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)
Queen Elizabeth I in Black-Adder II (1986)
Amy Hardwood, the elusive Shadow, in Black Adder the Third (1987)
Mrs. Victor in Empire of the Sun (1987)
Nurse Mary in Blackadder Goes Forth (1989)
Rose Arbuthnot in Enchanted April (1991)
Clara in Century (1993)
Vivienne Haigh-Wood in Tom & Viv (1994)
Julie in The Night and the Moment (1994)
Carolyn Stilton in Kansas City (1996)
Pamela Flitton in A Dance to the Music of Time (1997)
Susan Gilchrist in St. Ives (1998)
Lady Van Tassel in Sleepy Hollow (1999)
Vanessa Bell in The Hours (2002)
Queen Mary in The Lost Prince (2003)
Eva Braun in Churchill: The Hollywood Years (2004)
Madame Giry in The Phantom of the Opera (2004)
Duchess of Kent in The Young Victoria (2009)
Mrs. Wannop in Parade’s End (2012)
Mother Cecilia in World Without End (2012)
Lady Ashford in Belle (2013)
Miss Lorimer in Testament of Youth (2014)
Elizabeth Mapp in Mapp & Lucia (2014)
Marquise d’Urfé in Casanova (2015)
Sybil Birling in An Inspector Calls (2015)
Emily Brent in And Then There Were None (2015)
Clementine Churchill in Churchill (2017)
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?
OMG I didn’t realize she was in all that!
That’s what’s so amazing about her!
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 ;)
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.
Not a historical costume appearance, but she was hilarious as Bettina on AbFab.
Yes! She goes from comedy to drama so well.
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.
I didn’t like Parade’s End but the costumes were amazing.
Not crazy about the movie, but that second picture is definitely not from the POTO film. Maybe a weird publicity photo?
Both are publicity stills from the same place.
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.
St. Ives is one of my favorite movies of all time.
“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.
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!
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.
Is the photo at the top of the page from Spider? She was terrifying in that movie!
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…