Saturday, October 29, 2011

Recasting Mansfield Park

A couple of weeks ago, I read Melody's post about casting Claire Foy as Fanny Price if the BBC were to make a new adaptation of Mansfield Park. I completely agree that a new adaptation of Mansfield Park is sorely needed. I tolerated the 1983 version, refuse to watch the 1999 version (PG-13? Seriously???) and do not acknowledge the existence of the 2007 version. (Mr. Elton as Edmund? You've got to be kidding.)

Anyway, I think Claire Foy would make a very good Fanny Price. She did such a good job as Amy Dorrit, and Fanny is a similar character. But as I was pondering this, I thought, "Why stop there? Why not recast Mansfield Park in its entirety?" So I did (with a great deal of help from Anne). It was loads of fun and perhaps you'd enjoy reading about it too. I tried to choose actors and actresses from relatively recent period drama films, so that we know how they look now.

In no particular order...

Francesca Annis (Wives and Daughters, Cranford) as Mrs. Price, Fanny's mother. Anne objected to this, saying that she's too refined for the role, but I think Mrs. Price IS refined; she's just come down in the world.

Simon Woods (Cranford, Pride and Prejudice 05) as Tom Bertram. I'm not entirely pleased with him for the part, but he was the only person I could think of that remotely fit the role. Anyone have a better suggestion?

Elizabeth Spriggs (Sense and Sensibility, Wives and Daughters) as Mrs. Rushworth. I know Mrs. R is a pretty minor character, but I think Mrs. Jennings Elizabeth Spriggs would fit her to a T.

Adrian Lukis (Pride and Prejudice 95) would be good as Mr. Yeats, I think. He just seems to fit my mental image of the character. Plus he's had experience playing unprincipled men before.

Jena Malone (Pride and Prejudice 05) as Betsey--she could play a character who's a little silly, and a little unrefined, but still likable and sweet. Plus, she and Claire Foy could pass for sisters.

Keeley Hawes (Wives and Daughters, Our Mutual Friend) as Maria Bertram. She was the first person who popped into my head when I thought about recasting MP. I mean, she's PERFECT!

Ioan Gruffudd (Amazing Grace, Great Expectations--how on earth do you pronounce his name??) as Edmund Bertram. Okay, this picture isn't the best, but just pretend he isn't yelling at Parliament. It's about time we had a handsome Edmund Bertram (Jonny Lee Miller doesn't count; he's Mr. Knightley). Plus, his voice sounds the way I imagine Edmund talking.

Justine Waddell (Wives and Daughters, Great Expectations) as Mary Crawford. It's hard for me to think of her as anyone but sweet Molly Gibson (I saw her as Estella in G.E. so long ago that I barely remember it), but she certainly looks the part. Mary is supposed to have dark hair and eyes and be very pretty and charming.

Julia Sawalha (Pride and Prejudice 95, Cranford) as Lady Bertram. This woman is such a versatile actress--I could totally see her as the insipid, indolent Lady Bertram. "Do not tease my poor pug! I want to go to Brighton!"

Janine Duvitski (Little Dorrit) as Aunt Norris. Now, Mrs. Meagles in Little Dorrit is as harmless a character as you'll ever see (Anne and I have nicknamed her Chicken Meagles, for all her chirping and clucking) but I think she could also be the bossy and mean Mrs. Norris.

Bill Paterson (Little Dorrit, Wives and Daughters), would make an excellent Sir Thomas Bertram. You can definitely imagine him rising up in righteous wrath against the evils of playacting.

Lisa Dillon (Cranford) as Julia Bertram. Julia's pretty boring, but Lisa Dillon looks the part, and she and Keeley Hawes could assuredly pass as sisters.
Rupert Evans (Emma, North and South) as Henry Crawford. He made an excellent rogue as Frank Churchill, and I think he could do it again.

The only principal character I haven't cast is Mr. Rushworth. Any suggestions?

Oh, and the screenplay will be written by Andrew Davies (Little Dorrit, Wives and Daughters, Pride and Prejudice) and Sandy Welch (Emma, Jane Eyre, North and South). Hey, the sky's the limit, right? Andrew Davies will preserve Jane Austen's original language, and Sandy Welch will prevent Mr. Davies from putting in unnecessary PG-themed scenes. Emma Thompson will serve as advisor. The music will be composed by Patrick Doyle (Sense and Sensibility) and Dario Marianelli (Pride and Prejudice 05). And the costumes will be designed by somebody who knows the Regency era and will make sure all the ladies wear their hair up. There will be a perfectly splendiferous wedding scene at the end, and young Fanny will actually resemble older Fanny. Hmm, I forgot to cast young Fanny. Your thoughts?


Abby said...

Aha, I love the idea of Emma Thompson serving as advisor! :') I think you did exceedingly well with the re-casting: some of them I'd never considered before. The last paragraph might be just a little difficult to organise, but...we can dream :')

I'm not sure about Simon Woods for Tom Bertram...he always seems to play nicer characters. Hmm, but then again I'm not sure I can think of anyone else either :/ That's quite a tricky part to cast.

But yes, Mansfield Park really does desperately need a new version...


