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Why Aethelflaed From The Last Kingdom Looks So Familiar

If you're one of the many fans or series newcomers who contributed to the over 60 million minutes of viewing that Season 5 of Netflix's "The Last Kingdom" managed to compile in its opening week (via Fansided) odds are you've grown more than a little attached to the saga's many flawed, layered, and compelling characters. If that's the case, you may also have noticed that much of the cast — including Alexander Dreymon (Uhtred) and Eliza Butterworth (Aelswith) — are in the relatively early throes of their careers. Unlike hit series such as "Yellowstone" and "Pieces of Her," the medieval drama didn't come to the table boasting an already-established, major Hollywood heavyweight, but that didn't stop its devoted fanbase from insisting it blew its competition out of the water.

Based on the historical fiction novels by Bernard Cornwell, "The Last Kingdom" ditched the dragons and mysticism of "Game of Thrones" and "Vikings" in favor of historical accuracy, all while upholding a fictitious hero's journey made all the more compelling by the fact that it felt so real. A major element of that realism came from the richly human and memorably complex performances of its main protagonists, including relative newcomer Millie Brady, the actor behind one of the show's most compelling (and real-life) women. But although the success of the series (via TV Line) has made Brady a household face — and will undoubtedly stand as her "big break" — the model and actor has graced a number of projects over the course of her career that many a fan might recognize. 

Millie Brady killed zombies in satirical spin on Austen

After landing minor appearances in the ITV and PBS historical series "Mr. Selfridge" and Brian Helgeland's 2015 film "Legend," the London native nabbed another distinctly British role when she starred as the oft-bespectacled Bennet sister Mary in Burr Steers' "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies." 

Though the blunt instrument of a genre-blending satire received mixed reviews (okay, mostly bad reviews, per Rotten Tomatoes) at the time of its release, it's since been enjoying a second lease on life, and reception, on Amazon. The film ditches "Pride and Prejudice" author Jane Austen's typically subtle approach to social commentary in favor of a hilariously obvious and tonally versatile mash-up of the zombie genre and the long-cherished story of romance and class divide. In it, zombies are little more than another annoying societal practicality that women of the 19th century must train themselves to deal with, and though its heavy-handed approach borders on Ryan Murphy-esque, it nevertheless puts a fresh and relevant twist on multiple genres at the same time. 

As anyone even remotely familiar with Austen's popular narrative will recall, Mary Bennet is the archetypal bookworm, the plain sister who accepts, even embraces, her spinster destiny (via Lit Hub). For fans of "The Last Kingdom" and Aethelflaed, the two characters' similar reverence for pragmatism might prove difficult to ignore. 

Brady starred in a Guy Ritchie flop

Following her role in Steers' film, Brady once again found herself giving a solid performance in a film largely panned by critics (via Rotten Tomatoes) — though in this case, rightfully so. In the insufferable, hyper-stylized, and needlessly anachronistic "King: Arthur: Legend of the Sword," Brady portrays Princess Catia, daughter to Jude Law's throne-usurping Vortigern. 

Unfortunately, audiences would be hard-pressed to recall her performance, or any of the actors' performances for that matter, since overwhelming star of the film is "Guy Ritchie doing Guy Ritchie things for the benefit of Guy Ritchie oh and in case you forgot also there's Guy Ritchie are you familiar with Guy Ritchie here is his style because GuyRitchieGuy RitchieGuyRitchieGuyRitchie." Luckily, Brady remained mostly immune to the film's scathing reviews. She's not mentioned at all, for instance, in Matt Zoller Seitz' take down of the debacle, wherein he writes that "[the film] never lets up in the exact way that a cocaine addict who wants to tell you his life story before closing time never lets up" (via Roger Ebert). If nothing else, the film established the fact that Brady, from an aesthetic and acting standing point, fits perfectly well into the medieval era — that same year, she made her debut in "The Last Kingdom." 

Millie Brady appeared in multiple miniseries while shooting The Last Kingdom

Notably, her starring recurring role in Netflix's epic Saxon saga didn't prevent the actor from landing supporting recurring roles in three other series. In 2020 alone, Millie Brady appeared in the BBC One miniseries "The Murders at White Hall" and "Roadkill," and starred opposite Anya Taylor-Joy in the Netflix phenom that was "The Queen's Gambit." 

Brady stars as a mod and seductive French fashion model in two episodes of the 11-time Emmy award-winning series. Since the charismatic Cleo meets and becomes friends with Taylor-Joy's Beth Harmon in relatively short order, then coaxes her into a self-destructive binge and (potential) romantic encounter on the eve of her most important match to-date (that is, the one in Moscow), many fans have theorized that Brady's character worked for the KGB (via Reddit). Subsequently, though she appears in just two of the series' seven episodes, Brady's Cleo remains one of the most memorable elements of a show that, as its numerous awards suggest, boasts a litany of memorable elements. 

In addition to the various smaller roles Brady has taken on, there's one more place "The Last Kingdom" fans might recognize her from. In 2016, the then-model and fledgling actress landed a brand campaign with Miu Miu, a high-end Italian fashion brand whose ads grace the pages of all the most prestigious fashion magazines. As far as we know, in this case, she was actually modeling, and not working undercover for the KGB to take down an American chess player.