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