The Flix List: 15 favorite period drama heroes – Part II

Welcome to Part II of the list. As I said in the intro of Part I, this post is a collaboration with my Twitter pal and fellow period drama enthusiast Paula G. Now here are the other seven great romantic heroes that make us swoon, and please vote for your fave at the end of the post!

9.  Edmund Bertram – Mansfield Park

PaulaThe Edmund I thought of first is Jonny Lee Miller in the 1999 production, but the character is not one of my favorites. I find him to be the most solemn of Austen’s male main characters and a bit of a hypocrite. The impression I get from the book is that he only gets together with Fanny Price because every other girl around has been shown to be completely immoral. Things aren’t much better in the film…I remember Sir Thomas ripping her down for not marrying ne’er-do-well Henry Crawford…and Edmund sitting there reading a book. She looks to him for help, but he just shrugs and goes back to reading.

RuthEdmund may not be fashionable like Darcy, but I picked him because he’s a naturally compassionate person, right from the start he befriended the poor and lonely Fanny Price. Yes perhaps there are times I wish he would stand by Fanny more, but still, he’s the only person in the Bertram’s household who truly loves and respects Fanny for who she is, even if he’s slow to admits that he is actually in love with her.

Most romantic scene: When Edmund and Fanny rides together in a carriage from her parents’ house back to Mansfield Park. They’ve missed each other so much but neither could express their feelings. One time their hands touch lightly and Edmund slowly envelopes hers with his… Fanny’s expression of inner tumult is priceless.

10. Edmond Dantès – The Count of Monte Cristo

Ruth Paula told me the only time she saw this movie was to look for Henry Cavill. I don’t blame her, Henry is one gorgeous creature even from such a young age. But it’s James Caviezel as the main protagonist whom I fell for when I saw this movie years ago. What Edmond goes through in this Alexandre Dumas’ story is heart-wrenching… the merchant sailor who’s about to marry his fiancée Mercédès but is betrayed by his friend Fernand, which sends him to prison for 13 years.

Yes, Monte Cristo is more of a revenge tale, but I feel that Edmond’s undying love for Mercédès deserves a place on the list. The moments of them frolicking on the beach in the opening scenes is definitely romantic. I also love the part when she recognizes him when he starts twirling his hair at his lavish party and then she shows him the rope ring he once gave him… it’s a beautiful and touching scene. Caviezel has such a regal presence as a count, especially the moment Edmond emerges from the hot air balloon with his cape flowing about in the wind…    b

11. Edward Ferrars – Sense & Sensibility

PaulaI fell hard for Hugh Grant’s big blue eyes, floppy hair and cute stammer in this role. i just remember the heartbreaking and sometimes funny awkwardness between he and Elinor throughout the film, particularly in the scene where Elinor plays hostess to Lucy Steele and Edward pops in to say “hi.” Everyone present knows what’s going on and no one can talk about it. Edward and Elinor are so perfect for each other but everyone & everything gets in the way until the very last. Most romantic scene: Any scene in which Edward helps Elinor with Margaret… he yanks Elinor around quite a bit but it seems like he’s got to be a good guy deep down.

Ruth I love the character of Edward more so than the actor who portrays him, but I agree with Paula that Grant’s awkwardness with his signature stammering manner is quite endearing. But when I saw the 2008 BBC adaptation, I became quite smitten with Dan Stevens’ portrayal. He plays Edward with more confidence and playfulness but still has the warmhearted affection towards Elinor. I adore the ‘beating carpet’ scene where they first met and his longing look when the Dashwood family moves to the cottage. But the juiciest scene has got to be the chopping-wood-whilst-soaking-wet-in-the-rain scene and Elinor comes to visit him. “I enjoy a bit of a sweat. A man can relieve his feelings…” he says. Well I’m sure Elinor quite enjoyed, um, watching him, too 😀

12. George Emerson – A Room with a View

PaulaA rebel and a sweetheart, unconventional George sweeps uptight Lucy off her feet. Again, we see a couple who are perfect for each other but not completely sanctioned by society. Most romantic scene: George and Lucy run across each other in a field in Italy and… well, that kissing scene is certainly one of the movie’s most memorable moments.

Ruth – Well, I haven’t read the E.M. Forsters’ novel the movie’s based on but I presume George is a whole lot more interesting than the way Julian Sands portrayed him in the movie. As I said in my review, I actually thought he just isn’t compelling enough in the role (sorry Paula!), it’s Daniel Day-Lewis as the goody two-shoes Cecil who steals the show.

