Don’t worry, this post is still bookish. I won’t post anything that doesn’t have anything to do with books here.
My favorite actor, Matthew Macfadyen, has played at least 7 different roles in classic literature adaptations. Of course I first knew him (and fell in love at first sight too, as I imagine many females out there did as well) in an adaptation of Jane Austen’s most renowned work; Pride and Prejudice (2005, directed by Joe Wright).
Many have said that he brought a whole new and fresh package of Mr. Darcy for this generation. Many have compared his portrayal of Mr. Darcy and Colin Firth’s. Proud, excessively rich, and judges people rather hastily and harshly, but turns out to have a loving heart deep inside, the character Mr. Darcy remains an archetype for romantic heroes in literature until today.
Oh, do I need to say more? He and Keira Knightley (as Elizabeth Bennet) shared amazing chemistry in this film. The cinematography was done beautifully. I found so many little things that made me smile, like *spoiler alert* when Lizzie met Georgiana Darcy for the first time, Darcy looked at her (Lizzie) so endearingly and then realized that his sister gave him an innocent smiling look as if she’s going to say, “oh-just-show-her-how-much-you-like-her-dear-brother”. His endearing expression disappeared instantly and he abruptly changed the subject of the conversation at the moment. *spoiler ends*
Back at 1998, he starred in a Wuthering Heights TV movie as Hareton Earnshaw. Jeez! That depressing nasty work by Emily Brontë! I don’t remember much about Hareton, except that he was uneducated and ended up with his cousin. But with this Hareton… ummmmm… I somehow lost words. 😀
A few years later, in 2001, he transformed into a nineteenth-century Victorian bad boy called Sir Felix Carbury. Carbury is one of the characters in Anthony Trollope’s The Way We Live Now. In this BBC TV miniseries he flirted badly with Shirley Henderson (this generation recognizes her as Moaning Myrtle in Harry Potter franchise). He was hilarious in this 4-episode miniseries.
Post-Pride and Prejudice, he made a comeback to period drama in an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ work, Little Dorrit in 2008. In this 14-episode BBC TV miniseries he played the protagonist character Arthur Clennam, a kind-hearted businessman with mysterious family secrets. I love the character Arthur Clennam and loved how he was brought to reality by Matthew, this role just showed another side of Matthew’s acting, the softer and gentler side.
Even though it is really long and confusing sometimes, I enjoyed the miniseries so much. It was rich with wit and many colorful characters. I even wrote a review of the miniseries (in Bahasa) here.
In 2010 Matthew acted alongside Russell Crowe in Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood. Sheriff of Nottingham was a disturbingly small role and I don’t like how he looked in this film. Nuff said. 😀
Just last year in 2011, Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers was adapted in an almost-modern, full-action version by director Paul W.S. Anderson. Matthew was Athos, the leader of the three (four actually) main musketeers in this film. Betrayed by a loved one in the past, the melancholic Athos was played very charismatically by Matthew. I settled to enjoy the movie as an action film in fancy period costumes rather than as a classic literature adaptation.
Lastly, in this year’s awaited classic adaptation of Anna Karenina by Russian author Leo Tolstoy, Matthew starred as Prince Stiva Oblonsky, Anna’s unfaithful older brother. He reunited with Keira Knightley and director Joe Wright in this film, this time as a brother of Keira’s character, instead of a lover. I’m excited to see this film soon, because the trailer showed how grand and glamorous the movie will be (why November has to be months away? Why? Why?) even though I’m certain that I’m not going to like how he looked in the movie. (That ridiculous, monstrous mustache! Ugh!) But hey, an actor’s gotta do what an actor’s gotta do, right?
That was all of it. I’m eager to watch his other movies that aren’t adaptations of classic literature too, especially The Pillars of the Earth miniseries (2010). And I long to see more of Matthew in the future! 😉
Wuthering Heights (TV movie, 1998)
The Way We Live Now (TV mini-series, 2001)
Pride and Prejudice (2005)
Little Dorrit (TV mini-series, 2008)
Robin Hood (2010)
The Three Musketeers (2011)
Anna Karenina (2012)