If you’re unfamiliar with the 35-year-old British actress, we recommend these five roles as a good place to start…
Attack the Block
If you’ve never seen Attack the Block, stop what you’re doing now. The British horror comedy flick about a South London council state that gets invaded by aliens is a fun, funny, and terrifying film in its own right. Directed by Joe Cornish and starring a young John Boyega in his first on-screen role.
Whittaker plays Samatha, a 25-year-old white nurse whose assumptions are challenged as she fights aliens alongside her young neighbors of color. The fact that this film launched both the next Star Wars star and the next Doctor Who star is pretty neat.
This is one of the most underrated comedies of the last decade, perhaps because it is so unashamedly teen girl-centric. Starring everyone from Colin Firth and Rupert Everett to Gemma Arterton and Lena Headey, this film about a girls boarding school full of mischievious delinquents that no one else wants is a thing of beauty.
Whittaker stars as Beverly, the school’s drug-happy receptionist. Come for the amazing cast, stay for the girls’ National Gallery heist of Girl With a Pearl Earring. If you’re looking to see what Whittaker is capable of comedically, St. Trinian’s is the movie for you.
St. Trinian’s 2: The Legend of Fritton’s Gold
That’s right. There’s more than one of these movies, and this sequel stars David Tennant as the film’s villain — so that’s two Doctors for the price of one.
In the sequel, Whittaker reprises her role as St. Trinian’s pharmaceutically chilled out receptionist, as the girls of St. Trinian’s work to find the treasure of a long-dead pirate in order to literally keep the lights on at their struggling boarding school.
If you really want to get a sense of what Whittaker is capable of dramatically, check out her starring role in Broadchurch, Chibnall’s TV series about what happens to a town after one of their children is found murdered on the beach. Whittaker stars as Beth, the mother of that child, and her performance as an angry, grieving mother is one of the strongest of the show.
Broadchurch also stars David Tennant and Arthur Darvill, for all you Ten and Rory fans out there. Perhaps even more relevantly than Whittaker’s performance to the new season of Who is Chibnall’s role as a showrunner. Can we glean any clues about the shape of the new season from Chibnall’s choices with Broadchurch?
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
If you’re in the mood for a tearjerker that will also make you want to punch something, then this BBC adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles is a good choice. Gemma Arteron stars as Tess and Eddie Redmayne appears as Angel in this four-hour adaptation. Whittaker plays a supporting, yet memorable role as Tess’ friend Izz Huet.
Black Mirror: “The Entire History of You”
If you’ve seen any of Black Mirror, then you know the deal. Each episode tells a different speculative fiction story about the dark side of technology. Whittaker stars in Season 1’s “The Entire History of You,” an episode set in an alternative reality where everything you see, do, or hear is recorded.
Liam (Toby Kebbell) is a lawyer who becomes convinced his wife, played by Whittaker, is cheating on him. His obsession to find out the “truth” is enabled by the technology that allows people to play back their entire history and the history of others.
“The Entire History of You” is not my favorite episode of Black Mirror, but Whittaker’s performance here is gutting, nuanced, and visceral. If you’re looking for a quicker watch to see what Whittaker is capable of, check out this 44-minute episode on Netflix.
What is your favorite Jodie Whittaker performance? Sound off in the comments below!