Another Mr. Darcy

Today was filled with all kinds of mundane housework. Including moving the couch to vacuum underneath and now I find myself with a twinging lower back. So I’m snuggled up on the sofa trying to give my poor back a break. Naturally I have my trusty laptop with me, so I’ve been responding to comments and browsing the internet.

The most interesting thing I’ve come across–apart from the Pope’s resignation–is that Dan Stephens is in the running to play Mr. Darcy in a sequel to Pride and Prejudice. Now, I like Dan Stephens a lot as an actor. Matthew Crawley was one of my favorite characters on Downton Abbey and he made an excellent Edward Ferrars in Sense and Sensibility. But I just cannot for the life of me picture him as Mr. Darcy!

First of all, it bothers me when actors portray more than one Austen hero. Something about the Austen universe in my head gets distorted when say, Johnny Lee Miller is not only Edmund Bertram, but also Mr. Knightley. But it is more than that. Darcy is more or less the stuff of legend. There are a lot of elements that go into making Darcy Darcy. The way he carries himself, the aura he projects, his manner of talking and interacting with others, and yes the way he looks.

So for me, Dan Stevens fails my Darcy test immediately. He just doesn’t look like a Darcy. But also, I can’t see him embodying the spirit of this beloved character. Even if this is a sequel.

So on to the other supposed candidates for the role: Eddie Redmayne, Tom Hiddleston, Matthew Goode and Hugh Dancy.

As with Dan Stephens, once again I just cannot picture any of these actors filling the shoes of Darcy even though I enjoy all of their work. Granted, I have pretty high standards and no, Matthew McFadden did not meet them. I actually think Tom Hiddleston comes closest to being the right choice out of those suggested. And no, that isn’t just because he’s my fangirl bit on the side. I can see him carrying himself and speaking as Darcy would. But as with the others, he once again doesn’t look anything like how I picture Darcy.

When I started racking my brain for actors I thought would be fit to play Darcy, the only one that came to mind was Henry Cavill. In my humble opinion the man has both the acting chops and the right look for the role.

So what do you think? Dan Stephens? Or maybe Eddie Redmayne, Tom Hiddleston, Matthew Goode or Hugh Dancy? My suggestion of Henry Cavill? Or do they need to keep looking until they find the perfect Darcy? Is there someone you think would make a perfect Darcy?

*Oh, and for the record I have not read Death Comes to Pemberley. Has anyone read it? And would you recommend it as a good read?

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38 thoughts on “Another Mr. Darcy

  1. Snickers' Mom

    I can’t bring myself to read a lot of the sequels so I haven’t read it. I’m super weirdly possessive of Ms. Austen’s characters, or at least the ones I love.
    I agree that I don’t just see Dan Stephens as Mr. Darcy material. I think Tom Hiddleston has the acting ability to do it but he just doesn’t feel like Mr. Darcy and frankly, there is no way in a million years that I can see him as Mr Darcy (and this is coming from a huge Tom lover). If it were someone well known, I’ll go with Christian Bale. I’m not familiar enough with Henry Cavill to have an opinion, that may change after Man of Steel (that trailer looked amazing).

    • Over the years I haven’t encountered many continuations of Austen’s novels that I care for. There are a few well written ones that I do enjoy. I have to day that “death” in the title is a bit of a turn off for me as well. I tend to like to imagine Darcy and Lizzie riding off into the sunset. Unrealistic perhaps, but there is a reason I love Disney movies. 😉

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who can’t picture Dan Stephens or even Tom Hiddleston as Darcy. The list of actors in the articles I came across were all just lacking in some way to play this particular character. I’m trying to picture Christian Bale as Darcy and even he doesn’t seem to suit and I’m a big CB fan.

  2. Oh Jas, that’s the first thing I thought. Dan Stephens?? As Mr. Darcy? Nope, not the right choice. I think you are right, Henry would be a better choice all round for his look, his aura and his acting ability and he’s at a good age to play it.

    Hugh Dancy–still something too boyish about him for me even if he’s the right age. Eddie Redmayne is good as the Sensitive Young Man but he’s all wrong for me as Darcy in demeanor and appearance (sometimes I think ER is rather pretty and at other times I find him singularly odd looking.That’s just me). None of the others work either IMHO even though they are all good actors.

