Four weeks ago, when I covered the top ten “goofs” in this film, the strength, and passion of the enthusiasts of the 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice was impressive. Fans of this adaptation will undoubtedly do well on this trivia challenge but I hope you’ll learn something new too. We’ll start with a short quiz to determine just how deep into it you are, followed by my list of twenty trivia points that also answer the challenge questions.
- Name the member of the cast who is American.
- Name the member of the cast who is Canadian.
- What is the name of the novel Elizabeth Bennet is reading in the opening sequence of the film?
- Which member of the cast turned down a role in a Harry Potter film in order to accept the part in Pride and Prejudice?
- Who performed an uncredited and unpaid review and edit of the script that included writing two of the scenes?
- Why did director Joe Wright wave his red jacket at Matthew Macfadyen while filming the final pre-dawn scene?
- Which couple in the film had been in a romantic relationship prior to their roles in Pride and Prejudice?
- What “getting to know you” game did the cast play inside Groombridge Place (Longbourn) before filming began?
- What facial expression was Keira Knightly forbidden from using in the film by Joe Wright?
- Which character was initially cut from the script but put back in at the last minute?
How did you do? Think you got them all? The answer key (in case you don’t find them in the trivia list) is at the end.
20.) No Poison Pen for Pike – Rosamund Pike was offered the role of Rita Skeeter in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, but turned it down to take the part of Jane Bennet. She was director Joe Wright’s first choice for the beautiful eldest sister, Jane.
19.) A Fitting House for Catherine de Bourgh – The role of Rosings Park was played by Burghley House in Stamford, Lincolnshire, which dates to Elizabethan times. Although Rosings Park was supposed to be a modern structure, the sumptuous architecture and décor gave this location the decadent opulence we’ve come to associate with Lady Catherine. The Heaven Room stood in for Lady C’s drawing room. (Click the link for an interactive 360-degree view)
18.) Blackbird Song – In the director’s commentary, Joe Wright says that he decided that the blackbird is Lizzy’s bird and he uses the sound of a blackbird’s song throughout the film to represent her. If you listen for it in the soundtrack, you’ll catch it too. The blackbird represents intelligence and wit – an appropriate symbol for Elizabeth Bennet.
17.) A Touch of Emma – Though not credited as a screenwriter, the magic hand of Emma Thompson reaches into this film with an unpaid edit and rewrite of two scenes. The first being the scene where Charlotte Lucas tells Elizabeth that she is engaged to Mr. Collins and the second being the scene where a tearful Elizabeth informs her aunt and uncle of Lydia’s elopement.
16.) No Pouting Allowed – Director Joe Write forbade Keira Knightly from pouting in the film, and stopped her if he saw a pout coming on. There was one scene, however, where she apparently slipped one in when he wasn’t on set. I’m not sure which one it is, but here she is talking about the ban on the Graham Norton Show:
15.) Remnants of Sherwood Forest – There is a 500-year-old tree where Elizabeth and the Gardiners stop for a picnic lunch. This tree was once a part of the legendary Sherwood Forest. She remarks that they shouldn’t go to Pemberley because Darcy is “so rich.” Robin Hood would be proud.
14.) The Canadian Donald – Joe Wright cast Donald Sutherland as Mr. Bennet because Sutherland’s performance in Cold Mountain reminded him of his own father, so the actor was a sentimental choice for him. He also expressed his belief that Sutherland was able to access the emotional depth required to be able to perform the scene with Elizabeth at the end of the film. In that scene, he is seen holding his hand over his mouth, echoing the same gesture made by Elizabeth a moment before, but also to hide his large white teeth – which he felt were too modern for the period.
13.) Period Dressing – Groombridge Place in Kent stood in for Longbourn. However, the interiors featured brown paneling from the Tudor era and some Edwardian elements, which were not reflective of the Georgian period of Pride and Prejudice. To leave the original walls intact, faux walls were installed, shrinking the rooms by about six inches but allowing the set designers to build-out and dress the walls to achieve the appropriate look. The house came complete with a moat that surrounded it, and Wright quite liked the image of “five virgins on an island” evoked by this landscape.
12.) Sardines – After the set at Groombridge Place was complete, but before the film equipment was brought in, the cast members who would inhabit Longbourn were introduced to their new “home,” and given the run of the place. A game of “Sardines” ensued. Americans will recognize this game as a variation of “Hide and Seek.”
