Romola Garai

Last updated on the 26 March 2024 by Evandrus

Romola Garai headshot

Mini Biography

Born: 6 August 1982, British Hong Kong. 

Romola Garai is a distinguished British actress and film director renowned for her extensive work on stage and screen, particularly in period films. Her early life was marked by international moves; her family relocated to Singapore when she was five and then settled in Wiltshire, England, when she was eight. Garai’s father, Adrian Earl Rutherford Garai, worked as a bank manager, and her mother, Janet A. (née Brown), raised Romola and her three siblings. Her great-grandfather, Bernhard “Bert” Garai, was a Hungarian immigrant who established the Keystone Press Agency in London in the early 20th century.

Romola Garai’s education began at Stonar School in Wiltshire and at 16 she moved to London to attend the City of London School for Girls. She was involved in school plays and was a member of the National Youth Theatre until 18. After completing her A-levels, she pursued English literature at Queen Mary University of London before transferring to The Open University, where she graduated with a first-class degree. While initially focusing on her studies, Garai began acting full-time during her summer holiday.

Romola Garai’s acting career took off with her first professional role in the 2000 BBC-HBO TV film “The Last of the Blonde Bombshells,” where she played a younger version of Dame Judi Dench’s character. This was followed by appearances in the BBC television series “Attachments.” Her first major film role came in “Nicholas Nickleby” (2002), and she continued to gain critical acclaim with performances in “I Capture the Castle” (2003) and “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights” (2004). She starred in several costume dramas, including “Vanity Fair” (2004), “As You Like It” (2006), “Amazing Grace” (2007), “Atonement” (2007), “Glorious 39” (2009), and “Suffragette” (2015).

On television, she portrayed Emma Woodhouse in the BBC series “Emma” (2009), earning a Golden Globe nomination, and received a British Academy Television Award nomination for “The Crimson Petal and the White” (2011). From 2011 to 2012, she played Bel Rowley in the BBC series “The Hour,” receiving further critical acclaim and award nominations.

In her personal life, Romola Garai is married to Sam Hoare since 2014 and they have two children.


Suggested viewing


The Hour (2011)

The Hour poster

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 8.0

The Hour dives into the world of 1950s investigative journalism in Britain. A young, ambitious reporter joins forces with a seasoned producer and a jaded anchorman to tackle a mysterious news story. Their pursuit of the truth leads them down a rabbit hole of government secrets, raising tensions and forcing them to question who they can trust.

Top cast: Ben Whishaw, Romola Garai, Dominic West, Anna Chancellor, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Oona Chaplin, Anton Lesser, Joshua McGuire.

The Crimson Petal and the White (2011)

The Crimson Petal and the White poster

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 7.5

The Crimson Petal and the White intertwines the lives of two women in Victorian London. One, a resourceful prostitute yearning for a way out, and the other, a wealthy wife trapped by societal expectations. Their paths cross with a conflicted heir to a perfume business. As their desires and ambitions clash with rigid social norms, they embark on journeys of self-discovery that challenge the status quo.

Top cast: Romola Garai, Gillian Anderson, Shirley Henderson, Katie Lyons, Elizabeth Berrington, Amanda Hale, Mark Gatiss, Richard E. Grant, Chris O’Dowd, Bertie Carvel, Blake Ritson.

The Incredible Journey of Mary Bryant (2005)

The Incredible Journey of Mary Bryant poster

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 7.3

The story follows a young woman convicted of a minor crime and sentenced to exile in Australia. Facing brutal conditions and injustice, she determines to escape. With a small band of fellow convicts, she embarks on a hazardous journey across hundreds of miles of unforgiving wilderness, driven by the hope of reuniting with her loved ones.

Top cast: Romola Garai, Jack Davenport, Alex O’Loughlin, Sam Neill, Garry McDonald, David Field, Linal Haft, Alice McConnell, Catherine McClements, Genevieve O’Reilly.

Similar to

Banished poster

Emma (2009)

Emma poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 8.1

A well-meaning but meddling young woman with a talent for matchmaking decides to use her skills on her friends, convinced she can find them perfect partners. However, her romantic schemes backfire spectacularly, causing chaos and heartbreak for those around her. As she grapples with the consequences of her actions, she must learn valuable lessons about love, friendship and the importance of self-awareness.

Top cast: Romola Garai, Michael Gambon, Jonny Lee Miller, Tamsin Greig, Jodhi May, Robert Bathurst, Louise Dylan, Valerie Lilley, Blake Ritson.

Alternative version


The Great War: The People’s Story (2014)

The Great War: The People's Story poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 8.2

This documentary series sheds light on World War I by focusing on the personal experiences of everyday people. It weaves together letters, diaries, and memoirs to portray the war’s impact on both soldiers fighting in the trenches and civilians left behind. The stories delve into the hopes, fears and struggles faced by people from all walks of life, offering a poignant look at the war’s human cost.

Top cast: Olivia Colman, Alison Steadman, Claire Foy, Romola Garai, Daniel Mays, Matthew McNulty, Adrian Scarborough, Lily Loveless, Giles Alderson, Brian Cox, Tuppence Middleton, James Norton, MyAnna Buring.

Related to

Parade's End

Full filmography (@Wikipedia)


Romola Garai Gallery


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