From the Telegraph:
Romola Garai to play Emma in BBC’s latest Jane Austen adaptation
For years she has languished in her friend Keira Knightley’s shadow, but actress Romola Garai has finally attained leading lady status with the starring role in the BBC’s latest Jane Austen adaptation, a production of Emma.
By Anita Singh, Showbusiness Editor
Last Updated: 1:32PM BST 04 Apr 2009
Romola Garai: BBC finds leading lady for final Jane Austen adaptation
British actress Romola Garai will play the heroine of Emma in a lavish BBC One costume drama to be screened in the autumn.
Garai will play the “handsome, clever and rich” heroine in a lavish BBC One costume drama to be screened in the autumn.
The 26-year-old was cast as Knightley’s younger sister in the Oscar-nominated film Atonement and the two actresses are firm friends. However, they have frequently found themselves in competition for the same roles. Knightley beat Garai to the part of Lara in ITV’s adaptation of Doctor Zhivago in 2002 and to Elizabeth Bennet in the 2005 film version of Pride and Prejudice.
Emma will be Garai’s highest profile role to date after appearances in several television dramas, including Dodie Smith’s I Capture The Castle and George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda.
The daughter of a banker, she was raised in Hong Kong and Singapore before attending a boarding school in England. She is currently combining her acting work with studying for an Open University degree.
“I’m incredibly excited and honoured to be taking on the role of Emma, who is arguably Jane Austen’s greatest heroine. I’ve loved the book for many years and she is a character very close to my heart – so it’s a great privilege to now be playing her,” she said.
The high calibre cast of Emma includes Sir Michael Gambon as the matchmaking heroine’s doting father and Jonny Lee Miller as her suitor, Mr Knightley. Filming begins next week at locations in Kent and Surrey.
The BBC promises a “fresh, witty and perceptive take on a timeless tale” last serialised by the corporation in 1972 and turned into a Hollywood film starring Gwyneth Paltrow in 1996. It will be shown in four hour-long episodes and will be the BBC’s last Austen adaptation for several years, after executives decided to replace ‘bonnet dramas’ with a focus on the 20th century.