In 1936, Edward VIII caused the biggest scandal in the history of the British Monarchy when he walked away and gave up the thrown to marry the woman he loved, twice divorced American Wallis Simpson. Their incredible story has been recreated many times, most recently in Madonna’s feature film W.E. To celebrate the release of W.E on DVD and Blu-ray on 4th June we take a look back at different actresses who have portrayed style icon Wallis Simpson in the ultimate love story.
First to take on the role of Wallis Simpson was Faye Dunaway in 1972 in the US TV adaptation The Woman I Love directed by Paul Wendkos. Faye went on to win an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in Network, after receiving previous nominations for the critically acclaimed films Chinatown, and her role as Bonnie Parker in Bonnie and Clyde, which also earned her an Oscar nomination. Throughout her career she’s worked with a fleet of leading men, including Steve McQueen, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford and Jack Nicholson. In 1996 she was awarded the 2,074th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Cynthia Harris received a BAFTA nomination for her portrayal of Mrs. Simpson in the classic 1978 ITV drama Edward & Mrs. Simpson. Produced and aired during the Duchess of Windsor’s lifetime, and awarded with a BAFTA and an Emmy Award, the series followed the pair’s relationship and the drama that ensued. New York born Cynthia is known for role in American sitcom Mad About You, and she also appeared on Broadway in the landmark musical Company, and is a founding member of The Actor’s Company Theatre.
Jane Seymour portrayed Wallis Simpson alongside Anthony Andrews in the TV Movie The Woman He Loved in 1988. The controversial love affair is played out in flashbacks, as Wallis prepares for Edward’s funeral in 1972. Seymour gained critical acclaim for her performance and was nominated for a Golden Globe in 1989 for Best Performance by an actress in a mini-series or motion picture made for TV. Although she did not win for this particular role she was later awarded an Emmy Award and two Golden Globe Awards for her work in East of Eden, Dr.Quinn Medicine Woman and Onassis: The Richest Man in the World, and is best known for her performance in James Bond film, Live and Let Die.
Amber Sealey starred as Wallis Simpson in the 2002 ITV adaptation, Bertie and Elizabeth. The TV film was commissioned especially for the Golden Jubilee, and showed the trials and tribulations that the Duke of York experienced during his time on the throne.
Joely Richardson starred in Wallis and Edward in 2005. The TV movie was the first script that accounted the story of their love from Wallis Simpson’s point of view. Richardson is an English actress who was born into a theatrical family, the daughter of actress Vanessa Redgrave and Director Tony Richardson. She is best known for her role of Julia McNamara in the successful television series Nip/Tuck but has appeared in a vast array of roles both in TV and film. Richardson is still acting and has recently starred in Anonymous and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
The latest actress to take on the role of portraying Wallis Simpson was Gillian Anderson in the 2010 BAFTA winning TV series Any Human Heart. The drama tells the story of a novelist’s life as he ricochets between different eras and countries. Along the way he meets a variety of characters, including Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson. Gillian’s acting roots stem from the theatre, however she was presented with worldwide success in her role of Dana Scully in American television series The X-Files, a role that earned her an Emmy Award, a Golden Globe and two Screen Actors Guild awards. Gillian was also nominated for a BAFTA as her portrayal of Mrs. Simpson.
W.E is released on DVD and Blu ray on 4th June, Fancy winning the film on Blu Ray?Full details here!