Miss Woodhouse: Jennifer Ehle didn’t really fit my mental image of Elizabeth. She does have ‘fine eyes’ but for me, that’s where the resemblance ends. Though she isn’t ‘fat’ so to speak, she doesn’t have a light figure, she’s too old, and she’s too sedate. She doesn’t sparkle and shine like I would expect Elizabeth to.
Miss Laurie: Jennifer Ehle has the dark complexion and fine eyes Jane Austen describes in the book. She perfectly captures Elizabeth’s sparkling personality and lively wit, bringing the character to life. Her hairstyles and dresses are very lovely though I usually imagine Elizabeth to be a bit thinner in her person.
Amy: Jennifer Ehle is a bit old for the role, and doesn’t quite look like the Lizzy I pictured when I read the book (though I got used to her very quickly). However, she captures Lizzy’s wit and sparkle in a charming way, and her interaction with all the other characters in the story is spot-on.
Lizzie: Ehle did a FANTASTIC job! She is Lizzy Bennet! Her wit and humour she brought to the part, as well as her tomboy-ish attitude! She was a perfect balance for the part and she would make a wonderful mistress of Pemberley! Her reactions to the other characters and the relationships she builds up are wonderful! She was perfect for me! Her sisterly relationship with Jane was very strong and she also seemed very taken in by Wickham, just as she should have been.
Miss Woodhouse: Kiera Knightley made a PERFECT Elizabeth Bennet. She is lively and witty, has very fine eyes, a light and pleasing figure, and is about the right age. She seems to crackle with energy and vibrance whenever she’s on the screen.
Miss Laurie: Although Keira Knightley is the right age for Lizzy and her eyes are bright and dark, she just doesn’t “become” the character. Many of Lizzy’s lines are rushed through so it’s hard to understand what she says or serious lines are said in such a careless manner that does not fit Jane Austen’s character at all. Other lines are said in such a sappy over emotional way that it makes me annoyed with the character which I‘m not usually when reading the book.
Amy: Keira Knightley may look a bit more like the book’s description of Lizzy (for instance, her eyes are stunning) but her mannerisms struck me as far too modern and her I-don’t-care attitude made it very difficult for me to enjoy her portrayal of the character. Plus, it really bugged me that the 2005 filmmakers spelled her name as “Lizzie."
Lizzie: Fair do’s to Knightley! She did a good job! Her emotions she displayed were great, especially in the intense scenes, such as the first proposal and also the dance scene. Perhaps she was a little too tomboy-ish for Lizzy and I can’t quite see her as the mistress of Pemberley... I liked her relationship with Lady Catherine – that was entertaining! But still a very enjoyable performance and well done to her!
Miss Woodhouse: Jennifer Ehle was an ‘ok’ Elizabeth, but Kiera Knightley nailed her wit and sparkle perfectly.
Miss Laurie: In every way I greatly prefer Jennifer Ehle’s portrayal to Keira Knightley’s attempts. Ms. Ehle captures Elizabeth’s wit, fun-loving personality but also captures her sweetness and loveliness in a way that is so faithful to Jane Austen’s timeless heroine.
Amy: Jennifer Ehle (1995) all the way! When I think of Elizabeth Bennet, it’s her face that comes to mind.
Lizzie: Overall, I preferred the performance from Ehle as I think she found the right balance between the feminine side and tomboy side of Lizzy. Her playfulness with Darcy is really enjoyable to watch and Ehle’s portrayal is for me, as if she has just stepped out of the novel, but I do think that Knightley did the emotional, romantic scenes particularly well.
Miss Woodhouse: Colin Firth wasn’t Mr Darcy (comment war anyone?). He, like J.E. was too old, he wasn’t very handsome and he seemed as though he didn’t mean his lines – he just woodenly said them.
Miss Laurie: Colin Firth’s tall dark person and noble mien are so Darcy-esque that at first glance he just looks the part. He perfectly captured Darcy’s price, balancing it with his generous heart, his sense of honor and protectiveness for those he loves. My only criticism is that I wish he would have smiled a bit more.
Amy: Colin Firth is the personification of Mr. Darcy for many, and though he’s my favorite, I wouldn’t say that he’s absolutely perfect for the part. For instance, he smiles far too little, and though Mr. Darcy isn’t a goofy grinning kind of person, he does smile many times throughout the book.
