To wit, there's typecasting, and then there's playing a version of Cinderella's stepsister four times. She just bears a resemblance to one of the sisters from the original animated movie, which subconsciously influenced a lot of people on what an evil stepsister 'should' look like.
Punch attended UCL to study French and art history. She was offered an acting job and subsequently dropped out. That role was Eveline in the period sitcom Let Them Eat Cake. The series bombed, but she quickly became a face on British TV.
By 2004 she had graduated to film work, but migrated to Los Angeles to star in the short-lived sitcom The Class. Then came the rough patch. Finding herself out of work, Punch barely scraped together cash for an economy flight to London, where Woody Allen was holding auditions for You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger after his star, Nicole Kidman, dropped out due to a scheduling conflict.
Her depiction of Esmé Squalor (a female Olaf) was widely considered by fans to be as good as, or better than, the books. She got the tone best out of the adult actors: just absurd enough, yet real enough, and she knew her way around Barry Sonnenfelds fast line delivery. And her evil laugh was spectacular. ("She did have quite an annoying laugh.")
Notable film roles include:
- Hattie in Ella Enchanted (2004)
- Lead Stewardess in The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2004)
- Eve Draper in Hot Fuzz (2007)
- Uncredited blonde in Don't trailer, Grindhouse (2007)
- Verity Thwaites in St. Trinian's (2007)
- Charmaine in You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (2010)
- Darla in Dinner for Schmucks (2010)
- Amy Squirrel in Bad Teacher (2011)
- Nurse Gayle in Cake (2014) (2014)
- Lucinda in Into the Woods (2015)
Notable TV roles include:
- Queen Stephanie in The New Adventures of Robin Hood (TV movie, 1998)
- Sally Peep in The 10th Kingdom (3 episodes, 2000)
- Melissa Townsend in Midsomer Murders (2001, "Tainted Fruit")
- Shaya in Dinotopia (2003, "Night of the Wartosa")
- Elaine Denham in Doc Martin (2004)
- Susannah Henderson in ''Poirot (2006, "After the Funeral")
- Holly Ellenbogen in The Class (2007)
- Sally in The Sarah Silverman Program (2007, "Ah Men")
- Daenerys Targaryen /Arya Stark / Yeoman Rand in Robot Chicken (2014, "Rebel Appliance")
- Genevieve in New Girl (2 episodes, 2016)
- Esmé Squalor in A Series of Unfortunate Events (2018)
- Kyle's Mom in The Conners (2019, "Preemies, Weed and Infidelity")
Tropes associated with Lucy Punch
- Beauty Is Bad: Must have a really unfortunate resting face to be the go-to bad lady. But shes barely aged since 2004, and if anything she looks even better.
- Evil Is Hammy: "WHERE. IS. THE. SUGAR BOWL?"
- Fake American: She has a gift for accents, and not just American. I'm a math terrorist with close ties to Al-Gea-bra!
- Maniac Tongue: Esmé's signature move in ASOUE. This carries over to her other roles and interviews, too. Go watch Motherland and you'll notice the same tongue quirk.
- The Other Marty: Punch was cast as Deena Pilgrim, the female lead in the Powers TV pilot. (She's tall, sexy and crazy so she looks like she could be a superhero.) But the role was recast.
- Playing Against Type:
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute:
- Renford Rejects was a teen sitcom concerning a school football team which aired on Nickelodeon UK. Sue White (Lucy Punch) replaced Robin Walker (Holly Davidson) as the teams solitary female player, before Mia Smith (Megan Bertie) came in for the third and fourth seasons. James Corden and Steve Merchant were also in this.
- Vexed, the cop comedy show starring Toby Stephens and Lucy Punch. As you'd expect, the central performances are very good. It got a terrible second season, and remains quietly forgotten; Punch had other commitments in America and declined to return for Series 2, so she was replaced by Miranda Raison.
- Typecasting: She's one of those actors people look up every time they see her, because you know you've seen her in other stuff, but can't really place her.
- She plays unbearable characters so well. Fans of hers might like to see the UK series Motherland. She was also the rich bitchy girl from a different school in St. Trinians.
- The first time most Americans saw this actress was in The 10th Kingdom (a TV mini-series which aired in 2000) as the shepherdass Little Bo Peep. Her rendition of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" should come with a Parental Advisory label. "Huff... and puff... and blow aaaaaaaaaall my clothes off!" The male onlookers in the crowd shots were thinking about plowing that field.
- "Prefers older men. Finger."
- In The Dinner Game, Darla was merely a mistress described as crazy because she had a lot of dogs. In Dinner for Schmucks, she's a drunken fling from years earlier and a complete psychotic.
- Punch is frequently cast as one of Cinderella's stepsisters. In addition to the film versions of Hattie in Ella Enchanted and Lucinda in Into the Woods, there were two obscure British versions of the story that feature her: a 2001 TV movie and Fairy Tales, a short-lived BBC series which modernised fairy tales. To be precise, Grimms' 'beautiful, with fair faces, but evil and dark hearts' type of stepsister and not the pantomime 'Ugly Sister'.