#PinkHeartPoll: Who's the Darcy of Your Dreams?
With the news that the picture that inspired Mr Darcy has gone on sale, we've rounded up some of the PHS gang to tell us who their ideal Mr D is!
Heidi Rice on Colin Firth as Mr Darcy
Come on people… We all know Col is gonna win this poll by a country mile because, well – the wet shirt scene just for starters…
But seriously folks, Firth is the definitive on-screen Darcy for two specific reasons.
First off, in his heyday he was physically perfect for the part - with that wild mane of dark curly hair avec serious sideburns, his devilishly handsome patrician scowl, that sharply posh but not too pompous accent, and that physique that could fill out a pair of breeches to perfection (not to mention a wet shirt!)… Swoonsville all the way…
But secondly and perhaps more importantly, Firth is the definitive Darcy because the man is also a darn fine actor – he’s won Oscars and the only other actor to do that who has played Darcy is Sir Laurence Olivier. That’s not to say that other actors haven’t given a good stab at this part (actually Larry’s was pretty good), but Firth embodies it. He does what the others failed to do, his performance encompasses all the many facets of Darcy’s character. Not just his pride, but also his protectiveness, not just his prejudice but also his pragmatism, not just his taciturnity but also his tenderness, not just his belligerence but also his vulnerabilities, need I go on?
He’s also made a bit of a career out of playing this part … He didn’t just define the character of Darcy in the 1990s BBC version of Austen’s novel, but also as Mark Darcy in the Bridget Jones movies. And let’s not forget that Helen Fielding was in fact inspired to write Bridget’s barrister love interest by Colin Firth’s performance in the BBC series. Nice bit of kismet there. And yet more proof that Firth isn’t just Darcy, he OWNS Darcy…
In evidence I also submit this Buzzfeed poll, which puts Firth not just first but second too in a list of best screen Darcys!! I mean, come on. What more proof do you need…?
Colin Firth’s Darcy is the one to beat, the iconic Darcy, the Darcy that had us all swooning and then dipping back into Austen’s novels and making her a bestseller again and no other actor has yet come close to equaling him….
The BBC series came out in 1995… That’s 22 years ago now. But be honest, when you think of Darcy, who do you picture?? Quite possibly with a wet shirt on (have I mentioned that already)? Yeah, I thought so. My work here is done…
Virginia Heath on Colin Firth as Mark Darcy
For me, there really is only one Mr Darcy and he always has the face of Colin Firth. As the original Colin Darcy was already nabbed, I’m going to take the other Firth incarnation as my favourite. The delicious, stiff and ever-so-slightly pompous Mark Darcy from the first Bridget Jones’ Diary film, created after Helen Fielding became obsessed watching the original BBC TV series alongside the rest of the country.
I adore him. From the first moment we see him on screen with his dour po face, so incongruous with the naff Christmas jumper he is wearing for the sake of his mother, I fell in love with Mark. He’s so awkward in all his dealings with Bridget, monosyllabic and disapproving, yet you catch glimpses of the desperate longing in his eyes which Mr Firth does so well. A classic example happens when Bridget is on her ill-fated mini-break with the slimy Daniel Cleaver, they are mucking around on a rowing boat, laughing hysterically while poor Mark is sat staid and miserable in a matching boat with his over-bearing, bossy girlfriend. Bridget giggles and Mark simply stares at her, and you realise there is this bubbling inferno of suppressed passion inside the man just waiting to burst out.
As time goes on, Mark Darcy begins to emerge from his formal chrysalis like a butterfly. He gives Bridget her first big interview as a TV reporter and then turns up at her front door and helps her to cook her celebratory meal. When her friends arrive, he appears outwardly confident, until he takes a deep breath and adjusts his tie. A little physical tell that he is actually wonderfully shy beneath all of that stiffness. If your heart doesn’t melt at that scene, then it is made of stone. Mine’s having a little flutter just thinking about it.