    Sadly, I have heard virtually nothing good about Death Comes to Pemberly. And I do said this with sadness because it was penned by one of my long-time favorite authors, P.D. James. I was going to read it and then saw so much negative press about it, not just from book critics but from fellow long-time fans that it put me right off the idea. 😦 So I fear this project is not one over which I can get very excited. 😦

    • Angie, boyish is a great description for a few of the actors mentioned in the article. That to me is an even bigger issue when we’re talking about a Darcy that is six years older than he was in P&P. Even the ones who don’t seem boyish, like Hiddleston or Matthew Goode are still lacking something Darcyish.

      Thanks for filling me in on the negative press about the book. If I do decide to read it, which honestly I probably will, I’ll at least go in without high expectations.

  3. Brooke

    It’s not just the Dan Stevens piece that is bothering me, but that fact that ANOTHER Pride and Prejudice and Jane Austen piece is going to happen.

    • Brooke, at least it another P&P. Truth be told, I don’t know why we even needed the Matthew McFadden adaptation. The Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle version was so true to the book that for me, I don’t see a need for remakes. That said, if they are going to make sequels, they at least need to get the casting correct. Just because an actor may be popular doesn’t mean he is the right choice for every role.

      • Brooke

        Matthew is a great actor, but I didn’t completely enjoy his performance as Mr. Darcy. Maybe he looked the part.
        I don’t think we needed it. We could have done without that version. Characters were missing and I didn’t enjoy it. It didn’t feel great knowing that Mr. Bingley had two sisters and one was used.
        The 1995 version is very good and I still think this version is hard to beat because it was well-done.
        Best wishes to the actor who gets the role because many fans of the story will have high expectations on how well he does as a very popular and loved character. I want the best actress for Elizabeth for the same reasons.

        • Brooke

          I understand that they had to make some cuts to make the movie happen.

  4. bollyknickers

    I read about 1/3 of Death Comes to Pemberley. Enough said.

    As for the casting of Mr Darcy – i’m afraid i have a bit of a block as there will only ever be one Darcy for me and i assume Colin Firth wouldn’t want to reprise the role. I suppose he is a tad too old but i’m sure the talented make up artists could sort that out. I also like Dan Stevens but he is not right for this role, in my opinion. He’s not dark and brooding enough. Eddie Redmayne is too young – Darcy would be in his mid 30’s at least and although ER is 31, he looks about 19. No – i’m sorry but if CF won’t play the role RA is the only other option for me!

    • Yikes, Bollyknickers! That isn’t a very glowing recommendation. 😉

      When I go back and reread P&P it is Colin Firth I see as well. I did enjoy Lost in Austen when it came out and the actor who played Darcy did an acceptable job. So I think I can get passed Firth to see someone else in the roll as long as they are suited to it. I’ve read other’s remark in the past that they would like to see RA play Darcy. To a certain degree I understand that desire, but for me he should remain Thornton and Colin should remain Darcy.

      • Obscura

        I liked Lost in Austen too…the wet shirt scene was particularly memorable 😉 I think that actor – Stuart – something was in Ultimate Force.

        • I loved that wet shirt scene. I cringed and laughed and covered my eyes through it–although I did peek through my fingers. That she asked him to do it is what made it so perfect! 🙂

          I still haven’t seen UF. Maybe I need to add it to my RA to do list.

          • Obscura

            I haven’t seen the RA episode/s yet – we watched the first episode where I noticed him (I wasn’t even close BTW – It’s Elliot Cowan) Per a suggestion, I’m fast forwarding to the last episode of S1 where RA’s story arc begins.

  5. rbb

    To me, all the actors listed are way, WAY too plain for Darcy. I think if there is a character that has to be aristocratically handsome – that’s the one. As great and charming as Firth was, I always thought that he was not handsome enough. Until i “discovered” RA, I used to imagine someone Mark Strong or Chris Noth – like in appearance. Now RA is the only Darcy i can imagine, and it’s actually very sad to me that he was not the one in 2005 version. But – I would love to see him as JA’s Darcy, not a fanfic one 🙂

    • I think it should be clarified that the Pemberly book is not fanfiction a la EL James and the Twilight fic that was turned into 50 Shades of Grey.

      Baroness PD James has been a successful writer of very literate mysteries for many years, often on the bestseller list and critically acclaimed.
      I have been her fan for several decades. She is best known for her series of novels about policeman-poet Adam Dalgliesh.

      However, the Baroness will turn 93 this year. I have a suspicion that she may not have actually written this book, or that, possibly, her faculties have diminished with age. It happens to the best of us.