Lizzie: Well, what can I say? Wasn’t he wonderful? His portrayal was amazing. His Darcy before the transformation was proud enough to be dislikable, as he was meant to be. I think his changing opinion of Lizzy and her ‘fine eyes’ is done by Firth very well. One very notable performance on his part is the first proposal. You can see the pain on the face and the struggle he has been through with his feelings, and then later you can see his anger towards Wickham! I also love his transformation at Pemberley (*cough* wet shirt *cough*) and the scene around the piano with that look which melts my heart!
Miss Woodhouse: Matthew Macfayden was indescribable as Mr Darcy! Although his character change was different (it focused a bit more on him being shy and becoming more confident than proud to humble) I still feel he’s the best Darcy (and Petie will back me up on this). He has real feeling for his part ‘I love you...most ardently’
Miss Laurie: Matthew Macfadyen’s lighter coloring is not much like Jane Austen’s description of Darcy but he is not unhandsome. His concept of a Darcy who is more shy than proud isn’t much like the book and the character seems to become weaker and more unhinged as the film progresses. The lines given to Darcy have him falling for Lizzy because she is merely “beautiful” and though he does good deeds he hardly resembles the noble hero of the book.
Amy: Matthew Macfadyen is Arthur Clennam to me, not Mr. Darcy. His character in the 2005 movie comes across as shy and not proud-- this may make him more likable, but it’s not very true to the book. His messy hair is rather annoying as well-- Mr. Darcy isn’t supposed to be shaggy.
Lizzie: What a romantic man! I love the shyness in his performance and you can see how he is struggling with his affection for Lizzy! That amazing scene when he helps Lizzy into the carriage – another look which melts my heart! That is one thing about his performance, his facial expressions, however small, really express how he is feeling! And need I mention how romantic the first proposal scene is! I think not... He plays that scene wonderfully! Also, he takes into consideration the length of the film and he plays the ‘new’ Darcy just more relaxed, making it all the more believable.
Miss Woodhouse: The 2005 adaption wins – Matthew Macfayden played the part wonderfully.
Miss Laurie: Though I admire Mr. Macfadyen’s acting in general I feel this role was not suited to his talents, whereas Colin Firth seems to perfectly embody Mr. Darcy.
Amy: Colin Firth (1995), without a doubt. Only he should lighten up a bit.
Lizzie: Oh! Don’t make me pick! I can’t! I CAN’T! So I won’t! ;) I think both their performances are AMAZING! Firth played up the pride, and Macfadyen played up the shyness! Each made the performance their own and did it very well, both with wet shirts at one time or another! ;)
Mr and Mrs Bennet
Miss Woodhouse: I liked Mr Bennet a lot in this adaption. He acts like he really is the father of three silly girls and the husband to a silly wife. However, I didn’t care for Alison Steadman’s portrayal of Mrs Bennet – she was too screechy and over the top.
Miss Laurie: Benjamin Whitrow is the Mr. Bennet of the book! His slightly sharp remarks are balanced so greatly with the kindness and good sense shown. Alison Steadman as Mrs. Bennet is the perfect pairing and although her voice grates on one’s nerves sometimes she captures Mrs. Bennet’s silly comments and “poor nerves” while still making the character seem natural and real. The Bennets have their problems but like the book they are not starving, their home is quite happy and full of fun.
Amy: I just loved the way Benjamin Whitrow and Alison Steadman interacted with each other. The Bennets’ marriage isn’t the happiest in the world (I once heard the two of them compared to fire and gunpowder) but in the 1995 series, you get the feeling that they do love each other, deep down. Benjamin Whitrow’s witticisms are perfectly timed and delivered, and nobody can whine about their poor nerves the way Alison Steadman can.
Lizzie: I love their relationship in this version, with Mr Bennet teasing his wife excessively. They make a great couple! Mrs Bennet is such an over reactor in this which is really funny, and Mr Bennet is not too indifferent to his family. I also enjoy his change of heart in the latter part of the story after Lydia runs away.
Miss Woodhouse: Although Donald Sutherland’s voice was a bit difficult to understand at times, he and Lizzy had a very sweet father/daughter relationship. Mrs Bennet was much better – still annoying but a bit quieter.
Miss Laurie: Donald Sutherland is a very talented Canadian actor but his looks, voice and gritty acting simply are not Mr. Bennet. He comes across as unconcerned about his family’s problems and at the same time too weak (or just unwilling) to make their lives better. Brenda Blethyn as Mrs. Bennet portrays the character as a very simple-minded woman who is desperate to arrange marriages for her daughters because otherwise they will die in poverty. Overall the Bennets of the 2005 film appear as little better than uneducated farmers and fortune hunters.