Pallavi said...

Nice post Ms. Dashwood. I agree with your idea of re-cast!

Ella said...

I agree,I think they should may another Mansfield park.

Miss Laurie of Old-Fashioned Charm said...

This is a very interesting subject to me because I've been reading Mansfield Park recently and putting together my own dream cast. We really do need a good adaptation of Mansfield Park!
You have some great actors here, a lot of wonderful talent.

I'm glad you see that Amy Dorrit and Fanny Price are similar characters, they both have such gentleness and great sweetness! Claire Foy would have been a perfect choice for the role, her coloring, height and demeanor.

Simon Woods would make a great Tom Bertram, I also like actor Tom Hiddleston who played William Buxton in Return to Cranford.

Elizabeth Spriggs was such a talented actress, she would have been delightful in the role of Mrs. Rushworth! I was very sad to hear that she'd passed away in 2008.

I'd love to see Keeley Hawes in a Jane Austen adaptation! She's such a lovely actress.

His name is pronounced Yo-awn Griffith and he's of Welsh heritage and that's why his voice rather reverberates, it's his slight accent. I longed for Mr. Gruffudd to be cast as an Austen hero, Mr. Tilney was my private hope. But he never was and now that he's in his mid 30's I'm thinking he won't be cast in such a role. Too bad.

Actually most of these actors are now at least 5 years older than the photos you have. Jena Malone for instance is much older now and wouldn't quite be suited for the 14-year-old Susan Price. :(

Justine Waddel as Mary Crawford is a good choice. I think Mary Crawford might have naturally curly hair too similar but more tamed than Molly Gibson's hair. :)

Julia Sawalha is a lovely choice for Lady Bertram. She is so versatile that she could probably capture the character very well!

Bill Patterson might make an interesting Sir Thomas, but I don't think he's quite as commanding of respect as the character needs. Also, all the characters I've seen him play have his natural Scottish accent and I don't think that would suit Sir Thomas Bertram.

Rupert Evans could make an excellent Henry Crawford! He's just the charming sort of actor who could capture the character perfectly. The only danger would be the viewer liking him too much and thinking he might be a better match for Fanny after all.

Sandy Welch would be delightful to write the screenplay! If she made it long like her other screenplays there'd definitely be plenty of time to develop the story in it's entirety!
And I definitely agree that it should end in a wedding scene! :)

This post was fun, sorry for my long comment.

Maria Elisabeth said...

Oh, this is so fun. I really think we need a new adaptation of Mansfield Park too. I love your casting of Edmund Bertram. We really need a good, handsome Edmund. And Mary Crawford looks perfect too - I haven't seem Wives and Daughters so she doesn't remind me of Molly Gibson.

I also like Julia's casting. I like to think that, on the whole, she's a pretty nice character and was actually in love with Mr. Yates, which is why I'm so glad you picked Simon Woods. He'll be very good at playing a harmless doofus.

I've thought about this idea too, but instead of casting the characters I was thinking about the scriptwriter and that would be - me! If the sky's the limit, why not? And you'd be the director, able to cast whoever you liked, and I'd be assistant director. :D

Melody said...


Miss Laurie and I have been talking about this very subject so much lately!!

I think Keeley Hawes would be too old for that part now though...:-/ I'm rather particular about people accurately looking the age they should.

Did you know Justine Waddell was Julia Bertram in the '99 version? (Don't worry! I haven't seen it. And definitely don't intend to.)

"and make sure all the ladies wear their hair up" ---hahahaha! Thank you for saying that. =D

I thought it should end in a wedding too!

But you know, Miss Laurie and I might get our script all written before Andrew & Sandy...:P
Just kidding. We're not really writing a script. ha

Miss Dashwood said...

I know, Simon Woods doesn't really seem to fit. But in my mind, Tom Bertram is blond, and Simon Woods is...well... sort of light-haired. LOL. Actually, Crispin Bonham-Carter might do a good job if he were a little younger (ha, why am I choosing all the Mr. Bingleys?)

Pallavi and Ella,
We need one. Desperately.

Miss Laurie,
I love long comments--and mine is sure to be much longer than yours anyway, so don't apologize, please. :)
Oh, I didn't know Elizabeth Spriggs had passed away. I'm sorry to hear that, she was delightful in S&S and Wives and Daughters!
Thank you, thank you for teaching me how to pronounce Ioan Gruffudd's name. Now I can say it and feel smart. :P
I know most of these actors are a little too old. But since this is just an imaginary recasting, I'm mentally fixing them at the ages I want them to be.
Oops! I mixed up Betsey and Susan's names. Thanks for pointing that out!
You're right about Rupert Evans. I really can't understand how anyone could like Henry Crawford, but I did kinda like Frank Churchill in Emma.

Ah! Possibilities! I would dearly love to read a script you'd written for MP. Maybe we could have a screenwriting event sometime in the future...*wheels in head spinning*
Also, I had actually picked Adrian Lukis for Mr. Yeats. But I could see how Simon Woods would do a good job too. His Mr. Bingley was a bit of a "harmless doofus" in P&P05. :)

I did know that Justine W. had been Julia Bertram, but it slipped my mind. I could see her in that role! And you and Miss Laurie totally should write a script. Just saying.

