WCW: Zoë Tapper


Zoë Tapper is an actress that I’ve started to notice more and more in period films and shows. Most recently, she’s played Miss Ellen Love on the fabulous and highly addictive series Mr. Selfridge, but looking back over the last 13 years, it appears she’s had quite a number of other roles worth mentioning. It is interesting to note that her roles tend to fall into one of two categories; she’s either a libertine whore or a highly repressed socialite. Make of that what you will, all I know is that I enjoy watching Ms. Tapper do her thing in all the pretty costume flicks.


Stage Beauty (2004) – Nell Gwyn

Not the earliest debut of Zoë Tapper in a period film, but the earliest I could find actual pictures of online. I love this movie, pure and simple.


Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky (2005) – Jenny Maple

Jenny is a prostitute in 1930s London. The Los Angeles Times called the series “a dreamy but gritty period drama, superbly acted,” if that tells you anything.


These Foolish Things (2005) – Diana Shaw

On the brink of World War II, actress Diana Shaw pursues her career, surrounded by other members of her profession.


A Harlot’s Progress (2006) – Mary Collins

Based on the series of 18th-century artist William Hogarth’s paintings, the film follows Mary Collins through her career as a London prostitute.


Affinity (2008) – Selina Dawes

Another quiet film adaptation of a Sarah Waters novel. Selina is an imprisoned mystic who charms upper-class lady Margaret into falling in love with her.


Desperate Romantics (2009) – Effie Gray

I loved Zoë Tapper’s portrayal of Effie Gray in Desperate Romantics, mainly because she nailed the so-high-strung-she’s-practically-vibrating characterization of the highly oppressed Effie Gray during her marriage to John Ruskin. And some of the show’s best dialogue happens once Effie makes her break for it and throws herself into the inexperienced arms of John Everett Millias.

Cheerful Weather for the Wedding (2012) – Evelyn

Haven’t watched this one, but it’s now on my list. Taking place in the 1930s, it’s based on the book of the same name and follows the ups and downs of a young woman on her wedding day.


Mr. Selfridge (2013-2016) – Ellen Love

Mr. Selfridge spans quite a few years, so I’m showing two versions of Ellen Love. Either way, Zoë Tapper is stunning.


The Musketeers (2014-2016) – Alice Clerbeaux, Milady

This show has a lot wrong with it. I mean, a lot. But the one thing it’s got going for it is Zoë Tapper as Milady.


Honorable Mention: The Royal Shakespeare Company’s Othello (2007) – Desdemona



Zoë also kept a blog about the production, if you’d like to nerd out more.


Do you love Zoë Tapper? Tell us 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.

11 Responses

  1. Charity

    So that’s who she is!

    (I just watched her single episode of The Musketeers recently, and kept thinking, “Who is that? Where have I SEEN her before?” Now I know!)

    Lovely, she suits period dramas, looks-wise. :)

  2. Adina

    She also turned up in an episode of Foyle’s War, which takes place during WW2

  3. Frannie Germeshausen

    I wish I could have tolerated Mr. Selfridge, but Jeremy Whatshisface was so fake I couldn’t bear it. The costumes were excellent.

  4. Ayla

    I’ve been a fan of hers since he saw Stage Beauty as a kid, I just loved her spunk and of course the male costume! :D

    By the way, I don’t know if you take “requests”, but I would absolutely love if you did a review of A United Kingdom! Just saw it at the movies, the costumes were (in my unprofessional opinion) really pretty and the story is really moving.

  5. Mr Elton

    I always enjoy talented and gorgeous Ms Tapper in a period drama! (I don’t think I’ve ever seen her in something contemporary…)

  6. ladylavinia1932

    I love “THE MUSKETEERS”. But I don’t recall Zoe Tapper in any of the episodes.

    I do recall her from the Miss Marple television film, “TOWARDS ZERO”.

    I wish I could have tolerated Mr. Selfridge, but Jeremy Whatshisface was so fake I couldn’t bear it. The costumes were excellent.

    Was Jeremy Piven’s American accent fake?

  7. Alexandra

    Maimie McCoy played Milady in the BBC series of the Musketeers. Zoe was in 1 episode as Alice Clerbeaux.


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