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Fun Friday–A Pride and Prejudice Re-Cast

Friday, September 3, 2010

Yesterday’s discussion of our favorite versions of the Pride and Prejudice movies made me realize that since I’ve never been 100 percent satisfied with the casting in any version I’ve seen, I should just come up with my own cast for the major characters in P&P. I may recycle some of the actors into new roles more befitting their ages now, but I will recast each of the major roles with new actors who are currently the appropriate ages for the characters. And, because I know y’all aren’t going to agree with all (or any) of my choices, I’ll go ahead and invite you now to come up with your own dream cast!

Mr. & Mrs. Bennet have been married, according to the book, for twenty-three years. Though the book does not give us their specific ages, Austen did write that Mr. Bennet was “captivated by youth and beauty” in Mrs. Bennet—and it’s surmised she was between the ages of nineteen and twenty-one when they married. Which means that Mrs. Bennet is, at the oldest, only in her mid-forties. Mr. Bennet could possibly be in his early to mid-fifties. So, because he’s already familiar with the material (and because I’ve always thought he was too old, doughy, and jowly to be Mr. Darcy) and because she is really good at playing silly—yet conniving, too—I choose Colin Firth and Joely Richardson as Mr. and Mrs. Bennet:

Kitty and Mary Bennet don’t have very large roles in the story, but still, their casting is important. Kitty (Catherine) Bennet, who is around seventeen or eighteen, is important in that she’s her younger sister Lydia’s “follower” in everything—and Lydia discovers too late, just as Sir Walter and Elizabeth Eliot discover in Persuasion, that life isn’t quite so interesting and grand when you have no one looking up to/aping you. Mary, about nineteen, is the studious daughter—the one who practices at the piano and singing without ever improving, always has her nose in a book but has no common sense. For Kitty, I choose the aptly named Eliza Bennet (who played Meggie in Inkheart and Tora in the first Nanny McPhee movie), and who else could I choose for Mary but Hermione Granger herself, Emma Watson!

Lydia Bennet creates quite a bit of chaos in this story. And I thought I knew who I would cast in this role—until I started looking at images of young, blonde British actresses and found a specific image of a specific actress (one I was thinking about for the role of Mary, in fact). Lydia is sixteen years old. She is flighty. She is willful. She has been overindulged by an overindulged mother. And she is an unrepentant flirt. Because of the way her mother has always treated her, Lydia is determined she’ll out-do all four of her older sisters and marry first—for even though she may be the youngest, she is the tallest! For Lydia, because of this picture, I choose Evanna Lynch, better known to most as Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter movies.

Jane Bennet is the stable, sensible older sister—much like Jane Austen’s own older sister Cassandra. She’s about twenty-two years old and is starting to get to the age at which if she doesn’t marry soon, she’ll be considered “on the shelf” and passed over. Now, while I still love Rosamund Pike’s portrayal of Jane, I’m re-casting everyone, just to be fair. So I choose Annabelle Wallis (a.k.a. Jane Seymour in Season 3 of The Tudors).

Elizabeth Bennet is the key to the success or failure of any adaptation of Pride & Prejudice. So choosing someone to fill this role for my dream cast isn’t something I take lightly. So based off of having seen a few minutes of her performance in one episode of Dr. Who, and after changing her hair and eye color, I choose Karen Gillan as Elizabeth Bennet.

Charlotte Lucas and Mr. Collins have an important subplot of the story, so their casting is important. Charlotte is Elizabeth’s “plain” neighbor and friend who, at twenty-seven years old, represents the “old maid” all of the Bennet girls fear becoming. Mr. Collins is Mr. Bennet’s distant cousin and Mr. Bennet’s heir because of the entailment upon Mr. Bennet’s property. Mr. Collins is twenty-five years old and described by Austen as tall and heavy-set, grave, stately, and formal. Charlotte and Mr. Collins’s marriage is a marriage of convenience, but Austen has them getting along pretty well by the end of the novel. For these two, I choose Anna Maxwell-Martin (Bessie in North & South and Esther in Bleak House) and Gareth David-Lloyd (from Torchwood—just imagine him 50-100 pounds heavier).

Lady Catherine de Bourgh brings about the apocalypse when she tells Elizabeth to have nothing to do with Darcy, then complains to Darcy that Elizabeth wouldn’t comply with her demands. This is a role that usually goes to one of the preeminent grande dames of British acting. I’m going to go a little outside the box here and choose someone who, at age fifty-nine, is the correct age to be the aunt of someone in his late twenties. (I’m in my late thirties and have an aunt who’s fifty-nine, and another aunt and uncle who are younger still than that.) So for my version of P&P, I choose Jane Seymour as Lady Catherine.