Amy: Donald Sutherland in the 2005 movie was practically a nonentity (and strikingly resembled Jiggy Nye in the Felicity books, IMHO). However, I did like the way he comforted Mary after her embarrassment at the Netherfield ball. Brenda Blethyn, on the other hand, wasn’t Mrs. Bennet at all. I almost felt sorry for her, and you aren’t supposed to feel sorry for Mrs. Bennet-- she’s not a put-upon heroine, for goodness’ sake.
Lizzie: Mrs Bennet in this version is very motherly and sweet towards her girls, but still over dramatic! Mr Bennet is very disinterested in his family I find, too indifferent. Also, he should have tried harder on the English accent! Together they were great, and his sarcasm throughout and the teasing of his wife, and of Mr Collins, were funny!
Miss Woodhouse: I tend to prefer Benjamin Whitrow from the 1995 adaption and Brenda Bleythen from the 2005 one.
Miss Laurie: Benjamin Whitrow and Alison Steadman of the 1995 miniseries are by far the best and closed representation of the book.
Amy: Benjamin Whitrow and Alison Steadman. The 2005 couple is not good for my poor nerves.
Lizzie: Overall, I prefer Mr Bennet in the 1995 one because he is more how I imagined him from the book, and takes some interest in the family and doesn’t seem totally disinterested in them! But, I like the 2005 Mrs Bennet because she seems more motherly, making the Bennet family seem closer. Also, she is not too much of a drama queen compared to the 1995 one!
Miss Woodhouse: A sweet Jane Bennet. However, I really couldn’t see why she would be considered ‘ten times prettier’ than any of her sisters. However, she portrayed Jane’s gentle spirit very well.
Miss Laurie: Susannah Harker is not my mental image of Jane when reading the book, she is pretty, just not as pretty as I imagine the character. But Ms. Harker’s portrayal of the character perfectly captures Jane’s sweet spirit, kind heart and sensible mind.
Amy: Susannah Harker is sweet, demure and gracious, yet she’s really not strikingly beautiful. And the book says she’s supposed to be beautiful. This, to me, is the biggest drawback to her portrayal.
Lizzie: I think Jane is wonderful in the version. She is sweet, innocent, kind and just as she should be. (But one small thing I would say is that I do not think she is prettier than Lizzy, which she is meant to be, according to the novel.) I think she plays the beginning of the relationship with Bingley well; she seems to like him a lot, yet does not show the extent of her admiration, as is described in the book. Her relationship with Lizzy seems really strong.
Miss Woodhouse: Another wonderful casting decision! Rosamund Pike is perfect as Jane. She’s beautiful, sweet, and yet she seems ‘real’ too, not just the model young woman tucked into the pages of a Regency novel.
Miss Laurie: While Rosamund Pike is very pretty I feel that her slightly messy costumes and hairstyles and occasional deer-in-the-headlights stares were out of character for the serene Jane Bennet. She also made Jane seems flirtatious and lacking in decorum.
Amy: Rosamund Pike is everything I could have imagined in Jane. She’s kind, loving, well-mannered and pretty as a picture to boot. I loved her late-night conversations with Elizabeth under the covers-- so cute and sisterly!
Lizzie: I think this Jane was again sweet, innocent, kind and as she is described in the book. And I personally think she is prettier than Lizzy in this version! I think she does the latter part of the relationship with Bingley well; she seems very upset when she thinks it is all over, and I love her reaction when Bingley proposes! I like the comic side of the relationship between her and Lizzy.
Miss Woodhouse: Rosamund Pike is my favorite Jane Bennet. For obvious reasons.
Miss Laurie: I prefer Susannah Harker’s sweet and gentle Jane Bennet to Rosamund Pike’s wild appearance and lack of gentility.
Amy: Rosamund Pike (2005). Although I really do love Susannah Harker’s portrayal and I feel like a bit of a traitor...
Lizzie: This is a hard choice. I like them both. But overall, I think I like the 2005 Jane. Her innocence throughout and the development of her relationship with Mr Bingley is great. I also love her relationship with Lizzy, and with her other sisters (like at the very beginning of the film when they are pestering her for her clothes of the Meryton assembly!) I only wish that Lizzy had shared more about her relationship with Darcy with Jane, but I think this is due to the length of the film.
Miss Woodhouse: Mr Bingley isn’t one of my favorite P&P characters – he’s too easily led by his snobby sisters. This, however, was quite a good portrayal of Mr Bingley – very true to the book, I believe.
