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In Retrospect: Matthew Macfadyen cast as Mr. Darcy in Pride & Prejudice (2005) film on this day a decade ago!

On this day, 10 years ago (June 11th, 2004), Matthew Macfadyen was announced and cast in the iconic role of Mr. Darcy, opposite Keira Knightley's protagonist Elizabeth Bennet (Darcy's love interest. See Keira's retrospect casting announcement here) in Joe Wright's first feature film, Pride & Prejudice (2005).

I've compiled here a few of Joe Wright's P&P-era interviews as well as a few old articles (I could find) of his casting announcement including Rosamund Pike and Jena Malone, who were also announced (on the same day as Matthew) as joining the cast to play Keira's older sister Jane (Pike) and youngest sister Lydia Bennet (Malone).
Read Rosamund and Jena's casting here: Joe Wright On Casting P&P '05 Actors

More on Matthew's Darcy casting info. below...
Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy
From Rope of Silicon Joe Wright Interview:
Question: And Matthew Macfadyen for Darcy?
Joe Wright: First, he's the right age. Second, he's a big strong manly man. I didn't want a pretty boy, boy band kind of boy, I wanted a man, and he's an incredible actor. I've loved his work for many years and I think he is an astonishingly good actor. I know also he is not vain; he's not coming to the role trying to promote himself as a fucking sex symbol. He's coming as an actor trying to understand who his character is. He's interested in people and I think that's probably why he acts and so for all of those reasons he felt perfect. Also, he is just a big sexy man and when I put him opposite Keira Knightley they were just astonishing together.
Matthew Macfadyen was the only one for me. Darcy is 28, and Matthew was 29 when we were shooting. I had no interest in casting just a pretty boy; Darcy is more interesting and complicated than that. He's a young man who has less than ideal social skills and a huge responsibility. His parents have died and left him with a massive estate and a younger sister to take care of, and my sense is that he has had to grow up too fast. Matthew has incarnated Darcy as that complicated layered person who isn't easy in his skin and who isn't easy to love, yet who is a good person with a sense of honor and integrity. Matthew, unlike many actors, is not vain, and so was not afraid to be disliked by an audience at the beginning of the story; we have to dislike him because we are seeing him through Lizzie's eyes. And we grow to love him as Lizzie does. Read more: Joe Wright On Casting P&P '05 Actors
"The next decision was to cast the actors according to their characters' ages in the book. A young cast for the story about first love. The hunt for Elizabeth became easy once Tim (Bevan) said "Go to Montreal and meet Keira. If you like her and she likes you, you have a movie." We went, we loved her, Keira said "yes," and we had a movie. The search for Darcy was a long one. We meet everyone, but there was never really any doubt that it would always be our first choice, Matthew Macfadyen..." (Paul Webster, P&P producer; via P&P Companion Book)
Star takes Pride in new Prejudice
(BBC News) 
"People are very proprietorial about the BBC version," says the Rada-trained 31-year-old.
"But it is a great part to play. It's like anything - you'd never play Hamlet if you worried about all the people who'd played him before."

It helped that Macfadyen had never seen the Firth version, or the 1940 Laurence Olivier film that preceded it.

Indeed, he hadn't even read the book before accepting the role - an oversight he attributes to "just laziness, really".

"I've read it since and I don't think I would have done anything differently," he adds defensively.

Spy drama star is 'new Mr. Darcy'
Actor Matthew Macfadyen is to play Mr Darcy in a film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, it is reported.

Macfadyen, best known for his role in the BBC spy drama Spooks, will star opposite Keira Knightley, the Screen Daily film industry website said.

A 1995 BBC adaptation of Jane Austen's famous work made a star of actor Colin Firth in the role of Mr Darcy.

Shooting on the Working Title production of Pride and Prejudice is scheduled to start next month.

The story, which has been adapted for the cinema or TV at least seven times before, traces the tempestuous relationship between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy.

Scottish actor Macfadyen will appear as the arrogant but eligible Mr Darcy with Knightley as his Elizabeth Bennet.

The other Bennet sisters will include Rosamund Pike, who starred in James Bond's latest film, as the eldest sister Jane, and US actress Jena Malone as Lydia, the youngest.

Macfadyen also starred in high-profile TV productions such as The Project and critically-acclaimed Bosnian war drama Warriors.

His period credits include Wuthering Heights and The Way We Live Now on BBC Two.