13. Henry Tilney – Northanger Abbey

PaulaMy favorite portrayal is by JJ Feild [sic] in the 2007 ITV version. He and Felicity Jones have so much chemistry that seemingly straightforward dialogue is rendered suggestive by the way they look at each other. The novel is generally considered to be one of Jane Austen’s “lesser works” — can there be such a thing? — because it was written first and isn’t as polished as, say, Pride & Prejudice. And the author herself admits that Catherine Morland is no heroine. But it’s still really fun. Most romantic scene: Henry shows up at the Morland house and asks if Catherine can show him the way to the Allens’ — which is within sight.

Ruth – I only saw bits and pieces of this adaptation but Feild seems to have that mischievous nature that makes him fun to watch. I’m not as intrigued by the story compared to other Austen’s literary works though.
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14. The Captain – La Veuve de Saint-Pierre (The Widow of St. Pierre)

PaulaHe’s a handsome man of action who loves his wife enough to let her try to rehabilitate a murderer. In their house! Public scorn means nothing, as long as his wife is happy. Unfortunately for all concerned, going against the established norm has consequences, but throughout, Daniel Auteuil makes devotion sexy. The film is based on actual events on Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, the French islands off the coast of northeastern Canada. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend it.

Most romantic scene: Before all hell breaks loose, the Captain & his wife only have eyes for each other at a stuffy tea party.

15. Heathcliff – Wuthering Heights

PaulaHardy once said on a talk show that he’s the go-to guy for “nutters” and although he has played his share, there’s no better example than his Heathcliff, just for sheer adherence to the book. I’ve always found the character repellent and Hardy is appropriately psychopathic for a guy who kills his wife’s dog. But somehow he makes you feel some sympathy for him, which is more than anyone else has ever done. I don’t know when Hardy got together with Charlotte Riley, who plays Cathy so excellently, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it happened on this set.

RuthRomantic heroes doesn’t get any more dark and brooding like Heathcliff, and which the term crazy love is absolutely fitting. It’s even harder to root for Emily Brontë’s hero as he makes even her sister Charlotte’s Rochester seems like a levelheaded guy! I have only seen the Timothy Dalton’s version so I can’t say his is my favorite rendition, but he certainly conveyed the all-consuming passion Heathcliff has towards Cathy, it proves that ‘to die for love’ that’s romanticized by lovestruck individuals aren’t always beautiful, they can be haunting and down right tragic. Still, it’s the stuff classic romance are made of. I’m still looking forward to Laurence Olivier’s and Ralph Fiennes’ version as I’m not too keen on the actress who plays Cathy in the 1970 adaptation. Most romantic scene: When Heathcliff is reunited with Cathy again after running off for several years and the two are making out on the grass, professing their love to each other even though Cathy’s now married to someone else.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the list, now please take the time to vote for your favorite period drama hero, you can also enter one that’s not on our list. Do you agree with our picks? If not, let it be heard in the comments.

The Flix List: 15 favorite period drama heroes – Part I

As a huge fan of period dramas, I’ve been wanting to make up this list for quite some time. To double the fun, I invited my Twitter pal and fellow period drama enthusiast Paula G. to collaborate with me on this one and we came up with no less than 15 of our favorite romantic heroes from various literary adaptations on both TV and movies and the actors who portray them beautifully. Because of the length, this post is divided into two parts, read Part II here.


What makes a great romantic hero? In a lot of cases, it isn’t just the attractiveness of the actors, their abilities, the script, the period costumes, etc. There’s one word that’s going to get overused here, and that’s chemistry. Chemistry will make you believe anything; lack thereof will put you to sleep. So here are the first eight on the list that got it right (listed in random order):

1. John Thornton – North & South

Paula – Ruth recommended North & South to me, as I hadn’t seen it before or read the Elizabeth Gaskell novel it’s based on. I watched part of it on YouTube, and very soon added it to my Netflix queue. Simply because, although Richard Armitage is not my usual cup of tea looks-wise, there is a lot of chemistry between the two leads, and by the time they get together, I reckon everyone has been willing it to happen. Most romantic scene (so far): Thornton defends Margaret to his mean mother & sister.

