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Nanny McPhee: Whatever Happened To The Cast?

Based on the "Nurse Matilda" books, a series of children's novels by British mystery author Christianna Brand, "Nanny McPhee" starred two-time Oscar winner Dame Emma Thompson as the titular "government" caregiver, an imposing figure whose alarming appearance is offset by her apparent magical abilities. The film's crowd-pleasing humor and positive message — that children can solve their own issues with the right encouragement — won over viewers and critics alike, taking in $123 million in global box office sales. A sequel, "Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang" — known as "Nanny McPhee Returns" in the States — followed in 2010; though equally acclaimed by critics, its slightly lower ticket sales upended Thompson's plan for a third film, though she has been involved in writing and directing a stage musical version.

"Nanny McPhee" remains a cult favorite for its offbeat wit and exceptional cast, many of whom had appeared with Thompson in features and on television and stage prior to its release. Nearly all of its primary players remain not only active but exceptionally successful, with Oscar wins and critical triumphs among their many laurels. So in answering the question, "Whatever happened to the cast of 'Nanny McPhee'?" the answer is: quite a lot, and much of it great.

Emma Thompson took nine years to bring Nanny McPhee to screen

Emma Thompson began working on "Nanny McPhee" shortly after netting her first of two eventual Oscars and a Golden Globe for 1992's "Howards End." During the ensuing nine years before its production, she would claim another Oscar and Golden Globe (this time as a writer on 1995's "Sense and Sensibility"), and would add numerous additional award nominations, including six Emmy nominations, and successful screen products in the decades that followed.

Thompson's subsequent screenplay credits have included "Bridget Jones's Baby" in 2016 and "Last Christmas" in 2019. She also appeared in both films, as well as a long list of other successful features, including "Men in Black 3" and "Men in Black: International," "Saving Mr. Banks" (as "Mary Poppins" author P.L. Travers), "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" and "Deathly Hallows: Part 2" (as Sybil Trelawney) and "Beauty and the Beast" (as Mrs. Potts).

Between these efforts, she also reunited with her "Howards End" co-star, Anthony Hopkins, for a 2018 TV production of "King Lear" with Florence Pugh, victimized Emma Stone in "Cruella," and lent her distinctive voice to "Brave," "Missing Link," and "Dolittle."

Colin Firth was the Brown family's devoted but desperate dad

Shouldering the humor and romance elements of "Nanny McPhee" with equal skill is Colin Firth, who plays the put-upon Cedric Brown. Prior to "McPhee," Firth had been a go-to for erudite heartthrobs for over a decade in films like "The English Patient," "Shakespeare in Love," "Bridget Jones's Diary," and "Love Actually."

Soon after, Firth's career arc soared even higher with his Oscar and Golden Globe wins for "The King's Speech," which cast him as England's King George VI. He would go on to enjoy critical praise for such high-profile pictures as "A Single Man," "The Secret Garden," and "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," while also proving himself an adept action star in "The Kingsmen" franchise. Firth returned for the third entry in the "Bridget Jones" series and stepped ably into producing with the Oscar-nominated drama "Loving," among other film and documentary projects. He even managed to emerge from both "Mamma Mia!" films with his dignity unscathed.

Screen legend Angela Lansbury was awful Lady Adelaide

If there's a villain in "Nanny McPhee," it's most likely Cedric's aunt-in-law, Lady Adelaide Stritch. An insufferable snoot of the first order, Lady Adelaide first demands custody of the children, and later threatens to cut off their much-needed financial support unless Cedric gets married. The arrival of Nanny McPhee puts their house in order — and for her transgressions, Lady Adelaide catches a green frosted cake in the face during the climatic food fight.

"Nanny McPhee" marked Dame Angela Lansbury's first feature film appearance in more than fifteen years. A bona fide Hollywood legend whose seven-decade acting career encompassed three Oscar nominations (and an honorary award in 2013), 18 Emmy nominations, six Golden Globes and five Tony Awards. Her list of credits, which encompasses everything from 1962's "The Manchurian Candidate" and the animated "Beauty and the Beast" (as Mrs. Potts, the role Emma Thompson would play in the 2017 live action version) to her long run on "Murder, She Wrote," continued after "Nanny McPhee" with the Jim Carrey comedy "Mr. Popper's Penguins" and "Mary Poppins Returns." She also remained active on stage in extended runs of "Driving Miss Daisy" with James Earl Jones and "Blithe Spirit" in London's West End.

