WCW: Romola Garai


Romola Garai is an actress who is super talented. She’s done a number of period movies, although fewer these days — I hope she gets back to it! In the meantime, let’s appreciate her beauty and talent:


The Last of the Blonde Bombshells (2000)

I haven’t seen this, but the 1940s costumes (and hair!) are cute!

The Last of the Blonde Bombshells (2000) The Last of the Blonde Bombshells (2000)


Daniel Deronda (2002)

One of the great bustle-era BBC miniseries. Okay, so there’s some Zionism and abusive husbands to get through, but the DRESSES. ARE. AMAZING!! Romola’s character is kind of an anti-hero, although at the same time they do a good job helping you to understand (and empathize) with her motivations.

Daniel Deronda (2002)

This archery outfit is PIVOTAL. In its fabulosity!

Daniel Deronda (2002)

Sadly there aren’t a ton of great shots of other gowns available online, but definitely watch the series if you haven’t, because your jaw will drop.


Nicholas Nickleby (2002)

I saw this version once, thought it was weird, and can’t remember Romola as Kate Nickleby.

Nicholas Nickleby (2002)

She looks pretty!


I Capture the Castle (2003)

I have raved about my love for this movie multiple times. If you haven’t seen it, GO WATCH IT. Even more importantly, IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE BOOK, DROP EVERYTHING YOU ARE DOING AND READ IT N.O.W.!!!!!

I Capture the Castle

Nope it’s not terribly shiny, although there are a few nice 1930s outfits.

2003 I Capture the Castle

It’s the story and the characters that get me!


Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004)

I admit to watching this, partially out of nostalgia for the original, and partially because I love Romola! And, shockingly, it wasn’t that cheesy! This one is set in 1950s Cuba, and it’s not a total waste of your time.

Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004) Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004)


Vanity Fair (2004)

A fabulous adaptation of the classic novel, with Romola playing the nice girl foil (Amelia) to anti-heroine Becky Sharp. She does a good job with a milquetoast character, although she isn’t helped by the brown hair.

2004 Vanity Fair

Anyone who could be hot for Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, you’ve just got to question their judgement…

2004 Vanity Fair

And the costumes have lots of lovely Indian touches.


The Incredible Journey of Mary Bryant (2005)

I recently did a thorough review of this one. It’s a fascinating, gripping story set in the late 18th century. Romola plays a real-life convict sent to Australia who has guts of steel!

The Incredible Journey of Mary Bryant (2005)

Okay, so it’s mostly gritty!


As You Like It (2006)

I admit to having skipped this Kenneth Branagh-directed Shakespeare adaptation set in the late 19th-century in Japan. It just doesn’t grab me!


Although I do like a good bustle dress!


Amazing Grace (2006)

Romola plays Barbara Spooner, wife of anti-slave-trade politician William Wilberforce. Her role is mostly that of supportive wife, but she looks greeeeaaaaat in red hair and fabulous hats!

2006 Amazing Grace

I mean, that is 100% gorgeous!


Angel (2007)



This looks so promising, doesn’t it?

2007 Angel

Watch it if you want to see a Harlequin romance come to screen.


Atonement (2007)

A sad, sad movie about People With Issues in 1930s-40s England. Romola plays the grown-up version of Keira Knightley‘s younger sister, who has a lot of baggage for one bad decision.

Atonement (2007)


Glorious 39 (2009)

I want more people to watch this fascinating and unexpected story set just as World War II breaks out in England, so let me just say it has Eddie Redmayne and David Tennant, and if you like psychological thrillers, you’ll LOVE this.

2009 Glorious 39

Plus cute late-1930s wear!


Emma (2009)

I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy this adaptation, as it’s my least favorite (SORRY!!) Austen novel and one that’s been done so many times. But they manage to do a good take on it, Romola is great in the lead role, and they let the story take a bit more time which is always enjoyable.

Emma (2009)

It’s Regency, what can I say?

Emma (2009)

Romola does a good job making Emma’s character understandable.


The Crimson Petal and the White (2011)

Hated the book, LOVED the miniseries. Romola plays a late 19th-century London prostitute who ends up entangled with a middle-class married man.


Redhead FTW!


Creepy-cool costumes.

2011 The Crimson Petal and the White



The Hour (2011-12)

I keep meaning to get back to finishing this series — I saw about 5 episodes and loved it. Romola plays a TV news show producer in 1950s England, while shadowy conspiracies are at play. Bonus hottie Dominic West!

The Hour (2011-12)

LOVE that she is so clearly wearing a girdle!

The Hour (2011-12)

If you liked early Mad Men fashion, you’ll love this.


The Great War: The People’s Story (2014)

I haven’t seen it, so all I can tell you is Romola plays suffrage activist Kate Parry Frye.

The Great War: The People's Story (2014)


Suffragette (2015)

Romola has a small part as an upper middle-class suffragist.

2015 Suffragette


Churchill’s Secret (2016)

Haven’t seen it, sorry! Romola plays Winston Churchill’s nurse after he has a stroke in 1953.

Churchill's Secret (2016)



What’s your favorite Romola Garai film?