Mr. & Mrs. Gardiner are Elizabeth’s aunt and uncle who bring about the turning point of the story by taking Elizabeth to Derbyshire instead of the Lake District for their vacation. Like Elizabeth’s parents and Lady Catherine, they are usually cast with actors in their late fifties or sixties. But in the book, they are the parents of “two girls of six and eight years old, and two younger boys,” which means that the oldest Mrs. Gardiner can be is in her early to mid-forties, and since Mr. Gardiner is Mrs. Bennet’s younger brother (in most likelihood), Mrs. Gardiner is more likely still in her early thirties. So for the Gardiners, I choose real-life couple Matthew MacFadyen and Keeley Hawes.

Charles and Caroline Bingley, along with their sister Mrs. Hurst and her husband, are the very important new tenants of Netherfield Hall. Charles is in his early twenties (22–24) and I’ve always assumed, from the way she treats him, Caroline is his older sister—probably several years older, with as desperate as she is to marry and marry well. But we’ll put her in her mid-twenties for the sake of casting. I like the more comical take on his character, which infuses humor into the Bingley-Jane relationship which I think it needs. For Charles Bingley, I choose Orlando Bloom. Caroline is a desperate woman acting desperately and trying to quell any opposition to reaching her goal—marrying Mr. Darcy. For Caroline, I choose Natalie Dormer, who, as Anne Boleyn in The Tudors, knows a little something about trying to catch a man.

Georgiana Darcy, in role, has a minor physical presence in the book/the films, but her part in how the story plays out is very important. She’s sixteen years old (the same as Lydia) and is away at school for most of the book. We do know she’s quite accomplished in everything she does (according to Miss Bingley, anyway) but that she has bad judgment when it comes to men. Thank goodness for her big brother! For Miss Darcy, I choose Sarah Bolger who, from her lovely depiction of Princess/Lady Mary in The Tudors, strikes me as someone who could bring that sense of naivety and innocence to the role of Georgiana.

George Wickham is the prototype for the “bad boy” anti-hero in every romance novel that followed this one. He’s handsome, he’s charming, he’s poor—which doesn’t matter, because he’s handsome and charming—and he and the hero have it out for each other and have the hots for the same woman. We know he’s not much younger than Darcy—and not older than him–so he’s probably in his mid-twenties. For the guy who’s all looks and no substance, I choose Robert Pattinson.

Are you ready for it?

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Do you have any guesses whom I might choose for the most important role in the story?
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Did you scroll down to the bottom of the post to see who it was before you read everything else? (Shame on you!)
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Are you tired of waiting?
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Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy is “a single man in possession of a good fortune” who isn’t looking for a wife, but finds one anyway. He’s approximately twenty-eight years old (which has always made me wonder what happened between his parents that there’s such an age gap between Fitzwilliam and Georgiana). He’s well-educated, well-read, and well-informed in business matters. He’s also a flaming introvert—which is why he, like most introverts, comes across to others as cold, snooty, snobbish, and/or aloof. No matter how well an introvert has been trained for social situations, we always find ourselves forgetting how to “mix and mingle” and make small-talk. Though I will freely admit that, if forced to choose, I would choose Frederick Wentworth over Fitzwilliam Darcy any day, I do still likey me some Mr. Darcy. Because I’m trying to keep these castings to actors who are around the correct ages for the characters, this one was hard. I thought long and hard about my darling parallel-universe husband, Karl Urban (yes, I know for certain that in a parallel universe, I am married to him, just like in a different parallel universe, I’m married to Oded Fehr). But Karl is too old by ten years for the role. Same with a few other actors I thought of. And the list of actors in their late twenties/early thirties I have is short and not overwhelmingly Darcy-ish. So I had to steal from my own story and choose the actor I cast as the hero of the first book in the historical proposal I have out right now. But the more I watch him on The Tudors, the more and more I fall just a little more in love with Henry Cavill, so that’s whom I’ve chosen for Mr. Darcy.

So, there you have them. I don’t know that calling it a “dream” cast is correct by any measure of the imagination. But, if I were casting a re-make of it today, that’s who I’d go for.

Now it’s your turn! While I went for “realistic” with my casting choices, come up with your dream cast—different eras, different ages, whatever you want. And though I’m certain I don’t need to give you permission, feel free to go ahead and critique my picks!

