WCW: Miranda Richardson


She could be the best-known supporting actress in historical costume movies and TV currently working, definitely in Britain. Miranda Richardson has had a few, good starring roles, but she gets a lot of meaty sidekick parts in films spanning historical periods. And of course she’s done a lot of fantasy and sci-fi (including Rita Skeeter in the Harry Potter films). But I’m going to stick to historical costume here!



Ruth Ellis in Dance with a Stranger (1985)

Miranda Richardson in Dance With a Stranger (1985)

Based on the life of Ruth Ellis, a convicted murderer and the last woman hanged in Britain in 1955.

1985 Dance with a Stranger


Queen Elizabeth I in Black-Adder II (1986)

Black-Adder II (1986)

YAAAASSS QUEEN! How can you not love her snarky, silly take on Liz?


Amy Hardwood, the elusive Shadow, in Black Adder the Third (1987)

Black Adder the Third (1987)

Another fun Blackadder part, plus this lovely gown was reused in The Affair of the Necklace (2001)!


Mrs. Victor in Empire of the Sun (1987)

1987 Empire of the Sun

A small part in this WWII prison-camp film.


Nurse Mary in Blackadder Goes Forth (1989)

Miranda Richardson in Blackadder Goes Forth (1989)

You’re in one Blackadder, you’re in ’em all!


Rose Arbuthnot in Enchanted April (1991)

Enchanted April (1991)

Such a breezy, whimsical, Brits-on-holiday 1920s film.

Miranda Richardson, Enchanted April (1991)


Clara in Century (1993)

Miranda Richardson in Century (1993)

Her hair’s a bit poodle-permy, but the bustle gowns look good! Also starring Clive Owen.


Vivienne Haigh-Wood in Tom & Viv (1994)

Miranda Richardson in Tom & Viv (1994)

Miranda Richardson was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her performance as poet T.S. Eliot’s mentally ill wife.


Julie in The Night and the Moment (1994)

Miranda Richardson in The Night and the Moment (1994)

Two in a row with Willem Dafoe (she’s a stronger woman than I!).

1994 The Night and the Moment


Carolyn Stilton in Kansas City (1996)

1996 Kansas City

Richardson goes redhead in this Robert Altman 1930s flick.


Pamela Flitton in A Dance to the Music of Time (1997)

Miranda Richardson in A Dance to the Music of Time (1997)

During the World War II part of this TV miniseries.


Susan Gilchrist in St. Ives (1998)

Miranda Richardson in St. Ives (1998)

I’ve never heard of this before, but I’m intrigued.


Lady Van Tassel in Sleepy Hollow (1999)

1999 Sleepy Hollow

With a wardrobe by Colleen Atwood, her character has a genteel veneer.

1999 Sleepy Hollow

But she’s a supernatural bad-ass.

Sleepy Hollow (1999)

I used to be in love with the stripey dress Christina Ricci wears, but now I realize Miranda Richardson’s gown is even more awesome.


Vanessa Bell in The Hours (2002)

2002 The Hours

She plays Virginia Woolf’s sister in the historical portions of this film.


Queen Mary in The Lost Prince (2003)

2003 The Lost Prince

A heart-breakingly good TV movie about the youngest son of Britain’s King George V and Queen Mary (played by Richardson).


Eva Braun in Churchill: The Hollywood Years (2004)

Miranda Richardson in Churchill: The Hollywood Years (2004)

It’s a spoof!


Madame Giry in The Phantom of the Opera (2004)

2004 The Phantom of the Opera

I despise the music of Phantom, so someone will have to explain why her character goes from all buttoned-up like this…

2004 The Phantom of the Opera

…to looking all laid-back and debauched like this.


Duchess of Kent in The Young Victoria (2009)

Miranda Richardson in The Young Victoria (2009)

Miranda Richardson IS Victoria’s mom, hands down. The Duchess of Kent in the current ITV/PBS series doesn’t hold a candle to her.

2009 The Young Victoria

She balances the Duchess of York’s controlling and needy nature so well.

Miranda Richardson in The Young Victoria (2009)
2009 The Young Victoria

The amazing costumes by Sandy Powell make everything perfection.

2009 The Young Victoria


Mrs. Wannop in Parade’s End (2012)

2012 Parade's End

Kendra “actively disliked watching” this TV miniseries, & like her, I keep finding good costume pix of it in searches.


Mother Cecilia in World Without End (2012)

2012 World Without End

Sequel to the medieval miniseries The Pillars of the Earth.


Lady Ashford in Belle (2013)

2013 Belle

She plays a scheming mother trying to get both her sons married into Belle’s family. Damn, but Miranda Richardson looks good in 18th century!


