MRS. HARRIS GOES TO PARIS will open in AMC Theatres across the country on July 15, and take audiences on a wild ride with Ada Harris, a widowed cleaning lady whose obsession with a Dior dress ends with her embarking on an ambitious journey to 1950s Paris. Bringing the affable character to life is none other than Academy Award® nominee Lesley Manville, who has provided tremendous performances on film, TV, and the stage for decades now.
So, before we find ourselves being whisked away with Mrs. Harris, let’s first take a journey through some of Manville’s greatest performances. But be warned, not every character you are about to meet is as lovely, or friendly, as that charming cleaning lady on a mission.
Lucy “Kitty” Gilbert In Topsy-Turvy
The 1999 historical musical drama, TOPSY-TURVY, which was directed by Mike Leigh, centers on the successful creative partnership shared by W.S. Gilbert, played by Jim Broadbent, and Allan Corduner, played by Arthur Sullivan, as they transform themselves from struggling players in Victorian Era London to two of the most famous and respected names in the industry.
Lesley Manville comes into the picture as Lucy “Kitty” Gilbert, the wife of W.S. Gilbert, and a driving force in her husband’s life, both professionally and personally. Manville, who was already established by the time she was cast in the role, went on to reach new heights after being nominated for a London Critics Circle Film Award for British Supporting Actress of the Year.
Penny In All Or Nothing
Released in 2002, Mike Leigh’s drama, ALL OR NOTHING, tells the story of three working class families in London trying to make the most of their lives. At the center of one of these families is Lesley Manville’s Penny, a grocery store cashier who lives in a small flat with her husband and two older children, and is forced to overcome various issues at work and at home.
Manville’s performance in ALL OR NOTHING earned her multiple awards and other accolades following the film’s release, and rightfully so. Tender yet strong, Manville’s portrayal of a woman struggling in life is rich and multi-dimensional.
Mary In Another Year
Mike Leigh’s 2010 dramedy, ANOTHER YEAR, tells the story of Tom and Gerri Hepple, played by Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen, a happily married couple who keep their spirits about them despite being surrounded by friends whose lives appear to be in disarray. One of those friends, Mary Smith, played by Lesley Manville, provides some of the film’s funniest moments while also some of its more downtrodden.
Manville is in top form here, working again with the director she had collaborated with many times in the past, and gives an incredibly rich and fully-realized performance. Alone, depressed, and having a drinking problem, Mary’s journey is fulfilling thanks in part to Manville’s mastery of the character.
Cyril Woodcock In Phantom Thread
Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2017 historical drama, PHANTOM THREAD, focuses on celebrated dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock, played by Daniel Day-Lewis, and the meticulously planned out life that he and his sister Cyril, played by Lesley Manville, have grown accustomed to over the years. The order in his life is thrown for a loop upon the arrival of his new muse and lover, Alma, played by Vicky Krieps, who slowly begins to bring change and chaos to the detail-oriented artist’s life.
Manville received an Academy Award nomination for her brilliant portrayal of Cyril in this incredibly tense and methodical drama. She has such a great understanding of the character and command of the screen, which is greatly needed for someone who’s presented as the one in control.
Blanche Weboy In Let Him Go
Released in 2020, Thomas Bezucha’s neo-western, LET HIM GO, centers on Margaret and George Blackledge, played by Diane Lane and Kevin Costner, a couple who initially think the death of their son would be the hardest thing they would ever experience. But, when their only grandson and the boy’s mother are taken to North Dakota by his step-father, the Blackledge’s soon realize they’re in for the fight of their lives.
On their journey to bring the boy back home, the couple meet the detestable and villainous Weboy family and its matriarch, Blanche, who has called for her son to bring his new family closer to home. Lesley Manville’s portrayal of the evil woman in LET HIM GO is some of her best work, albeit incredibly terrifying. Every scene in which she is featured is a masterclass in tension, so much so that it’s at times hard to watch. That feeling soon passes, however, due to the painstakingly beautiful story and blistering action that follows.
Joan Thompson In Ordinary Love
Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn’s 2019 romantic drama, ORDINARY LOVE, tells the story of Joan and Tom Thompson, played by Lesley Manville and Liam Neeson, as the couple face their toughest fight yet. On a seemingly normal evening, the longtime and happily married couple and their easy going lifestyle are thrust into chaos when Joan discovers a lump in her breast. Upon further examination, it is discovered that she has breast cancer and is sent off to have surgery if she wishes to survive the ordeal.
The pairing of Manville and Neeson is outstanding, and the two come off as a longtime couple opposed to two actors on a soundstage. Their performances are at times incredibly emotional and traumatic while at others light and fun with a sense of comedy sprinkled about. This truly remarkable drama is one that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Each of these movies feature tremendous performances from the talented Lesley Manville and show off why she is one of the most respected actresses today, but this is just a small portion of the great work she has given the world over the years. And, after everyone gets a chance to watch MRS. HARRIS GOES TO PARIS upon its July 15 debut at AMC Theatres nationwide, we will have yet another great title to add to Manville’s stellar list of on-screen accomplishments.