Romola Sadie Garai ( born 6 August 1982) is an English actress. She is known for appearing in the films Amazing Grace, Atonement, Glorious 39, and in the BBC adaptation of Emma.
In 2009, she played the title role in a television adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma, a four-hour miniseries that premiered on BBC One in October 2009, co-starring Jonny Lee Miller and Sir Michael Gambon. Garai was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance. Emma then appeared on American television as part of PBS’ Masterpiece Classic anthology series, airing in most U.S. markets over three consecutive Sunday evenings during January and February 2010. American actress Laura Linney, who had co-starred with Garai in The Other Man, was the presenter for Masterpiece Classic during the anthology’s “season” (US)/”series” (UK) at the time, and she introduced each of the three installments that featured her former co-star.
She was attached to play American First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in Flying Into Love; she will also appear in Hettie MacDonald’s feature Nova Scotia, in which she plays a character called Lucy Hay; and also in director Gareth Bryn’s Driven, which is written by Catrin Clarke. Garai has also signed to play the female lead in I Was Bono’s Doppelgänger, alongside Charlie Cox and another former co-star, Bill Nighy.
Filming was set to begin in August 2009.
In 2009, The Sunday Times Magazine named her as one of Britain’s Rising Stars alongside Matthew Goode, Andrea Riseborough, Hugh Dancy, Eddie Redmayne and others. In January of that year she travelled to the Syrian-Iraqi border to make a short film titled No Man’s Land for the UNHCR, highlighting the plight of 800 Palestinian refugees living in the Al-Tanaf refugee camp. Of her visit to the refugee camps Garai states, “My trip to a refugee camp in Syria destroyed any hope that the horrors of Iraq might end, or that we are doing enough to help its victims.” Garai has been hailed by her Glorious 39 director Stephen Poliakoff as “the next Kate Winslet” and someone who will “dominate British cinema” in the future.
In 2010, Garai appeared as the main character “Caroline” in the abstract visual film distributed alongside The Chemical Brothers’ 2010 album Further.
In 2011, Garai starred in the four-part BBC drama The Crimson Petal and the White based on the novel by Michel Faber. She has commented on her racy part of Sugar, a 19th century mistress, that “standing in pants and suspenders, waiting for someone to call action, is pretty cringy … By the end everyone on the set was like, ‘Please just put it away.’” In 2011 she played Bel Rowley in the TV drama The Hour leading with Dominic West and Ben Whishaw, and the stage play The Village Bike at the Royal Court.
Garai has signed on to star alongside actress Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess in Lone Scherfig’s One Day. She will also play the part of a junkie single mother in the independent British film Junkhearts with Eddie Marsan and Tom Sturridge,