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25 Times Period Drama Actors Smiled and Your Heart Melted!

Aidan Turner - 25 Times Period Drama Actors Smiled
Aidan Turner in Poldark
Photo: BBC

Sometimes (all the time) it is exceedingly worthwhile to sit through movies with dark, quiet, brooding leading men who are perpetually frowning or looking gravely serious because the one fleeting moment they smile, you just about die inside. This article aims to capture those rare moments of some of the best smiles captured by period drama actors. It required lots of research in which I had to spend many hours re-watching period dramas featuring these hot guys. Alas, someone had to sacrifice.

25 Times Period Drama Actors Smiled

(In No Particular Order)

#1: MATTHEW MACFADYEN as Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice (2005)

25 Times Period Drama Actors Smiled - Mr. Darcy
Matthew Macfayden, smiling a smile to shame the sun.
Photo: Focus Features

It only makes sense to begin this post with the man who truly began it all (for me anyway). Matthew Macfayden was so dour in this film that I disliked him intensely and was distraught that this actor was chosen for the Mr. Darcy role. He wasn’t even hot! But then, there came one scene where he laughs, and his smile transformed him. From then on, I realized there was great value in grumps with a heart of gold. It seems that the rest of the world came to this conclusion before me because dark, quiet, brooding romantic interests who are SECRETLY BURSTING WITH LOVE INSIDE are the true stars of period dramas and romantic comedies. Are you a character with stoicism or angst? If so, WE ARE YOURS!

#2: NATHAN PAGE as Detective Inspector Jack Robinson from Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

Jack Robinson - 25 Times Period Drama Actors Smiled
Photo: Acorn TV

There has literally never been a more attractive man.

RELATED | 35 Period Dramas to Watch on Acorn TV

#3: RICHARD ARMITAGE as Mr. Thornton from North & South (2004)

Mr. Thornton - 25 Times Period Drama Actors Smiled
Photo: BBC

Is this really even a question? WHO WOULD REFUSE SUCH AN OFFER? OH, I KNOW. NO ONE.

RELATED | Classic Romantic Moment: John Thornton and Margaret Hale

#4: DANIEL LISSING as Jack Thornton from When Calls the Heart

jack thornton - 25 Times Period Drama Actors Smiled
Photo: Hallmark

Besides having the names “Jack,” and “Thornton,” which, from the previous posts you can see contributes to extreme hotness, Jack is hot in his own right for being mischievous, wicked, and consistently noble towards proper schoolteacher Elizabeth Thatcher in one of my favorite shows ever, When Calls the Heart.


Jamie - Outlander - 25 Times Period Drama Actors Smiled
Photo: Starz

jamie - 25 Times Period Drama Actors Smiled

I felt the other picture didn’t do justice to Jamie’s blue eyes so I included this one where he listens intently to Claire’s feelings and says things like, “I hear ye,” and “I believe ye,” and “I love ye.” I LOVE YE ALSO, JAMIE.

#6: HENRY CAVILL as Stephen Colley in I Capture the Castle

henry cavill - 25 Times Period Drama Actors Smiled
Photo: BBC / Samuel Goldwyn Films

The moment you wonder why the heck they cast Henry Cavill as the secondary love interest instead of the main one?? (Also, when you realize he was hotter as a poor English farmer than as Superman.)

#7: RALPH FIENNES as Almasy in The English Patient. 

Ralph Fiennes was fire in this movie. A cold, bleak, severely awkward and intensely introverted fire behind ferocious green eyes, BUT A FIRE NONETHELESS. 🔥🔥🔥🔥

Ralph Fiennes - 25 Times Period Drama Actors Smiled
No Ralph Fiennes, thank you. To your face for existing.
Photo: Miramax

#8: J.J FEILD as Mr. Tilney from Northanger Abbey (2007)

This is the CUTEST little grin ever to grace screens. I imagine the only character that could come close to achieving this grin is Eugenides from The Queen's Thief series. But alas, his wicked charm has not been made to grace televisions as Mr. Tilney's so fortunately has.
Photo: ITV

This is the CUTEST little teasing grin ever to grace screens. I imagine the only character that could come close to achieving this grin is Eugenides from The Queen’s Thief series. But alas, his wicked charm has not been made to grace televisions as Mr. Tilney’s so fortunately has.

#9: TOM HIDDLESTON as Sir Thomas in Crimson Peak

Yeah, I put Tom Hiddleston and J.J Feild together BECAUSE THEY TOTALLY LOOK SIMILAR. (Right??)

