3 Actors Who Do Way Too Many Period Pieces

Thursday, June 10, 2010 2:49 PM By Simon

Now, I'm not saying that these guys do exclusively period pieces--they may have quite a few modern-day flicks on their resume--but we know them best as the men in tights, the women in corsets, the guys who have to wear the wool underwear. We appreciate the sacrifice, but...

(this, of course, does not count the countless older, Shakespearian actors, stage actors, or anyone else I can't immediately think of)

Keira Knightley

Oh, sure, she's got Bend It Like Beckham under her belt, but that was back in the day. The Hole, The Jacket--but who gives a shit? That's one of those movies you show up at the theatre to find, like, LOTR sold out, so you see that unstead. What we know her from, and what has been her chief type as of late, are the spunky women out of place in their stuffy British time period. Trying to repeat the success of Pride and Prejudice? Perhaps. But I'd put my money on a condition that would literally cause her legs to fall off if she ever wore pants.

Ben Whishaw

I'll say it: This guy is so pretty he might as well be a girl. And, it would appear, he digs the romanticism of late 1800s-early 1900s than our humble 21st century. While he was a semi-regular on the achingly modern Nathan Bartley, had the bittiest of bit parts, albeit very important, in Layer Cake, and starred in the crime drama miniseries Criminal Justice, he still remains best known as the obsessed title killer in Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, from 18th century France (I have made this argument, and I will not do it again), as John Keats in Fanny Brawne-centric Bright Star, and as a bizarrely-ever-present Arthur Rimbaud in I'm Not There. He was also, apparently, in The International. So says Wikipedia, so it shall be.

Cate Blanchett

A staple in what you might call prestige pics--she surely has the Oscars to show for it--The Lady Blanchett sure does seem to love the air of royalty. While subverting the hoop-shirt dress code as Katharine Hepburn (*faints from awesome*) in The Aviator, she has followed through in both Elizabeth movies (the first period drama, I think, to get a sequel), as an elf or something in Lord of the Rings, an intense Soviet sarge in that movie we don't speak of, and a ballerine-through-the-ages in Benjamin Button. As I said, these are what she's most known for, not necassarily her primary.

And, while we're here, I'll just say my theory on why Americans don't get typecast nearly as much as the British do in this category: American history does not go back very long. Since the 1700s, and for two thousand years in between, we still had British accents. Therefore, unless you want to go the maybe-dreaded Marie Anoinette route, you, my fellow countrymen, will forever be marginalized to the frontlines of human history, sports biopics, Holocaust-soldier movies, and the occasional dead president flick. Enjoy.


SugaryCynic said...

every time I see Keira Knightley not in a period film, I get confused as to why she's not wearing a billowy ball gown

June 10, 2010 at 3:44 PM
Courtney Small said...

Knightley has really been on the period bandwagon of late. She is really trying hard to get that Oscar.

June 10, 2010 at 6:49 PM
Robert said...

I'm telling you, Cate needs to become George Washington!

No, but seriously, when I saw the title of this post I immediately thought Keira Knightley. She needs to break out of the period pieces. As for Ben Whishaw...he's just awesome.

June 10, 2010 at 9:03 PM
D Swizzle said...

Shuddup, I love Keira Knightly.

June 10, 2010 at 9:13 PM
Anonymous said...

Well I don't mind 'em as long as they do it well. And Blanchett never disappoints so as far as I'm concerned, she can do whatever she wants. Ben Wishaw's so melancholy in Bright Star he puts me to sleep, perhaps he should consider a bombastic action flick next time :)

June 10, 2010 at 9:17 PM
Sadako said...

So true with Keira Knightly.

Though the first thing I ever saw her in, Bend it like Beckham, wasn't a period piece and was awesome.

June 10, 2010 at 9:30 PM
Unknown said...

I think Keira realized she's terrible at contemporary stuff and is making the most out of her attributes.
Cate's g-d though.

June 11, 2010 at 12:34 AM
Red said...

I think Cate should get a pass here. Sure she does alot of period pieces, but she's easily the best there is today when it comes to delivering such roles. I mean, we can't rely on the Emily Blunts of the world to deliver such pieces, can we? (No offense to Blunt, I love her, but doesn't compare in any way to Galadri...i mean...Lady Blanchett).

June 11, 2010 at 9:43 AM
CMrok93 said...

I was in History class the other day, and somebody mentioned Queen Elizabeth, and I just thought of Cate Blanchett.

June 11, 2010 at 12:01 PM
Andrew K. said...

Totally get where you’re going with this Ripley but I think people need to stop slagging off Keira for her predilection for playing period (yes, alliteration!). I mean, any film before 1950 is considered a period piece and that’s hundred of years. It’s unfair to say she’s only doing periods since the films have large year gaps: Atonement is in the 1900s, POTC is some time in the 16th century, P&P is 1700s, The Duchess is mid 1800s etc.

And as a straight male I will say that Ben Whishaw is very good-looking man, but I have a theory he may be a hot women in drag...any takers?

PS. Cate Blanchett is the Queen of the World (in full Galadriel mode).

June 11, 2010 at 4:14 PM
Anonymous said...

Too true, especially with Ms. Knightley.

June 11, 2010 at 7:14 PM
Luke said...

Oh my gosh - I'm so on board with forcing Keira to try some new things. It's not that I don't like her or her most recent work (particularly Atonement and Pride and Prejudice), but damn, she really does need to stretch her abilities a little more. Just throwing a corset on does not a great actress make!

June 11, 2010 at 10:30 PM
elgringo said...

I'm fine with all of these actors making nothing but period pieces (but only because I haven't watched a period piece in about a decade).

June 12, 2010 at 8:45 AM
D Swizzle said...

and keira is filimg NEVER LET ME GO, which is FUTURISTIC. so there.

June 12, 2010 at 10:09 AM
M. Carter @ the Movies said...

I love Cate Blanchett, but I swear she plays Queen Elizabeth every 60 seconds and gets an Oscar nom for it. THINK OUTSIDE THE THRONE, Cate! More Bob Dylan impersonations and more "Notes on a Scandal" and "Veronica Guerin" parts are welcomed!

June 16, 2010 at 8:03 AM