Kelly Macdonald's Evangeline went from maid to unexpected bride

Scottish actress Kelly Macdonald had already established herself as a critical favorite in features like "Trainspotting" before taking the role of Evangeline, the kindly scullery maid, in "Nanny McPhee." The film was one of six projects featuring Macdonald to see release in 2005 alone — others included the BBC/HBO drama "The Girl in the Café," which netted her an Emmy and Golden Globe nod — and she would maintain a similarly busy schedule after its release.

Macdonald's post-"McPhee" work included the voice of Merida in Pixar's "Brave" (with Emma Thompson as her mother), Helena Ravenclaw in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2," and Josh Brolin's wife Carla Jean in the Coen Brothers' Oscar-winning "No Country for Old Men." In 2010, she joined the cast of "Boardwalk Empire" as Nucky Thompson's mistress and eventual wife, Margaret Thompson; the role earned her two Screen Actors Guild awards, a second Emmy nod, and two additional Golden Globe nominations.

When "Boardwalk" ran its course in 2014, Macdonald worked steadily in features and on television, most notably on the "Hated in the Nation" episode of "Black Mirror," "Trainspotting T2," and the Nick Frost/Simon Pegg series "Truth Seekers."

Thomas Brodie-Sangster's career took off after Nanny McPhee

London-born Thomas Brodie-Sangster played Simon, the eldest of Cedric Brown's seven children in "Nanny McPhee." The film — his second, after the success of his feature debut in "Love Actually" — led to numerous subsequent film appearances, including the "Maze Runner" franchise (he played Newt), as well as critically acclaimed indies like the John Lennon biopic "Nowhere Boy."

Television gave Brodie-Sangster more diverse opportunities after "Nanny McPhee." Early efforts included everything from a young Hitler in the Canadian miniseries "Hitler: The Rise of Evil" to two appearances as the psychically gifted Tim Latimer in a pair of episodes of the David Tennant-era "Doctor Who." He later voiced Ferb Fletcher for the long-running animated series "Phineas and Ferb," and played greenseer Jojen Reed on "Game of Thrones."

More recently, he co-starred on the Emmy-winning Western miniseries "Godless," and netted an Emmy nomination himself as chess champion Benny Watts on "The Queen's Gambit." He's next slated to play Malcolm McLaren, notorious manager of the Sex Pistols, in Danny Boyle's miniseries "Pistol," about the punk band's rise to infamy.

Eliza Bennett: from Nanny McPhee to TV and pop stardom

Actress Eliza Bennett began her career on the London stage in the original production of "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" before appearing in "Nanny McPhee" as Tora, the eldest girl in the Brown clan. The film's success led to steady work in features and on television, most notably in the US/UK/Italian fantasy "Inkheart," for which she also contributed a song to the soundtrack. However, much of her subsequent film work — a slew of low-budget horror titles including "F," "Roadkill," and The Asylum's "Grimm's Snow White" — went unseen except by die-hard genre fans.

After returning to the stage with a leading role in the 2012 West End musical "Loserville," Bennett appeared to recharge her career with substantive guest roles on UK series like "Broadchurch" and "Strike Back." An impressive turn as a trauma victim with a shocking secret in the 2015 indie thriller "H8RZ" led to a starring role as a college vigilante in MTV's 2016 series "Sweet/Vicious." A recurring role on "The Conners" (as Harris's friend, Odessa) and a pop single, "Stole Me," followed in 2019.

Stage icon Derek Jacobi played for laughs as Mr. Wheen

Celebrated stage actor Sir Derek Jacobi took a character turn as Mr. Wheen, an employee at Cedric's funeral parlor, in "Nanny McPhee." An Emmy-, Tony-, and BAFTA-winning actor and one of the most respected Shakespearean players of the last half-century, the film gave Jacobi the chance to play against type as Cedric's gently teasing workplace comic foil alongside partner Mr. Jowls, played by Patrick Barlow.