Miss Lorimer in Testament of Youth (2014)

2014 Testament of Youth

A small part in this World War I film.


Elizabeth Mapp in Mapp & Lucia (2014)

2014 Mapp & Lucia

This three-part 1930s TV series co-stars Anna Chancellor aka Caroline Bingley from the 1995 Pride and Prejudice.


Marquise d’Urfé in Casanova (2015)

Miranda Richardson in Casanova (2015)

I really wanted this Amazon pilot to get a full season!


Sybil Birling in An Inspector Calls (2015)

An Inspector Calls (2015)

Always up for a mystery.


Emily Brent in And Then There Were None (2015)

2015 And Then There Were None

Don’t think she’s just knitting, hah.


Clementine Churchill in Churchill (2017)

2017 Churchill

Churchill’s wife still looks rather glam.


Miranda Richardson’s next historical drama is The Happy Prince, written and produced by Rupert Everett. Richardson plays Lady Queensbury, mother of Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas, who was Oscar Wilde’s lover.


What’s your favorite historical costume film or TV series with Miranda Richardson?

18 Responses

  1. TheDragon

    Talented and ellegant but sometimes underrated actress! She made 2 totally different characters in Hallmark’s “Merlin”: the serene and good Lady of the Lake and chaotic & evil fairy Queen Mab, and I didn’t realized till I was older, after having watched the miniseries so many times! Some of Mab’s dresses are really good, by the way, they have teh feeling of a Fairy Queen who lives in 5th century Britain. I remember her as Snow White’s stepmom opposite Kristin Kreuk, there Miranda’s gown had some Late Middle Ages/Renaissance feeling to it, it would have been wonderful if you had included those dresses in this post, but after all, “Merlin” and “Snow White” aren’t period dramas ;)

  2. Susan Pola Staples

    It’s hard for me to choose a favourite from Ms Richardson’s oeuvre, but for comic relief it’s Queen Elizabeth I in Blackadder II. And her Victoire Duchess of Kent in the Young Victoria is a tour de force. Much better than the whiny one on ITV/PBS Victoria. Her costumes Rock. And I can believe Albert bringing her & Victoria together.
    The role I’m probably looking forward to the most is her Lady Douglas in the Happy Prince.
    Didn’t know about several of the others are I’ll look for them on HULU & NETFLIX.

  3. MoHub

    Not a historical costume appearance, but she was hilarious as Bettina on AbFab.

  4. Alys Mackyntoich

    She is the perfect Duchess of Kent! And it’s disappointing that she hasn’t yet had the chance to play Elizabeth I straight.

    Now I’m going to have to go search out some of these other movies just to see her work.

  5. LadySlippers

    I didn’t like Parade’s End but the costumes were amazing.

  6. silveryrow

    Thanks for reminding me of “St. Ives” (or as it’s called in the UK, “All for Love”)! IMDB lists it as drama and romance, but they’ve missed out the comedy, which is really what makes it as I recall. Witty in the vein of “The Importance of Being Earnest”, only sillier. Apparently it’s an adaptation of a short story by Robert Louis Stevenson, but perhaps more importantly, it also stars Richard E. Grant and Jason Isaacs. Definitely worth a watch.

  7. toranut97

    “Enchanted April” is one of my all-time favorite movies. Warms my heart every time. Such a gentle, lovely film. Richardson is the perfect Raphaelite beauty. Thanks for the reminder and this article.

  8. Julie Hunter

    She’s so beautiful – and she really suits that vintage porcelain skin/red lip look. I loved her in all the Blackadders and The Young Victoria, but could never understand why Madame Giry was the only person in Phantom with a French accent, when they were all French!

  9. Emily

    1) I love love LOVE her in the Hours.
    2) I am going to forgive you for your Phantom sacrilege. :-P The the photo is her in her ballet mistress garb–being all perfectly postured and such. The second, and I don’t think that particular shot is in the film (which I may or may not be rewatching at this moment!), but it’s referencing the scene where she tells Raoul all about the Phantom’s past and how she knows him and basically saved his life by hiding him under the opera house. It’s after the masquerade ball and she’s in her own apartment, so she’s sort of off the clock/letting her hair down, in a sense.

  10. Anne

    Is the photo at the top of the page from Spider? She was terrifying in that movie!

  11. Destinee

    Wow, does she never age!? She was in movies before I was born and hardly looks a day older. I think my favorite appearance though was when she played the Queen of Heart’s in a TV movie version of Alice in Wonderland – I can’t remember who made the movie, but I remember Whoopi Goldberg played the Cheshire Cat…