      I prefer to remember PD James when she was at the top of the writing game and it’s one reason I can’t bring myself to read something that is seemingly so inferior to her best work. 😦

      • Thanks for the clarification, Angie. I’ve never read anything by PD James, so I’m not familiar with her work. But even having not read this book, I still think we have to concede that it is in fact fanfiction even if written by a well respected author. Given what you have mentioned of the criticism for the book, and Bollyknicker’s admission of not even finishing it, I’m guessing it wasn’t very good fanfiction. Perhaps people would have liked it more had they been original characters instead of Austen’s beloved characters. Maybe PD James just didn’t get the characters personalities right, or the style of Austen’s writing.

        This all has me itching to read it, just so I can form my own opinion about the book.

        • I see where you are coming from re fan fiction. I guess my issue is I don’t want the Baroness lumped into the same category with someone like EL James, because PD James HAS proven herself an excellent writer with many well-crafted novels, whilst EL James—hasn’t. Not by a long shot. Since you don’t have the past history I do loving and admiring PD James’ work, you wouldn’t have the terrible sadness I’d have to deal with trying to read this Pemberly story. It’s like seeing someone you knew as a lively, vigorous, bright intellect transformed into a near-vegetative state. :-/ I’ve seen that in RL so I have no desire to do it in a literary situation.

          • I see the distinction you are making. On one hand we have authors like EL James, who isn’t a very talented writer but managed to strike gold. On the other we have PD James who is a distinguished writer, who has done wonderful work in the past. Was the Pemberley book her last work? It would be a shame for her writing career to end on a sour note.

    • I don’t know if I would call the actors plain, but there is something vital missing that would make a good Darcy. This is a great example of how each of us have different tastes because the thought of either Mark Strong or Chris Noth as Darcy makes me cringe. 🙂 The 2005 version of P&P would have been better with RA in the role of Darcy, but had he played Darcy and Thornton a year apart I think fangirls the world over would have imploded!

      • rbb

        No, of course he could not play both 🙂 It’s just that I managed to watch that movie without even noticing Darcy.
        I actually don’t know much anything about either Strong or Noth (one interview i watched with Noth did not impress me, to put it mildly). I only meant a style of the face, nothing more. Sorry if i made you cringe again 😀

        • He could have played both, but I might not have survived it! 😉

          I’ve only seen Noth on crime shows and as Big in Sex and the City. Nothing about him says Darcy to me. Strong on the other hand is an actor that I really really like, although I’m used to seeing him more often in the bad guy role. Feel free to make me cringe. We all have different tastes…except for when it comes to Richard. We all agree that he’s amazing! 🙂

          • rbb

            Isn’t it curious, though, that our tastes are so different? Would it not be logical to assume that if we all like the same guy, our tastes must be very similar, at least in men? And yet every time one of RA’s bloggers gushes over someone else (Aidan Turner, or Hiddleston, for example), I find myself absolutely unable to share the excitement 🙂

  6. All great actors but for me they look all way to young and I am also not sure if they will be able to nail the mix of grace and arrogance that I link to Mr. Darcy

    • Well said, Herba. I was discussing this last night with someone and they pointed out that this is Darcy that has changed after meeting Lizzie. I can’t imagine that he would have lost all of his arrogance though. His position in life demands a certain level of pride.

      • Yes my thoughts exactly. He is sweet with his sister and with Lizzy but his arrogance/pride shines through at least in some situations. All the mentioned actors could play a young Darcy before he’d become the head of the family

  7. Obscura

    I love Austen, and I’ve enjoyed many of the film interpretations of her work, but I’m about P&P’d out at this point…I really found the Firth version of P&P to be pretty definitive, and although I’ve read a couple of the sequels, I’m not sure I really want to see them played out on screen regardless of who’s in the lead role. That said, I do agree that I don’t really “see” Dan Stephens as Darcy.

    • Obscura

      vis a vis the “typo” conversation from yesterday – how many times should one say “really” in 3 sentences? Oops 🙂

    • I am in complete agreement with you about the Firth version of P&P being definitive. If the sequel was really well done, I wouldn’t mind seeing it brought to the screen. However, after reading some of the things I now have about this story, I’m not sure I’m interested.

