Garai's breakthrough performance in I Capture the Castle (2003) prompted high praise and comparisons to a young Julie Christie. Although critics panned her next film, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004), Garai continued her climb to highbrow fare with her supporting turn among A-listers in the Oscar-nominated period drama Atonement (2007).
In 2010, Garai earned her first Golden Globe nod for her sparkling portrayal of matchmaking heroine Emma Woodhouse in the BBC miniseries "Emma" (2009).
In 1788, penniless young Englishwoman Mary Bryant (Romola Garai) is found guilty of petty theft and shipped to Botany Bay, an Australian penal colony, to serve a seven-year sentence, only to plot and pull off an improbable escape. Facing insurmountable hardships at every turn, Bryant sets out on a perilous journey toward freedom and redemption. Jack Davenport, Alex O'Loughlin and Sam Neill co-star in this inspiring true story.