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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Death Comes To Pemberley: Anna Maxwell Martin and Matthew Rhys Interviews and more!

As the premiere date fast approaches, with the first trailer released last week, and about several new stills (via Digital Spy) were released as well of  Death Comes to Pemberley starring Matthew Rhys (as Mr. Darcy), Anna Maxwell Martin (as Elizabeth Darcy...née Bennet), and Matthew Goode (as Mr. Wickham) (which premieres on BBC One in the UK this Christmas in 3 consecutive nights from December 26-28) 2013 and also set for a PBS Masterpiece premiere in 2014. No broadcast dates has been announced yet...). This Monday, BBC Media Centre has released the media press pack for Death Comes To Pemberley with new interviews of the two leads, Anna Maxwell Martin and Matthew Rhys, who are playing older Elizabeth & Fitzwilliam Darcy. They talked about their characters in the interviews, which you can read below. Also, screenwriter Juliette Towhidi (Calendar Girls), who adapted this 3-part BBC One murder-mystery drama from PD James best-selling novel of the same name, wrote an introduction here of how she came on board on this project and how she adapted this into a mini-series.

In addition, an interview recently here of director Daniel Percival who according to UK's Express feared backlash from Austen purist fans:
He said: “There were moments when I did worry about what the ‘Janeites’ would think about me toying with their favourite characters. “There will be purists who believe it’s an abomination to dare do anything to Austen, but actually the world owns these characters and looks forward to seeing the story continue.”
plus a few new stills featuring Matthew Rhys and Anna Maxwell Martin, but first read their new interviews here via BBC Media pack...

Interview with Anna Maxwell Martin 

How did you feel taking on the role of Elizabeth?
I didn’t feel too daunted by it. Then I rocked up in the first week and thought 'Oh! It’s a bit of a worry isn’t it?' I got over that pretty quickly because that’s quite self-indulgent. Both Matthew and I were a bit nervous.
How has Elizabeth evolved from Pride And Prejudice in this drama?
I think, as the story unfolds, we see the real Lizzie Bennet from Pride And Prejudice come out. She’s had to temper her ways slightly because she is the head of a very large estate and probably always on show. She is Darcy’s wife and she has to respect that. The modern phrase would be: to wind her neck in. Increasingly, you see the Lizzie that we know appear, spirited and quite damning and strident. Lizzie’s quite hot headed - she says what she thinks. The whole point in Pride And Prejudice is that she says what she thinks which gets her into hot water.
Does Wickham being on trial affect her relationship with Darcy?
I think instantly Darcy retreats from her because of his own fears for their family. But also because Lizzie has brought this into their lives, in her sister who is married to Wickham and she feels terrible guilt about that and I think she questions whether their match was appropriate.
What is their marriage like when we initially meet them?
It’s pretty hot - continuously snogging! They’re very in love, they’ve got a child I thought Elizabeth might struggle to take over the house - to become more of a Darcy than a Bennet. But, I think they’re very much in love and I think it’s only this drama with Wickham that kind of splits them sunder really. Or it may be outlining where there were potential problems that their match is unusual and they were not really from the same world. Elizabeth wasn’t considered a good match for him. He chose love over duty in choosing Elizabeth. So that probably is the underlining crack in their marriage.
And what was it like working with Matthew Rhys?
Very difficult! No, we all really had such a lovely time. Everyone was lovely. We just had amazing people.
What does Matthew bring to Darcy?
I’m not sure I know to answer that because I haven’t seen it. It’s really hard when you’re doing these scenes all the time and you all get on really well and you’re giggling all the time then you act in it and you’re all trying to take each other seriously. I’m not sure I’ll be able to answer that until I see it. I mean obviously Matthew is a brilliant actor and he’s very warm. What’s really interesting for Mr Darcy is that he is trying to impose upon himself a kind of cold veneer when actually he himself is a really warm, open person. But I think that will be really interesting.
How did you find the costumes?
I’m not naturally comfortable in all that gear, big dresses and big hair and looking pretty. Matthew and I were a bit nervous in the first week because we sort of thought 'Are we really right for this?' We suddenly realised that we would be more appropriate in a biopic of The Krankies!
Did you have any input into the costumes?
Yes, I did. Our designer was amazing. Both our designers, our hair and costume designer were great in that it was a collaboration. When Marianne (costume designer) and I met, I did say I think I probably look better in blue and turquoise on film, we worked with that and she agreed - and if she hadn’t agreed we would have gone in another direction - and it would have been fine.
Marianne kept it really simple as well which I really respected and I thought that was really interesting. She did an amazing job.
Was that simplicity echoed in your hair style as well?
Yes. I didn’t want Elizabeth to look like she was a hugely vain person - that she spent hours in the morning getting ready. A massive part of Austen is women out in the country, their relationship with the countryside and the wild and how that affects people and I didn’t want her to lose that.
Also, Elizabeth is not from this Pemberley world. She’s a real person and hasn’t stood on ceremony all her life. I wanted her to look quite streamlined, I didn’t want her to look really rich. I didn’t want her to have massive hair and the hair got less and less as we went on because we just wanted it to look like she just shoved her hair up and I didn’t put any make-up on. I didn’t want big elaborate clothes or anything.
It’s interesting in Pride And Prejudice it’s never mentioned really what she looks like; it tells you she has fine eyes but it never implicates that Darcy falls for her because she’s beautiful. Never suggests it, it’s all just because she’s an incredibly intelligent, extraordinary woman of her age and for this age. It’s not about her beauty or her clothes or her fine things. It’s just not who she is. I didn’t want her to suddenly be that person in Pemberley where she’s wandering around in massive dresses and dripping in jewellery.
Where you a fan of Pride And Prejudice?
I’ve read it so many times. I am a massive Austen fan.
What was it like meeting PD James?
She’s a really formidable person. She’s in her early 90s and she looks amazing. She is amazing. She’s quite an extraordinary person I think.
Interview with Matthew Rhys


