Keira Knightley (Elizabeth "Lizzie" Bennet)
CS: In many of the previous versions of "Pride & Prejudice", the movie belonged to the actor playing Mr. Darcy. In this one, the movie belongs to Lizzie. Any thoughts on that?
Knightley: Well, that's good. When you read the book, the story is definitely told through Lizzie's eyes. That was one of the first things that Joe [Wright, director] said is that we really wanted this through Elizabeth's eyes, so you fall in love with Darcy as she does, so you hate him at the beginning and you gradually change you mind. So yes, I think that was a conscious thing. Also, if you've got two hours to tell a story--you have this BBC version that was 5 or 6 hours long to tell the same story--you have to make definite choices about whose eyes you're seeing it through. You could split it up in a five-hour version, but you have to be particular in a two-hour version. I guess they just decided to go along that route, as opposed to along the other one, and dare me to say that Elizabeth Bennett is meant to be Jane Austen, so it's kind of nice to say that I'm channeling Jane Austen, yeah.CS: What was some of the concerns you had about your interpretation of Elizabeth once they accepted you for the part?
Knightley: Interpreting the role, I was just terrified that I was going to do a total copy of Jennifer Ehle performance from the BBC version, because I'd been so obsessed with it. I thought that was possible, and it was actually my mum that said to me "Read the book again. I guarantee that you will see Elizabeth Bennett as yourself, because everybody does. Therefore, you won't be able to do a copy of Jennifer Ehle's performance." She was absolutely right, because as soon as you read it, you just go "Yeah, that's me. I get that" and you can't take anyone else in. That was my biggest concern before I started. What was really helpful to me was that we had lectures from historians before we started. I love history, so history lessons were always my favorite at school. Actually learning about the period and specifically, learning about women's position of that period was really helpful, because you have to know what the rules are in order to break them. What was great was knowing how important it is when she says "No" to Mr. Collins, because historically, if she'd said "Yes", her entire family would have been saved from possible destitution. In that age, marriage was the only job that women could do, and that would have saved absolutely everything. For a character to be selfish enough to go "No, I can't do that" is an amazing thing. For me, the whole character came from that moment, and it's nothing that anybody watching would go "That's amazing," but it was a really interesting thing to find out before I started.CS: So many big actors have the same group of friends from before they became big actors. Do you have that and do you find it difficult at all to make new friends because everyone wants to be your friend?
Knightley: I haven't found that everyone wants to be my friend!! People keep saying this. I think I must be like a real bitch or something. (laughs) Yes, I do have a lot of friends from school, and yes, lots of them have absolutely nothing to do with film, which is lovely. This is a very special piece for me, because it was the first time that I worked with girls of my own age who wanted to do the same thing. I'd always been the youngest by a mile, so I was always slightly outside. This one I was 19 when I did it, and two others--Jena Malone and Carey Mulligan--were also 19. Tallulah Riley was 18, and Ros [Rosamund Pike] is just a tiny bit older, but pretty much the same. It was amazing and we're all great friends now. It's the first job that I've done where I've really kept in contact with the people I've been working with and I've got a bit of a posse, which is great. So I think that's why it was really special to me, because of that. In a funny way, it was my university.
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Matthew Macfadyen (Mr. Darcy)
Matthew MacFadyen emerges as a moodier, subtler, more tormented Mr. Darcy than either of his predecessors. He has his own wet-T-shirt-moment equivalent, when he strides romantically from the mist toward the end of the film. But he says that - in his own mind, at least - he was not an obvious choice for the part.
"I don't feel like a romantic lead; I guess I feel more like a character actor," MacFadyen confessed recently. Dressed down for an interview in jeans and a sweatshirt, he lived up to his advance billing as the epitome of non-starry casualness.
"I don't look like Mr. Darcy in my head," he went on. "If I could paint Darcy, he would be dishier, darker-haired than I am."
