Meet the Cast of Howards End
Who’s joining Hayley Atwell and Matthew Macfadyen in Howards End, and where have you seen them before? Find out, and watch the adaptation of E.M. Forster’s classic, written by Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester By the Sea), with PBS Passport, an added member benefit. Don’t miss it—Only connect!
Hayley Atwell is Margaret Schlegel
Hayley Atwell plays the passionate, contradictory, and fierce yet nurturing elder Schlegel sister, and our heroine, Margaret.
Hayley Atwell is perhaps most widely known for her role as Peggy Carter in the Marvel cinematic universe’s films and TV spinoffs. But she’s been taking great roles and winning acclaim for her performances right out of the gates of drama school, even appearing in two MASTERPIECEs (Ruby in the Smoke and Mansfield Park) before making her big-screen debut in Woody Allen’s Cassandra’s Dream. Howards End marks her second MASTERPIECE role alongside Matthew Macfadyen; in 2011, they both starred in an adaptation of William Boyd’s novel Any Human Heart.
Other period dramas include Brideshead Revisited, The Pillars of the Earth (again alongside Matthew Macfadyen) and The Duchess, and while Marvel has kept Agent Carter quite busy, Atwell has still managed to keep a diversity of roles coming; in addition to playing Margaret Schlegel in Howards End, she was Evelyn Robin in the feature film Christopher Robin, she starred in the ABC TV series Conviction, and she’ll be joining the cast of the next two Mission Impossible films!
Atwell described pranking Howards End costar Matthew Macfadyen to The Guardian, saying, “We had this running joke that Margaret was wearing Mr Wilcox down and ultimately infantilises him. So I planted a dummy [pacifier] in his coat pocket, put a nappy [diaper] in his trousers, a potty in his trailer. I secretly arranged with the runners that any time Matthew asked for a cup of tea, they’d bring it to him in a sippy cup. To his credit, he fully embraced it.”
Matthew Macfadyen is Henry Wilcox
Matthew Macfadyen plays Howards End‘s wealthy, conservative, pragmatic (and athletic!) businessman and patriarch, Henry Wilcox.
Here are the most important things you need to know right away about Matthew Macfadyen: He was Mr. Darcy to Keira Knightley’s Elizabeth Bennet in Pride & Prejudice; he plays Tom Wamsgams in Succession; and his MASTERPIECE connections are many and wonderful! Not only did he and Howards End costar Hayley Atwell star together in Any Human Heart on MASTERPIECE in 2011, but he starred on MASTERPIECE alongside Claire Foy in 2009’s Little Dorrit, and as the caddish Sir Felix Carbury in The Way We Live Now. Plus, his wife is none other than Keeley Hawes, star of The Durrells in Corfu!
Some other of Macfadyen’s period dramas of note include Anna Karenina, Ripper Street, and The Pillars of the Earth (with Hayley Atwell). Commenting on working with Atwell again, on Howards End, he told Parade Magazine, “This is the third time, I think. As actors, often you make great friendships and then you disappear and don’t see each other for years. So especially for this production, it was lovely to have that relationship already, so we hit the ground running, really.”
Philippa Coulthard is Helen Schlegel
Philippa Coulthard plays the idealistic, impulsive, headstrong younger Schlegel sister, Helen.
Relative newcomer and Australian actress Philippa Coulthard played Jorjie in the short-lived Doctor Who spinoff, K9, and starred in the Australian teen drama, Lightning Point. She also appeared in the horror film Annabelle: Creation.
Julia Ormond is Mrs. Wilcox
Julia Ormond plays the gentle matriarch, heart, and anchor of the otherwise pragmatic and buttoned-up Wilcox family.
English actress Julia Ormond made her debut in 1985 in the award-winning British TV miniseries Traffik (the basis for Steven Soderbergh’s 2000 crime drama feature of the same name). A raft of leading roles in ’90s independent film blockbusters followed, including Legend of the Fall with Brad Pitt; Sabrina with Harrison Ford; Smilla’s Sense of Snow with Gabriel Byrne, and First Knight with Sean Connery and Richard Gere. Since the whirlwind of the 1990s, she’s had many notable roles, including the feature films The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and My Week with Marilyn, and Nurse Jackie and Temple Grandin on TV.
Ormond is also a human rights activist who’s fought human trafficking in various capacities, including as a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador.
Tracey Ullman is Aunt Juley
British actor Tracey Ullman plays the old-fashioned, busybody aunt to Margaret, Helen, and Tibby Schlegel, Aunt Juley.
