WCW: Judy Davis


Say what you will, I love Judy Davis. Yes, I’ve heard the horror stories about working with her (she allegedly drove River Phoenix to the brink during the filming of Dark Blood, precipitating his overdose in 1993), but there’s no question that she’s a powerhouse of an actress. Some of her best work has been in the historical genre of film, so let’s take a look at some of the highlights.

My Brilliant Career (1979) – Sybella Melvyn

1979 My Brilliant Career


Merry Wives of Windsor (1982) – Mistress Ford


A Passage to India (1984) – Adela


Impromptu (1991) – George Sand


Where Angels Fear to Tread (1991) – Harriet Herrington


One Against the Wind (1991) – Countess Mary Lindell


Dash and Lilly (1999) – Lillian Hellman


Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows (2001) – Judy Garland


Marie Antoinette (2006) – Comtesse de Noailles


Elsa Schiaparelli (2012) – Elsa Schiaparelli

The Dressmaker (2015) – Molly Dunnage

Feud (2017-) – Hedda Hopper

What’s your favorite Judy Davis role? Share it in the comments!


About the author

Sarah Lorraine

Sarah has an undergraduate degree in Clothing & Textile Design and a Master's in Art History and Visual Culture, with an emphasis on fashion history. When she’s not caught in paralyzing existential dread, she's drinking craft cocktails and writing about historical costume in film and television. She's been pissing people off on the internet since 1995.

16 Responses

  1. Patricia

    Love, Love, Love My Brilliant Career! Had to buy the book. And Impromptu. As a music major, a must see!

  2. Janeheiress

    The first thing I ever saw her in was A Passage to India, and not having read the book yet, her performance was so good that I thought Adela was supposed to be the protagonist. The second half really threw me in for a loop!

    I really need to watch My Brilliant Career again.

    • Daniel Milford-Cottam

      Oh! It’s a thing the Met did for the retrospective, not an actual biopic. Shame – I was about to demand HOW this had somehow passed me by!

      • susan l eiffert

        My mother’s maiden name was Milford, Daniel.

  3. Peggy S.

    Gosh, I love Impromptu. Arch dialog, wonderful cast, beautiful settings.

  4. Susan Pola

    Judy rocked Garland in Me and My Shadow, but although a fav, it’s not my absolutely favourite. That position is a three way tie between One Against the Wind, Impromptu & A Passage to India.
    But I can truthfully say that I love all her films. Wish the Mary Lindell was on DVD.

  5. Kathleen Norvell

    My Brilliant Career and Impromptu. I recently saw her as Hedda Hopper in Feud and she was wonderfully manipulative and catty. I’d watch her read a phone book.

  6. Renngrrl

    And Barton Fink! Passage to India is where my personal JD crush began

  7. janette

    Sybella.Always Sybella. My Brilliant Career is one of my favourite Australian films and love the book too.

  8. Karen K.

    I first saw her in a Passage to India. (Loved the movie,hated the book.) I think my favorite of her costume roles was Impromptu, which I need to watch again, simply because of Emma Thompson’s brilliant delivery of the line, “Silly, silly rain!”

    She was also brilliant in Woody Allen’s Husbands and Wives, though not a Frock Flick.

  9. skippy

    Do you guys remember another 90s WWII TV series? It had snappy dialog and romance, a redheaded female star who was fabulous and snarky. Her love interest was an RAF pilot. It was short-lived but i looooved it. I can’t for the life of me remember what it was called, but I feel like it started with an A and maybe had three words in the title. This has been driving me crazy for years. help!

    • skippy

      oops, I meant to put this on the Homefront post. sorry.