WCW: Sally Hawkins


Who likes Sally Hawkins? Pretty much everyone if they’re at all into historical feminist films! She’s been one of the “it” girls of the historical film genre for going on 20 years, unafraid of pretty much anything when it comes to challenging roles and movies that push boundaries.


Tipping the Velvet (2002)

We really need to do an updated full review on this groundbreaking lesbian historical frock flick based on the novel by Sarah Waters.


Byron (2003)

Sally Hawkins plays Mary Shelley, and only gets one weird, dowdy dress in a film loaded with fabulous costumes.


The Young Visiters (2003)

I love Jim Broadbent, so this one is going on the watch list immediately!


Vera Drake (2004)

A film about a woman who performs abortions in 1950s London (played by Imelda Staunton). Sally Hawkins plays the daughter of one of Vera’s employers. Trigger warning, this film deals with rape and violence against women.


Fingersmith (2005)

Another Sarah Waters novel film adaptation that we really should get around to doing a full review of. Sally Hawkins plays a different character in this from the one she played in Tipping the Velvet.


Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky (2005)

Based on a semi-autobiography tribology by Patrick Hamilton, the series details a love triangle in 1930s London between Bob, Ella, and Jenny. Sally Hawkins plays Ella, the barmaid nursing an unrequited crush on Bob, whilst he fritters away his money on Jenny, a prostitute, whom he believes he has fallen in love with.


HG Wells’ War with the World (2006)

A miniseries based on HG Wells’ life. Sally Hawkins plays Rebecca West.


The Painted Veil (2006)

This film looks gorgeous, but I’m still worried it’s going to depress me. Sally Hawkins’s scenes were apparently deleted from the film, but I did find this image which shows her.


Persuasion (2007)

My favorite Jane Austen novel, and I still haven’t managed to watch this adaptation yet. Sally Hawkins plays Anne Elliot, the heroine on the cusp of spinsterhood, when an old suitor returns to her life.


An Education (2009)

A coming-of-age story set in London in the early 1960s. Sally Hawkins plays Sarah Goldman, the wife of an older man in a creepy affair with a teenager. Thinking I’ll be taking a hard pass on this one.


Made in Dagenham (2010)

Sally Hawkins plays Rita O’Grady in a film based on the the Ford sewing machinists strike of 1968 demanding equal pay for women.


Jane Eyre (2011)

Sally Hawkins plays Mrs. Reed, Jane’s abusive aunt, in this adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s novel.


Great Expectations (2012)

Sally Hawkins plays Mrs. Joe, Pip’s awful older sister in the adaptation of the Charles Dickens’ classic.


The Hollow Crown (2012-2016)

The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses (2016)

Sally Hawkins plays Eleanor, Duchess of Gloucester, in this acclaimed miniseries based on Shakespeare’s Henriad plays. The costuming was kind of special, but points for making it weird.


Maudie (2016)

A biographical film about Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis, set in Nova Scotia in the 1930s. Sally Hawkins plays Maud.


The Shape of Water (2017)

Monster and girl meet, fall in love. I hate to admit it, but I really wasn’t as in love with this film as the rest of the world seemed to be, but it was visually striking for sure.



What’s your favorite of Sally Hawkins’ historical costume roles?

16 Responses

  1. susan l eiffert

    Oh do see An Education! It’s a good movie and I think you’ll be able to cope with any creepiness. And such a good cast! loved Fingersmith and Tipping, too.

    • SarahV

      Must concur.

      Also has a very chic, of the moment go-go-tastic Rosamund Pike.

  2. Rhonda Stannard

    Nope. If she’s in it, I won’t watch it. Too creeped out by most of her performances, which may mean she’s a good actress! Her Anne Elliot performance was unforgivable and her Shape of Water role left me with “What the hell was that?”

  3. mjsamuelson

    I like her version of Persuasion, though she plays Anne very differently than Amanda Root did (honestly, it’s the rest of the cast that sells the story for me, but Sally Hawkins’ way of showing just how much Anne had curled into herself over the years is solid). So many good movies on this list! I need to see The Hollow Crown, but damn that headdress is distracting.

  4. SarahV

    I must say, that photo of her in the 2011 Jane Eyre is just so much fabulousness! Which is not something one can generally say of that Victorian style with those weird lacquered hair-strip thingies. What are those even called?

    (in the shot from the Painted Veil – is that a brunette Naomi Watts?)

  5. GinaP

    Loved, loved, loved the movie, The Painted Veil. Edward Norton is so very hot, and the chemistry between he and Naomi is through the roof. The story is sad, yet, has a satisfying and triumphant ending. The costumes are gorgeous. You have to watch it Sarah. Sadly, I don’t remember Sally at all.

  6. Natasha Rubin

    I haven’t seen Byron yet (though it looks pretty good), but she seems like a great choice for Mary Shelley! I can totally see her capturing the intelligence and the quiet intensity, and she’s got a good look for it, too.

  7. Orian Hutton

    Least favourite was ‘Persuasion’. It earned much mockery from fans of the book, not least for the run through Bath in search of Captain Wentworth. I kept wanting to shout at Sally Hawkins to close her mouth as it seemed to be hanging open through much of the film. Above all though was that Sally Hawkins’ portrayal of Anne Elliot couldn’t hold a candle to Amanda Roots’ lovely one.

  8. Lily Lotus Rose

    There’s lots of good stuff to choose from here. My favorite movie overall here is Jane Eyre. I LOVED LOVED LOVED it!! As for Sally Hawkins, she’s barely in that movie. As for her prominent roles, she was excellent in The Shape of Water and Fingersmith. Persuasion is my fave JA novel, too, and I haven’t seen her version of it. There are lots of projects here that I want to see because she is SO talented. A great WCW choice! Also, I don’t think that’s her pictured in profile in HG Wells’s War of the Worlds.

  9. kathleenjowitt

    Yes please to that Tipping The Velvet full review! I haven’t actually seen Fingersmith, but my copy of the book (which I will hang onto forever, for sentimental reasons) has a still from the series on the front, so I’m almost inclined to say that one.

  10. Jennifer L. Schillig

    Shame you didn’t give us her brief hippie-biker-chick flashback moment from Paddington…