      Oh, and Obscura, you can use really as many times as you choose. I won’t give you a hard time in the least. 😉

  8. Jane

    I have never heard of this sequel, but for me the only Darcy has ever been RA. He looks like I imagined the character long before I saw RA or any P&P adapation. And he would have the right age to play a married Darcy with kids. That doesn’t mean that I want him for that role however. I hope he has better things to do. Looks wise Henry Cavill would be a good choice, he is ridiculously handsome and reminds me of the actor who played Darcy in the 1980 production. All the other are way too boyish and too young. Not to mention – blond? But that could be amended.

    • I think RA is a lot of people’s ideal Darcy. I was only 12 when the Colin Firth version came out, so I’m sure that factors into why he is my definitive Darcy.

      I agree with you completely about the actors suggested being to boyish and young to play Darcy. He was 28-29 in P&P, so for this adaptation he would be in his mid 30s. Even the ones who are around that age still don’t look Darcy-ish. I guess there is always makeup and hair dye.

  9. cb

    “Anyone who has travelled in the Balkans and caught sight of the often strikingly beautiful women and virile men will know that Britain is often a source of confusion to visitors from that part of Europe.
    Not to put too fine a point on it, the unforgiving Balkan verdict is that too often British women are rather manly while their menfolk often seem effeminate, that is when they can be told apart.
    Of course drawing attention to such matters violates the canons of political correctness and is not on for any bureaucrat who wishes to rise as far as the brilliant Sir Jeremy Heywood.” (Tom Gallagher, scottishreview.net)

    And this un-manly timidity is what I have perceived in most of the “Darcy” renditions, beginning with the one in the ’80s (BBC).
    It is making the character unrealistic, this is why most boys and men avoid the book.

    RA was rude, arogant, alpha male (beating people) in a few roles, I think he would play a very alpha-male Darcy, which would be more realistic to the way menfolk are. There would be no need for a dive-in-the-lake scene, to make Richard to appear red blooded. Even after that scripted and forced sexualization move, poor Colin still looked uncharismatic. Another ideea would be that Darcy should be played for once by a Spaniard or an Italian.

    (On the other hand: mocking a guy and then he asks you to marry him? Only a woman would believe another woman who wrote that as possible.)

    • This is an interesting quote you’ve shared. Being an American myself, I can’t even imagine agreeing with it. But our views about beauty are developed by the cultures in which we grow up.

      I think RA could do a good job with the character of Darcy, but if this story is as poorly written as I’ve been told, I don’t think I’d like to see him do it. As far as an Italian or a Spaniard playing the character, that would be fine if it was an Italian or a Spanish production, but for a British production about British characters it would be incredibly odd.

  10. asilomar11

    I could barely get through “Death Comes to Pemberley” and in a sense, Dan Stevens would be a good Darcy for this adaptation only because Austen’s characters are virtually unrecognizable in “Death.” As for the other actors mentioned in the article, none of them have the physical stature to play Darcy except maybe Matthew Goode (the others are too physically slight, I think). Cavill would be a good suggestion! I didn’t care for Matthew McFadyen’s take on Darcy, but the more I watch it the more I can appreciate what he did (but still doesn’t come within miles of Firth’s Darcy, or even Olivier’s Darcy). I do hope RA will be in an Austen adaptation before too long, preferably as the hero, heh.

    • I have to wonder why, with all of the negative things I’ve heard, this continuation is even being adapted. Of the ones in the article, I think Matthew Goode would be the best choice for Darcy as well, but he’s still not quite right.

      How interesting that you’re able to appreciate Matthew McFadyen’s portrayal the more you watch it. For me it has been the exact opposite. I actually enjoyed his performance the first time, but with repeated watches I found his take on Darcy more an more un-Darcy like.

      I would love to see RA as an Austen hero too. I’m just not sure which one.

      • I am wondering the same. Is it just a matter of jumping on the Austen bandwagon?? Of course, I can’t fathom the making of a 50 SoG film, but then I know that’s all about milking that particular cash cow . . . certainly not due to its literary merit LOL When I watch the MMF version of P&P, I find I simply have to think of it as not actually being P&P and then I can enjoy it on other merits. I just can’t really think of Keira as Lizzie or Matthew as Darcy. Have to admit the Firth/Ehle version remains my fav and is only version of that Austen story I own.

      • asilomar11

        If RA is going to play an Austen hero, he’d better get to it quick before he is too old even for Mr Knightley 😉 (altho I really don’t want his Austen appearance to be in Emma – Darcy or Wenthworth please!).

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