Pride and Prejudice Revisited

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Pride and Prejudice Revisited

Message  Matthieu le Dim 24 Mai 2009 - 14:41

Par Karl Rozemeyer (Premiere, 11 novembre 2005).
Keira Knightley Meets her Match
“I think Pride and Prejudice you can set anywhere. It is about things that are as relevant today as they were two hundred years ago. It is about growing up. It is about making mistakes. It is about falling in love for the first time. It’s about a million different things. You can see that you can set this story anywhere because you have got Bride and Prejudice, the Bollywood version, you’ve got Bridget Jones, you’ve got so many different versions of this story. I think that it doesn’t matter where you are from, we all need a little bit of romance. So, why not.”
—Keira Knightley
The contrast in personality between Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen is as marked in person as it is on screen in their roles as Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy in the latest adaptation of the Jane Austen novel Pride and Prejudice (Focus Features). The maturity of Knightley’s comments belie her age: the star of Bend it Like Beckham, King Arthur and Pirates of the Caribbean is just twenty years old. And yet she has an unmistakable youthful effervescence. Wide-eyed and upbeat, she gushes hyperboles (“Fantastic!”) and expletives (“Fuck!”) in almost equal amounts. MacFadyen is eleven years her senior. Despite his closely cropped hair (“I am doing this film in Ireland and I wanted it to be shorter”) he is every bit the tall, dark and somewhat brooding handsome gentleman that one associates with the infamous Mr. Darcy. Says Knightley of her co-star: “We go for this quite androgynous look in our leading men at the moment which is lovely. Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom. Beautiful! (They’re) absolutely lovely but it is terribly romantic to have that big guy. He is a bit of a Richard Burton-type…And what is incredibly romantic is that you have got this big man but he is so vulnerable, as well. And it is so rare to see that in cinema.”

Dark kohl framing her eyes, Knightley is glamorously dressed in black with a jangle of arm bracelets that shake noisily every time she gesticulates. Gone is her preferred choice of grunge jeans-and-t-shirts and heavy boots. “That’s because I have had hair and make-up! Fantastic!” she exclaims. But her personal sense of dress and style is underscored when she reveals what items she took away from the late 18th-century set of the film: “I got my stripy stockings—which were my big thing. I wanted stripes for Elizabeth! I was really obsessed about stripes. And (director) Joe (Wright) was like: ‘Well, you can’t have every single one of your dresses striped but I will give you stripy stockings’. So all my stockings in the film where striped. So I got those. What else did I get? I got the boots. Lizzie always wears boots. Those green kind of boots.”

Dressed in a light pink shirt, MacFadyen is more hesitant in his speech than Knightley and has a distinct reserve, keeping his sentences short and to the point. Even his filmography is quieter than Knightley’s. He describes the highlights of his career thus far as: “Probably when I played Benedict in this Much Ado About Nothing play tour. And I did a TV film called Warriors which was kind of a first break on telly and that was a film about the soldiers in Bosnia and the war there. That was a highlight. I have had a lot of nice jobs. I have been very lucky…And I did a play at the National with Michael Gambon recently.”

Taking on the roles of two of the most beloved characters of the English novel tradition had to be daunting for Knightley and MacFadyen but both were aware that they were also taking on parts that had already been defined by actors before them. Mr. Darcy has been portrayed famously by Sir Laurence Olivier and more recently in the BBC TV series by Colin Firth. “I was a little bit daunted,“ concedes MacFadyen, “But like any part that is well known. I felt quite flattered. I am in very good company.’” However, he had neither read the book nor seen Firth’s performance before filming began: “A lot of people asked at the outset how it was going to be different from Colin Firth’s (portrayal). But I didn’t have any kind of frame of reference.” He does admit that this was a conscious decision. “Although I didn’t sit down and think to myself: ‘I am not going to do this (research).’ I just kind of didn’t bother. My wife was pregnant at the time. I just couldn’t sit and watch six hours. Because it is our screenplay we are shooting. It is different. And I had an experience with that. I did a Trollope (adaptation) on the telly, a thing called The Way We live Now. We had a brilliant script written by Andrew Davies and I started reading the book and it said the character I was playing was black-haired and green-eyed and whippet thin. I just thought this is not useful because you are not shooting the book.” And although he has never met Firth he claims to be a big fan of his work: “I saw Tumbledown, a film he did of the Falklands War. I had kind of seen a lot of him as I was growing up and before I went to drama school.”