"I found it heartbreaking and sympathetic," he went on, speaking of Mr. Darcy's emotional fragility. "He's a young man who doesn't know who he is yet. Even though he's 28 and comes from this ancient family and has a huge estate, he has that adolescent quality of taking himself very seriously and being very passionate. I don't see him not caring about anybody. I think he cares very deeply. He's just locked up."
"Everyone goes, 'How did you prepare for the role, how did you approach it?"' MacFadyen said. "Well, you turn up, learn your lines, grow some sideburns, play the scene and go home. I got on with it. It really is as simple as that. You have to think about it and everything, but you can't describe your own workings out or thinkings or wonderings."
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Donald Sutherland (Mr. Bennet)"Joe Wright called me and I also had some trepidation along those lines but he said no, it would work. He had a very clear and specific idea of what he wanted to do. There's a book about Jane Austen that I read beforehand by Ruth Perry, who's an MIT professor, called Novel Relations. It's about kinship from the middle of the 18th century to the early 19th century, and what happens when you have that transition between consanguineal marriages and conjugal marriages - the one being decided by your family, and then later all the power moves over to the husband. And Joe really understood that angle. So if my Mr Bennet could in any way satisfy Ruth Perry, then I'd be really thrilled!"
And it works. For much of the movie, as in the novel, Mr Bennet is a formidable but quietly spoken figure who looms large and powerful, but mostly in the background - a calm, isolated outpost of beleaguered maleness in a swirling torrent of femininity. But in the movie's deeply satisfying final shot, with Keira Knightley as his daughter Lizzy, Sutherland issues up a small but indelible sigh of contentment - and that sunrise of a smile - on behalf of his newly happy child, and the impression is so subtly powerful that Sutherland's is the role one thinks of all the way home.
He's up against a memorable cast. Sutherland is delirious about his co-star Knightley - "she's just the most terrific actress. It was like working with a Zen Buddhist" - for whom this is a role not unlike Julie Christie's Bathsheba in Far From The Madding Crowd: the moment when a beautiful young starlet finally finds her confidence and breadth as an actor. Elsewhere, Jena Malone (from Donnie Darko) does some scene-stealing as the capricious Lydia, Matthew MacFadyen is an acceptably starchy Mr Darcy, and Brenda Blethyn burbles delightfully as Mrs Bennet.
So, twittering young ladies and a slightly dotty wife. Can't be all bad?
"It was delicious," he says wistfully, savouring the adjective, "and they all treated me like Papa. Just wonderful. At 70 years old, it would cheer anybody up."
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Brenda Blethyn (Mrs. Bennet)
Question: When you took this on, how concerned were you about making a character, that has been played to death I suppose in one form or another, your own?
Brenda Blethyn: Well to tell the truth I hadn't seen it before, although when I mentioned to people I was going to be playing this they said, oh, a wonderful, cartoony person... I said, what, no she's not. Stop it! They said, oh, no, it's usually like a figure of fun. I've read the book and I know her daughter's description of her, but that has to come from some place real - she's the only one taking the problem seriously. Mr. Bennet's all right, they've got a roof over their heads all the time he's alive - it's when he dies that they've got the problem when the money goes down the male line. As it turned out, I think she's the only one speaking up for her daughters and trying to solve these problems so I won't hear a word said against her...
Question: Before I saw this film I must confess that I thought to myself 'I can't see Keira Knightley as that character' - mainly because I, I think she's done so many contemporary things and she... and having met her a number of times she's just a very, a very modern young woman. But then I changed my mind after I saw the movie...
Brenda Blethyn: Well it's nice to hear you say that because I, I think she's terrific in it. And in fact a lot of people who have said that - that they couldn't see her playing this part - have eaten their words. They've stood up and said she's wonderful in this. Now I think Joe Wright has got good performances out of everybody - um, me and Donald, Tom Hollander, Judi Dench, Keira and Matthew. Joe has to take a lot of credit for creating the right ambience for us to work in and to make it a really good atmosphere for all of us to be creative and not to feel silly if we tried something that didn't work.
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Rosamund Pike (Jane Bennet)
What do you think about all the positive reaction to Pride and Prejudice?
