I realize this is a tragic week, what with Agent Carter and Broadchurch both finishing within a day of each other, depriving us of the charm, wit, and beauty of the incomparable James D’Arcy (who is actually named Simon Richard D’Arcy, if you didn’t know).
You probably know about Cloud Atlas, but here are some recommendations for roles James has played that might be further off your radar, to help us all survive the pain.
1) Master and Commander
Band of Brothers gone to the sea. This film contains several great performances, including James as Lieutenant Tom Pullings. What’s not to like about a bunch of attractive men in these uniforms?
Not as great a film as the producers were hoping, given the star-studded cast, this look at Alfred Hitchcock and the making of Psycho is at least worth skipping through to watch James’s uncannily pitch perfect performance as American legend Anthony Perkins.
3) Mansfield Park
In my opinion as a Jane Austen uberfan, this miniseries is extremely underrated, because it actually makes one of Austen’s least-accessible stories work very well. James successfully takes on the role of Tom Bertram, a somewhat enigmatic character who ends on a high note. An early-ish role, but definitely one worth checking out. (Bonus: Hayley Atwell is also wickedly brilliant and funny as Maria Crawford.)
Oh, James James James. This is not a great film. It was made during that no-man’s-land time in the Sherlock Holmes world between the unparalleled Victorian Granada series with Jeremy Brett and the renaissance of the Ritchie films, BBC Sherlock, and Elementary. This was a failed attempt to do something new with the character, and it really didn’t take. However, as with many roles in his (often thankless) career, James does an admirable job with what he’s given and looks really, really good in the outfits from this time period. For that, it’s at least worth a one-time watch.
5) The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby
A very young James puts in a brilliant performance in this excellent adaptation of the DIckens novel. He’s appealing, he’s nuanced, and his range previewed what a phenomenal actor he would turn out to be. It’s hard to get your hands on this, but it’s well worth watching if you can (update: this is on YouTube). (Bonus: This features Tom Hiddleston’s very first TV role.)