WCW: Joely Richardson


Joely Richardson, the daughter of legendary actress Vanessa Redgrave and director Tony Richardson, is well known for her acting chops as well as her astonishing good looks. It’s no wonder that since the mid-1980s, she has routinely shown up in historical costume flicks across a wide swath of eras. So, let’s look at some of the highlights!


Rebecca’s Daughters (1992) – Rhiannon

Based on a story by Dylan Thomas, this film is about a plucky Welsh village that bands together to stand up to their local aristocrat who is busy taxing them into poverty. Richardson plays the ingenue, Rhiannon.

Rebecca's Daughters (1992)

Lady Chatterley (1993) – Lady Chatterley

If you love Sean Bean, especially Sean Bean naked, you’ll love the miniseries. For all the shagging, Richardson’s performance left me a little cold, though it’s hard for me to put my finger on why. Still, Sean Bean is naked, so it’s a win?

Lady Chatterley (1993) 1993 Lady Chatterley

The Patriot (2000) – Charlotte Selton

AKA “18th-century Braveheart.” Richardson is far too good for this film, which features shitty costumes and Mel Gibson reprising his role as William Wallace in Colonial America.

2000 The Patriot

The Affair of the Necklace (2001) – Marie Antoinette

Richardson plays a very pretty Marie-Antoinette in The Affair of the Necklace. I always felt that, looks-wise, she was too pretty to be Marie-Antoinette, but regardless, the film is fun and the costumes are fabulous.

2001 The Affair of the Necklace

Wallis & Edward (2005) – Wallis Simpson

Never mind that Richardson is approximately 100 times prettier than the real Mrs. Simpson-cum-Windsor, she manages to evoke a fair bit of Wallis’ spirit in the TV series Wallis & Edward.

Wallis & Edward (2005)

The Tudors (2010) – Catherine Parr

Love it or hate it (we still can’t make up our minds), Richardson’s performance in the final season of The Tudors as Henry’s final wife, Catherine Parr, is worth watching, even if the costumes are shameful.

2010 The Tudors

Anonymous (2011) – Young Queen Elizabeth I

In an interesting bit of casting, Richardson plays a young Bess (who doesn’t seem to age between 25 and 40), while her IRL mother, Vanessa Redgrave, plays the old Bess. It’s been on my list of movies to review for ages, mainly because there’s a lot of WTF going on with the costumes as well as the plot, but I’m saving it all up for my eventual review. For now, here’s a pic of Joely looking glorious as Gloriana.

Anonymous (2011)

The Devil’s Violinist (2013) – Ethel Langham

This one has shot to the top of my to-watch list. Reaction was largely “meh” when The Devil’s Violinist came out, but 1) it has Joely Richardson in 19th-century drag; and 2) it’s directed by Bernard Rose, the man who gave us Immortal Beloved (which forever will make this film suffer in comparison, if the reviews are any indication). All in all, it looks like terrific eye-candy!

The Devil's Violinist (2013)


What’s your favorite film starring Joely Richardson? Share it with us in the comments!

14 Responses

  1. Liutgard

    Hmm… I actually think that her sister, Gemma Redgrave, looks more like their mum. You should do one on her! She was in Howard’s End, but I don’t know if she’s been in any other period pieces. She is in the reboot of Doctor Who though.

    • MoHub

      Gemma Redgrave—daughter of Corin Redgrave—is Joely’s cousin, not her sister, and Vanessa is not her mother.

      • Sarah Lorraine

        Joely’s sister was Natasha Richardson, who also had a pretty good period movie career before her tragic death in 2009.

        • MoHub

          Yes, she was, but Joely looks more like her mum than Natasha did. However, either way, Vanessa is not Gemma Redgrave’s mother; she’s her aunt.

        • brocadegoddess

          Jemma Redgrave was in another period offering, the late 1890s series “Bramwell” in which she plays a woman doctor who runs a charity clinic in London. I enjoyed it all in all, though it was a little clunky in spots.

    • Daniel Milford-Cottam

      Jemma Redgrave with a J – and she’s done quite a lot of period drama. She was in the Victorian lady doctor thing – Googles – ah yes, “Bramwell”, and there’s quite a lot of frock flicks in her oeuvre, mostly TV movies.

      • MoHub

        I remember Bramwell. Not a bad start, but it got way too soapy for me as it progressed.

        And thanks for the spelling correction; I had forgotten that variation and was thinking about Gemma Craven, who does spell it with the more traditional G.

      • brocadegoddess

        Oops, only just noticed someone got there before me, sorry for the repeat info!

  2. SarahV

    Joely’s version of Catherine Parr was one of like 3 saving graces of The Tudors – she played her so warm, yet shrewd and stately (the real saving grace was Natalie Dormer, of course, who played Anne Boleyn with the graceful cunning of a panther… in cheap velvet and floating ruffs…. but a graceful panther nonetheless!!)

    • Trystan L. Bass

      Some of the costumes in Anonymous are gorgeous & even historically accurate, but the plot makes me want to punch the movie in the face!

  3. Kendra

    SHINING THROUGH. I have SUCH a soft spot for that movie! I’ve thought about doing it for Snark Week, except the costumes aren’t that bad — it’s more the production values (and Melanie Griffith!).