Entertainment juggernaut Tracey Ullman has made her name as a comedian, dramatic actor, singer, dancer, screenwriter, author, producer, and director. Her list of shows, specials, and productions since her 1981 BBC debut are too numerous to list here; suffice to say that before America had even seen Tracey Ullman’s comedy, let alone come to know her as a comedic powerhouse, she’d released her debut album, whose 1983 single They Don’t Know hit number eight on the US charts (and featured a cameo from Paul McCartney in its video!), and she’d made her big-screen breakthough in a supporting role in the 1983 Meryl Streep drama, Plenty. In 1987, The Tracey Ullman Show premiered, introducing America not just to Ullman’s characters, parodies and skits, but to a series of cartoon shorts, The Simpsons (yes, those Simpsons!). Ever since, on stage and screen, in song and in impressions, in roles comedic and dramatic, Ullman has brought characters to life.
Comparing the four-part Howards End miniseries to the 1992 Merchant Ivory film in which Prunella Scales played Aunt Juley, Ullman told Salon, “[A]s I get older, it’s lovely to be asked to do things that, you know, 30 years ago or 20 years ago, my heroes like Prunella Scales or Maggie Smith or Judi Dench would have been asked to play.”
Jonah Hauer-King is Paul Wilcox
Jonah Hauer-King plays the younger Wilcox son, Paul, whose most distinguishing characteristic is his utter Wilcox-ness, which ultimately triumphs over a brief flicker of unconventional passion.
A UK/US dual citizen, Jonah Hauer-King made his MASTERPIECE debut as Laurie in Little Women, and stars, alongside Helen Hunt and Sean Bean, in World on Fire on MASTERPIECE. Plus, he’s been cast as Prince Eric in Disney’s upcoming live-action The Little Mermaid, so good thing he can sing! Learn all about this MASTERPIECE regular, and future-blockbuster newcomer.
Bessie Carter is Evie Wilcox
Bessie Carter plays the athletic, pragmatic, entitled, and self-satisfied Wilcox daughter, a delightful contrast to the Schlegel sisters.
Bessie Carter must have acting in her blood, as the daughter of Imelda Staunton (on MASTERPIECE as Cranford‘s Miss Pole) and Jim Carter (on MASTERPIECE as Downton Abbey‘s Mr. Carson). She made her TV (and MASTERPIECE) debut alongside her mother in Cranford and Return to Cranford, and returns to MASTERPIECE in 2020 not just in Howards End, but in Beecham House (alongside Downton Abbey‘s Mrs. Patmore, Lesley Nichol and Sanditon and Victoria Season 2 alum Leo Suter).
Joseph Quinn is Leonard Bast
Joseph Quinn plays Leonard Bast, a lower-middle-class insurance clerk, desperate to express his intellectual ambitions and assert his difference from his fellow black-suited, bowler-hatted drones.
English actor Joseph Quinn may be a familiar face to MASTERPIECE viewers after his turn as the brave revolutionary Enjolras in Les Misérables. His other credits include a small role in season 7 of Game of Thrones, Arthur Havisham in the British series Dickensian, and most recently, alongside Helen Mirren in Catherine the Great.
Alex Lawther is Tibby Schlegel
Intellectual and academic, a man of non-action, Alex Lawther’s Tibby Schlegel is a sort of anti-Wilcox. The youngest Schlegel sibling is ostensibly a student at Oxford, but has seemingly made his home on his family’s couch.
Alex Lawther was named “Young British Performer of the Year” when he made his feature film debut as young Alan Turing in 2014’s Oscar-winning film The Imitation Game. He’s since had a variety of roles on stage and screens big and small, including starring in the Black Mirror episode “Shut Up and Dance,” and two seasons of the TV series The End of the F***ing World.
Rosalind Eleazar is Jacky Bast
Rosalind Eleazar plays Jacky Bast, a fallen woman in a sham marriage to Leonard Bast, desperate to secure her future and ensure that she is loved.
Named Screen Nation’s rising star for her Howards End performance, English actress Rosalind Eleazar has starred in the TV series Harlots (alongside MASTERPIECE alums Jessica Brown Findlay (Downton Abbey), Kate Fleetwood (Victoria) and Lesley Manville (the upcoming World on Fire). On the big screen, she joins Tilda Swinton, Hugh Laurie, and Ben Whishaw in Armando Iannucci’s The Personal History of David Copperfield, in 2020.