How did you become involved with Death Comes To Pemberley?
I had an offer from the BBC asking whether I would be interested in playing the part of Darcy - which I was quite shocked about.
Why were you shocked?
I don’t think anyone has that regard of themselves where they think 'Oh I could play Darcy or Heathcliff, or any other big literary figure'. I think you find affinity really - certainly when they say you can play him. Especially in Britain and the whole immortalisation of Colin Firth. For those who have such an idea of who Darcy is, your relationship is so personal because you develop it yourself - it all happens within your own head, and then coupled with Colin’s wet shirt moment, I’m sure they’ll be legions saying ‘Darcy shouldn’t be attempted again!’
What sort of Darcy will we see in this adaptation? Is he different from the Darcy of Pride And Prejudice?
Yes he is. There has been a passage of time, he’s married, he has mellowed. Elizabeth has had a big impact on him, clothing-wise especially. He has a child, he’s a lot mellower. I think Darcy is incredibly sensitive.
What is his relationship like with Elizabeth?
It becomes very strained. I think Pemberley is an enormous chain around his neck – especially when it’s threatened and that has an enormous effect on him and his relationship with Elizabeth.
What does Anna bring to the role of Elizabeth?
She sort of is Elizabeth - she’s that headstrong forthright person.
There are a couple of quite key relationships from Pride And Prejudice developed a bit further in this drama. What would you say his relationship is like with his sister Georgiana?
That is one relationship which develops enormously. It has an incredibly modern turn in that for the first time Darcy says you should marry for love - we see that element of him. Darcy did ultimately marry for love but he did it on his own terms and bridged both things really in his marriage to Elizabeth – love, and to look after Pemberley. I think he passes that down to Georgiana, so we see the modern Darcy emerging.
And his relationship with Wickham, how does that develop?
I’m not sure it develops. What you see and what happens is you understand their relationship a lot more. You see how they developed as young men and where that relationship stems from. I think what you get is the complexity of their relationship and how torn Darcy is. You see how much love he has for Wickham and also how incredibly angered he is by his actions and what we show is how he manages to try and hold both emotions really. He tries to keep a foot on both banks in that way.
You filmed in some of the most incredible Stately homes. What was that like?
That’s just a bonus. If you’re going into some terrible studio, you’re always making that extra leap. Shooting in those houses it only lends itself to helping you.
What was filming like in general?
A little bit too much fun. Matthew Goode plays Wickham like a cross between Peter O’Toole and Mick Jagger which didn’t make our job any easier. We were also caught up in one of England’s first heatwaves in 10 years. Roasting in leather, but the only option was to drink and keep cool.
You met PD James, what was that like?
It was quite daunting really. As much as they’re Austen’s characters, this is her creation; you’re hoping you’re doing a good job. Plus, she’s an enormous literary icon.
Related Matthew Rhys article via UK' Express:
There will be no wet shirt contest for mature Mr. Darcy in Death Comes To Pemberley

Death Comes To Pemberley stills
featuring Anna Maxwell Martin & Matthew Rhys
(source: BBC | Origin Pictures)

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