Miss Laurie: Crispin Bonham-Carter is open, friendly, kind and fairly good looking just like the book. He also captures Bingley’s slight lack of self confidence in thinking himself worthy of Jane without becoming over emotional or weak.
Amy: My sister always says that Crispin Bonham-Carter looks like he stuck his finger in an electric socket and his hair suffered the consequences. To be sure, he does have a rather wild red head, but his personality definitely makes up for it. He simply exudes niceness (and not the kind that Henry Tilney deplores).
Lizzie: I love Bingley in this one. He is innocent and amiable, but not silly. He seems a very gentleman like man, and his affection for Jane is sweet and very evident. I think the scenes with himself, his sisters and Darcy while they discuss the Bennets are good. You can see that he realises the problems, but he is trying to defend her. It is nice that the length of the series allows you to see more of him, and the scene before the proposal is sweet as he seems so agitated, as you would expect him to be.
Miss Woodhouse: Simon Woods is a bit of a bubble-head as Mr Bingley. I’ve heard he’s very good in Cranford so I’m sure he can act but I didn’t really like Mr Bingley in this adaption
Miss Laurie: Although he was good looking and had some fun moments I just find Simon Woods’ portrayal of Bingley makes him out to be a goofball with very little sense who relies on Mr. Darcy and Miss Bingley for everything. The wild red hair was also a bit over the top for the character.
Amy: Having been accustomed to seeing Simon Woods as Dr. Harrison in Cranford, it was a bit of a shock to see him as Mr. Bingley-- and his rooster-like hairdo did not please me in the least. His Mr. Bingley struck me as far too goofy and airheaded. Bingley might not be as clever as Darcy, but he’s not a complete idiot.
Lizzie: He is such a sweet Bingley. He is almost so innocent, that perhaps he is little silly? I think he is like a young man in love for the first time with Jane. This isn’t altogether a bad thing, but I think he needs to be a bit more masculine! But, saying that, I love his nervousness when he returns Meryton, and returns to Longbourne. The scene with him almost practicing his proposal with Darcy is a great moment! I wish we could have seen more of Bingley... This is again down to the length.
Miss Woodhouse: Crispin Bonaham-Carter from the 1995 adaption is my favorite Mr Bingley although I don’t like either of them very much
Miss Laurie: Crispin Bonham-Carter’s sensible and gentlemanly portrayal.
Amy: Crispin Bonham-Carter (1995). I love the way he stands up for Jane and her sisters when his own snotty sisters are attacking them!
Lizzie: I prefer the 1995 Bingley – he is just more manly! They are both great but I think the 1995 one seems to act more his age, but still has that nervousness of a man truly in love! I also love his little scenes with Darcy, which shows their relationship, which is important to the story, and nice to see. Bingley is such an amiable gentleman!
Miss Woodhouse: A very charming, handsome, devious Wickham.
Miss Laurie: Adrian Lukis is handsome and dashing with a slightly heroic air that is perfectly suited to charm Elizabeth and the rest of Meryton during the first half of the miniseries. But he captures the duplicitous rogue part of the character equally well.
Amy: Adrian Lukis does an excellent job of making Wickham look like the kind of guy who would attempt to elope with Georgiana-- unfortunately, he strikes you from the beginning as a bit of a creep. And my sister maintains that he looks like a turtle when he bows.
Lizzie: Oh! What an abominable character! I do not like him! The way he is portrayed in this version makes him such a ‘love to hate’ character. You can see the appeal at the beginning of the story, and it is easy to be taken in by his charm, but then later, it is also easy to dislike him! He is so annoying in the second half, especially after he returns with Lydia and acts as if he has done nothing wrong! ‘My dear sister’, yes well Lizzy had other ideas about you at one time you should take care to remember! As you can see, Wickham really makes me angry and his portrayal in this version was great, making him an easily dislikable character! I also like the ‘extra’ scenes we see; firstly, the scenes showing the background with Darcy, shown while Darcy writes the letter, and secondly, the scenes in London with Lydia.
Miss Woodhouse: I didn’t like Wickham’s hair in this adaption – I’m not into guys with long hair. I saw Rupert Friend as Prince Albert in The Young Victoria and he was very good. I just didn’t like his portrayal of Wickham especially as he only shows up in a couple of scenes.
Miss Laurie: Rupert Friend is good looking sometimes but the way in which his hair just hangs is hardly attractive and his sallow and withdrawn looks from the start make me wonder how Lizzy could ever trust him.