21 Responses

  1. Susan Pola

    Daniel Deronda, Vanity Fair, I Captured the Castle are my favs. But I loved them all. Churchill’s Secret was interesting.

  2. stopphannah

    I love her so much! Daniel Deronda is amazing, and I Capture the Castle is one of my favorite stories of all time!

  3. Kathryn MacLennan

    She is highly underrated as an actress. Love all her work. And definitely, watch The Hour if you have not!

  4. Emily Wells

    I saw Romola in King Lear a few years back and I have never been able to get over the dress she wore. It was absolutely gorgeous. She is also one of my favorite actresses so it was fun to see her in person.

  5. Karen K.

    She’s great in everything. I Capture the Castle (movie AND book) is one of my favorites, and I loved that version of Emma — though Jonny Lee Miller is too close to her in age to be Mr. Knightley! He’s supposed to be 17 years older than her and but they’re really only 10 years apart. The costumes in that version are fabulous, though.

  6. KayHay

    I’ve loved her since Daniel Deronda and I Capture the Castle (weird factoid: written by Dodie Smith who also wrote 101 Dalmatians!!). I was amazed that Romola was so good, so young. And so beautiful. Queenly even, a natural for fabulous costumes.

  7. aino

    I Capture the Castle is so good I love it! Branagh’s Much Ado About Nothing is perfect, but As you like it is super boring, not worth a watch tbh. Cast was good and even the japanese setting would’ve worked but the movie itself was as funny as the Bible.
    Dirty Dancing 2 is my dirty secret, I absolutely adore it. Romola Garai is good as ever and Diego Luna is soo cute. I almost prefer it to the original one

  8. Emily

    I haven’t thought of the last of the blonde bombshells in so long but I remember really liking it! I should try to find it. Amazing Grace is a favorite, I think she is so good in it and I am excited to try Glorious 39!

  9. SarahV

    I love, love Glorious 39!!! It also has Charlie Cox, looking astonishingly hot. For a while.

  10. janette

    Romola has been in a lot of things which I enjoy but for me her stand out roles are The Hour and Emma. Like Kendra Emma is my least favourite Austen novel and of course the one that was always on the English lit syllabus so I studied it more than once which did not help. I disliked the character, Emma until I watched the version mentioned. Romola made her sympathetic, even after she was so nasty to poor Fran/Miss Bates.
    She always looked fabulous in The Hour, but every costume she wore looked “unworn” as though she had purchased it the day before. Still small quibble. I loved the costumes in Daniel Deronda, my favourite period of fashion. (probably thanks to growing up watching The Pallisers) I thought Glorious 39 started out well but went in some odd and unconvincing directions. Still maybe time for a re watch if I can find it again.
    Will also look out for “I Capture the Castle” as it is so well recommended.

  11. Andrea

    Daniel Deronda is eye porn, I Capture the Castle is knitting porn, and Amazing Grace is Ioan Griffud porn.

    Now excuse me, I’m off to look for Glorious 39.

  12. Slushy jello

    So I love this site but wtf was that Zionism comment about?

  13. Erica

    I loved her in Daniel Deronda and Emma! The dresses in both are so breathtaking. Daniel Deronda is one of the reasons why I fell in love with the bustle era.

  14. Charity

    I’ve seen almost all of them. Guess I’m a not-so-closeted Garai fan. ;) Or just a costume-drama-aholic. That works too.

  15. melponeme_k

    I’ve been so disappointed with most actors/actresses these days. So when someone comes along who is genuinely talented, I fan them like crazy. I like Garai, she is so personable and warm even in her baddie roles. I love that her emotions are so close to the surface.

  16. Karen

    I, too, love Romola! She is often the most interesting performer on screen, and it’s always a pleasure to see her turn up in a big budget pic. She has such a wonderful period face (nothing whatsoever to do with menses), in that she looks absolutely right in the 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st centuries; Kate Winslet is another one with this ability. Very few “it” girls these days would be considered beauties in centuries past.

  17. Lily Lotus Rose

    Like Kendra and many of the commenters here, I have long been a fan of Romola Garai, and I feel that she is very underrated and underused as an actress. I saw “I Capture the Castle” not long after it came out. I LOVED the movie, then fell in love with the book, too. I became a Romola fan from then on which was pretty early in her career. Thank you for this list because I have not seen many of the movies here, and with the exception of “Emma,” I can’t wait to see them. (I love the Gwyneth Paltrow version of “Emma”!)

    Here’s a factoid I learned recently about “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights” (which I haven’t yet seen). One of the credited writers was Peter Sagal (host of NPR’s “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me”). His story was set in Cuba and did not have anything to do with “Dirty Dancing.” If I remember correctly, somebody bought the “idea” and then adapted into in a “Dirty Dancing” franchise movie.

    • Lily Lotus Rose

      I agree completely with Karen that Romola has the look that fits right in with bygone eras. Last month I attended a Jane Austen Literary Festival. Naturally, some people were in Regency era costumes. There were a few standouts who just had a “look” about them–regardless of the clothes–that marked them out as bygone beauties.