Knightley’s affair with the role of Elizabeth Bennett, by contrast, had begun when she was just a child: “I read the book a lot. I’ve been obsessed by the book since I was about seven. I had all the Austen series on book tape and I used to listen to it on a loop. And I was obsessed by the BBC version when I was about eleven, maybe ten. And then I read the book finally when I was about fourteen and got obsessed again. Then when I was offered the role, I read it. I was terrified of doing it because I had been really obsessed with the BBC version I thought I was going to do an absolute copy of Jennifer Ehle’s performance and that would be awful. I mean, she was fantastic but it would be awful if I tried to copy her.” The prospect of taking the part weighed heavily on Knightley: she made notes and even was so terrified that before shooting had begun she had learned the entire script, her part and everybody else’s by heart.

Knightley feels Elizabeth Bennett is a universal character for all women: “It is partly because she is a character—I’m making a huge generalization here but I am assuming—that every woman would want to be. Which is sort of this incredibly passionate, clever, witty, intelligent, just amazing being but also somebody who seems so annoying. And you want to her kick up the ass and just say: ‘Oh, sort it out!’. So she is flawed, really flawed. You can imagine her going into a room and being slightly nervous about it, thinking: ‘I feel really stupid right now’…I think you see yourselves in all (Austen’s) characters, all her strong women.” And yet for Knightley Elizabeth Bennett embodies the unattainable—characteristics that she can only aspire to: “She is the sort of person (who) comes up with all the put downs that I always think: ‘I should have said that!’ She is the person who can come up with it really quickly. So I think she is still the person I want to be and I will never get there. I am just not clever enough.”

Both actors claim to recognize aspects of themselves in their characters but MacFadyen’s identification with Darcy borders on compassion. “There is a bit of Darcy in everyone. I found it very sympathetic. I found it kind of heartbreaking at times really. Nobody is just arrogant and cold without reason. I kind of thought he was a young man who was still trying to work out who he was, is, who to be with, still grieving the loss of his parents.“ MacFadyen recognizes that wounded pride can both humiliate and spark an attraction: “It is terribly attractive when your pomposity is noticed and then punctured in public. It is infuriating and embarrassing and you hate that person. When (Elizabeth) humiliates (Darcy) at the Merriton Ball, he finds it incredibly funny. I mean, he is mortified and hates her but goes home and locks all the doors and laughs hysterically into the pillow. That is why she is so attractive.”

MacFadyen describes his prepping for the role as “fairly straightforward. It is such a beautifully written part and it is such a lovely part to play (that) it makes an actor’s job easier rather than having to wade through and work out what it is all about.” Although, neither MacFadyen nor Knightley are strangers to period pieces, preparation for the roles began early with the two undergoing private rehearsals with director Joe Wright a week before filming commenced. “And we were really lucky because we had historians come in and give us lectures and we had etiquette lessons and all that kind of stuff,’ says Knightley. “It was good because I think doing a piece like this you have to learn the rules to be able know how to break them. So it was good to be clear about what the rules were.” Learning the rules and codes of behavior for men and women during the Regency period was imperative for the film’s authenticity. “There are different ways of walking and talking.,” says MacFadyden, “There are different ways of being in a room with women than there are now…The fact that they wouldn’t touch and they wouldn’t talk about (their emotions) pre-Freud: ‘So, this is how I am feeling Lizzie and how do you feel about this?’ So the slightest thing is charged. The slightest touch would be so immense. Whereas now we are all so tactile.” There is no lip-locking in the film at all “because they wouldn’t have, at least not until after they were married. It is all held in. You don’t need to do a big kind of snog.”

Click here to check out our REVIEW on Pride and Prejudice.
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Date d'inscription : 17/12/2008

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Re: Pride and Prejudice Revisited

Message  Sylvie V le Lun 25 Mai 2009 - 21:14

J'ai lu cet article auparavant mais ce fut un grand plaisir de le lire à nouveau. Ça tombe bien parce que je vis une phase "P&P" très intense (pour la Xième fois! Wink ) présentement! Laughing
Sylvie V
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Date d'inscription : 10/01/2009

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