33 Comments leave one →
  1. Friday, September 3, 2010 4:21 am

    Ooo me likey!

    looks like I so have to get the Tudors on my netflix queue!
    Kaye, I love the fact you put so much thought into this list and well, it makes me feel good about my own obsessiveness in these matters. I posted a comparison of the three Emmas on my blog awhile back and praised you as the established leader that you are.

    You know that opening to any BBC show where the three colors dribble across the screen saying B B C and the music plays? It makes me drool like a pavlovian experiment. I have a feeling you know just what I mean.

    Like

    • Friday, September 3, 2010 4:28 am

      Debra–yes, I know exactly what you mean. I’m the same way when I hear/see that at the beginning of a DVD.

      As far as putting The Tudors in your Netflix queue (and Seasons 1 & 2 are available for Watch Instantly, while 3 is only available on DVD curently), go ahead and do it so long as you don’t mind ignoring/fast-forwarding through the gratuitous sex and nudity. This series was made for Shotime, after all. And while it’s not in every episode, there are some episodes that have several scenes like that in them. And if you know anything about Henry VIII, you’ll notice historical inaccuracies in the series. I wasn’t overly familiar before I started watching, so they don’t bug me quite so much (though the compressed timeline does get a little odd after three seasons and four wives), but it’s definitely been a petri dish for developing new, young British talent, mingled with older, established (and beloved) actors like Jeremy Northam and James Frain.

      Otherwise, wait for one of the basic cable networks like TNT or TBS to start airing it so that all those scenes are edited.

      Like

  2. Sylvia M. permalink
    Friday, September 3, 2010 9:48 am

    Here’s a picture of the Bennet family from the new modern-day P&P that is coming out in December on DVD.

    Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth

    http://picasaweb.google.com/pandp2005/PrideAndPrejudice2010OfficialPromoPhotos?feat=embedwebsite#

    Like

  3. Friday, September 3, 2010 9:52 am

    Oooh! GREAT choice for Darcy. I can so see him in that role.

    Like

    • Friday, September 3, 2010 11:49 am

      I’m really interested to see him “much older” in season 4 (as soon as that comes out on DVD in October) and then to see what he goes on to do now that The Tudors has wrapped. He is actually only twenty-seven years old, but he has such classic good looks that through makeup—and his acting skills—I’ve been able to forget that he isn’t closer to my age, since he’s been playing Charles Brandon as thirtysomething for the last two seasons of the show. And he’s got that great baritone voice—which, when he employs it in standing up to someone he knows is wrong/harmful to the kingdom (like James Frain’s character, Thomas Cromwell), just gives me chills!

      Like

      • Friday, September 3, 2010 5:53 pm

        I’ve never seen The Tudors, but I liked him (even younger), in The Count of Monte Cristo.

        Like

  4. Sylvia M. permalink
    Friday, September 3, 2010 10:08 am

    These are very interesting choices. Several of these actors I’ve never even heard of. I think they would work, but it would take some getting used to. Henry Cavill would make a great Darcy, but I’m not sure about Orlando Bloom as Bingley. Hmm. I never would have thought about Joley Richardson for Mrs. Bennet. All the other actresses who have played that part have been larger and not as tall. Colin Firth would do a good job of playing Mr. Bennet, but that gets tough when Mr. Bennet rivals Darcy for the female fans’ hearts! 🙂 Have you ever seen Lost in Austen? Hugh Bonneville was cast as Mr. Bennet! He actually reminds me a little of Colin Firth. Anyway, I think I swooned over him more than I did Darcy in that one. Actually, I wasn’t that crazy over Darcy in that film. Many people actually wanted the main character to get together with Wickham! I actually agreed. I’ve only seen it once though. There was alot to like. I mean how many of us wouldn’t like the chance to time travel back to JA’s time? Even though there’s alot to like, there’s still almost more that I didn’t like. There was quite alot of raunchy stuff going on.

    Like

    • Friday, September 3, 2010 11:54 am

      Anyone takes getting used to when it comes to being cast in familiar roles—especially when so many great actors and actresses have filled those roles before them.

      As far as Colin Firth as Mr. Bennet rivaling Mr. Darcy—have you seen pictures of Colin Firth recently? I mean, I know I never thought he was all that great looking when he was younger, but age isn’t necessarily being kind to him. Plus, just as people my age, who grew up with David Rintoul as Mr. Darcy, prefer him to people who grew up with Firth’s Mr. Darcy, and younger girls who first came to P&P through the 2005 movie prefer Matthew MacFadyen, the younger girls who see the next “definitive” version of the movie will prefer the actor who plays Darcy in that version, no matter what other P&P alumna appear in it.

