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Saturday, February 12

Any Human Heart Features A Number of Jane Austen Character Actors

Any Human Heart, the new mini-series that will be shown on Masterpiece Classic for the next three Sundays, features a variety of actors who have starred in Jane Austen film adaptations.

Matthew MacFadyen
as Logan Mountstuart in Any Human Heart
as Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice 2005
The man with the deep sexy voice, as I think of Matthew, gave Colin Firth's portrayal of Mr. Darcy a run for his money. Many young fans prefer Matthew's interpretation as the iconic Jane Austen hero. I, for one, like them both. As Logan Mountstuart, Matthew once again delivers a shaded performance. While I could not like his character (who can respect a man who abandons a son for his lover?), Matthew's sensitive portrayal of Mounstuart tugged at my heartstrings.

Haley Atwell

Haley Atwell as Freya Deverell
as Mary Crawford, Mansfield Park 2007
Haley Atwell looks absolutely stunning in 1930's costume. Jane Austen fans will recall her portrayal of Mary Crawford in the unfortunate 2007 version of Mansfield Park. I say unfortunate, for I found that particular film adaptation particularly lacking (especially Billy Piper tomboyish representation of Fanny). I did, however, like Haley, who was perfect for the part of the sophisticated woman that Fanny Price could not like. Unfortunately, Haley's lines were few and far between, largely because the film was too short. Thankfully, she is given a much larger role in Any Human Heart as Matthew MacFadyen's love interest. When those two actors are together, magic happens onscreen.

Jim Broadbent

as an older Logan Mountstuart
as Colin Jones (with Gemma Jones and Renee Zelwegger) in Bridget Jones's Diary
Any Human Heart revolves around the character of the older Logan Mountstuart, played by Jim Broadbent, one of my favorite character actors. Jim's connection to Jane Austen is peripheral. He portrayed Bridget Jones's father and has acted opposite a score of actors who starred in Jane Austen film adaptations. I have always thought that he would make an excellent Mr. Woodhouse or Mr. Bennet, but I doubt we will see another version of Emma or Pride and Prejudice soon. Any film that features Mr. Broadbent is worth watching, and his role, while largely quiet, is extensive and he appears in all the episodes from start to finish.

Charity Wakefield

as Land Forthergill

as Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility, 2008
Charity had the unenviable task of following Kate Winslet in playing Marianne Dashwood, the histrionic sister, in the 2008 adaptation of Sense and Sensibility. While she is not classically beautiful, the camera's lens loves Charity's large eyes and dramatic features. She also looks fabulous in a classic 20's bob. Charity appears in only one episode of Any Human Heart, but her character is important in forcing Logan to think more seriously about his writing career and giving him his first major heartbreak.

Tom Hollander

as the Duke of Windsor after his abdication as King Edward VIII
as Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice, 2005
Tom Hollander's role as the Duke of Windsor comes at a propitious time for viewers who have seen (or who intend to see) The King's Speech. In this mini-series he is shown after his abdication as King Edward VIII, and he plays the former king as a petty, self-centered, and self-serving man. While I think he was perfect for the part of David, I had a small problem with his casting as Mr. Collins. Oh, he played that part to a tee and his proposal to Lizzy Bennet was unforgettable, but Jane Austen described Mr. Collins as tall, which Mr. Holland most certainly is not. However, his lack of height added comic relief to his dance scenes with Keira Knightley's Elizabeth, and so I have decided in the future to overlook this casting faux pas.

Samuel West 
Samuel West as Peter Scabius
Samuel West as William Elliot in Persuasion 1996
In Any Human Heart Samuel West plays Peter Scabalius, one of Logan's two childhood friends, and a successful author. Jane Austen fans will remember Samuel as William Elliot, Anne's unsuccessful suitor, who was less than a gentleman towards the Elliots and in particular towards Mrs. Smith.

PBS Masterpiece Classic will feature Any Human Heart on February 13, 20 & 27, 2011 at 9pm. Click here for details. 

On a different note, I urge anyone who is as addicted to PBS as I am, to contact your representatives and request them not to cut their funding. 


Mary Simonsen said...

I'm really looking forward to this. I'm a big fan of Tom Hollander.

Mary Simonsen said...

I meant to say that I am a big fan of Tom Hollander AND Matthew Macfadyen.

Alexandre FABBRI said...

And the Colonel? (C.B.)

Nonna said...

I have to say here I didn't like this show at all. The only reason I watched it is because of the actors and actresses involved. I'm done with it, in spite of the costumes, settings, players etc.

Anonymous said...

Samuel West played Peter Scabius and not Peter Scabalius as you said in your above post.