A contemporary of Laurence Olivier, who cast him in several UK stage productions during the 1960s, Jacobi rose to worldwide acclaim in 1976 as the Roman emperor, Claudius, in the celebrated BBC TV series "I, Claudius." Feature films and television soon followed; after "Nanny McPhee," Jacobi worked tirelessly in the States and England in features like "The King's Speech" (which reunited him with Colin Firth), "Gladiator," and "My Week with Marilyn."

He has worked with both Emma Thompson and her ex-husband, Kenneth Branagh on numerous occasions, including 1991's "Dead Again" and 2015's "Cinderella," and starred in a slew of UK TV series, including the long-running comedies "Last Tango in Halifax" and "Vicious," with Sir Ian McKellan. Most recently, he's appeared on "Good Omens," "The Crown," and "Inside No. 9."

Better Things' Celia Imrie was the marriage-hungry Mrs. Quickly

A favorite on British television ("Absolutely Fabulous") and stage since the 1970s, Celia Imrie lent her tart comic timing to "Nanny McPhee" as the grasping Mrs. Quickly, who aims to take over the Brown household after marrying Cedric. Imrie, whose feature film career prior to 2005 included everything from "Bridget Jones's Diary" (with Colin Firth) to "Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace" (as a fighter pilot), worked tirelessly after the film's release on both the big and small screen in England and the States.

Imrie netted a Screen Actors Guild Award for the 2011 feature "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" and reprised her turn in the 2015 sequel "The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel." Other films during this period included a reunion with Emma Thompson in "Love Punch" and supporting roles in Gore Verbinski's "A Cure for Wellness." Her TV schedule took her from the Matt Smith-era "Doctor Who" as the menacing Miss Kizlet in the episode "The Bells of Saint John," to a series regular role as Pamela Adlon's strong-willed mother Phil on "Better Things."

Between these efforts, Imrie also found time to publish three well-regarded novels and score a UK Top 40 single with her cover of "When I Kissed the Teacher" (with Lily James, Jessica Keenan Wynn, and Alexa Davies) from "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again" (with Colin Firth) in 2018.

Emma Thompson's mom, Phyllida Law, contributed a vocal cameo

You won't see Phyllida Law in "Nanny McPhee," and she's not listed in the end credits. But the Scottish actress does, in fact, provide the voice of Mrs. Partridge, the head of the Nannies of Distinction, who refuses to send any more domestics to Cedric due to his children's pranks. It's a tiny but important moment, as her actions prompt the arrival of Nanny McPhee.

Law's connection to Emma Thompson goes back further than appearances opposite her in "Peter's Friends" and "Much Ado About Nothing," among other films: she's also Thompson's mother. A veteran of UK television and stage since the mid-1960s, Law has remained exceptionally active on television. Guest roles since "Nanny McPhee" have included "The Sarah-Jane Adventures," the Stephen Fry series "Kingdom," and "Poirot." More recently, she appeared in the late Alan Rickman's "A Little Chaos," with Kate Winslet, and "Then Came You," an American indie comedy written by and starring Kathie Lee Gifford.

Claire Downes was the 17th best nanny before Nanny McPhee

Nanny Whetstone is the 17th nanny hired by Cedric Brown to look after his children, and like her 16 predecessors, fails to bring their cyclonic energy under her thumb. The breaking point for Whetstone is a prank which suggests that the children have devoured baby Agatha, which sends her screaming from the Brown residence for good.

Claire Downes, who played Nanny Whetstone, is perhaps better known in her native England as a writer and director for television. Her credits include writing and producing the workplace comedy "The Job Lot" and "Carters Get Rich," a Sky One sitcom about an 11-year-old boy who creates a phone app that attracts the attention of an American millionaire investor (played by James Van Der Beek).

Downes, who also wrote episodes of Idris Elba's autobiographical series "In the Long Run," made her debut as feature director with the 2017 comedy "We Can Be Heroes," about a boy's friendship with his Muslim neighbor. Downes also co-founded Round Midnight, a Birmingham-based company that addresses educational issues and subjects through theater.

