Kaya Scodelario as Catherine Earnshaw
James Howson as Heathcliff
Oliver Milburn as Mr. Linton
Nichola Burley as Isabella Linton
Eve Coverley as Young Isabella Linton
James Northcote as Edgar Linton
Lee Shaw as Hindley Earnshaw
Amy Wren as Frances Earnshaw
Shannon Beer as Young Catherine Earnshaw
Solomon Glave as Young Heathcliff
Steve Evets as Joseph
Paul Hilton as Mr. Earnshaw
Simone Jackson as Nelly Dean
Jonny Powell as Young Edgar Linton
Michael Hughes as Hareton
Announced in April 2008, Natalie Portman was originally set to star as Cathy in a new film adaptation of the novel, but she withdrew in May. In May 2008, director John Maybury cast Michael Fassbender as Heathcliff and Abbie Cornish as Cathy. However, in May 2009, Peter Webber was announced as the new director, with Ed Westwick and Gemma Arterton attached to play Heathcliff and Cathy respectively. However, the film did not get off the ground and in January 2010, it was announced that Andrea Arnold would direct the adaptation. In April, she cast Kaya Scodelario as Catherine, a more age-appropriate choice than previous adaptations.
Due to Brontë's description of Heathcliff as a "dark-skinned gypsy in aspect" and "a little Lascar", Arnold searched for an actor from the UK's Romani community. However, the community had some doubts. The search was then expanded to Yorkshire actors aged 16 to 21 of mixed race, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi or Middle Eastern descent. In November, it was reported that James Howson had been cast as Heathcliff, the first time a black actor would portray the role. Lucy Pardee was in charge of casting the children in the film (Gail Stevens cast the adults). Pardee auditioned private school children with no history of acting.
Principal photography concluded in November 2010. Filming took place in several North Yorkshire locations, including Thwaite, Cotescue Park in Coverham (as Thrushcross Grange), and Moor Close Farm in Muker (as Wuthering Heights) and with the production office being temporarily based in Hawes during filming.
The first footage of the film released was a four-shot teaser at Film4's pre-Cannes Film Festival party, with The Guardian noting that the teaser "wowed" the partygoers (including Venice Film Festival artistic director Marco Mueller who was present to scout films for his festival).
The film premiered in competition at the 2011 Venice Film Festival and appeared at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival as a Special Presentation. It was also shown at the London Film Festival, Zurich Film Festival, Maryland Film Festival, and the Leeds Film Festival. The film was released in the UK on 11 November.
Grammy Award-nominated band Mumford & Sons recorded two songs for the film, one of which (entitled "Enemy") played over the closing credits.
Photographer Agatha A. Nitecka shot promotional material for the film including photos for the poster, DVD cover, magazines and a photo-essay. Film4 released the first promotional photo of James Howson as Heathcliff to their Twitter account the morning the Venice Film Festival line-up was announced. With the announcement that the film would play at the Toronto Film Festival, four new promotional images were released.
An exhibit of film stills and photographs taken on the set by Agatha A. Nitecka was displayed in Curzon Cinema's Renoir location and her photo-essay was available free to every customer who purchased a ticket. A video of the photo-essay was also released online.
The film was released on 5 October in the United States.
The film took £156,931 on its opening weekend at the box office in the United Kingdom, placing at 16th for the weekend of 11–13 November 2011. The film holds a 69% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 70% on Metacritic.
Andrew O'Hehir of Salon placed the film at number one on his list of the top 10 best films of 2012.