Gwendolen Fairfax, one of two heroines in this sparkling Oscar Wilde adaptation.
A film about Navajo code talkers in World War II, so of course it makes sense that two white people take the lead roles?
Modern archaeologists go through a wormhole to 14th-century France. O’Connor plays one of them, the spunky one.
Iron Jawed Angels (2004)
As real-life American women’s rights activist Lucy Burns (1879-1966) in this story about the fight for women’s suffrage.
Piccadilly Jim (2004)
A romantic comedy whose costumes and settings meld the 1930s, 1950s, and 1970s.
Nova: Darwin’s Darkest Hour (2009)
The PBS science docu-series — this episode focuses on Charles Darwin’s theories of evolution. The concept is that Darwin explains his theories to his wife (played by O’Connor) as he awaits publication of his book.
Jayne Mansfield’s Car (2012)
A culture clash between two families in 1969 Alabama.
Mr. Selfridge (2013-14)
A TV drama series about Harry Gordon Selfridge and his London department store, Selfridge & Co., from 1908-20. O’Connor plays Selfridge’s long-suffering wife Rose.
Troy: Fall of a City (2018)
The story of the siege of ancient Troy. O’Connor plays Hecuba, queen and wife of King Priam of Troy.
Coming Soon: Emily
Nope, she’s not acting. This biopic of
poet author Emily Dickinson BRONTË! (now in post-production) will be O’Connor’s directorial debut.
Which is your favorite of Frances O’Connor’s frock flick roles?
Frances O’Connor being cast as Hecuba perfectly exemplifies the problem with Troy: Fall of a City’s casting. You’re gonna cast Black actors as Achilles and Patroclus because you say you want diversity, and yet you’ve cast a white woman to play the queen of a place in modern-day Turkey? (And, looking over their casting list, nearly all the main Trojans seem to be played by white people. And not even from somewhere near Turkey, like Greece.)
You can’t make me believe you actually care about diversity when you’re outright whitewashing characters and removing diversity from the original story. And yet I’ve seen almost no one point out this obvious hypocrisy, whether they were rushing to defend the racebending or criticize it.
I think hopefully I shouldn’t have to say that my criticism here isn’t “Ew why are there Black actors in this”. It’s that before you think about racebending, you need to look at the diversity that already exists in a story and make sure you’re doing it justice. And if you fail to clear that bar, diversity and accurate representation were clearly not the actual priority.
I’ve also noticed that in productions like this, they end up casting white actors as the “home” team so to speak, and POC actors as the non-locals. So in this case, white people for Troy, non-white for non-Trojans.
Oh, fascinating point! I wasn’t even thinking about that because in the Iliad, the Greeks were the “home” team (at least nominally). But you’re absolutely right, the fact that Troy: Fall of a City switched to the Trojans’ perspective but then made them the white people is deeply suspect.
(I should clarify- obviously in the Iliad the setting was still Troy, but the Greeks are the “home team” in the sense that Homer was a Greek writing it from a Greek perspective.)
It’s Emily Brontë, not Dickinson. The moor’s a hint – hence the windsweot hair… or sth like that.
WHOOPS! Thanks! Editing!
I didn’t know she was in Iron Jawed Angels. Cool.
I think the only one of these I’ve seen any of is Wind Talkers… it’s definitely from that era when they assumed no one would ever watch a movie about Navajo (or any indigenous person) unless a big (white) star was the actual main character. Don’t recall that much and probably wouldn’t watch again.
However I am totally drooling over the sportswear in The Importance of Being Earnest and the suits in Mr. Selfridge. If I had more time and actually used fabric at the rate that I acquire it I would LOVE to develop my skills and just.. make that (or a regular-undergarment-compatible version) my professional wardrobe (at least October through March).
The Importance of Being Earnest is just absolutely splendid.
I feel like her hat in the last image for Mr. Selfridge is falling off her head.
She’s a good actress with an interesting face. I’ve only seen two of the films listed here–Timeline and Mansfield Park. I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Timeline (which I first saw in the theaters), so I’ll go with that as my fave. Even though it’s kooky, it’s really fun! Even so, her version of Mansfield Park has grown on me over the years–as has the novel. There are sooo many beautiful costumes here, I don’t even know where to begin. And…as I Lost fan, I appreciate the shout out, as well as any pick of Henry Ian Cusick. I’m glad to hear news of a female director! I’ll keep an eye out for the Bronte project!
Never in a million years would a grown parson’s daughter walk around with loose hair.