Tom Hiddleston - 25 Times Period Drama Actors Smiled
Photo: Universal Pictures/ Legendary

Tom Hiddleston appears to be taking a breath in this photo, which is something I must often do when he is on-screen since he is, himself, breathtaking.

RELATED | Crimson Peak Review

#10: MICHIEL HUISMAN as Ellis from Age of Adaline

Age of Adaline - 25 Times Period Drama Actors Smiled
Photo: Lionsgate

Age of Adaline is not technically a period drama but IT SORT OF IS, since Blake Lively is the period drama in herself...also this photo of Michiel Huisman and books was too much to pass up. Do you know how they met in the movie? HE JOINED THE LIBRARY BOARD THAT SHE WAS ALREADY ON. THEN HE ASKED HER OUT AFTER HE DONATED A HUGE COLLECTION OF BOOKS TO THE LIBRARY. MEET CUTE OF ALL MEET CUTES IF YOU ASK ME. AHEM FUTURE HUSBAND. I AM LOOKING AT YOU.

RELATED | Romantic Moment of the Week: The Age of Adaline and Book Flowers

#11: JAMES MCAVOY as Tom Lefroy in Becoming Jane

James McAvoy - 25 Times Period Drama Actors Smiled
Photo: Miramax

James McAvoy is wickedly cute in Becoming Jane as the only suitor who ever truly caught Jane’s interest. But here, he is smiling a sweet smile after backing up our spirited and prickly Jane. Also those blue eyes and perfect hair. I have loved you since you were a faun in Narnia, James McAvoy, and I will never watch Atonement for what they did to you!!!

#12: MICHAEL FASSBENDER as Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre (2011)

Michael Fassbender - Period Drama Actors Smiled
Photo: Focus Features

I have not seen this movie (yet) but this gaze is very entrancing indeed. Also the locks. I already don’t care about your questionable history, Mr. Rochester! Brood around me as you like!

#13: LAURENCE OLIVIER as Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights

Period Drama Actors - Laurence Olivier
Photo: Samuel Goldwyn

Laurence Olivier, in addition to having the smoothest name ever, is stupendously handsome in this film. He only smiles around Catherine. But that’s ok because that’s how I like my men. Possessive and made to suffer in my memory forever.

#14: EWAN MCGREGOR as Catcher Block in Down With Love 

Ewan McGregor and 25 Times Period Drama Actors Smiled
Photo: 20th Century Fox

Tell me this picture of Ewan McGregor smiling isn’t your screen saver and I will tell you YOU ARE LYING.

#15: JONATHAN CROMBIE as Gilbert Blythe in Anne of Green Gables

Gilbert winks and smiles at Anne - 25 Times Period Drama Actors Smiled
Photo: Sullivan Entertainment

Gilbert is too precious for words…

RELATED | 20 Most Memorable Gilbert Blythe Scenes
Turn the page for more heart melting, period drama actors hotness!
By on December 26th, 2015

About Amirah Yasin

Amirah Yasin is a lover of persimmons, angst-ridden characters, YA fiction (and all books), Shah Rukh Khan and Colin Firth. In addition to spending her time frequenting YouTube to watch Bollywood songs, attempting to find chances to wear prairie-length skirts, and watching period dramas, she likes to travel, run, play cards and DJ old Indian music. She is a registered nurse as well as an obnoxious snapchat fiend. She enjoys writing idiotic poetry, befriending librarians, and taking photographs of trees. Her elderly patients are the only people known to be fond of her singing voice. She has always loved reading, writing, and romance.

More posts by this author.

12 thoughts on “25 Times Period Drama Actors Smiled and Your Heart Melted!”

  1. Oh man, totally love this! It’s giving me too many period drama feels. 😀 If I added anything, it would be Merlin and Arthur from BBC Merlin – cuz when they smile it’s so freakin’ adorable. Plus Tom Hiddleston in The Hollow Crown and Return to Cranford. ‘Cuz can’t have too much Hiddles!

  2. Aw, this is such fun, Amirah! Thank you so much for putting this together – lots of smiles in looking through this, and reminding myself how in need I am of re-watching many of these. 🙂

  3. Wonderful list. I knew when I began reading that it had to have Henry Tilney on it, and you did not disappoint. Smiles are his specialty. 🙂

    • Hell yes. I said the same thing. He kills me. I melt until late I am a puddle on the floor. And Ralph Fiennes in Withering Heights (1992) oh God have mercy. I may only be 24 but I know what I’m talking about.

  4. Rufus Sewell in Middlemarch??? Please tell me he belongs on this list. Gah, that’s when I learned to adore him.


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