RuthI actually heard about BBC miniseries when I saw a clip on YouTube and was instantly mesmerized by Richard’s smolder. Forget Darcy, Thornton’s the real deal, his torment is something even guys today can relate to. He actually has an occupation and business crisis he has to deal with, so he’s not just sitting around all day thinking about which girl to marry. Though he loves his mother dearly, he’s no mama’s boy. Oh and that chemistry with Margaret, woof [fanning myself]… have you seen the bewitching kiss on the train station? There’s a reason I chose they’re my favorite romantic couple. Anyway, I’m a fan of Richard for life because of this piece, in fact, I’ve suggested him for various roles, i.e. a futuristic Robin Hood and Uncharted‘s Nathan Drake. He’s one of those Brits I’m still waiting to hit it big in Hollywood, hopefully his role in The Hobbit will lead to more high-profile projects!

2. Edward Rochester – Jane Eyre (2011 and 1983 version)

Paula – (2011 version) I’ll take this opportunity to shill for my favorite in the role from my favorite version, Michael Fassbender. It has been argued that any filmed Rochester should be as physically unattractive as he is described in the novel. I counter by saying that an adaptation needs some shorthand. Because the novel’s sexual undertone has to be conveyed in a hurry to get it into two or three hours, the chemistry needs to be believable straight away. Fassbender really captures Rochester’s crankiness, sense of humor, and vitality. If you watch him during the scene in which he’s officially introduced to Jane, you really get that nobody’s ever talked back to him and he kind of likes it. And later, when he says he’s looking to marry a girl who will “regenerate me with a vengeance,” we know he isn’t talking about a visit to the spa. Most romantic scene: The proposal scene is always good but I offer these alternatives: One night in Rochester’s room, Jane puts out one fire and sets off another… Jane and Rochester banter over her wages…Rochester finally tells Jane the truth about Bertha Mason —and Jane’s so into him she needs God’s help to leave him.

Ruth – (1983 version) I’ve dedicated an entire post for my favorite Rochester, because to me, Dalton captured the darkness of the quintessential tortured soul, as well as the intense love he has for Jane. Then there’s the way he delivers every line with so much emotion… his voice alone is a ‘character’ in itself that brings life to role like no other. Most romantic scene: The bedroom fire & proposal scenes pack heat, but I also love the part when Rochester’s been sleeping in front of Jane’s door waiting for her. When she came out, she tripped on him and fell right into his arms. Rochester holds her with such indescribable longing as he whispers sweet nothings into her ear… man, that Jane certainly has some amazing willpower!

P.S. Fassbender is my second favorite Rochester. He’s swoon-worthy for sure, this role proves the amazing range this Irish-German actor has. No wonder he’s in such a high demand in leading man roles!

3. Col. Brandon – Sense & Sensibility

PaulaAlan Rickman may be more known for his antagonist roles like Hans Gruber and Severus Snape, but he does a great job in this film with quietly and subtly portraying complete and total unrequited devotion. He so vividly shows love at first sight and then represses it for the rest of the movie. That is, until his beloved is so desperately ill that if he doesn’t have something to do, he shall run mad. In Jane Austen’s novels, it’s always the quiet steady ones who are worth the wait, as Marianne discovers. I thought Rickman had great chemistry with Emma Thompson as Elinor, which really made the story’s crossed signals believable. Most romantic scene: Brandon rescues Marianne from a rainstorm.

RuthOne of the major reasons the 1995’s Sense and Sensibility is my all time favorite film is because of Rickman’s sensitive portrayal as Col. Brandon. As I said in the Jane Austen rain scenes post, Brandon is the most compelling of the three male characters, as is the case in the 2008 BBC version with David Morrissey as Brandon. He’s a bit more expressive in his affection for Marianne but Morrissey’s got that dark, brooding look and quiet grace that I think is perfect for the role.

4. Frederick Wentworth – Persuasion

PaulaStrictly as the character is written, Wentworth is a bit of a cipher. This is Austen’s intent as we are meant to see everything from Anne Elliot’s point of view and thus cannot know Wentworth’s mind or intentions. I think the best version is Ciaran Hinds in the 1995 feature film; Amanda Root is my favorite Anne Elliot as well. Most romantic scene: Wentworth writes Anne a love note while they are both in a room full of people and, under Mrs. Musgrove’s nose, devises a way to get it to her.

RuthThe tale of second chances at love is what makes me love Persuasion so much. As Paula said though, we’re deprived of Wentworth’s viewpoint which can be a challenge for the actor playing the part. I was so taken by this story I actually bought a book called Captain Wentworth’s Diary by Amanda Grange which was quite a fun read. I agree that the 1995 film is the superior adaptation as well, though the 2010 Masterpiece Theater version has a more appealing production qualities and the dashing Rupert Penry-Jones as Wentworth. It’s a shame though they didn’t have him wear a Navy uniform the entire film! Both actors convey their repressed passion well, which makes the few breathless-ness moments he shared with Anne in the film all the more impactful.

