Hayley Atwell began her acting career on stage in London’s West End plays and would eventually have a breakthrough performance when she starred in the 2008 film The Duchess alongside Keira Knightley. She would then star in several other successful films and TV shows, making a name for herself in the entertainment industry. Atwell became an even bigger name when she joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Peggy Carter opposite Chris Evans in Captain America: The First Avenger.
Atwell would then reprise her role as Agent Carter in multiple Marvel productions, from Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Avengers: Endgame to the short-lived Agent Carter series and, most recently, as the animated Captain Carter in What If…?, one of the latest superhero TV series to hit Disney+ last year. Rumor has it that Captain Carter will make the jump to live-action in the upcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, with Atwell once again returning. The actress is no stranger to blockbuster franchises, having just finished filming Mission: Impossible 7 with Tom Cruise and will return in Mission: Impossible 8. Until these new projects get released, here’s a look at Hayley Atwell’s best performances, ranked.
7 Brideshead Revisited
Brideshead Revisited was released in 2008 and is based on the 1945 novel by Evelyn Waugh. It features an ensemble British cast, including the talents of Matthew Goode, Ben Whishaw, Felicity Jones, Michael Gambon and Emma Thompson. The film is set with the backdrop of WW2, and features a forbidden love story between Charles Ryder (Goode) and Julia (Hayley Atwell). Atwell plays her character well: a woman who comes from wealth whose personal life conflicts her religious identity. The pair’s chemistry is the main draw of the film, and both give excellent performances.
6 Christopher Robin
2018’s Christopher Robin continued the Disney trend of bringing animated features to live-action form, this time focusing on an older Christopher Robin who comes back into contact with the hundred-acre wood now that he is grown up and has his own family. Ewan McGregor plays Christopher Robin in the Marc Forster-directed film. Hayley Atwell plays Christopher Robin’s wife, Evelyn, and adds a family feel to the film, giving a maternal and warm performance.
Hayley Atwell starred in the 2015 live action version of Cinderella, which began the new trend of live action remakes. Lily James starred in the leading role as Cinderella in the familiar story of the princess and her glass slipper. Richard Madden stars as Prince Charming, and the cast was very strong overall. One of the main differences in this version was the focus on Cinderella’s past, which has never really been explored in any other versions of the film. Atwell plays Ella’s mother who adds a deeper layer to the film.
4 Black Mirror
Black Mirror is one of the most original and successful TV series in recent memory, and each episode follows a different story that depicts a dystopian world where technology has advanced to points which can sometimes turn dark. Hayley Atwell stars in the premiere of the second season in an episode titled “Be Right Back.” The episode is one of the most emotionally charged of the series as she portrays a young woman who is struggling with the loss of her boyfriend, and she engages in a relationship with an android that is programmed with her boyfriend’s memories. She then struggles with the morality of her decision, and it poses a lot of difficult questions about the advancements of technology.
3 The Pillars of the Earth
Hayley Atwell starred in the miniseries The Pillars of the Earth, which includes a cast of impressive actors including Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell, Eddie Redmayne, and Matthew Macfayden. The series is a medieval drama with a similar vibe to Game of Thrones, hooking viewers into the scandal. Atwell plays Aliena, who endures the hardships of her time and ultimately prevails as a hero, and her performance was so strong that she was nominated for a Golden Globe.
2 Captain America: The First Avenger
Hayley Atwell made her first appearance as Peggy Carter in the 2011 MCU film Captain America: The First Avenger, and this film holds a special place on our list for first introducing us to the character. The film is set in 1941 when the world is in the midst of World War II. Chris Evans stars as Steve Rogers who wants to do his part and join America’s armed forces, however, is rejected for his small frame. After he partakes in an experimental program and is injected with the Super Soldier Serum, he becomes Captain America and joins forces with similar people. Atwell was introduced to the wider world as Peggy Carter, who eventually becomes a love interest. It’s a strong introduction that propelled Atwell’s career to stardom.
1 Agent Carter
The role which put Hayley Atwell on the map was her portrayal of agent Peggy Carter, and she was able to develop this character in the TV series Agent Carter. The character appeared in several MCU films including Avengers: Endgame and the Captain America franchise. The series allows Atwell to delve deeper into her character as the series explores her backstory including the hardships she has faced, the relationships she has struggled with, and how her character became a formidable force within the world of espionage in the MCU. It’s an excellent series which showcases her range as an actress.
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