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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

P&P Fan Encounter: Sylvie Valente's amazing Meet & Greet experience with Matthew Macfadyen

(all photos courtesy of Sylvie Valente. Please do not use Sylvie's MM photos
without contacting this blog for permission. Thanks.)

Sylvie Valente, who is a fellow P&P movie fan and huge Matthew Macfadyen fan has shared here in this blog, her amazing story of meeting him not once, but six times!!! Yes, she met Matthew six times last year when he was doing the stage play, Private Lives with Kim Cattrall in London, England. She was awesome enough to share her amazing meet and greet experience with our one and only Matthew Macfadyen (Mr. Darcy) and her wonderful pictures of him (and with him...so jealous of her, lol...) here at the P&P blog when I asked her if she wouldn't mind sharing her fantastic story of meeting MM, as I wanted to feature her fan story (of meeting one of the 2005 P&P actors) here in this blog and in the new extra page: P&P Fan Encounters. Thank a lot Sylvie! :-)

Now, read her story as she wrote it herself...
I met Matthew six times!
by Sylvie Valente

I did not know who Matthew Macfadyen was before watching P&P2005 sometime in 2007. Not being a fan of Jane Austen (I have to be honest!), I bought the movie (Pride & Prejudice DVD) because I like Keira Knightley and my fellow Canadian Donald Sutherland was also in the movie. It took me a couple of viewing before I could understand what the story was all about... and more before I could really appreciate Matthew's talent... and good looks! ;-) It started with his voice... then his blue eyes... then, his hands. Before I knew it, I was under the spell of Matthew and I wanted to know more about that young British actor (I am proud to say I have seen most of his movies and TV shows/mini-series except for two! :-) ). I joined four websites in order to know more about him - something I had never done in my life! - and I read any fanfiction novels/stories based on P&P2005 that I could find! Strange, isn't it, when you think that Matthew could be my son??? LOL! But my dream was to see him on stage. Did I really dream of meeting him in person? To be honest, I did not think that could be possible!



I still remember the night I found out Matthew would be on stage, in Bath and in London, in Private Lives!!! All the women on the website went crazy! LOL! We then started planning to go to Bath or London, to meet each other, etc... I was not sure at the time if we could go, my hubby and I, but we finally managed to booked our tickets thanks to a dear American friend K. (love you, hun!), we booked some tickets for the play on April 1st (2010)! Hubby and I had decided to spend 2 weeks in glorious England (one week in London  and one week touring different parts of the country in order to visit the sights and locations, where P&P had been filmed). Time could not go fast enough for me! Finally, on March 28, around 6 in the morning, we landed at Heathrow Airport and managed to go to King's Cross where we would be staying for the first five days of our trip. On that day, in the course of the afternoon, we met dear K. with her lovely family and another dear friend from Germany, M., who had already had the pleasure of seeing the play! We talked about many things, of course, but Matthew was at the center of our discussions most of the time while our hubbies, very patiently, listened to us! (My hubby is not the jealous type!)

K. was going to see the play for the first time on the next day. When we got to our B&B, the landlady was waiting for us with a note in her hands: "I met Matthew!!!" The note was from dear K.! I think I envied her just a bit that night! LOL! Meanwhile, I had been able to get in touch with some other friends and we had all agreed to meet at the backstage door of the Vaudeville on March 31. We, K. from the States, Hubby and I, got there on time on Wednesday afternoon to meet with C. from Spain, K. from Austria and D. from Germany. Very unfortunately, Matthew was already in and we could not see him. We then decided to come back the very same night after the show to try to see him...

We were there again after the show with another friend of ours, S. from Britain, and we all waited patiently in the cold, with all the other people who were there mostly to meet Kim Cattrall. In our group, I could feel the pressure mounting. Would he come out through that door? What would we tell him? I remember trembling a bit out of emotion and nervousness! I was finally going to see Matthew in person! I was going to meet this "unattainable star"!!! Simon Paisley-Day was the first one to come out (lovely man!) followed by Lena Olsonn, the French maid (with whom I talked for a while in French... Lovely woman). We did not see the elusive Lisa Dillon and, if I remember well, Kim Cattrall did not come out through that door that night... Finally... finally Matthew came out!!! (thud! thud! thud!) He was there, standing tall and looking handsome and younger in person than on the screen, with a shy smile.... He was sooooo sweet to our group! When C. told him where we were from (Austria, Germany, Spain, Britain, the States and Canada), he looked at us all and said "Wow! And are you all from the same family?" Of course, we all laughed with him. He signed the calendar a friend of mine had made for our P&P2005 group... I could not believe it! Matthew was standing next to me! After a group picture taken by my sweet hubby who had managed to say a few words with Matthew (my hubby does not stop telling everybody since then that Matthew and he are the best buddies in the world!!! LOL), we all went to a pub to celebrate that incredible encounter! but there is more!...

