Declares Miranda Richardson’s character in “Made in Dagenham,” “I am what is known as a fiery redhead.”
It’s a memorable scene late in the film — a docudramedy about working women seeking equal pay at a Ford Automotive plant in late-’60s England — that co-stars the iconic Brit actress. She portrays England’s Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity Barbara Castle.
Given the few, succinct and wryly powerful scenes Richardson was in before this, the declaration is almost redundant. Richardson owns virtually every scene she appears in, wittily eviscerating her ineffectual male minions at every turn.
“She means a lot to so many people,” Richardson says from her home in England. “She was instrumental in this story. Were she not in power, women might be further behind (in terms of equal pay) than we are. The more I read about her, the more I felt she was someone you’d love to spend an evening with.”
Richardson has previously been nommed for two Oscars: 1992’s “Damage” and 1994’s “Tom and Viv.” She also has won two Golden Globes (1992’s “Enchanted April” and 1994’s “Fatherland”).
“Dagenham” co-star Sally Hawkins says Richardson was “one of the reasons I wanted to act, all the way back when I was a little girl. She absolutely stole ‘Black Adder’ (an ’80s British sitcom that starred Rowan Atkinson and Hugh Laurie) for me. It was an iconic, brilliant performance.”
Throughout her career, Richardson has proven to be a chameleonic talent, playing an impressive variety of characters. This year, in addition to playing Castle, Richardson also appeared in the AMC conspiracy series “Rubicon” as Katherine Rhumor, whose spine was as malleable as Castle’s was rigid. She has also appeared as gossip-monger Rita Skeeter in several installments of the “Harry Potter” film series.”
“In each (project, no matter how large or small), I need interesting characters to play and I always ask myself, ‘What can I bring to it?'” Richardson says. In the case of “Made in Dagenham,” it was important to her to celebrate the accomplishments of the working-class women who didn’t realize how much they would improve the lives of those who came after them.
“It was about time these women were taken notice of,” she says. “What they did was world-shaking, but then they just went on with their lives.”
She adds that some of the real-life women have attended the film’s premieres.
“It’s so gratifying,” Richardson says. “They didn’t seek attention, but they’re now realizing that what they did is a good thing.”
Young actresses not looking for celeb status
Annette Bening | Sally Hawkins | Nicole Kidman | Jennifer Lawrence | Natalie Portman | Tilda Swinton
Lead actresses in the mix
Amy Adams | Helena Bonham Carter | Melissa Leo | Miranda Richardson | Jacki Weaver | Dianne Wiest
Supporting actresses in the mix