WCW: Janet McTeer


English actress Janet McTeer has been around a lot longer, and done more frock flicks, than I realized! She’s often elegant, always emotive, and she’s 6’1″, so that makes her My Friend (team 5’11” here). Let’s take a look!


Miss Julie (1987)

An episode of “Theatre Night,” a recurring BBC show featuring stage plays. This is the 1888 August Strindberg play about the weeeeeeird dynamics between an upper class lady and her male servant.

1987 Miss Julie

Tousle that hair!


Precious Bane (1989)

An adaptation of a 1926 novel: “The story is set in rural Shropshire during the Napoleonic Wars. It is narrated by the central character, Prue Sarn, whose life is blighted by having a cleft lip and cleft palate” (Wikipedia).

1989 Precious Bane

Alrighty then!

1989 Precious Bane


Portrait of a Marriage (1990)

The story of the real-life love affair between Vita Sackville-West (McTeer) and Violet Keppel.

Dinah Collin, Portrait of a Marriage (1990)

Not just roommates!

Dinah Collin, Portrait of a Marriage (1990)

It’s set during the late 1910s, and this is a great evocation of that transition from Edwardian to 1920s – higher waists, a bit of menswear, but also loose and casual-looking.

1990 Portrait of a Marriage

Bobbed hair!

1990 Portrait of a Marriage

Love those wide collars from this era.


The Black Velvet Gown (1991)

A TV adaptation of a Catherine Cookson novel. I’m guessing 1840s-ish?

1991 The Black Velvet Gown

Looking dowdy! But then this decade is the death of fashion

1991 The Black Velvet Gown

Ok at least there’s some interesting shoulder gathers!


Wuthering Heights (1992)

McTeer plays Nelly Dean, who narrates/observes much of the story’s action, in this feature film adaptation of the Emily Brontë novel.


Saint-Ex (1996)

A biopic about French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (“The Little Prince”). McTeer plays “Genevieve de Ville-Franche.”

1996 Saint-Ex

She looks like Natasha Richardson here!


Songcatcher (2000)

In 1907, a professor (McTeer) goes to Appalachia to record folk music and becomes enmeshed in the lives of the people there.

Songcatcher (2000)

Including Aidan Quinn

2000 Songcatcher

A proper shirtwaist and skirt contrasts with the girl’s dress.


The Intended (2002)

Wikipedia tells me it’s a “period” film, but I can’t tell which period, and that it’s about “a surveyor and his fiancée who arrive in a remote Malaysian trading post and encounter a close-fisted ivory trader and her ill-meaning family.”

2002 The Intended

1940s, maybe?


Agatha Christie’s Marple: The Murder at the Vicarage (2004)

1950s, murder mystery, no doubt excellent costumes.

2004 Agatha Christie's Marple- The Murder at the Vicarage

She’s got decently pointy boobs here.


As You Like It (2006)

As Audrey in Kenneth Branagh’s weird, late-nineteenth-century-Europeans-in-Japan adaptation of the Shakespeare play.

2006 As You Like It

I have NO IDEA.

2006 As You Like It

Seems like a very questionable setting choice. Also short sleeves? Huh?


Daphne (2007)

She played English actress/singer/dancer/etc. Gertrude Lawrence in this biopic of author Daphne du Maurier.

2007 Daphne

Looking glam in red and black.

2007 Daphne

You can’t go wrong with black & white!

2007 Daphne

Or a cigarette holder!


Sense & Sensibility (2008)

She played Mrs. Dashwood, mother of Elinor and Marianne, in this decent TV adaptation of the Jane Austen novel.


I think they’re all in various stages of mourning?

2008 Sense & Sensibility

The subtle print on the gown is lovely.

2008 Sense & Sensibility

Lots of great accessories!


Into the Storm (2009)

As Clementine Churchill, wife of British PM Winston, during World War II.

2009 Into the Storm

Looking elegant in cream.

2009 Into the Storm

Standing behind her man in a great hat!


Albert Nobbs (2011)

She plays a woman living as a man in late-nineteenth-century Dublin.

Albert Nobbs (2011)

Her height certainly suits the role!

2011 Albert Nobbs



Hannah Arendt (2012)

A film about German-Jewish philosopher and political theorist Hannah Arendt and her decision to write about the 1961 trial of Nazi Adolf Eichmann and what she called “the banality of evil.” McTeer plays Arendt’s friend, American novelist Mary McCarthy.

2012 Hannah Arendt

I definitely recommend this one, although it’s not flashy enough to review for Frock Flicks.


Parade’s End (2012)

An ill-suited husband and wife and a suffragette have a love triangle. I hated it, but the costumes are gorge. McTeer plays the mother-in-law.

2012 Parade's End



The Woman in Black (2012)

A gothic/supernatural/horror story set in the late nineteeth century. McTeer plays the local landowner’s wife.

2012 The Woman in Black

I’m guessing she plays a key role in the whole supernatural stuff.