On the next day, Hubby and I went to the beautiful British Museum but, even though I am an Ancient History freak (still studying in the field), I could not stop thinking that we would see the play on that night... and that we would try to meet Matthew again on the very same afternoon! I wanted to give him something, a gift of some sort. He loves wine (something he and I have in common, LOL) so, before going to the backstage door, I bought him a bottle of red wine. We got to the door where K., D. and C were already waiting for him, with some KC's fans who were very disappointed to find out that Kim Cattrall was already in. But Matthew had yet to arrive!!! It wasn't long before we could spot him at the corner of the street, holding a coffee in one hand, walking very slowly. I had a shock: I was seeing THE man in daylight for the first time. My hubby's comment was "He is a big boy!" Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Matthew is tall and solid! He was almost at the door and now was my "cue": I had the gift for him, I wanted a picture with him... How I mustered enough courage to talk to him is still a mystery! LOL! But talk to him, I did; he seemed genuinely happy to received the bottle of wine and thanked me profusely. When I asked him for the picture, he very kindly agreed but said, at the same time that he was bending (he is tall... I am short! LOL), that "his hair was a mess!" LOL, I think I told him something as well but, feeling the way I was, I can not remember anything I said!! Matthew was very close this time!!! Be still my heart! As in a dream, I saw him with my other friends who had brought gifts for him and his kids - he was really, really happy about that and told D. and K. I don't know how many times that they should not have done that! A few more minutes and Matthew was out of our view. Once again, we had to celebrate!

A couple of hours later, hubby and I were at the front doors of the Vaudeville where we were supposed to meet K., C. and K. and her hubby. We kept walking back and forth, our friends were nowhere in sight. I was growing very nervous (I hate waiting!) and I kept walking when someone came out of the door, someone tall into whom I almost bumped. That "someone" apologized and kept going... I then realized that "someone' with whom I nearly collided was... Matthew himself!!! Wow! I mouthed the words "It's him!!!" to my hubby who then got his camera ready! We spent maybe another fifteen minutes in front of the theater, still waiting for our friends... and, let's be honest, for Matthew... Hubby kept taking pictures of the Strand very nonchalantly when we spotted Matthew coming back to the theater with three bags!!! Hubby then took the picture!!! I could not wait for my friends to arrive to tell them what had just happened!!! And we had the picture to prove it!!! They thought we were very fortunate and we could not stop talking about that latest event until the play started!!!

Ah! To see Matthew on stage with a tuxedo!!! To see him dance, sing, "play" the piano, fight with Kim Cattrall! To see him wear silk jammies!!!! The play was really funny, very "physical" (no wonder Kim and Matthew were exhausted at the end of the play!). We loved it! Now, guess what we did after the play? We all went to the back door and waited for Matthew again! And we saw him again! And we had his autograph on the playbill, more pictures with him... I congratulated him on his excellent accent in French (the play takes place in France) and Matthew does say a couple of lines all in French. He then looked at me with a big smile and said "Merci!" We all laughed, of course. Before leaving our group (a friend of his was waiting for him... another actor with whom he had run the marathon the previous year... Alastair Petrie, I think), he touched my hand (I haven't washed it since then!!! LOL! Of course, I am joking! ;-) ) and, after making sure I was the one who had given him the wine earlier, he said "Thank you again and take care! Cheerios!" How can you not like a man like this??? All the way back to King's Cross that night, all I could talk about to my husband was how nice an evening that had been... and how a sweetheart Matthew was! And my hubby agreed wholeheartedly with me! Isn't he a sweetheart himself?

Sylvie with Mr. Darcy
Sylvia poses with Mr. Darcy in Basildon Park
(P&P's Netherfield Park) and Jane Austen Centre in Bath

We, then left for our tour of England and visited beautiful places such as Chatsworth, where I met another friend of mine, S. from Britain and her lovely husband J. S. had met Matthew in Bath when the play opened and she wanted to know everything about my encounters with Matthew, how he was dressed, what he said, what I told him! We spent a wonderful day at "Pemberley" and I don't know how many times I had the impression that Matthew's Mr. Darcy would come out on the balcony running after Keira's Lizzie!!! At that point, I was sure I would not seen Matthew again before flying back to Canada. But I was wrong!...

We spent the last two days of our trip in London, meeting more friends who were going to see the play on that night (April 9th). After a lovely meal with them, we decided to go back to the backstage door. Meeting Matthew was becoming an obsession of ours by that time! Hubby and I lead the way since we had been there so often. L. from France. U. from Germany and S. and her hubby K. from Australia just followed us. When we got there, we were told that the actors were resting (double header on Saturdays) but that Matthew did not mind coming to meet us! And he did come out, even though he was tired! What a shock it was for all of us! In broad daylight - the sky was so blue and the sun so bright -, Matthew was in jeans with a blue shirt. He looked sooooooooo young and handsome. My friend S. was literally petrified! She could not talk, she could not move... I think she could not breath! "Talk to him, S.! He is about to go back inside!"... "I can't," was her answer. I literally had to take her by the shoulders and pushed her towards him: "Sir!," I told Matthew who was heading back inside, "my friend came all the way from Australia to see you and the play!"..."Is that right?" Matthew asked my mystified friend. She, then found her voice to answer and they chatted together for a while before he left us. I thought that S. would faint!!! She was sooooooooooo happy! "I talked to him and he talked to me!" The six of us went back to the hotel, the ladies holding each other by the waist and chatting like 4 schoolgirls (U. could not stop talking about Matthew's eyelashes! LOL), the two men following us!

Since the play was sold out, I could not see it that next night, but we agreed to meet after the play to see Matthew once more. Hubby and I spent a lovely evening on the Strand while our friends attended the play. I, then decided that I would like to give something to Matthew, something simple, something nice... Hubby and I bought a nice bouquet of pink tulips to give him. We were there on time to see him again after the play, the last time for me. He smiled when he saw me. I gave him the flowers "This is to thank you for all the beautiful work you do for your fans!" I told him. Another group picture (another friend from Belgium had joined us) and before leaving, he put his hand on my shoulder to thank me again! He left as we did, we went to celebrate one more time.... Friendship and Matthew, a very powerful combination!!!

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There you have it. I hope you enjoyed reading Sylvie's wonderful story of meeting MM. Thanks again, Sylvie. :-)

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