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hose who can do, do fully. Take Denis Lawson, an

hose who can do, do fully. Take Denis Lawson, an Olivier Award–winning musical theatre star on the London stage. Yes, the same Lawson who appeared in the Star Wars franchise, as Wedge. Yet here he is as the gentle, loving John Jarndyce in the adaptation of Charles Dickens' novel Bleak House on PBS. The Jarndyce family is the subject of a generations-old lawsuit—claimed by the courts to be clogging them yet beloved of the lawyers who bicker as the money dwindles. Jarndyce owns and occupies Bleak House, where wards of court come into his guardianship. He inappropriately falls in love with the young companion of one. Of course Jarndyce has a Dickensian past, which Dawson reportedly asked the producers to augment in a backstory he used to develop the character, enhancing Jarndyce's depression and melancholy. But most tellingly, Lawson has said, "I've always maintained that there's no such thing as period acting…. I don't believe that people moved and spoke much differently than we do now." Perhaps that's the basis of his always real, always comprehensible work.

—Dany Margolies

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