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P&P Blog Exclusive: Q&A with Maia Petee (Elizabeth Bennet)

Last Thursday, the Official CAST List (See cast photos here!) for the upcoming modern version of Pride and Prejudice (from indie production company, PaperCut Productions) was announced here. I was fortunate to have been in contact with some of the actors who made it to the official cast. Two of them are actors Maia Petee and Caleb Grusing, the actors were cast for the main lead roles of P&P's iconic pairing... Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. I thought since they both have been so nice conversing with me with their reactions on getting cast in this film, why not do an interview with them for the P&P Blog (since I'll be following and updating news all about their film here thanks to my friend Bonnie) to introduced them here first to my faithful readers/visitors. So, yeah... as a treat from me to you, all of you will get to know these two wonderful actors a lil' bit before they start filming their movie, their reactions when they first found out they were cast for the new P&P movie, their favorite P&P movie versions, etc. I thought I'd do an interview with the writer/producer/director (Bonnie Mae) of this film too, which you will get to read here very soon. This will be a 3-part interview with all 3 of them.

I had the honor and pleasure of interviewing the newcomer actress/model Maia Petee. She was very nice and sweet enough to allow me to interview her (thanks Maia!) for the P&P blog. So, I thought I'd start the 3-part interview with her.

Q&A with Maia Petee

Meet the next (and modern) Elizabeth Bennet!

Jeane: First of all, Congratulations on your landing the iconic role of Elizabeth Bennet for the new Pride and Prejudice film that you will be filming in June. What was your reaction when you first find out you got the part of Lizzy Bennet?
Maia Petee: I knew that a decision would be made by 9 PM last Thursday, so, naturally, 8:52 found me in the dressing room of the 73rd Ave. Theatre Company (where I'm currently in The Foreigner), on my cell phone, desperately trying to reach my email in the middle of a dress rehearsal. At 9:02, when I found the email with the cast list, it was a mixture between, "Oh my GOD!" and, "I KNEW it!" Then, I ran to find cast mates who were about to go onstage, jumped up and down and screamed silently, and nearly made them miss their cues! (When my own cue came I walked out on stage with a ridiculously huge grin and more than the amount of giddiness strictly needed for that scene!) At first there was definitely a little preening, but now, I feel the weight of the honor bestowed on me and am focused on making this Elizabeth as much of a beautifully rounded character as her counterparts.

J: How did you hear about the casting of this film and audition for this role?
MP: It was quite remarkable, actually
. From what I understand now, the film had been casting for at least a month prior, and I happened upon the craigslist ad the night before or two days before the final auditions. I read the ad and got excited, so I emailed Bonnie, who sent me some sides and asked me to confirm, and amazingly, I almost told her that I wouldn't go (the 2.5-hour drive on short notice, had to cancel some plans, was looking for something different, etc.). I had words of denial typed in the email window and everything, and was about to hit "send," when something stopped me. After about 30 minutes' reconsideration, I told her on impulse that I would go, and needless to say, I'm unspeakably grateful that I took that moment's pause.

J: Is this your first feature film or have you done one before?
MP: This will be my first.
Before June, I'm trying to wedge into as many student films as possible, to get a good rapport with the camera (i.e. be able to tune it out!).

J: Elizabeth Bennet is an iconic character/role and a big shoes to fill. Have you read all your parts on the script? How will you prepare and bring your own version of Elizabeth Bennet to this film? 
MP: I have not had the pleasure of reading this script yet (we get our first look in early March!), but I have given some thought to what Elizabeth Bennet would be like as a modern Colorado mountain girl. I can't know any of the details of where she'll work, what her aspirations will be, etc. quite yet, but the parts of Lizzy that have always struck me as being her essence are her opinionated nature, her trueness to herself, and her unselfconscious grace. She's a lot more than she thinks she is, but what she KNOWS she is, she won't back down from. I'll use these as a starting place, and trust that many facets of the character will come out and surprise me, as they always do.

J: Have you seen any or at least one of the previous Pride and Prejudice adaptations? If so, which one is your favorite and why?
MP: I certainly have - I've seen both the 1995 and 2005 versions, and enjoyed them both greatly. Later today, there will be another viewing of the 1995 BBC version, so I'd be more qualified to answer then...but for now, I'd still go with 1995. There's nothing to top five hours of pure true-to-book bliss.

Jeane: Which one of the actresses who portrayed from previous P&P adaptations was your favorite (if you have one) and why?
MP: Keira Knightley is one of my favorites, both in and out of this movie. She did an incredible job, considering she had much less Lizzy to work with, and I love the particular headstrong fire that she brings to every role. Man, if I were Mr. Darcy and I saw that jaw jutting out at ME, I'd run. I also admire her naturalness around the camera. It's hard to cultivate it to that degree!

J: Which of your new co-stars of this film are you looking forward to meeting and working with?
MP: All of them, naturally! We're all going to play a part in this movie. Sorsha Morava, who plays Georgiana Darcy (see her photo here in the cast photos), was actually the very first person I read with, and I liked her quite a lot. Very kind and well-spoken, and she was only thirteen at the time. I did get to audition with Caleb as well, and I have to tell this: he came to the callback audition in full modern-Regency garb, complete with tapered white pants Mr. Darcy may have worn, button-top leather shoes, a suit jacket, a scarf tied like a cravat, and--get this--a breast-pocket handkerchief! It tells you something about how he gets into character...and that he was willing to wear that getup in Woodland Park! He's hilarious, and all I can complain about is that he's not letting me loathe him for all eternity just yet - !

