Anya Taylor-Joy is the next meddlesome, matchmaking, independently minded Emma Woodhouse. Johnny Flynn is to be her Mr. Knightley, in the latest adaptation of the classic 1815 Jane Austen novel.

Anya Taylor Joy, The Miniaturist. Johnny Flynn, Les Miserables. Courtesy BBC


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Here’s what we know so far about the upcoming British period drama. 

Who stars in Emma?

Anya Taylor-Joy in The Miniaturist, courtesy The Forge/Laurence Cendrowicz for BBC / MASTERPIECE

Period drama fans will recognize Anya Taylor-Joy from her leading role in The Miniaturist as Petronella Brandt, and as Thomasin in “The Witch.” Taylor-Joy will star as Emma, the wealthy young woman from a sleepy village who believes she won’t marry, but is certain she can successfully pair up her neighbors in romances. 

Johnny Flynn in Les Miserables, courtesy BBC/Lookout Point/Robert Viglasky

Johnny Flynn stars as Knightley, the forthright, kindhearted family friend, and Emma’s would-be love interest. The British musician is a fast-rising actor; he starred as William Dobbin in the recent adaptation of Vanity Fair. Period drama fans also saw him in the role of Félix Tholomyès in the 2018 BBC / PBS Masterpiece adaptation of “Les Misérables.” 

Bill Nighy in Limehouse Golem, courtesy New Sparta Films

Bill Nighy (He Knew He Was Right’s Colonel Osborne) stars as Emma’s loving, but excessively protective father Mr. Woodhouse, and Josh O’Connor (Lawrence Durrell in The Durrells in Corfu) as the changeable village vicar Mr. Elton. Miranda Hart (Call the Midwife) stars as the spinster Miss Bates.

Rupert Graves (The Tenant of Wildfell Hall) joins the cast as the sociable Mr. Weston, Gemma Whelan (Gentleman Jack) as Emma’s former governess and companion Mrs. Weston, and Callum Turner (War & Peace) as Mr. Weston’s son, Frank Churchill.

Rounding out the cast for the lively romantic comedy of manners are Mia Goth as Emma’s protégé Harriet Smith, Amber Anderson as the unrivaled Jane Fairfax, and Tanya Reynolds as the vain Mrs. Elton. While the whole cast sounds stellar, we are particularly looking forward to seeing Miranda Hart in the Regency era, as the garrulous Miss Bates.





Who is making the new period drama? 

“Emma” is the first feature-length drama for director Autumn de Wilde, who is widely known for her photography and music videos. Eleanor Catton, (Man Booker Prize winner for the 1860s-set The Luminaries, a “lively parody of a 19th-century novel”) adapted “Emma” for the screen. 

After the first day of production, the EmmaFilm Instagram account reposted one of de Wilde’s photos, captioned with Austen’s words: “Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.”

Copyright Autumn de Wilde

A week into directing, de Wilde said that “working with the brilliant Eleanor Catton on her screenplay for our Jane Austen’s Emma… has been an incredible, inspiring and hilarious experience.”

Costumes are by Alexandra Byrne (The Aeronauts, Elizabeth).

Working Title’s Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner (Atonement, Les Miserables, Victoria & Abdul and the upcoming Rebecca), and Blueprint Pictures’ Graham Broadbent and Pete Czernin (The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society) are producing. The British costume drama was filmed in England.

When can we watch Emma? 

“Emma” premieres in theaters in the US on February 21, 2020, and in the United Kingdom on February 28, 2020. Stay tuned for first look photos, and a trailer. 

What other versions of Emma are available? 

The most recent adaptation of “Emma” was the BBC 2009 mini-series starring Romola Garai. Before that, in 1996, Gwyneth Paltrow starred in the titular role for the screen, as did Kate Beckinsale in the television movie. That means it has been more than twenty years since we’ve seen “Emma” as a feature-length costume drama for the big screen. Are you ready for a new version of “Emma”?

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to see The Period Films List, with the best historical and costume dramas sorted by era. You’ll want to read about the upcoming adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. You’ll also want to see the news about Sanditon.