Hayden said...

I do feel the need for a good Mansfield Park adaptation...I really want to watch it but there is nothing to watch...sigh... I haven't see any Mansfield Park adaptations simply because I've heard none of them do the book justice. Yes, PG-13 for MANSFIELD??? Really???)I think all the period drama movie-makers should come over to your blog and take your advice. That's what I think :) Claire Foy would be PERFECT as Fanny. She made such a good Little Dorrit!

Miss Dashwood said...

I feel your pain. It will be okay.
I know, isn't it ironic that Jane Austen's most MORAL book was made PG-13??? She must have been literally writhing in her grave.

Melody said...

Haha, might be fun, Miss Dashwood. I have a few ideas. =)

I know the 1999 version makes me SO mad too! The story DOES include rather more scandal than the others, but Jane Austen is so very discreet, and doesn't "show" things from the "bad people's" point of view.

Miss Dashwood said...

Exactly, Melody--I like how Jane Austen dealt with events that were, in a word, scandalous. She didn't go into any more detail than she needed to, but still got the story across. And she never condoned inappropriate behavior (unfortunately some modern filmmakers seem to think it's necessary for every movie. Ugh.)

Alexandra said...

Oooh! I adore dream fact I have several in the works for later posts. Anyway. I've been thinking of a young Fanny...the only girl off the top of my head would be Lucy Boynton, who played in Miss Potter, Ballet Shoes, and the '08 S&S...but I'm not sure if she'd be too old by now for the part.

Rissi said...

The 1999 version of "Mansfield Park" is actually "decent," albeit it does take liberties. My guess is, it does't follow the novel all that closely, but the casting is not bad whereas the more recent version is just... cute. All in all, "MP" could be made better, yes, but I am "okay" with it as it stands.

Fun post, Miss Dashwood. =)

Miss Dashwood said...

From what I've read, the thing most "not to like" about Mp 1999 is that they completely changed Fanny's character. She's not a spirited heroine who speaks her mind; she's timid and shy but with great underlying strength of character. Again, I haven't seen the movie so I can't really judge, but I think we need a really good, accurate version of MP.
Thanks for your comment!

Alexandra said...

Miss Dashwood,

I just saw the 1999 Mansfield Park. Not being familiar with the storyline (one of the few Austens I'm not familiar with), I'm not 100% sure what "liberties" were taken (except there *were* some "scenes" in it that our ClearPlay skipped), but you're right, Fanny was rather shy, who hid her strong opinions inside.'s kind of flat. :-) At least I thought so. You were like, waaaiting and waaaaiting for something to happen...and it never did. I wasn't really happy with it. Not "scandelized"...but just...blah. :-)

I did enjoy Jonny Lee Miller and Frances O'Connor's performances, though. :-) Anyway, I thought of you after I saw it...I agree, we need a "good" version. :-)

Anonymous said...

I'm very late to this party, but having Googled Claire Foy and Fanny Price (I have just seen Little Dorrit), and finding someone actually had the same brainwave, I just have to have my share in the conversation. IMO she would be perfect to pull off the balance btw a meak, yet strong character and still make the audience like her if they take the time to. What about JJ Field as Tom Bertram - its almost a waste, but he would be marvelous as happy-go-lucky-learnt-his-lesson Tom.

And how about Anthony Howell as Edmund - Roger Hamley actually reminded me so much of Edmund (in so many ways, Wives and Daughters reminded me of Mansfield Park). And as Justine Wadell as Mary Crawford... oo or as Miss Laurie mentioned, Tom Hiddleston could make a great Edmund also - and well I think he and JJ Field look very similar - they could certainly pass for brothers.

And Dominic Cooper as Henry Crawford - IMO he fits the description of the book for Henry Tilney perfectly. Otherwise, I agree with your casting choices - great picks! Great Blog!


Emma said...

I love (re)casting films!

I don't hate the 99 version of MP, but it's true that it doesn't stick to the book version of Fanny. I think I heard once that they added pieces of Jane Austen herself to Fanny's character to make her more appealing to audiences, but I don't remember where I heard that so it might not be true. I do not like the newer version.

If you switched Simon Woods to Mr. Yates then Rupert Evans could be Tom. When I saw RE, I thought he would be a better Tom than Henry Crawford. Or if you wanted to keep RE as Crawford, you could have James Murray be Tom.

What about Anna Popplewell for Susan? She doesn't look exactly like Claire Foy but they do both have the dark hair, high cheekbones, and blue eyes. And I think she could probably play a spunky younger sister.

For Mr. Rushworth, the only people I can think of are John Light (Henry Lennox in N&S - I think he's appropriately ridiculous) and Tom Hollander (who is definitely the better actor and skilled at playing such characters; I just want to see him as a likable character again though, so I hesitate to suggest him).

Ahh, I love Sandy Welch screenplays!

Hmm, younger Fanny? If it were a few years ago I might say dye Elle Fanning's hair darker, since she is a great young actress and can do a pretty convincing British accent, but I think she's probably too old now.