Amy: Rupert Friend is Prince Albert, end of story, amen, let’s eat. ...Oh, all right, he can be Wickham too. I suppose. In fact, he actually does a very good job of making Wickham seem trustworthy in the beginning-- and I really liked the way he showed a mixture of annoyance and resignation when he and Lydia came back to Longbourn at the end.
Lizzie: I think we needed to see more of Wickham as he is not so dislikable in this version, but again this is down to the length! (Ok, this version needed to be longer!) I think he seems very charming at the beginning when we first meet him, and therefore it is easy to see why Lizzy fell for him. He is also, I think, more dashing in the military uniform than the other Wickham! ;) I find the scene when he return with Lydia well done on his part, as you can see how he knows the relationship between him and Lizzy has deteriorated, and that final look as he walks out of Longbourn says much! I also thought another scene he performed well was when he revealed the history with Darcy; he made himself appear very angry, helping make the strong he was telling more believable. He is dislikable as I dislike him, but he does not provoke such strong feelings as the 1995 Wickham did.
Miss Woodhouse: The 1995 Wickham was better.
Miss Laurie: Adrian Lukis’ portrayal was completely spot on and he was given time to make you love and hate the character by turns.
Amy: Toss-up! They both have their pros and cons, and I honestly can’t decide which I like better. Er, hate more. Because you’re supposed to hate Wickham, right?
Lizzie: On balance, I prefer the 1995 Wickham because I find him much easier to dislike, which I like as he is such an abominable character! :) I also like that we get to see more of him, and the scene after Lizzy has read the letter from her Aunt revealing all that Darcy did to help Lydia is really entertaining! I love how Lizzy lets him talk for a bit before revealing what she knows! ;)
Miss Woodhouse: This Lady Catherine was imperious and demanding. She had a lot of lines straight from the book and spoke in a somewhat whining voice that I would imagine Lady Catherine to have.
Miss Laurie: Barbara Leigh Hunt commands such a regal presence with her pointed looks and grand airs. She makes herself queen of all she surveys and without having to raise her voice her opinions are made known.
Amy: Barbara Leigh-Hunt completely owns this role. Her annoying imperiousness, her hawk-like nose, her way of rolling out every sentence in aggravatingly stentorian tones... I’m quite certain that Jane Austen somehow saw into the future and was picturing this very actress when she wrote the character of Lady Catherine.
Lizzie: What wonderful eyebrow acting! She did a wonderful job! Her conversations with Lizzy were great and her facial expressions said much! I love her treatment of Collins, and her power to make him silent in an instant! I think she plays the part very well and makes her comments to Lizzy seem a little impolite at times, as it is meant to be, which we can see from Darcy’s reactions to some of her speeches! She also did the confrontation with Lizzy very well, seeming very disconcerted and angry with Lizzy.
Miss Woodhouse: Judi Dench did a good job in bringing Lady Catherine’s snobbery and false sense of power to screen.
Miss Laurie: Although I love Judi Dench’s work as an actress she has such a soft and slightly comical appearance that it’s hard to take her seriously in this role - you keep expecting her to smile and bubble out “I’m just kidding!”. The hairstyle and costumes she wore were outdated and to be commanding enough she had to raise her voice slightly.
Amy: Judi Dench did a fabulous job portraying Lady Catherine, but her performance lacked the oomph of Barbara Leigh-Hunt’s version. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there was just something lacking. And what was up with her coming to see Lizzy in the middle of the night? Lady Catherine wouldn’t do that!
Lizzie: Her facial expressions were also wonderful! Her reactions to Lizzy’s replies to her questions were great, showing how unacceptable her answers were deemed to be by her; no governess? How shocking! I think she seemed more proud and aware of her position in this version, and Mr Collins seemed almost scared of her! This is further shown during the confrontation. It is a lot more intense than the 1995 version and Lady Catherine seems extremely angry. This manner she adopts, as well as Lizzy’s quick responses, help to create a strong atmosphere in that scene, which is great!
Miss Woodhouse: They are both very good, but I tend to prefer Judi Dench’s portrayal.
Miss Laurie: Although I greatly admire both actresses, Barbara Leigh Hunt’s portrayal was so much like the book that it’s hard to compare any other.
Amy: Barbara Leigh-Hunt. She should have given Judi Dench lessons in the part, because if Judi Dench had ever learnt, she probably would have been a true proficient.
Lizzie: This is quite a hard decision as they both perform the part extremely well! But, I think I like the performance from the Lady Catherine in the 1995 version. I like her treatment of the other characters and how the other characters react to her, in particular Lizzy, Darcy and Mr Collins. The confrontation was great, but I enjoyed that scene in both versions.