Emma Woodhouse Mr. Woodhouse Mr. Knightley Harriet Smith Mr. Elton Augusta Elton Mr. Weston Miss Taylor Frank Churchill Jane Fairfax Miss Bates

Meet the characters and cast of Emma

Be introduced to Emma's colorful acquaintances. Click on any of the major characters in Emma to learn how they fit into the story, and also about the careers of the actors who portray them.

Emma Woodhouse

Blessed with an energetic disposition, Emma Woodhouse is at 21 years old privileged, beautiful and witty. Having lost her mother at a young age, Emma dotes on her loving but fearful father. Emma's friend and neighbor in Highbury is Mr. Knightley.

Played by:
Romola Garai

According to published reports, Romola Garai admits she's a "corset geek," having appeared in a number of period dramas, including Nicholas Nickleby, Vanity Fair Masterpiece's Daniel Deronda. Garai may also be familiar to PBS viewers for her role as Cordelia in the Great Performances production of King Lear starring Ian McKellen.

Born in 1982, Garai stumbled into acting. Of Hungarian descent, she lived in Singapore and Hong Kong when she was young. When her family moved to England, Garai appeared in high school plays and joined England's National Youth Theatre. While at London University, she was spotted by a casting agent who tapped her for a small role in The Last of the Blonde Bombshells, opposite Olympia Dukakis and Judi Dench. Garai's breakthrough role came in 2003 in the film I Capture the Castle. Other film credits include Atonement, Amazing Grace and most recently Glorious 39 alongside David Tennant.

Mr. Woodhouse

Emma's nervous but devoted father, Mr. Woodhouse loves his two daughters deeply. However, he worries constantly, mostly about his health and the health of those around him. He hardly ever leaves the Hartfield estate, and after Emma's sister is married, he is terrified Emma will leave him.

Played by:
Michael Gambon

Michael Gambon has had a prolific career since the late 1960s. Born in Dublin, Gambon moved to London as a child and worked to become an apprentice toolmaker (he still holds a fascination with antique guns). His acting big break came in 1963 when he joined Laurence Olivier's fledgling National Theatre. Well known for a host of performances on stage, including King Lear, Galileo, A View from the Bridge and The Caretaker, Gambon is recently most recognized for role as Albus Dumbledore in several of the Harry Potter films. Masterpiece fans will recognize him from Cranford, Wives and Daughters and The Lost Prince. Other notable film credits include Brideshead Revisited, The Good Shepherd, Amazing Grace, Being Julia, Gosford Park and The Insider. Gambon was named a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in 1992, and knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1998.

Mr. Knightley

Emma's neighbor and friend since childhood, Mr. Knightley cares deeply for Emma despite their constant, humorous verbal sparring. His brother, John Knightley, the subject of one of Emma's successful matches, is married to Emma's sister Isabella. Yet, as Emma's matchmaking efforts persist, Mr. Knightley becomes increasingly critical.

Played by:
Jonny Lee Miller

For Jonny Lee Miller, acting is a family affair. His grandfather, Bernard Lee, played M in the first 12 James Bond films, and his father, Alan Miller, was an actor and producer. According to published reports, Miller was seven years old when he knew he wanted to be a film actor. In school, with drama teacher Frank Whately (brother of Inspector Lewis star Kevin Whately), Miller's interest in acting deepened. Miller left school at the age of 17. His first film success came in Hackers, soon followed by Trainspotting. On television, Miller may be known to American audiences for his series Eli Stone. In 2009, Miller made his Broadway debut alongside Sienna Miller in About Miss Julie. Miller recently appeared in Masterpiece contemporary's Endgame in 2009.

Harriet Smith

A pretty and sweet young woman, Harriet Smith is befriended by Emma, and ultimately becomes entangled in Emma's matchmaking schemes. Given that she's an illegitimate child, Harriet has little prospect of marrying a gentleman.

Played by:
Louise Dylan

Louise Dylan has appeared in British television series such as Merlin and Survivors, and on Masterpiece in Inspector Lewis: Allegory of Love.

Mr. Elton

The vicar of Highbury, Mr. Elton is handsome, eligible and haughty. He is concerned with his own social status, and that of those around him.

