Seeing Greta Scacchi pop up in a small part in series 2 of Versailles reminded me how much I love her as an actress. She’s beautiful, sure, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE that she is aging naturally. But more importantly, she’s talented and has done a ton of historical films… Okay so yes, her portrayal of Maria Cosway in Jefferson in Paris is responsible for about 90% of my love for her. But let’s look at her whole oeuvre, shall we? (Because who doesn’t like using the word “oeuvre” now and then?)
Heat and Dust (1983)
An early Merchant-Ivory film, set in 1920s India.
I haven’t seen this adaptation of the famous 1852 Alexandre Dumas novel (previously adapted in 1936), but I feel like it could be highly entertaining, both for young Colin Firth and for possibly snarkable hair and costumes…
Burke & Wills (1985)
IMDB says: “two explorers on a doomed journey trying to cross Australia on foot in the 19th century.” Based on Mr. Eggbeard below, I’m not excited.
Good Morning Babilonia (1987)
Two Italian immigrants move to the U.S. and work in Hollywood.
White Mischief (1987)
This is high on my list after watching Out of Africa — it’s about the very druggy/promiscuous English set in 1940s Kenya.
Country Life (1994)
An adaptation of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya set in rural Australia in the 1920s.
Jefferson in Paris (1995)
LURVE! Scacchi plays Maria Cosway, married Italian/Englishwoman who hooks up with Thomas Jefferson while he’s visiting Paris in the 1780s. Scacchi is my platonic ideal of late 18th-century fashion in this.
Sadly, the Gwyneth Paltrow version of the classic Jane Austen story, not the much-better Kate Beckinsale version … She plays Emma’s former governess, Mrs. Weston.
As Tsariana Alexandra, wife of Nicholas II of Russia, in a story about the “mad monk.”
The Serpent’s Kiss (1996)
Love and gardening in 17th-century England, with Ewan McGregor and Richard E. Grant.
The Odyssey (1997)
The classic Ancient Greek story by Homer. Scacchi plays Penelope, Odysseus’s faithful wife.
Love & Rage (1999)
Scacchi is a late 19th-century divorcée shocking her Irish neighbors, Daniel Craig is the potentially scary guy she gets involved with.
One of the Hollywood Ten (2000)
The Hollywood Ten were the filmmakers accused of communism in the 1950s and who refused to testify in Joseph McCarthy’s hearings. Scacchi plays Gale Sondergaard, the wife of one of the accused filmmakers.
Daniel Deronda (2002)
Based on the George Eliot novel, this faaaabulous miniseries is set in the 1870s (SUCH AMAZING BUSTLE GOWNS), and it’s about abusive marriages and Zionism. As one does. Scacchi plays Lydia, discarded mistress of Henleigh Grandcourt.
Broken Trail (2006)
A TV miniseries about a 19th-century cowboy who tries to save five Chinese girls from prostitution.
Miss Marple: By the Pricking of My Thumbs (2006)
One of the many Miss Marple murder mysteries.
Brideshead Revisited (2008)
The remake of the classic 1920s story of class and nostalgia. Scacchi plays the small part of Cara, the Italian mistress of an English lord.
Miss Austen Regrets (2008)
Jane Austen looks back on her life while in her 40s. Scacchi plays her older sister, Cassandra — GENIUS casting against Olivia Williams as Jane, as the two actresses look separated at birth.
Hindenburg: The Last Flight (2011)
About the 1937 explosion of the zeppelin; Scacchi plays “Helen van Zandt.”
Poirot: Elephants Can Remember (2013)
Another 1930s murder mystery!
A.D. The Bible Continues (2015)
Yes, I am a completionist. She plays “Mother Mary.”
War & Peace (2016)
As Countess Natalya Rostova, mother to Historical Manic Pixie Russian 1800s Dream Girl, Natasha. I SO enjoyed snarking this TV miniseries!
Versailles, Season 2 (2017)
As the matriarch of a noble yet debt-ridden family.
What’s your favorite of Greta Scacchi’s historical costume performances?