Favorite Mr. Bennet
Benjamin Whitrow, 1995 Pride and Prejudice
Ironic, gentle, but deadly, Mr. Whitrow spoke practically every line that Mr. Bennet uttered in Pride and Prejudice, and stole nearly every scene in which he appeared in this classic 6-hour production. A handsome older gent with a mild, self-depecrating demeanor, I never tire of watching him.
Some of Mr. Whitrow's memorable lines include: I am heartily ashamed of myself, Lizzy. But don't despair; it'll pass, and no doubt more quickly than it should," and "Til you or your sister Jane return, I shall not hear two words of sense spoken together."
Donald Sutherland, 2005 Pride and Prejudice
With his performance as an earthier Mr. Bennet who, while he might aim verbal barbs at his silly wife, still lusts after her body, Donald Sutherland finally erased my image of him as MASH's Hawkeye Pierce. A Canadian who felt quite at ease playing an English gentleman, Donald's been one busy actor since the mid-1960s.
Some of Donald's memorable lines include: "Well, if Jane does die, it will be a comfort to know she was in pursuit of Mr. Bingley," and "Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins... And I will never see you again if you do."
Hugh Bonneville, Lost in Austen, 2007
Three Mr. Bennets, you say? Well, yes, for Hugh Bonneville's Mr. Bennet remained true to Jane Austen's character. This spoof on time travel and Pride and Prejudice provided a satiric romp through Regency England, and Hugh's performance as a more befuddled Mr. Bennet contributed hugely to the fun. I might also add that of the three Mr. Bennets, Hugh was probably closer in age to the character than Mr. Sutherland, who was in his 70's and old enough to be the girls' grandfather, or Mr. Whitlow, who, on reflection, also seemed a tad long in the tooth when he portrayed Mr. Bennet.
Some of Hugh's more memorable and completely made up quotes include: "Happy? That my kindest, prettiest daughter has embarked upon an adulthood of suffication to such a preening Caliban? Happy, Madam - that she should live in subjugation to such an enormity? I would rather sleep in a drain than consent to be happy!," and " [after Lady Catherine and Mr. Collins leave] Tonight Mrs. Bennet, with your permission, I think I shall sleep in our bedroom."