Unleashing Mr. Darcy starring Ryan Paevey as Donovan Darcy, Cindy Busby as Elizabeth Scott, and Frances Fisher as Violet Darcy premiered on Hallmark Channel (as part of Winterfest 2016) last Saturday, January 23rd, 2016 at 9/8c. It was a big ratings success and broke social media records for Hallmark! If you missed the premiere and encore last weekend. This weekend is your luck as it repeats tonight at 7/6c (and tomorrow morning at 11/9c) on Hallmark channel.
Read my Q&A with Teri Wilson below...
(Unleashing Mr. Darcy book cover via Teri Wilson)
(Teri and her dogs Finn and Bliss | photo by Teri Wilson)Jeane/P&P Blog: How and what inspired you to write your novel, Unleashing Mr. Darcy with adorable dogs (like Bliss) in the mix?
Teri Wilson: The dogs in Unleashing Mr. Darcy are Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, and I have two of them. Their names are Bliss and Finn (sound familiar?), so the dogs in the book are based on my actual pups. I first had the idea for Unleashing Mr. Darcy while I was at a dog show, showing Bliss and Finn. There’s quite a bit of down-time at dog shows between grooming the dogs and waiting for your turn in the ring. I was hanging out ringside reading Pride & Prejudice, as it’s always been a favorite book of mine. (I also love all the retellings, too!) Showing my dogs always made me really nervous, and I just kind of started wondering what it would be like if Mr. Darcy was the judge. It would certainly be intimidating (and also amazing).
J: What made you decide to write it as a modern retelling of Austen's P&P and in a modern setting?
TW: All of my books are contemporary. My voice as an author is just more suited for modern-day stories, so I never really even thought about doing a historical. (My agent actually made me promise recently never to try and write a regency romance, if that tells you anything. ha ha).
J: Why is Elizabeth's last name Scott and not Bennet? Darcy's first name Donovan and not Fitzwilliam or Will/William? Also, why changed other supporting characters' names?
TW: When I originally wrote Unleashing Mr. Darcy, the names were exactly the same as they are in Austen's P&P. My publisher asked for name changes. I'm not sure why, actually. I think maybe just to give the book a more modern feel. A few of those names were then changed for the movie. So sometimes I even forget who everyone is!
(UMD promo still: Hallmark | Crown Media Presss)
TW: I never in my wildest dreams imagined it would be a movie. I honestly thought no one would ever publish the book. I thought the idea to set it in the world of dog shows would be a little too nutty for readers. But the more I thought about it, the more I really wanted to write it. I kept thinking of dialogue and scenes for the book until I finally had to get it on paper.
J: What was your reaction when you first heard Hallmark was adapting it and had green lighted it into one of their 2016 Winterfest Movies?
TW: Tears. Many, many tears. And disbelief. Sometimes I still can't believe all of this is happening.
(UMD movie still: Hallmark | Crown Media Presss)
TW: Once I found out the movie was really happening, my new hobby became obsessing over the casting of Mr. Darcy. I wanted Prince Harry, but knew that was probably a long shot (wink). I also liked the idea of Tom Mison (aka Mr. Bingley in Lost In Austen and) from Sleepy Hollow. But honestly, I can't imagine anyone doing a better job than Ryan Paevey. I could not be happier with his performance. He's the perfect modern day Mr. Darcy.
(Teri on Unleashing Mr. Darcy set with two Ryans [Paevey and Kennedy] |
photo by Teri Wilson)
photo by Teri Wilson)
(BTS on Unleashing Mr. Darcy set | photo by Teri Wilson)
(The cast of Unleashing Mr. Darcy on set | photo by Teri Wilson)
(Unleashing Mr. Darcy slate on set | photo by Teri Wilson)J: When you were invited on set, what was the experience like being there for the first time on a movie set and meeting the cast (Ryan Paevey, Cindy Busby, Frances Fisher, etc.) and crew?
TW: Being on-set was surreal. I can't tell you how odd it is seeing something that you've imagined in your head become a real, actual thing. The cast and crew were so nice. Every single person on-set thanked me for writing the book and told me how happy they were to be a part of the project. I met Ryan within a minute of arriving on the set. The first thing he ever said to me was, "Come here. I'm a hugger."
