Hayley Atwell possessed an air of natural elegance and grace that made her a favorite to portray strong-willed yet emotionally vulnerable women. After only a short time in the limelight in her native England, Atwell landed a starring role in Woody Allen's morality tale "Cassandra's Dream" (2007) as Ewan McGregor's calculating actress girlfriend. Propelled by such a high-profile role, Atwell's career gained even more momentum with starring roles in the historical films "Brideshead Revisited" (2008) and "The Duchess" (2008). But it was her breakout role as an arrogant aristocrat toppled by wartime power struggles in the epic miniseries "The Pillars of the Earth" (Starz Entertainment, 2010) that made Hollywood sit up and take notice of Atwell's talents, all of which paved the way for bigger and more exciting parts to follow. These included her entry into Marvel's Avengers universe as S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Peggy Carter in "Captain America: The First Avenger" and its sequels.