The White Queen (2013)

As the real-life Jacquetta of Luxembourg, Countess Rivers (1415/16-72), mother of Queen Elizabeth Woodville.

2013 The White Queen

Her hair is elaborate, but I don’t know how period it is… but it’s UP!

2013 The White Queen

She rocks the hennins.

2013 The White Queen

And the fur.

2013 The White Queen

But I think she’s also a Witchy Woman.


Angelica (2015)

A horror/thriller film set in late-nineteenth-century London that came and went.

2015 Angelica

I’m getting definite “I’m in touch with The Beyond” vibes here.


National Theatre Live: Les Liaisons Dangereuses (2016)

An adaptation of the eighteenth-century play! McTeer played the Marquise de Merteuil to Liev Shreiber.

2016 National Theatre Live- Les Liaisons Dangereuses

Looking decently 18th century, enough for stage.

2016 National Theatre Live- Les Liaisons Dangereuses

A promo shot displaying the dynamics…

2016 National Theatre Live- Les Liaisons Dangereuses

Ain’t no period for loungewear like the 18th century!


The Exception (2016)

She played the real-life Princess Hermine Reuss of Greiz (1887-1947), second wife of exiled German Kaiser Wilhelm II, in this World War II-set film.

2016 The Exception

She’s elegant as usual.

2016 The Exception

And has a good rapport with Christopher Plummer.


Which is your favorite of Janet McTeer’s historical roles?

14 Responses

  1. Roxana

    Re: Jacquetta of Luxembourg, I think the earmuffs hairstyle was out of date by then being a 14th century fashion and her hair shouldn’t be showing at a under her hennin. Historical images I’ve seen have the hair completely hidden under elaborate hennins and escoffions. The dress worn with the hennin is the right style though but I have my doubts about the color. And the other dresses are pure fairy-tale.

  2. Miriam Griffiths

    The film is fairly terrible, but Precious Bane is one of my favourite books of all time. Definitely recommend it.

  3. Karen K.

    Wow, those are some beautiful costumes! I’d forgotten she was in that adaptation of Sense & Sensibility but she is so good in everything. I’m not a fan of the Branagh adaptations but I’d probably sit through As You Like It just to see her and Adrian Lester. I’m adding so many from this list post my to-watch list.

  4. SarahV

    I know it’s not a Frock Flick, but she was dynamite in Mrs. Pritchart as the seemingly evil, ruthless Tory MP. She was the best part of that amazing series.

  5. Kat

    Love the Woman in Black for both the costumes and the scares. Her character is supposed to be depressed/mentally ‘fragile’ after losing her son in a drowning incident caused by the titular woman so hence the wandering around with the undone hair and night clothes in the daytime (undone hair on women of a certain time period is almost always a shorthand for rebelliousness or madness). Plus bonus Ciaran Hinds.

  6. M.E. Lawrence

    I love McTeer in almost anything, although her performance as Vita Sackville-West might be my favorite. Also the only reason to watch “The White Queen,” if only for a couple of episodes. She reminds me at times of Fiona Shaw; has WCW every paid tribute to Shaw? (My husband would like this as well; he thinks Shaw and Thompson are goddesses.)

  7. thedementedfairy

    I’ve been fascinated by her since Precious Bane…and Portrait of a Marriage of course. Vita was of course almost as unpleasant and manipulative as Anne Lister, but so dashing in this portrayal lol

  8. Elizabeth Kerri Mahon

    The National Theatre Live production actually starred Janet McTeer and Dominic West. She appeared in the role at the Roundabout Theatre with Liev Schrieber.

  9. Coco

    The Philippa Gregory series deserve the snark mostly, but they’ve been generally quite good at casting. Rebecca Ferguson and Jodie Comer playing title characters were casting coups, even if the material did not live up to their talents, and there have been some gifted performers like McTeer in the smaller roles. However, the casting department seems to fall down on the male leads – Jeremy Irons’ charisma-less son and a couple bland, nameless male models types.

    • M.E. Lawrence

      I guess the bland male models were supposed to be make it relatable for some female viewers. I was quite disappointed by Max Irons, who was so unconvincing as a warrior king.

  10. Luisa

    I’m so happy there’s a WCW post on her, I find her truly unconventionally attractive and I’ve yet to see a performance of hers I don’t like.

  11. Lily Lotus Rose

    She is so talented. I will always have a soft spot for her as Nell in Wuthering Heights because I love that version. Like others have said, she’s fabulous in everything. Can I just say that I’m jealous of her because of the men she’s played against–Ciarin Hinds, Liev Schreiber, and Christopher Plummer (they had such great chemistry in The Exception). Great WCW choice!

  12. Joni

    She is the definitive Nelly Dean for me – and Nelly is my favorite character in WH!

  13. Rochelle

    Oh HOORAY!! I was so hoping you would do a McTeer WCW. I’ve loved her since The Black Velvet Gown.