(On set selfie with Ryan Paevey & Teri Wilson | photo by Teri Wilson)Before I arrived in Canada, I knew Ryan had been cast as Mr. Darcy, but I didn't know who was playing Elizabeth. And I had no idea that Frances Fisher was in the film. I liked Cindy for the role of Elizabeth right away. I like her fiery spirit and her girl-next-door quality. And she so obviously adores dogs, so she's really perfect for the part. And my goodness, Frances Fisher. I was in awe of her.
Read more about Teri's interesting article about What really happens when your book becomes a movie!
(Teri at the premiere of UMD in her hometown
of San Antonio, Texas | photo by Teri Wilson)
J: When you first saw the movie for the first time last Saturday, what was your reaction on seeing your created characters from the pages of your book come alive on screen?
TW: The first time I saw the movie was Saturday night, and I think I just sat through the entire thing with an enormous smile on my face. The entire experience has been a dream come true. I know that sounds cliche but I don't know how else to describe it. I wish every writer could experience it.
(Teri's name plate from the director's chair | photo by Teri Wilson)J: What was it like for you seeing your name on the director's chair and on the opening credits in the movie?
TW: (Great question.) The producer gave me the chair as a surprise on my last day on set. I cried when I saw it. I just couldn't help it. I've loved movies, especially romantic comedies, my entire life. It's hard to believe I've actually written one now. I'm just incredibly grateful for this experience.
(UMD screen capture via Hallmark Channel)The first time I saw my name in the credits was during my viewing party last Saturday night. I watched the movie in a movie theatre, streamed live from the Hallmark Channel onto the big screen, with 150 of my friends and family. Everyone cheered when my name showed up on the screen. It was surreal.
J: What were your thoughts on Cindy's performance as Elizabeth Scott and Ryan's as Donovan Darcy?
TW: I kind of weighed in on this in some of the previous questions.
(UMD screen captures via Hallmark)
TW: I don't know why there was a Mr. Bingley in the movie. That character was not in the book. I was as surprised by that as anyone else.
(UMD movie poster via Hallmark | Crown Media Presss)
TW: We shall see! ;)
J: How long have you been a Jane Austen Fan? Have you read all her novels? If so, which is your most favorite and why?
TW: I love Austen and always have. Pride and Prejudice is my absolute favorite. I love Darcy. He's the original dreamy, brooding, alpha male romantic hero. Austen created an archetype when she wrote him. But I also love Elizabeth. She's a strong female character, and Austen wrote her over 200 years ago! It's really impressive when you think about it. And of course the fact that she is the one who Darcy chose makes me love him even more. My second favorite Austen book is Persuasion.
J: Have you seen any adaptations (TV or film) of Austen's Pride and Prejudice? If so, which version is your favorite? Favorite portrayal of Elizabeth & Darcy?
TW: Oh goodness, I've seen them all multiple times. I love Colin Firth. But I also really love Matthew Macfadyen. If forced to choose, though, I'd have to go with Colin. And I absolutely adore Bridget Jones' Diary.
(Note: Teri forgot to answer about her favorite Elizabeth Bennet actress portrayal...so I had to ask her again about this because...well, the ladies often don't get the love than Darcy, lol...so, I was curious...)
I'm cracking up! People ask me about Colin vs Matthew all the time, so I forget about the ladies. Oops! I'd say my favorite Elizabeth is Keira Knightley. I think her performance was the perfect combination of strength and vulnerability. As for modern adaptations, other than Cindy Busby (because obviously I adore her), I like Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones Diary. I mean, how can you not like her?! I also love the web series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and thought it was wonderful. I binge-watched the entire thing in two days. I really like the fact that the modern adaptions are introducing new people to Austen's storytelling. Their success really shows how timeless her writing is.
(photo by Teri Wilson)
Teri Wilson is a romance novelist for Harlequin Books and contributing writer at HelloGiggles. Her most recent book is ALASKAN SANCTUARY, set on a wolf habitat in Alaska. She’s also the author of UNLEASHING MR. DARCY, now a Hallmark Channel Original Movie. Teri loves books, travel, animals and dancing every day. Visit her at her website or on Twitter @TeriWilsonauthr.