Elizabeth Berrington's Letita almost ensnared Mr. Brown

Actress Elizabeth Berrington was already well known to film and TV audiences prior to her appearances as Cedric's unusually pink and unsuccessful suitor, Letita, in "Nanny McPhee." Berrington had appeared in such critically acclaimed films as Mike Leigh's "Naked," Philip Kaufman's "Quills" and "Vera Drake" opposite "Nanny" co-star Imelda Staunton. She had also earned critical praise as Marie Antoinette opposite Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders of "Absolutely Fabulous" in "Let Them Eat Cake," and as Martin Freeman's prodigiously pregnant deskmate Anne on the 2003 UK "Office" Christmas Special.

Since "Nanny McPhee's" 2005 release, Berrington has been busy on numerous series, most notably Benedict Cumberbatch's "Patrick Melrose," "Good Omens," "Stella," and "The Living and the Dead," and as Auntie, who aided the sentient, TARDIS-eating asteroid House in the 2016 "Doctor Who" episode "The Doctor's Wife." Berrington also appeared in a string of features ranging from "Fred Claus" to the cult favorite "In Bruges" and "Yesterday."

Imelda Staunton was the steely cook Mrs. Blatherwick

Serving up a hot dish of tough love to the Brown children is the family cook Mrs. Blatherwick, played by Imelda Staunton. A flinty military vet, Mrs. Blatherwick suffers no fools, but also takes her role in the Brown household seriously, and can be relied on to deliver hot soup to ailing children at a moment's notice.

British actress Imelda Staunton had been appearing in British features and on stage and television for almost two decades prior to joining the cast of "Nanny McPhee." She'd teamed with Emma Thompson on multiple occasions, including "Peter's Friends" and "Sense and Sensibility," and earned a Screen Actors Guild nomination for "Shakespeare in Love." Staunton also enjoyed a major career triumph in the title role of Mike Leigh's "Vera Drake," which earned her an Oscar nomination and Golden Globe Award.

Her acting career continued to flourish after "Nanny McPhee." Staunton enjoyed high-profile turns as Dolores Umbridge in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" and "Deathly Hallows — Part 1," as well as "Maleficient" and its 2019 sequel, "Paddington" and "Paddington 2" (as Paddington's Aunt Lucy") and the 2019 "Downton Abbey" film. Television roles included "The Girl" as Alfred Hitchcock's wife and collaborator, Alma Reville, and she is slated to play Queen Elizabeth II in the fifth season of "The Crown."

Adam Godley: once a vicar, now a chimp

An acclaimed, Tony-nominated stage actor in both America and his native England, Adam Godley had relatively few feature film credits before his appearance as the staid Vicar, who attempts (and fails) to oversee Cedric's marriage to Mrs. Quickly before it descends into a pastry-flinging competition. However, Godley had been a TV veteran since the late 1970s, having appeared in the TV features "Sword of Honour" with Daniel Craig and "Hawking," with Benedict Cumberbatch as physicist Stephen Hawking.

Godley's career blossomed in the years following "Nanny McPhee," with appearances in features like "The Theory of Everything" (with Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking) and voice acting work in "The BFG" and "Missing Link." American television provided Godley with his most widely seen projects: these included recurring roles as Walter White's former friend and partner Elliott Schwartz on "Breaking Bad," and the voice of Pogo the Chimp on "Umbrella Academy." He also appeared in guest roles on "Mad Men," "Suits," "Homeland," and "The Great."

Playwright and actor Patrick Barlow was Mr. Brown's catty co-worker

Actor Patrick Barlow, as Cedric Brown's co-worker Mr. Jowls, bursts into delighted laughter when his partner Mr. Wheen (Derek Jacobi) catches a sizable slab of cake to the face in "Nanny McPhee," moments before getting his own just desserts. Barlow has worked steadily on British television and the occasional feature since the early 1980s. Much of his work has been alongside some of the UK's best-loved comedians, especially Dawn French. He appeared in her 2007 sketch comedy special "A Bucket O' French & Saunders" with Jennifer Saunders, and later as a series regular on French's 2006-2009 sitcom "Clatterford."

Barlow's TV and feature appearances prior to "Nanny McPhee" included "Notting Hill," "Shakespeare in Love," and "Bridget Jones' Diary." He's also a Tony-nominated stage director and playwright, whose popular adaptation of the venerable thriller "The 39 Steps" features 150 characters played by four actors. He also directed French and Jim Broadbent (Horace Slughorn in the "Harry Potter" films) in his own radio play, "Joan of Arc and How She Finally Became Saint."