More on Hannah James, who is Playing Geneva Dunsany (you Lucky Dog, you! ?)

Photo: Allison Brophy Champion/Star-Exponent. Hannah James in front of her family home in Radiant, VA

23-year-old British/American actress Hannah James was raised in Virginia, on a farm.

Excerpts: Home schooled until age 10, she grew up close to the land, exploring the open space with an older sister. James’ mother is British, so the family also spent a lot of time in England, venturing off on homeschooling expeditions like following the adventures of King Arthur through Cornwall and Wales. (much like one Sam Heughan did).


“My mum would implement lots of different stories, that was her way of teaching, storytelling, which is probably why I went into acting,” Hannah said, the hint of an English accent well-evident. “A lot of our learning was through exploration and self-discovery.”

A ballerina from age 2 through 18, trained at the Orange School of Performing Arts, James got her first acting role at age 5, playing a fairy in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” through the former Shakespeare at the Ruins program at Barboursville Vineyards. She continued acting in productions at Four County Players and through Tandem Friends School in Charlottesville, where she attended, participating in plays like “Chicago,” “Rent” and “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”

After completing high school at a Quaker school in VA, James studied for three years at the Guildford School of Acting in Surrey, England. She soon landed her first role in LA playing Emma Green in a PBS American Civil War miniseries, “Mercy Street,” which ironically was filmed in Richmond, VA. (Information taken from Source)

Excerpt from WWD interview: “Our set was an hour-and-a-half from my house,” she says. “I would go home on weekends, and sometimes I would bring some of the cast home.”

The show was inspired by real letters from doctors and nurses during the Civil War, and James worked with a historian who specifically studied women during this era. “I read more from diary entries from young girls during the time,” she says. “A lot of women would pour out their real emotions on paper, so I would get into the minds and hearts of them that way.” She even started her own diary, writing in character to use it to further process Emma’s trajectory.

And though the “Downton” comparisons are pouring in, James is quick to caution against their similarities. “It ticks all the boxes of being a period drama in the sense that it has the accents and beautiful clothing and the etiquette that people might enjoy of ‘Downton,’ but our show is quite dirty and gritty in comparison,” she says. “We’ve got blood and gore and cutting through bones.” Source (hey, we have bone cutting on Outlander too!)

Executive Producer David Zucker of Mercy Street said James unquestionably won the role of Emma Green. “The part was one of the more challenging to cast in that we needed a young actress who could credibly play a woman from the south who has an incredible fortitude and strength of being, but could also handle a part that puts her up against some of the leading acting talents working today,” he said in a recent phone interview with the Star-Exponent. Source Good, she’ll need that, to work opposite Sam et al.


No stranger to civil war era clothing, and playing a headstrong belle from a wealthy family, here is a clip of Hannah in action as Emma Green on Mercy Street: 

And here is a clip of an Hannah from an interview with the Mercy Street cast:

As an equestrian, I’m interested to know if Hannah has any training in riding, so I went looking. Of course, Clarence the Mule was on top of that, and here’s our answer…


Below are some of the warm welcomes Hannah has received on Twitter from the Outlander cast and crew…

From casting director, Suzanne Smith…

(I will cover casting of Isobel in a separate post)

Her reply to Sam…

Once again, it looks like Outlander casting has nailed it. We look very forward to seeing you as Geneva Dunsany, Hannah! (sort of, to quote Marion ?)


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