Mia Wasikowska vs Joan Fontaine: The 'Jane Eyre' bonnet-off

mia-wasikowska-joan-fontaine.jpg
Cary Fukunaga's retelling of Charlotte Brontë's classic Gothic romance "Jane Eyre" is out in limited release March 11 -- and if critics and that swoon-worthy trailer are any indication, it will do both the book and the numerous adaptations justice.

But what of the leading lady? Hollywood ingenue Mia Wasikowska has a seriously big bonnet to fill. She's the umpteenth actress to portray Eyre, who has been a fixture in film, television and the stage for nearly a century.

The women who've played Eyre are as familiar as they are numbered -- both Charlotte Gainsbourg and Samantha Morton have tackled the part -- but none were as iconic as Joan Fontaine in the 1944 version alongside Orson Welles.

How will young Mia stack up against Fontaine? We've broken down their vital stats, including headgear, in attempt to see who has the edge:


mia-wasikowska-jane-eyre.jpgMia Wasikowska

Version: "Jane Eyre 2011"
Age: 21 years old
Origins: Australian
Bonnet of choice: Doily-esque, in modest earth tones.
Pre-"Eyre" cred: Starred in the Academy Award-nominated "The Kids Are All Right," earned wild praise for her role as a troubled teen on HBO's "In Treatment" and took home a 2010 Teen Choice Award for "Choice Movie Fight."
Advantage: Jane Eyre was not a fancy lady, and many adaptations have tripped up in portraying her as beautiful or glamorous. The 2011 version plays down Wasikowska's good looks, making her appropriately dowdy.
Handicap: At this point, "Eyre" has been done to death, and a lot of audiences still don't immediately recognize Wasikowska's name.
Fun fact: With a few lucky roles in 2010, Wasikowska was the top-grossing female actress of the year. Her projects (including "Alice in Wonderland") earned $1.03 billion worldwide.


joan-fontaine-jane-eyre.jpgJoan Fontaine

Version: "Jane Eyre 1944"
Age: 26 years old
Origins: British-American, by way of Japan
Bonnet of choice: Sturdy, with an extra-deep brim and a floral accent.
Pre-"Eyre" cred: Had one Oscar ("Suspicion") and three total nominations before "Eyre" ever hit theaters. Acted alongside fellow legends Cary Grant, Lawrence Oliver and Joan Crawford.
Advantage: The 1934 version starring Virginia Bruce was the only "Eyre" of note before she became Jane -- and since Fontaine was already one of Hollywood's biggest power-players, comparisons were almost nonexistent.
Handicap: Had a public, though largely media-concocted, sibling rivalry with sister Olivia de Havilland ("Gone With the Wind").
Fun fact: She's the only actor to ever win an Academy Award for an Alfred Hitchcock-directed performance.

The verdict

Obviously, it's way too soon to tell how the 2011 "Jane Eyre" will hold up, but at this point, we're happy to call it for Fontaine. The woman is 93 years old and still trucking. We wonder if she'll go see it...

Photo/Video credit: 20th Century Fox, Focus Features
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