His awkward declaration of his feelings is also understated and swoon-worthy. “The thing is… what I’m trying to say… very inarticulately, in fact is… despite appearances, I like you. Very much. Just the way you are.” I can’t watch it without grinning like a loon and wishing he was saying it to me. And then, of course, it would be me he was kissing passionately in the snow. Except I wouldn’t be standing in my knickers. Nobody needs to see that. I’d be dressed to kill and those sexy brown Mark Darcy eyes would be filled with longing. Just for me. I think I need to go and lie down…
Sara York on Matthew Macfadyen as Mr Darcy
I love Pride and Prejudice. A little over ten years ago when I heard a new one was coming out, I wanted to see the movie though I’d watched every Pride and Prejudice show in existence. Matthew Macfadyen didn’t disappoint. His portrayal of Darcy made the character more awkward which to me, made him more endearing. During the time of Darcy and Elizabeth, money covered a multitude of flaws, but the wonderful thing about Elizabeth, is she isn’t affected by the promise of money. She wants real, and Matthew Macfadyen’s Darcy gives us a view of the awkwardness of the character.
I love how Macfadyen shows Darcy’s introverted side. He is proud, and arrogant, but people assume he is really horrible based on how he acts, but Macfadyen’s Darcy gives us the depths of how shy he really is. Macfadyen shows Darcy as very socially awkward, which a rich, connected, high ranking young man like Darcy, should have had all of the advantages to make him more palatable. Macfadyen’s Darcy goes beyond just showing a stuck up wealthy man, and gives us the tortured soul who Elizabeth falls in love with.
When Darcy first sees Elizabeth, we get a glimpse of his desire and his torture. Macfadyen is able to show both interest and the knowledge that he’ll never have her. Elizabeth is with her friends, laughing, enjoying her life, and he knows, though it’s more he thinks, she would never give him the time of day because of his social ineptitude if it weren’t for his money. Macfadyen gets Darcy’s insecurities. He may be rich, and he may have a title, but he’s nothing when it comes to talking to a woman.
Other Darcy’s may be able to pull off the sexy angle, but Macfadyen is Darcy with all of his issues, hang-ups, shyness, and awkwardness. He shows how Darcy is a great match for Elizabeth and her equal, instead of someone who would lord over her station and remind her how good of a match he is based on his title.
Lara Temple on Her Mr Darcy
One day a friend called me and said I absolutely absolutely had to come over to a marathon viewing of the best ever, but best ever production of a Jane Austen novel.
Of course I went but I admit I wasn’t expecting to be initiated into what was to become the Colin-Firth-is-Darcy phenomenon. I’m a skeptical beast but I admit I was as slain as any dragon. Of all Austen reproductions, I had reached the mecca of perfection.
So, when PHS asked if I could enter the Darcy debate one any front other than in support of Colin Firth my first instinct was to scuttle ignominiously off the stage.
How could I defend any Darcy but The Darcy?
But something niggled – and, over a glass of wine, I reconsidered and realized that here is someone who is a much much better, truer, sexier, deeper, and more adorable Darcy than ever Colin Firth could be. The problem is, you’ve never seen him nor are you likely to – he’s mine.
The reason I went over to my friend with such doubts, the reason why even as I watched the admittedly wonderful portrayal Firth managed of that fundamentally complex character I still clung to my resistance was because ever since I had fallen in love with Jane Austen’s most perfect of perfect novels, I have had my Darcy. In justice to Colin Firth, he actually succeeded in shaking the hold my own Mr Darcy had on my imagination, but never completely.
My Darcy was my own version of that difficult, emotionally repressed but sensitive individual who was just open enough to a good kick in the breeches to appreciate and fall in love with a strong character like Eliza’s.
One of my absolute joys in reading wonderful books is that my mind creates along with them – the images and people are rooted in the book but flower in my mind. And in the end I fall in love with that combination of the author’s and my mind’s creations. As a writer that is what I wish for anyone reading my books, that they spark enough to force the reader’s mind to build their own castles in the air.
Reading a mediocre vs. a great book is like the difference between dreaming in static black and white and in full motion technicolor. That is one reason why I adore Jane Austen – the wealth of the world I enter when I read her books is a testament to her brilliance and insight. She allowed me to weave my own Mr Darcy around hers and not only fall in love with him but feed my overall love of writing and reading.
So today if you still ask me – who is the best Mr Darcy, I tip my hat at Colin Firth, but the winner is uncontestably – My Mr Darcy. Hands off!