7 Actresses Talk About the Challenges They Faced While Playing in Period Movies

2 years ago

Many of us like watching period dramas because of the gorgeous costumes, wigs, and makeup the actors are wearing. Historically accurate costumes help us travel through time and feel the atmosphere of the story being told in the best possible way. However, wearing those garments can be a tough job. Actors who played in historic dramas confess that spending long hours in the clothes our ancestors we wearing centuries ago can be tiresome and even torturing.

We at Bright Side came across the interviews of 7 actresses who shared their experience of playing roles in movies with period costumes, and it looks like they had to overcome quite a few challenges to look convincing on the big screen.

1. Lily James on playing Cinderella in Cinderella, 2015

The blue gown looked fantastic on Lily, but eating while wearing a tight corset became a challenge for the actress: “When [the corset] was on we would be on continuous days so we wouldn’t stop for lunch or a lovely tea like this — you’d be sort of eating on the move. In that case, I couldn’t untie the corset. So if you ate food it didn’t really digest properly and I’d be burping all afternoon in [Richard Madden]’s face, and it was just really sort of unpleasant. I’d have soup so that I could still eat but it wouldn’t get stuck.”

2. Saoirse Ronan on playing in Mary Queen of Scots, 2018

Saoirse Ronan also had to wear a tight corset while playing in Mary Queen of Scots, and she had to wear corsets for about 12 hours a day. In one of her interviews, the actress confessed that those corsets changed her shape and created curves she had never had before. This surprising effect lasted not that long, however.

3. Keira Knightley on playing in The Duchess, 2008

While portraying Georgiana in The Duchess movie, Keira Knightley was wearing panniers under her gorgeous period dresses. Panniers, or side hoops, are the type of undergarment worn by women to extend the width of their skirts. The actress confessed that moving in panniers felt completely different and affected the way she interacted with other actors on set, because she couldn’t even get close enough to anyone because of her wide skirts.

4. Emma Corrin about playing in The Crown, 2016

The series accurately recreates many events from Diana’s life, including her wedding. The wedding gown Emma wears in the shows was so massive that she needed help of many people to get dressed. “We were filming the scene when you first see her in the wedding dress — I think it was Lancaster House in London — and I had a team of about 10 people helping me put it on, because it’s massive,” the actress recalled.

5. Carey Mulligan on playing in The Great Gatsby, 2013

The actress recalled that playing in The Great Gatsby made her really nervous. The thing is that Carey felt “the weight of responsibility” while wearing all those gorgeous diamonds that were part of her costume, and she was afraid to lose them.

6. Julia Roberts on playing in Mirror Mirror, 2012

The dress Julia Roberts was wearing while portraying the Queen was very big and heavy and the actress used a special tent to put that dress on. “I had a tent on the stage that I went in to dress because that dress doesn’t go into any modern doorway and that dress weighed, I think, 60 pounds,” Julia recalled.

7. Cate Blanchett on playing in Elizabeth: The Golden Age, 2007

The challenges Cate Blanchett was facing while playing Queen Elizabeth I were connected to her hair. “In that time, people were wearing wigs because of fleas and mites. Hers are deliberately wiggy and theatrical. And they were really heavy, so it affected how much you could move. I also bleached my eyelashes and eyebrows. I quite liked it, really, that pale-redhead look,” the actress shared.

Do you like watching period movies with costumes? Which historic movies are your favorite and why?


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I love period movies, and, reading about, what the artists, went through, wearing period costumes, proves how much they love their art, to bear through it all, making the work, that much more, believable. Brava to all, worthy of their salt, before and after....


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