Will Matthew Macfadyen as Mr Darcy live up to the standard set by Colin Firth? Read Reactions to Matthew's casting as Darcy here.
 [P&P Blog Note: Interesting how the majority of Matthew's Darcy casting news reaction back then was mixed or rather mostly negative...it wasn't surprising though as he was unknown outside the UK in 2004 and everyone was already judging him (likewise his leading lady Keira Knightley's EB casting reactions) based on the casting choice announcement without seeing him in Darcy character...but then again, most of them were Colin Firth die-hard Darcy fans from the often claimed "definitive" 1995 TV Mini-series (as if that was the only P&P adaptation ever made and just because it was popular doesn't mean that it was the best and only version to love)...and they haven't even seen Matthew in Darcy costume and the completed film for his performance to already be fiercely disliked and decided on that he will not be good enough nor live up in comparison to CF's Darcy (that his almighty Darcy was "the one and only," "the best one," and "no one will ever top him" in that character...well, in their eyes and opinions, really. Not everyone loves CF as Darcy even if he was popular as Darcy and made that character a popular sex symbol because he had a wet shirt moment, which in fact, that scene never existed in the book. I love how there were some added scenes in the 1995 BBC/A&E TV mini-series that were not in the original novel and P&P '95 fans call that mini-series the most "faithful" and "definitive" and other P&P adaptations who adapted and interpreted their own versions were criticized for taking liberties and making it their own....even though they still remain true to the heart and spirit of the book.)...They didn't even give MM a chance or wait to see what he would look like as Darcy and his acting the part...How prejudiced they were (and a lot, not all, of those CF Darcy fans were and still are) of Matthew's casting as Mr. Darcy? It doesn't matter now...Matthew did a superb job, in my opinion, on his Darcy version and performance. His Darcy portrayal is the best one (and my personal favorite) I've seen in all P&P TV and film adaptations, I've seen thus far...and still is almost 10 years later...and the one I always picture when I re-read the P&P novel and its inspired of prequels/sequels novels. Still, I liked and enjoyed watching the other actors who played Darcy in other P&P versions. What's not to like? They're all handsome looking Darcy actors.]

Here are 2 old MM/Darcy casting articles dated June 11th, 2004...

Macfadyen is new Mr. Darcy

"Spooks" star wins iconic role opposite Keira Knightley

LONDON -- Matthew Macfadyen has been cast in the iconic role of Mr. Darcy opposite Keira Knightley's Elizabeth Bennet in Working Title's upcoming version of Jane Austen's romantic novel "Pride and Prejudice."

This is the biggest movie role yet for the 29-year-old Macfadyen, who played the lead in the BBC spy series "Spooks" (broadcast Stateside as "MI-5"). He recently starred in the Kiwi movie "In My Father's Den," currently in post-production.

Also joining the cast are Rosamund Pike, as Elizabeth's perfect older sister Jane, and American actress Jena Malone as the trouble-some youngest sister Lydia.

Production of the movie, directed by Joe Wright from a script by Lee Hall and Deborah Moggach, has been brought forward from late August to mid-July. Producers are Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Paul Webster.

"Pride And Prejudice" is the classic tale of an opinionated young woman and an arrogant, rich snob who overcome their initial antipathy and various other social obstacles to fall in love.

Colin Firth became a star by playing Mr. Darcy in the BBC's 1994 TV series of "Pride and Prejudice," a role so imprinted on the public consciousness that it features heavily in Helen Fielding's book "Bridget Jones's Diary," and led to Firth being cast as Mark Darcy in the movie version.
Working Title finds its Darcy
Adam Minns in London 11 June 2004 04:00

Working Title Films has finally found its Darcy. The UK powerhouse has cast rising British actor Matthew Macfadyen as the arrogant but eligible male lead in its upcoming Jane Austen adaptation Pride And Prejudice.

Macfadyen will star opposite Keira Knightley, who plays the central Bennet daughter, Elizabeth. The other Bennet sisters will include The Libertine and Die Another Day’s Rosamund Pike as Jane, the oldest, and Jena Malone, the US actress from Cold Mountain, The United States Of Leland and Donnie Darko, as Lydia, the youngest.

Macfadyen is best known as the star of hit British TV spy thriller Spooks, which aired successfully in the US as MI-5. Along with starring in high-profile TV productions such as The Project and Warriors, he recently wrapped his first starring role in a feature with In My Father's Den, the story of a disillusioned war reporter. His period credits include his TV debut, Granada Television’s Wuthering Heights, and BBC2’s recent Anthony Trollope adaptation The Way We Live Now.

Shooting on Pride And Prejudice is scheduled to start next month, with Working Title co-chairman Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner producing with Paul Webster. Joe Wright, whose credits include BBC TV mini-series Charles II and Nature Boy, is making his directing debut from a script by Billy Elliot writer Lee Hall and Tulip Fever novelist Deborah Moggach.
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