Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Double Identities: Actresses in Pride and Prejudice

I got a request for a post about "anything to do with P&P95".  That should be easy enough, but the thing is, being co-authoress of The P&P95Forever Club, I usually write anything to do with that subject over there.

But today I'll just be a little different.  One thing I love about watching period dramas is recognizing the actors.  Pride and Prejudice (1995) was one of the first 'real' period drama mini-series I ever watched, so I didn't recognize any of the actors in it-- that came later on with other movies.  So just for fun, I'm going to ramble a bit about my favorite role in another period drama for each applicable actress in P&P95. (I'm leaving the men out, just because.  Well, mainly to make the post shorter, haha.)  Ones who are not applicable don't have any period drama role that sticks out to me, if I have seen it at all, and obviously I'm not going to talk about ones I haven't seen for myself.  However, be aware that I probably do know they were in such-and-such movie, because I've done all the research.  Speaking of that, if you want a full list of the period dramas the actors from P&P95 were in, see here.

Anna Chancellor

Caroline Bingley

I don't actually have a character to talk about here, I just wanted to point out that she is the narrator in the excellent documentary about Jane Austen, "The Real Jane Austen."  She is a {long line of great's}-niece of Jane Austen which just makes everything fun.  For that reason I love that she was in P&P95.  And as is obvious in the documentary, she seems to appreciate the fact.

Barbara Leigh-Hunt

Lady Catherine de Bourgh

She plays Lady Cumnor (the elder) in Wives and Daughters (1999).  Similar to Lady Catherine in some ways... they both have the title, haha; they both don't have much tact and say whatever they please, but Lady Cumnor is less humorless and seems more old and infirm... also she talks with a lisp.  Don't ask me why. But it's fun to mimic.  Hers really isn't a huge role in W&D, but it is noticeable.

Emilia Fox

Georgiana Darcy

Mrs. Gardiner (Joanna David)'s daughter in real life. ;)  That's actually how she ended up being considered for the part.

The other role I've seen her in was in David Copperfield (1999) as David's mother, Clara.  She looked quite similar-- in fact, look, she even wears the same coat/pelisse.  She was really good in this role... I liked her a lot.  Especially when I watched the 2000 version and compared her with the annoying girl there, hahaha.  The character herself... not really my favorite, because sometimes I just want to slap some sense into her.  I can't talk much about it, though, in case you don't know the story... we can't have spoilers. ;)

Joanna David

Mrs. Gardiner

Her roles in Bleak House and He Knew He Was Right were both rather small, so I'm going to shoot for a main character and mention that she was in another JA miniseries as Elinor Dashwood.  Way back in 1971.  For a 70's BBC piece I actually liked that version of Sense and Sensibility okay... better than the 1981 version, actually, and Joanna was one of the reasons.  Her hair and makeup were annoying but she did make a pretty good Elinor.  I still don't like her better than Emma Thompson or Hattie Morahan, but given the same opportunities they had, she'd probably be a decent competitor.  It's not her fault the BBC was not on top of period dramas yet at that point.

Julia Sawalha

Lydia Bennet (right)

It's hard for me to just choose one character to talk about here because I've seen her as three other notable characters.  My favorite, though, is her most recent role as Dorcas Lane in the TV series Lark Rise to Candleford.  She's just brilliant.  It took me a little while to get used to her acting in that role, not because I was used to seeing her as Lydia Bennet (she was just so totally different it was actually hard to put the two together in my mind), but partially because the way she speaks is sometimes a tiny bit... well, not quite stilted, but this certain kind of clear and precise way of speaking, with a bit of an almost artificial lilt in her tone.  I did get used to it, though, and it totally goes with her character... and I tend to love listening to her talk now.  Just the way she says words.  She makes me like names I didn't even think about before.

Anyways.  There's much more to Miss Lane than the way she talks, but you can't just sum it up when it's a TV series.  LRTC never seemed like anything particularly great to me when I'd just seen a little of it, but eventually I started watching the episodes one after another and got totally hooked.  (You can see my review of it here.)  Dorcas Lane is one of those characters who tends to be endearing before you really realize you like her... and you can be on her side almost without quite agreeing.  She can be both frivolous (because frivolity is essential, and when we begin to take ourselves too seriously, we are headed for trouble) and down-to-earth.  People often come to her for advice and sometimes she advises people when she isn't asked, but sometimes that's what they need.  She has a sincere love and loyalty for her community and really does seem to understand people very well.  She has many weaknesses, however.  Or should I say, many one weaknesses. :D
Okay, now I have to share this video with you.  Heehee.

As you can probably guess, it's very easy to quote.
And... quotes are my one weakness.

Anyways.  Some people like Miss Lane a lot right off the bat... it took me a little longer, but now she's definitely one of my favorite characters in the series.  Besides the few times she drives me nuts.

Lucy Robinson

Mrs. Louisa Hurst on right (Mr. Bingley's other sister)

She plays Mrs. Elton in the 1996 A&E version of Emma, and although my favorite Mrs. Elton is Christina Cole end-of-story, Lucy Robinson is my second-favorite... she has her own flair, and nobody can make this face like she can.

You should all know who Mrs. Elton is (and if you don't--for pity's sake, acquaint yourself with Emma! Now!) so I won't ramble about her.