11.) Not One and Twenty – Of all the women who have portrayed Elizabeth Bennet, Keira Knightly was the only one who was the right age for the part, being twenty years old during the filming. By comparison, Jennifer Ehle was 26, Greer Garson was 36, Elizabeth Garvie was 23, Aishwarya Rai was 31, and Lily James was 27.
10.) The Invisible Sister – Mary was initially written out of the story, but was re-introduced at the last minute when the director realized that odd numbers were more appealing to frame a picture. He deliberately used images with five elements throughout the film to reinforce this idea. Mary was portrayed as being in love with Mr. Collins in addition to being drab, socially awkward and the least talented sister to give her a little more depth.
9.) Age is Relative – We know that the Bennet sisters ages line up with Jane, the eldest at 22, Lizzy as 20, then Mary whose age is never stated but presumed to be 18 or 19. Kitty is two years older than Lydia who is 15. The cast of Pride and Prejudice is not so neatly aligned. After Rosamund Pike, who was born in 1979, the next eldest actress of the sisters is Jena Malone, who played Lydia. Jena is older than Keira Knightly by four months and is the only American member of the cast. Carey Mulligan who played Kitty is just two months younger than Keira, and Talulah Riley who plays Mary is four months younger than Carey. Four of the ladies cast as the Bennet sisters being born in under a years time span from November 21, 1984, to September 26, 1985.
8.) Déjà vu – Rosamund Pike had been in a past relationship with Simon Woods, but they had broken it off and hadn’t seen each other for two years. When Wright was casting the part of Mr. Bingley, he felt that Woods would be perfect, but was worried that it would be uncomfortable for Rosamund to play opposite him. When he asked if it would bother her, however, she said: “Absolutely not.” The next day, they were dancing together.
7.) How to Catch a Dame – We don’t have many details on how Joe Wright enticed one of the great ladies of film to sign on for the role of Lady Catherine de Bourg other than reports of a letter he sent to Dame Judi Dench claiming that, “I love it when you play a bitch.” His method obviously worked.
6.) A Butler No More – The butler and footmen in the scenes at Rosings were the actual household staff of Burghley House, the location where the Rosings scenes were filmed. Afterwards, the butler, identified by Joe Wright in the commentary as “Harvey,” quit his job as a butler and became a professional actor. Would Lady Catherine approve?
5.) First Impressions – Our first impression of Elizabeth Bennet in the film comes as we watch her walking, reading a book named, “First Impressions.” Any Janeite can tell you that this was the original name of Pride and Prejudice. Lizzy is at the end of the book, and the text shown on screen is the last chapter of Pride and Prejudice with the names changed. So we start with Elizabeth having just read her own story.
4.) Would You Like a Piece of Pie? – The director, Joe Wright said that Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner’s relationship was based on pies. He made sure to have them eating pie together nearly every time they are onscreen. This is what we call artistic license.
3.) Darcy’s Hand Shots – According to the IMDB Trivia page, the frequent shots of Darcy’s hands “are a reference to the fact that the ultimate goal of the Bennet sisters’ lives is a wealthy man’s “hand” in marriage and a foreshadowing that Elizabeth does in fact eventually win Darcy’s “hand.” I couldn’t find a second source for this claim, but considering how much symbolism has been woven into this film, along with the frequent shots of Darcy’s hands, it seems plausible. Who doesn’t get a bit of a shiver during those scenes?
2.) Capture the Flag – Filming of the romantic scene where Darcy is striding through the mist toward Elizabeth was a bit less picture perfect than the effect on screen. Matthew Macfadyen is nearsighted, so he couldn’t see Keira clearly in the dim light. Joe Wright, the director, was waving his red jacket, screaming, “Left! Turn left!” to help him hit his mark.
1.) Not Too Pretty After All – There was reportedly only one concern with casting Keira Knightly as Elizabeth Bennet. She tells it better than I can:
Answers: 1.) Jena Malone 2.) Donald Sutherland 3.) First Impressions 4.) Rosamund Pike 5.) Emma Thompson 6.) Because Matthew couldn’t see Keira due to poor eyesight 7.) Rosamund Pike and Simon Woods 8.) Sardines 9.) Pouting 10.) Mary Bennet
How did you do? Were you an expert on this film already, or did you learn something new? Please feel free to add more nuggets of trivia about this film in the comments.