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Shakespeare & Beyond

11 actors who have played Shakespeare and Austen roles

If you’re a fan of both Shakespeare and Jane Austen, you may have noticed some overlap in the actors who portray these classic roles in stage productions and film adaptations.

As the curators of the Folger exhibition Will & Jane: Shakespeare, Austen, and the Cult of Celebrity write in considering Kate Beckinsale’s performances as Hero in Much Ado About Nothing and Lady Susan in the Austen adaptation Love & Friendship:

Such links do not call into question the skills of great actors, whose talents indeed make us forget their true selves in favor of the characters they portray. But celebrity, when forged by a particular high-profile role or film, unwittingly and inevitably carries that association forward into the next part. In theater studies this inevitable sense of déjà vu is called “ghosting” and may even be harnessed with casting or staging choices to deliberately stimulate spectator memory.

Can you identify the play or movie in which these actors appear? The left-hand photo is from a Shakespeare role; the right-hand photo is from Austen. Click each photo to see the answer.