Played by:
Blake Ritson

Blake Ritson is known for his portrayal of Edmund Bertram in Masterpiece's Mansfield Park, another Jane Austen work. His other Masterpiece performances include God On Trial, Breaking the Code and Shooting the Past. He can be seen in the films such as Titus, Me Without You and RocknRolla. Ritson has a passion for making short films, having edited one with actor William Beck and directed several with his older brother Dylan Ritson. Aside from his stage and screen work, he has a flair for folk music and can be heard playing banjolele on fellow actor Douglas Hodge's album Cowley Road Songs.

Augusta Elton

Mr. Elton's rich but annoying wife, August Elton is disliked by Emma and others in Highbury.

Played by:
Christina Cole

Straight out of the United Kingdom's Oxford School of Drama, Christina Cole landed a role in What A Girl Wants with Colin Firth, and she's been working ever since. Acting is not something that runs in the Cole family. She describes her parents as very straight-laced — her mother is a manager and her father is a driving instructor.

Cole has appeared in Masterpiece productions of Foyle's War, He Knew He Was Right, Miss Marple and Jane Eyre. On film, she has been seen in Casino Royale and Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day among others.

Mr. Weston

The father of Frank Churchill by his first marriage, Mr. Weston later marries Emma's former governess, Miss Taylor.

Played by:
Robert Bathurst

Robert Bathurst was born in West Africa in 1958, soon moved to Ireland, and ended up in England at age nine. He remembers wanting to act from the age of 13, but went on to study law at Cambridge University, where he spent most of his time on stage and became president of the Cambridge Footlights, the noted comedy group. He did qualify as a lawyer, but never set up a practice. After struggling as an actor, he became a household name in the English TV comedy series Cold Feet. Bathurst has been seen on Masterpiece in White Teeth.

Miss Taylor

Emma's governess since a young age, Miss Taylor is a close friend to Emma, and in many ways like a nurturing family member. When Miss Taylor marries Mr. Weston (at the behest of Emma), she is concerned about leaving Emma on her own.

Played by:
Jodhi May

Acting since she was 12 years old, Jodhi May was widely recognized for her work in the film A World Apart with Barbara Hershey. It was her very first role, and one for which she won a Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1988. May could have parlayed this success into more projects, but instead chose to return home and continue with school, acting in films only during the holidays. (May studied English at Oxford.)

A theater lover, May has performed extensively on stage. On television, she has appeared in Masterpiece productions of Aristocrats, The Turn of the Screw, Daniel Deronda (alongside Romola Garai), and The Amazing Mrs. Pritchard. May's film credits include The Last of the Mohicans opposite Daniel Day Lewis and Madeleine Stowe, The House of Mirth with Masterpiece classic host Laura Linney and Defiance with Daniel Craig.

Frank Churchill

The son of Mr. Weston, Frank Churchill was raised by his aunt and uncle after his mother's death. An affable young man, Frank arrives back in Highbury and appears to take an interest in the exuberant Emma.

Played by:
Rupert Evans

Rupert Evans grew up on a farm and later attended London's Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art. Like his costar Romola Garai, Rupert Evans seemingly has a penchant for period dramas, having appeared in multiple British TV productions including North & South, Sons & Lovers and Fingersmith. His theater credits include Breathing Corpses, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Venetian Heat, Romeo and Juliet and Life is a Dream, among others.

Jane Fairfax

Jane Fairfax left Highbury as a child to live with the Campbells, Through letters to her aunt, Miss Bates, Jane's shining talents have been trumpeted over the years to Emma and anyone else who will listen.

Played by:
Laura Pyper

Irish actress Laura Pyper made her debut in 2002 with a bit part in the film Reign of Fire. She has had numerous roles on British television since, and is well known for her role in the supernatural series Hex alongside Christina Cole.

Miss Bates

Miss Bates has never married, and as a result is subject to increasing financial difficulties. Despite this, she is cheerful and extremely talkative, especially when it comes to her niece Jane Fairfax.

Played by:
Tamsin Greig

The self-described "temperamental and noisy middle child of an expressive mother and a much older father," Greig took part in numerous school plays, and ultimately continued her education in acting. First recognized for her voice as part of the long-running British radio drama The Archers, Greig's career moved towards comedy with roles in the English TV series Black Books and Green Wing.

Greig's stage credits include the Royal Shakespeare Company's Much Ado About Nothing, for which she won a Laurence Olivier Award in the best actress category. In 2008, Greig appeared in the play God of Carnage with Ralph Fiennes and made her National Theatre debut in Gethsemane. Greig will be seen in the 2010 Masterpiece production The Diary of Anne Frank as Anne Frank's mother.

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