J: In your audition process for the EB role, which scene from the script did you do?
MP: We did a few
- for the first audition, a scene between Lizzy and Jane in Lizzy's bedroom, where the sisters are talking about marriageable men, and Jane is admitting that she may have to settle for less. Lizzy does not approve. For the second audition, we did a lot of scenes with dialogue straight from the book - another with Jane and Lizzy, where Jane is going into transports of joy over Mr. Bingley, and that infamous Netherfield scene where Miss Bingley and Elizabeth are strolling around the room, trying to nettle Mr. Darcy. It works a little too well. That one, I think each potential Elizabeth there did at least twelve times, with four Darcys apiece! I love that scene, because it has so many subtextual (some not quite subtextual!) emotions and motives between Elizabeth, Darcy, and Caroline flying back and forth constantly...

J: Did you read with another actor/actress when you were doing the same scene?

MP: I read with a few others, but the other Mr. Darcy that stood out the most to me was James Hawthorn (see his photo at the cast photos here!), who ended up getting the role of Mr. Wickham. Able to cultivate the proper level of pique and tension when he's being needled by Lizzy.

J: Besides P&P movie, have you read/seen any (or at least one) of Jane Austen TV/Film adaptations? If so, which one is your favorite and why?
MP: Oh, yes! I've read Persuasion and Emma, and watched the movie adaptation of Persuasion - while I enjoyed all of them, I have to say that I don't really have a favorite among her other books. Pride and Prejudice takes the cake. And I never could really get into Sense and Sensibility - I've tried to read the book three times, and it just won't captivate me the way this one does.

There you have it. The first part of the 3-part Interview/Q&As. Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed reading Maia's interview. Thanks again to the lovely and wonderful Maia Petee for doing this lil' interview with me (credit and thanks to Maia herself and Bonnie for all her photos as well as Caleb for his photo posted here). Hopefully, she'll let me interview her again soon, once she starts filming or when she starts doing press for this film. :)

Links of Interest

Up next will be my interview with Maia's soon-to-be co-star...the handsome, funny, dreamy...and his Darcy-cowboy-sexy-self (lol, sorry Caleb...couldn't resist...=))...err...Caleb Grusing, who will be playing the modern version of Mr. Darcy! His interview will be up shortly...so come back here again...and keep checking this blog for his interview! Trust me...It'll be worth the wait! ;)


  1. way exciting! how fun that you got to interview her! it sounds like it will be very entertaining!

  2. Another P&P, (squeeling with delight) I love them all. A modern version, this should be a lot of fun. I will keep checking back for all of the scoop and news for when it comes out.

  3. Thanks Michelle ;) and Emma Hox. :)

    Stay tune for my Q&A with Caleb Grusing! I'll be posting it shortly. :)

  4. Have any of these actors done ANY films before?? I can't find a single website, IMDB listing or movie trailer online for any of them. I love P&P but am wondering how good this film will be with such unknown and inexperienced actors. :( Especially Elizabeth and Darcy, I would think those roles take a pretty talented and experienced actor to play well. It would be nice if we could see some of their previous work. Can anyone find any??
    I was really looking forward to a new P&P film but at this point I can't say I'm too excited..


  5. Hi, Sara,

    Not to worry, I'll have an IMDB listing up very shortly,and do have a domain registered; working on getting a website out fairly soon. You're justified in having reservations, with so few of us having any qualifications whatsoever (I freely admit I have none, being of the "Let's Pretend" school of acting), but I honestly believe I can do it. I can carry it. After our first cast reading, I have the same level of confidence in the rest of the cast. You guys will be the judge of that in the end, though. All I ask is for a fair chance. Some of the best talent has come literally out of nowhere.


  6. P.S. You'd only have to spend five minutes in Caleb's presence before all doubts on his account would vanish entirely.


  7. Hi Sara,

    Thanks for the comment. To answer your question, yes, some of the actors have done small independent and short films as well as theatre production/stage plays. Caleb Grusing (Mr. Darcy) and AC Earing (Mr. Collins) both have IMDB profile listing (look for them on IMDB) and have done feature films before. The others don't have one IMDB listing yet.

    Unfortunately, a lot of good independent films don't always get notice as those big Hollywood budget films that gets theatrical releases do (even with big, famous actors attached to them). Every actor has to start somewhere. Yes, most of the actors of this film are inexperience or hasn't done a feature film before this...but that doesn't mean they can't play the role very well. We haven't even seen them film this movie yet...so I think it's kind of too early and unfair to judge someone without seeing their work/performance on screen. You're entitled to your own opinion, of course. I'm just saying give the actors a chance and wait for the movie and see it first before you judge them if they are good or not. :)

    I don't know if you've read my Q&A with Caleb Grusing, but I provided website links to a few of the films he had done and a YT trailer for one of his upcoming films, Down Angel. :)

  8. Maia - Hi, thanks for commenting here. :)

    Like Maia said, she'll have her own IMDB listing soon as well as the P&P (2010) film. It just takes some time before they are up. IMDB has to verify details of films before they approved any movie listing or submitted info from films. I will update here in this blog as soon as I see the IMDB listing up. :)

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