The response to Pride has been so overwhelming. I mean, people have really loved it. And it's so rewarding because we had such a fun time making that film, and it was made with so much heart, that it's lovely that people seem to be responding in kind to that.
Read the rest of her interview here.
Q. Your profile has been steadily rising since the James Bond film and Pride & Prejudice. Did you enjoy your Bond experience [on Die Another Day]?
Rosamund Pike: Yeah, it was an amazing introduction to the world of films and also this very glamorous lifestyle. The thing about Bond is that they keep the glamour going and everything about it has something extra special. They do it so stylishly. I also think Daniel Craig has done a fantastic job [since taking over the role]. I couldn’t have imagined a better or more original way to do it. It was right that he should be truly original and not follow in the footsteps of anyone. It [Casino Royale] was brilliant.
Q. And Pride & Prejudice must have been a similarly great experience for you?
Rosamund Pike: Absolutely, yes. It was really happy. But that’s the thing about rehearsing [going back to the Anthony Hopkins comment]. If we hadn’t rehearsed on Pride we wouldn’t have been able to capture that kind of atmosphere on film. We wouldn’t have seemed like we knew each other; we had to be a family by the time we started to film. And it really worked.
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Random RP quotes about P&P:
"Filming Pride & Prejudice (2005) was a joy and made for one of my happiest summers ever. "It could well be that the story brings out the best in people - and it sounds so cheesy, but we really did behave like a family. The girls playing the younger sisters had never been on a film set before and wanted to socialize all the time, so we picnicked, hung out in a beautiful country house and went swimming naked in a lake. It was idyllic."
"Before the first audition, when they asked me to come in and meet her, I thought 'I can't play Jane to Keira Knightley's Lizzie' but I went and I met her, and thought she was so fabulous, and thought 'if they're prepared to take a risk with her, then I'll go with it.' We became really close."
"And I like the look on people's faces when I say I'm doing this movie called Pride and Prejudice and they kind of smile, and then I say I'm in a movie called Doom and they kind of do a double take and try and put the two things together. And they never quite manage to."
[On the direction from Joe Wright in "Pride and Prejudice."] "You can get quite self-conscious at times, there's this business of your close up coming up, but in that big ball scene he put three cameras on it. And in lots of the dinner scenes too, so you wouldn't actually know when your moment was coming. That's why it's got that lovely unaware quality to it, you really did feel it's being observed. I think it's because people didn't know they were being watched really, that's what you get, this window on life."
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Q. What intrigued you the most about playing Lydia Bennet?A. How politically forward she was with her actions and her ideas. Even though she was very tied to getting married, her idea of eloping and doing it for love on the spur of the moment was very forward. She was a true modern woman.
Q. What did the book say to you as you read it in preparation for the film?
A. It's such an appealing story. I don't know what makes a good book, but I think that this one had so many layers that you could enter the time period so well and get to know these characters so intimately. And I love period pieces. I've not spent too much time in England, so it was wonderful to go there and shoot a film for three months.
Q. Which Bennet daughter do you admire the most?
A. Elizabeth, because she's the mainstay. She's someone you want to talk to, someone you respect and look up to.
Q. What was it like to work with Donald Sutherland?
A. Amazing, strange, wonderful, funny. He's all those things. He was just glorious. He became a wonderful patriarch to us.
Carey Mulligan (Kitty Bennet)
Now her hard work has paid off and after a spell working in a pub worrying she might never make it as an actress, she got her big break.
Carey said: "I was on the train going to work when I got the call saying I had the part. I had to go and work at the pub that evening - I was pulling pints with a massive grin on my face."
Although she admits she was terrified when they first started filming, at Groombridge Place in Kent, she soon took to it like a duck to water.
Carey said: "We were like one big family. We took over the house. It was so much fun. Brenda Blethyn (Mrs Bennett) mummied us all - when we had days off she took us on day trips to a llama farm."And last but most certainly not least, watch a P&P Cast Interview via YouTube:
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YouTube video Source: MissJaneAustenFan