Monday, January 25, 2010

There are Only 30 British Actors in the Whole World, Part V

Masterpiece Theatre has a new adaptation of Emma. The first installment was on last night, and major props to my mom for texting (!) me about it because I would have completely missed it otherwise.

As far as I'm concerned, the PBS and BBC folks can continue remaking classic (especially British) novels into TV miniseries until the Second Coming.

In honor of the lovely new adaptation of Emma, I'm reviving a blog series that methodically proves my highly scientific hypothesis, which I like to call "There Are Only 30 British Actors in the Whole World."

Like many people in a certain class of nerds, I love British period films. And once you've seen a few, you realize that watching them is like playing the Wal-Mart game (For those of you not from a smallish town, this is where you and your friends go to Wal-Mart and the winner is whoever sees the most people he or she knows while you're there.) Except you're spotting Michael Gambon and Dame Judi Dench instead of your friend's dad or that girl from your high school biology class.

Start thinking about it and you'll realize it's the truth. If you need more convicing, click to read Part I, Part II, Part III and Part IV of There Are Only 30 British Actors in the Whole World.

So now I'm tackling the new Emma. If British period films bore you, please stop reading right now. You'll thank me later.

Annnnd let's get started.

The title role of Emma is played by Romola Garai, who has an awesome name. She was Briony in Atonement, Amelia Sedley in Vanity Fair, Gwendolen in Daniel Deronda, Kate in Nicholas Nickleby and the first place I ever saw her was as Cassandra in I Capture the Castle. Whew. There's more; just check out her IMDB page.

Jonny Lee Miller makes a good Mr. Knightley (though at first I had my doubts). I mostly remember him as Edmund in Mansfield Park several years ago though I really feel like I've seen him in another Austen adaptation, I just can't find it. You'd recognize him most, though, from being in the TV show Eli Stone.

Michael Gambon as Mr. Woodhouse. Yeah. Like every British move ever. If we're going to go with British novel-based films, though, here's a sampling: he's played a beloved headmaster in this little movie franchise you may have heard of about a boy wizard, he was Lord Marchmain in Brideshead Revisited, he was Mr. Holbrook in Cranford (LOVE that series!) he was in Gosford Park, Wives and Daughters, and, well, that's just this past decade.

Blake Ritson is Mr. Elton and I almost didn't recognize him as Edmund from the more recent Mansfield Park adaptation because he's just so dang smarmy.

Rupert Evans is Frank Churchill. I almost didn't recognize him either, but he was Margaret's brother Frederick in North & South, and was in D. H. Lawrence's Sons & Lovers. Also he's the guy in love with Selma Blair in Hellboy, which I didn't remember; IMDB had to remind me. If JB had been in the room, he probably would have known, but he'd escaped to the den to watch Tivo'd episodes of The Colbert Report.

I could go on, but there's no need to belabor the point. Britain, I'm onto you and your 30 actors. This does not, however, make me love you any less.

And a question: what are your favorite British period films? I listed some of mine in Part I and I'd love to hear yours!


kate said...

HA Ha! I'm laughing because my husband and I (both HUGE fans of British period films) have a theory that there are only a handful of British actors and they will eventually pop up in a Harry Potter film. Your blog is so true! And I did enjoy Emma last night and played the game of "OK, now where did I see him/last?"

Sada said...

I have been frigging obsessed with the Timothy Dalton version of Jane Eyre ever since I saw it on PBS as a child. In fact, it spurred me to read Jane Eyre for the first time when I was like 10. Have you seen this one? It clocks in at over 5 hours, so it's a serious Jane Eyre-athon. And while I know that Timothy Dalton is too good looking to really be Rochester, he does the brooding-jerk-with-a-heart-of-gold thing to perfection. LOVE.

Leasie said...

This is so true! I love watching British period films, and seeing people I recognise (and then watching lots of Harry Potter). I'm pretty sure you're on to something with this theory.

I had no idea that there was a new Emma (squee)! I'm definitely going to have to catch the next installment.

I also really want to see Love Actually. It sounds awesome, and seems to have an awful lot of recognisable folk!

Cerrissa said...

Ooo!I've been meaning to tell you, I watched the HBO series ROME recently. Not a British network, not a British setting, but the entire cast is British! And many of them fall into the "only 30 British actors in the world" category, proving your theory once again!!
Mr. Collins from the BBC P&P is awesome in it as Cicero & Mr. Bingley from the new P&P is in it as well as others.

Guinevere said...

It's a fact; there are only so many English actors. Though another British actor is Richard E. Grant, who is in the amazing A&E Scarlet Pimpernel series. LOVE.

So, I somehow lost your blog for a while and just rediscovered it, and wanted to share it with my readers too! I left you the Superior Scribbler award on my blog, if you would like to pass it on to anyone too. :)

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