      Like

    • Friday, September 3, 2010 11:59 am

      Oh, and, yes, I have seen Lost in Austen. It was all I could do to sit through the entire thing. I couldn’t stand it. It stressed me out so badly that I can’t look back on it and think of any one piece of it I liked. I hated the liberties they took with the storyline and characters—not just by way of “changing history” by having her go into the story, but by changing the actual characters as if saying that Jane Austen hadn’t written them correctly. I thought it was insulting not just to the source work, but to Jane Austen herself. (And I had to look it up on IMDb just to see who played Darcy and Wickham. Let’s put it this way: I was so less-than-impressed with the movie that I never even added those two good-looking men to my casting database!)

      Like

  5. Amee permalink
    Friday, September 3, 2010 10:13 am

    I have no idea who I would cast, but I had fun reading yours! I think Orlando Bloom as Bingley is perfect. Robert Pattinson as the slimy Wickham is perfect too. 😉

    Like

    • Friday, September 3, 2010 12:02 pm

      Do you know how hard it was to find a picture of RP that wasn’t all pale and vampire-y looking? 😉 For some reason, he just popped into my head when I got to casting that role. Can’t you just see him flipping his hair, trying to get Elizabeth to notice him? And I can visualize so clearly the look of disgust on Henry Cavill’s face as Darcy every time he sees RP as Wickham.

      Like

      • Friday, September 3, 2010 10:20 pm

        RP as Wickham is the ultimate casting choice of the year. Bravo, bravo! You had me cheering in my seat (after picking myself off of the floor laughing. ;-))

        Like

  6. Kav permalink
    Friday, September 3, 2010 12:30 pm

    LOL. That was fun. And good point about the ages of the actors and actresses who were chosen to play the parts of much younger characters. (Though the actors might not be amused! LOL) I haven’t seen North & South yet. I’m waiting for my name to come up on the hold que at the library but it seems everyone has seen it except me!!!!!

    Like

    • Friday, September 3, 2010 12:32 pm

      Hopefully you’ll get to watch N&S before I cover it on Costume Drama Thursday so that you can join in the discussion then!

      Like

      • Friday, September 3, 2010 9:07 pm

        North and South has popped to the top of my list. Looking forward to hearing more from you on this one!

        Thanks for the warning about the Tudors. I sorta figured it was like that but I’m willing to fast forward to see the rest. How old Henry would love the attention he’s STILL getting centuries later.

        Like

        • Saturday, September 4, 2010 1:26 pm

          I know, right? Henry was so worried about his heir, about his legacy, and here we are, almost five hundred years later, and more is known/said about him than any other king in British/English history—a more far-reaching legacy than any king with half a dozen sons has had.

          Like

  7. Saturday, September 4, 2010 5:53 pm

    Great casting choices! Overlooking the “doughy” comment (*g*), I really like the idea of pairing Firth and Richardson as Mr. and Mrs. Bennet…that would be a fun couple to watch on-screen. Great choices for Kitty, Mary, and Lydia, though I’ve got to say I like Emma Watson so much I feel kind of bad imagining her cast as Mary, LOL! And Wallis looks very similar to Rosamund Pike…maybe Pike inaugerated the ideal Jane look? Also, I love the idea of Orlando Bloom playing Charles Bingley, I think that would be so much fun to see! And the idea of RP as Wickham just cracks me up, that is too perfect! The fact that you cast Henry Cavill as Darcy has me very curious about this actor…hope to see more if him in the future since I am not apt to watch The Tudors any time soon.

    Like

  8. Saturday, September 4, 2010 8:57 pm

    Oh, and I forgot to add I feel kinda bad for poor Gareth David-Lloyd getting saddled with the infamous Mr. Collins role…poor guy. LOL!

    Like

  9. Sunday, September 5, 2010 3:35 pm

    That was fun. Except for Mr. Darcy, I agree with your new choices.

    Like

  10. Tuesday, September 7, 2010 6:37 am

    Love it. I’m wondering when {and if} BBC will ever redo Pride and Prejudice. Sigh. Not that there aren’t enough versions out, but like you said ~ none of them have ever quite ‘done it’. The BBC is my favorite of all of them, but otherwise the rest have been sadly lacking to me.

    Like

  11. Rebekah permalink
    Wednesday, January 26, 2011 9:23 pm

    LOL, re-casting Pride and Prejudice. Oh my gaw! Good choice for Mr. Darcy.