Victoria Hamilton

Here's a character who is often left out of P&P altogether, or isn't at all noticeable... but she's the whole reason Lydia ends up going to Brighton which is kind of a major part of the story.
She was in two other Jane Austen films, but my favorite of her roles is Ruby Pratt in Lark Rise to Candleford.  Occasionally when watching Ruby and Dorcas Lane interacting in the TV series it strikes me as quite amusing to think of how the same two actresses giggled uproariously together in P&P.  "Thick as thieves, the pair of them." ;)

Ruby is the younger sister of Pearl Pratt, and the sisters are dressmakers and support themselves by running a shop.  In the beginning of the series they are both really annoying and snooty, but as it goes on and they develop the characters more, Ruby emerges to be a lot more tenderhearted than her older sister, and generally nicer.  She leaves the series for a time and when she comes back she's rather... different... but I think everything would have returned to normal between her and her sister (it was on the right track) if the series didn't end half-way through the fourth season.  (Don't get me wrong, it's not like they just randomly stopped... they did try to finish it as best they could, but the season was still only half as long, and there were a few loose ends and definitely more story material.)

Before I close this, I am happy to say that all the characters I featured here are from period dramas I can recommend.  I have a fewww problems with some things in Lark Rise from time to time, especially for a younger audience, but you can find more details about my thoughts there by checking out the review I linked to under Julia Sawalha. :)

If you'd be interested in seeing more posts like this one (taking actors/actresses from a particular period drama and talking about their roles in other ones), let me know!


Livia Rachelle said...

I think it is fun how all the actors and actresses in period dramas play in other period dramas. I don't always care enough to know all the names, so I will be like "Oh, that is Miss Bingley" or whatever referring to the actor or actress.

I have never completed David Copperfield, but I from what I have read I totally agree with your sentiment of knocking sense into her! I hated her SO much; Davy was being ABUSED; what kind of bother sits by and believes her husband and his horrible sister like that?!

Anonymous said...

This was a fun post! I'd be interested in more similar ones.

Naomi said...

Oh! I love anything to do with P&P95!! This is was a super post!

Natalie said...

I felt the same way when I watched LRTC! It was so hard to connect silly, flirty, noisy Lydia Bennet with refined, mature Miss Lane! I agree, I like the clear way she speaks as well. :)
What other notable characters has she played? I've only seen her as Lydia, Miss Lane, and Jessie Brown.

Naomi said...

Oh! Pride and Prejudice 1995 is my ONE weakness.
(Okay ONE of my ONE weaknesses.)

Hamlette said...

Fun post! I love connecting actors to various roles, and especially seeing them play opposite each other in more than one movie. Like in The King's Speech when Jennifer Ehle's character first meets Colin Firth's character and says, "Oh, it's you!"

I reeeeally liked Joanna David in the 1979 version of Rebecca -- I reviewed it here for last year's Period Drama Challenge, and as I mentioned there, she and the other lead from Rebecca (Jeremy Brett) acted opposite each other once more in an episode of his Sherlock Holmes series.

More posts like this would be awesome!

Miss Dashwood said...

Wheeeeeeee, P&P95!

Lady Cumnor is so much fun. I don't quite know why I like her so much, but I do. Weeeeeeeeeally, Hawwiet...

I WANT TO SEE DC 2000. And what FUN about it being the same coat/pelisse! I wonder if there are any other actresses who have worn the same outfit in more than one movie? It would be a fun thing to research...

"It's not her fault the BBC was not on top of period dramas yet at that point." BAHAHAHAHA.

I love the way Miss Lane speaks. It's so... cultured and enunciatory. (Shush, Chrome, of course that's a word.) I just love Miss Lane, really. Even though she annoys me sometimes with her line of beaux on a string that are all crazy for her. Snort.

I wuv the Mrs. Hurst gif, but you knew that already. :D

I SO wish Ruby's story had been finished definitively. UGH. I want to KNOW what happened with Pontefract, Anne!

Melody said...

Livia Rachelle,
Haha, I tend to refer to actors by the name of the character I know them as best, too. I used to hardly know any of the actual actors' names but I kind of picked them up since I started blogging. ;)
Yeah... well, in the movie, my main problem with Clara was marrying the guy to begin with without knowing him well enough and doing it all even though it was obvious Davy (and Peggotty, haha) were disapproving. After that... she was obviously not okay with the fact that Davy was being abused but it's one of those controlling situations where there's not much a person like her could do. (I would try something, though. If I had a son I'm sure I'd risk my life for him... not just sit there crying. :P)

Countrygirl and Naomi-- thanks! :)

Julia Sawalha also played Mercy ("Merry") Pecksniff in Martin Chuzzlewit. It was made just a year before P&P.

Ooh, another period drama with Joanna David! Thanks for letting me know. I may have to try to look it up! :)

Do you mean DC 1999? 2000 is the one with Anthony Andrews. 1999 is the one with Emilia Fox. :D
Yezzzz... I have to say, Miss Lane actually grows on me. She used to annoy me even more than she does now. Really, though, I like her more as the series goes on... most of my least-favorite moments with her are in the first or second seasons. And I love cultured British accents. :D Other kinds are interesting, but I don't find them as delightfully fascinating. Heehee.
As to the Mrs. Hurst gif-- yes. Thank you. ;)

Hamlette said...

It's available on YouTube, chopped up into 9- or 10-minute segments. Just search for "Rebecca Jeremy Brett" and you'll find it. I liked it so well, I'm pretty tempted to find a greymarket copy since it's not available otherwise.

Would you rather hear the story...

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