5. Fitzwilliam Darcy – Pride & Prejudice

PaulaAnd now…also from the year 1995…from the Romantic Period Hero Hall of Fame…Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. As an aristocratic curmudgeon attracted to the “wrong” girl from a mortifying family, Firth does Darcy’s hauteur, studied indifference, confusion, resolve, and passionate love so well, it’s impossible not to picture him when you read the book. Firth was so brilliant in the role, he played it again (brilliantly) in the two Bridget Jones films.

Most romantic scene: Of course the wet-shirt-in-the-lake scene is justly famous, but I also love the scene, quite early on, when Elizabeth shows up at Netherfield to visit her sick sister. As she strides into the dining room in her her muddy dress and boots to the disapproving stares of the ladies, Darcy can only smile. P.S. Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle had so much chemistry, they got together in real life.

Ruth – I’m not going to deny Firth’s place as every girl’s favorite Jane Austen hero, and I too was quite skeptical about Matthew MacFadyen’s casting in the 2005 version. But upon second viewing, his Mr. Darcy rendition actually grows on me. He’s got gorgeous eyes and has that longing look down pat, and my favorite part is when his hand touches Lizzy’s as he helps her to her carriage, an electric spark between them sort of ignites and he sort of tries to shake it off (unsuccessfully I’d imagine) That’s the stuff dreamy love stories are made off [sigh] …

6. Mr. Knightley – Emma

PaulaGallant manners, witty repartee and devilish grin…no wonder rich, spoiled Emma Woodhouse starts to get jealous when Jeremy Northam’s Mr. Knightley pays attention to the mysterious Jane Fairfax and naif Harriet Smith. But does he love her back? We know he does but it’s funny to watch them figure it out. PS: Does anyone know this guy’s first name? She’ll be calling him Mr. Knightley when she’s 60. Most romantic scene: Northam’s expression is priceless as Emma asks Mr. Knightley to dance at a ball, saying something like “It’s not like we’re brother and sister.”

RuthI don’t think I can add any more to Paula’s astute description of Northam’s Mr. Knightley (his first name is George apparently, a perfect English gentleman’s name). There’s that twinkle in his eyes that is so beguiling, especially during the archery scene when he quipped to Emma, ‘Try not to kill my dogs‘ I can’t believe how exasperating it is to watch Gwyneth Paltrow as Emma though, I need to see the 2009 version with the more affable Romola Garai and Jonny Lee-Miller as Mr. Knightley!

7. Newland Archer – The Age of Innocence

Paula The idea of a guy trapped in a loveless marriage strikes me as more tragic (for all concerned) than romantic. I realize this is more or less the premise of Jane Eyre as well but for whatever reason, though it’s a gorgeous film overall, it just depressed me.

Ruth What’s more gorgeous than the cinematographic and opening title of this movie? The explosive sparks between Michelle Pfeiffer and Daniel Day-Lewis! Yes, watching the stifling society’s norm suck the life of these people can be depressing, but heart-wrenching is perhaps the term I’d use. The pain and passion are palpable and undeniable, and Day-Lewis as Archer is just superb. It’s a beautiful, haunting and heartfelt performance that makes me think he would’ve made a fantastic Rochester as well, but then again, is there really a role Daniel can’t play?

8. Robert Dudley – The Virgin Queen

PaulaIf the real Robert Dudley was anything like he’s played by Tom Hardy, Elizabeth I’s famous willpower would have gotten quite the workout. This boy is naughty. He cracks her up with his witty remarks and devilish grin, he presumes too much, and he takes liberties with the Royal person (not like that, though she wants him to). However, she has known him since childhood, he is great fun after a hard day squabbling with the Privy Council, and he always has her back. No wonder she loves him forever, though she isn’t willing or able to marry and has to banish him from Court (for secretly wedding a lookalike lady-in-waiting!).

Hardy has such great chemistry with Anne Marie Duff that, although I knew what was going to happen, I actually teared up when his character died. Most romantic scene: Any in which Dudley steals a kiss from the Queen.

Ruth Oooh I have not seen this adaptation but with Tom Hardy as Dudley AND Kevin McKidd in this one, I better put this on my Netflix queue, pronto! What I love about Hardy is he’s got that mischievously sexy aura about him that’s so effortless. An essential quality for any period leading man… well, of any genre for that matter!

Well that’s it for Part I, stay tuned this weekend for the rest of the list. I will have a poll at the end (which I’ve never done before!) for you to vote on your favorite!

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