    Like

  12. Rachel Robertson permalink
    Wednesday, June 15, 2011 3:00 pm

    I totally agree that I have always thought of the Bennet girls’ as BLONDE!

    Like

  13. K-Eton permalink
    Monday, July 25, 2011 11:04 pm

    you called the earlier BBC productions ‘amateur’ and here you go casting away with all the meager talent your middle-aged man-faced self can muster, you’re a disgusting loathsome woman, your writing sucks balls, and your dream cast is laughable. I’m no Colin Firth fan and hope you don’t find these comments too harsh. Still, truth (as unappealing as the word is to the post-modern set) is truth.

    Like

  14. Saturday, July 30, 2011 5:36 am

    K-Eton – Your comment was completely out of order! Please seek help for your blatant personality disorder. For your own sake, if not others.

    Like

  15. jane austen permalink
    Sunday, November 13, 2011 10:48 am

    Hi kaye…..Colin Firth as Mr.Bennet! Good thinking!
    I have few suggestions……
    Dan Stevens (Edward Ferrars, S&S(2008)) as Wickham, Rachel Weisz as
    lizzy, Natalie Portman as Jane, Jude Law as Bingley…….

    Like

  16. Shah permalink
    Thursday, December 29, 2011 7:58 pm

    It seems that you’ve only ever seen ‘The Tudors’ and the ‘Harry Potter’ series. I don’t think there’s a wide enough range of actors there to recast P&P!

    You should realise that you are not casting the characters in these productions, but the actors that played them – just because characters in these productions displayed similar personality traits to the characters in P&P, doesn’t mean that their actors are appropriate for P&P.

    As for Mary, she’s not at all like Hermione Granger! Mary tries to make up for her lack of beauty and charm with intellect to make herself as attractive and noticed as her ‘street smart’ and beautiful older sisters and playful and pretty younger sisters. She is desperate to prove herself and gain respect, and is therefore more attention-seeking than Lydia but very similar to Kitty. Hermione Granger, by contrast, is just naturally clever and sees knowledge and intellect as a means of being a better person. As the series progresses, she values intellect for its own sake much less, and things such as bravery much more, demonstrating a level of depth and maturity that Mary never reaches.

    Like

    • Tuesday, January 3, 2012 2:06 am

      Shah, actually I watch a lot of British TV and movies, and, if you’ve ever noticed, British actors and actresses tend to show up in a lot of different programs/movies. Out of the seventeen actors mentioned above, five appeared in The Tudors and three appeared in the Harry Potter films. Even combining those two numbers, actors from those two series do not make up a majority of the ones I’ve chosen. So your first statement is quite mistaken. (Also—you made the statement “as the series progresses” . . . Pride and Prejudice is not a series. It is a single novel. So that statement makes me wonder if you have actually ever read the BOOK or if you’ve just watched the 1995 miniseries and consider that the “authentic” version of P&P.)

      Because your comment represents your opinion, I will give it the respect that it deserves by not deleting it out of hand from my site. However, when visiting/commenting on blogs, there are some things you should keep in mind:

      (a)This is a personal blog and therefore represents the thoughts, ideas, and opinions of the blogger—in this case, that’s me. You don’t have to agree with me; in fact, I assume that not everyone will agree with everything I write here. That’s just life. But even comments that are in disagreement with what the blogger has posted should be done in a respectful way, not in a way that condemns or reprimands the blogger.

      (b)This post was written for fun and entertainment purposes only, not as something meant to be instructive, critical, or anything other than simply an opinion—MY opinion. And I am just as entitled to my opinion as you are to yours.

      (c)You obviously feel strongly about the character of Mary, and it’s nice to see a much-maligned character have a champion like you. However, if I’d said I wanted to cast Lady Gaga as Mary because I think that would be funny, that’s still just my opinion and my way of having fun with a story that I’ve been enjoying reading (and studying) for more than twenty years.

      (d)When reading a blog, you cannot make assumptions of what the blogger knows or doesn’t know. My undergraduate critical thesis was on Pride and Prejudice, so I have spent considerable time reading, considering, and analyzing this story and its characters. But it is just a story, a work of fiction, and it’s open to interpretation by anyone who wants to read it—or spend an hour or two having fun coming up with a “new cast” for it.

      Like

  17. Andiana T permalink
    Wednesday, May 31, 2017 4:02 am

    well, I’d rather choose Mr. Wickham (Robert Pattinson)

    Like

Trackbacks

  1. Fun Friday–Pride & Prejudice (Part 1) « KayeDacus.com
  2. Really? Who posts stuff like this on others’ blogs? « KayeDacus.com

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