The Many Faces of Mr Rochester

Soo……. as a huge Bronte fan, I am inordinately pleased we have another adaptation of Jane Eyre to look forward to this year! Michael Fassbender is a divine for choice for Rochester (though perhaps a little too young and handsome?!) but I thought I would pay homage to all the actors who have played the role before (and those who I *wish* had gotten the chance to play the role…

Toby Stephens is perhaps my favourite Rochester so far.. I thought the chemistry between him and Ruth Wilson was great, and he really had the brooding, surly-type acting down to perfection. Again, he was perhaps a little too handsome (or maybe I am biased?). Before Toby, we had Ciaran Hinds, who whilst is a good actor, was not for me the Rochester as I imagined.. maybe this was because this 1997 adaptation seemed so short and the characterisation wasn’t really strong? I don’t know. I just didn’t engage with the story as much (which is weird since I love the novel so wholeheartedly!)

 William Hurt in 1996 film version was a good choice; he definitely pulled off the role and casting him alongside Charlotte Gainsbourg was interesting! I have however only seen this version once before and don’t own it, so perhaps it should go on my ‘to-buy’ list..! I do have the 1983, BBC version which casts Timothy Dalton and this is another really good adaptation.. Dalton plays the part exactly as Bronte wrote it, and this series stays really close to the original novel.

And of course Orson Welles, who really set the standards high in 1943, pulling off a wonderful performance as Rochester alongside Joan Fontaine. I think this black and white version really captures the atmospheric, tense feel of the novel.

There are tons of other adaptations out there that I haven’t yet seen (though I would like to – you can never have too much Bronte!) Recommendations are greatly received. The 1973 BBC Adaptation with Michael Jayston could be interesting?

My personal choices (perhaps slightly inappropriate for Rochester) would have been Richard Armitage, Laurence Olivier, Jason Isaacs and Ralph Fiennes, among many others… Any other dream Rochesters?


15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. noor
    Feb 07, 2011 @ 03:10:54

    This may seem like an odd choice, but I’ve often thought Harvey Keitel would be a good Mr. R.
    Perhaps not now, but imagine him at his peak, a la The Piano. Though he would have had to anglicize his voice, he had/has the gruffness of Rochester but also an underlying passion and self awareness needed to make Mr. R a believable love interest of Jane’s.


  2. knightleyemma
    Feb 07, 2011 @ 19:16:50

    Hey there! Thanks for commenting on my blog; I will add you to my blogroll. I haven’t seen Dalton as Mr. R yet- will check out. ITA that Ciaran Hinds wasn’t the best choice for that role (though I REALLY like him).



    • perioddramavictoriana
      Feb 08, 2011 @ 18:30:19

      Thank you! I like Ciaran Hinds too- he is a brilliant actor and has been in some other wonderful period films..

      Your blog is really great by the way.. It’s good to see there are others who love period dramas as much as me! 😀 North & South is my all time favourite!!


  3. lyn marie cunliffe
    Feb 16, 2011 @ 20:21:05

    I think Toby Stevens was just perfect as you mentioned the chemistry was brilliant ,,but maybe as an outside bet Rufus Sewell ,,he was great in the Taming of the shrew remake on the BBC and in Dangerouse beauty,,I notice hes in your next article which I am about to read


    • perioddramavictoriana
      Feb 17, 2011 @ 11:30:56

      Rufus would be perfect as Rochester! He is a wonderful actor and could really pull off Rochester’s odd mix of dry humour, brooding sensuality and vulnerability and he is about right age-wise too I think..!


  4. sharlene janish
    Jun 27, 2011 @ 00:01:16

    Ciaran Hinds wins this one, hands down! No other actor could have done a better job portraying Edward Rochester!! I LOVED him!! His passion, torment, long-buried emotions,oh, everything was so real and keenly felt. I will never be able, or even care to view another version, though I have seen a few before this one. Its haunting, sensual, believable and just PERFECT..Though I wish it went on for hours just to to be engaged in this movie and Ciaran Hinds longer. I now am smitten with this man. attractive, not pretty. and very talented.


    • perioddramavictoriana
      Jun 27, 2011 @ 08:04:59

      So it is clear you are a big Ciaran Hinds fan!! I think he is a great actor and as you said, he is so talented! He has been in some other really great period dramas too.. Have you seen him as Captain Wentworth in Persuasion? It is a lovely adaptation!


  5. sharlene janish
    Jun 27, 2011 @ 00:06:36

    ..I JUST HAVE TO ADD..Ciaran Hinds has the most expressive, alluring green eyes that are amazing and hypnotizing as well…he is a beautiful man indeed!!


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  7. Francesca Harvey
    Apr 09, 2012 @ 09:42:46

    I completely agree with Jason Isaacs, or Ralph Fiennes as Mr Rochester… but I think that Richard Armitage would be perfect!
    As for the other Rochesters, I definitely think that Toby Stevens was my favourite. I did like Michael Fassbender in the latest movie, and even though both he and Mia Wasiwoska were very good, I didn’t feel any connection between them, and the short length of the film made everything seem to happen too fast and didn’t do the book justice.
    All in all, my favourite Rochester has to be Toby Stephens, and hence my favourite adaptation was the 2006 BBC series!


  8. pat mcloughlin
    Apr 13, 2012 @ 13:58:36

    i have a very early copy of a bad film made in australia i think in the thirties,it is called jane eyre but is nowhere near the proper story.i also have on dvd george c scott in the roll which i enjoyed as he was one of my favourite actors.i also have the michael jayston and timothy dalton copies but must say my favourite is the toby and ruth version.


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  10. Jane Neo
    Feb 24, 2013 @ 10:50:55

    Call me crazy, the image of Benicio del Toro came to mind while I read Jane Eyre’s description of Mr Rochester. Except maybe his small eyes, but the rest seems to fit.. especially if you’ve seen him in The Wolfman.


  11. Talia
    Aug 28, 2013 @ 23:24:41

    I agree with Ralph Fiennes, and I also would love to see Henry Ian Cusick as Mr. Rochester. He has a lot of passion and the darker rugged features–perfect Mr. Rochester.


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