A Controversial Ranking of Mr. Darcys
by Sarah Hagi
As an attempt to seem like a well-read young teen, I tried very hard to read Pride and Prejudice. I always failed. I found it boring and dated! I only managed to read the book in its entirety when I was twenty, the same age as Elizabeth Bennet. Fully post-pubescent, I understood why, nearly 200 years on, Mr. Darcy was still the prototype of every curly-haired romantic comedy lead. Mr. Darcy is a haughty, awkward snob, but he’s got a heart of gold and rocks a loose chemise (in my imagination) like no other.
Luckily for me, Hollywood cannot come up with fresh ideas and I get to experience the story over and over again. Here’s a controversial ranking of some of the most recent Mr. Darcy incarnations.
7. Orlando Seale, Pride & Prejudice: A Latter-Day Comedy (2003)
Pride and Prejudice could easily be transformed into a religious romantic comedy. All the characters are young but they don’t really touch each other; the plot surrounds the pressure to get married. The extent of my Mormon knowledge begins and ends with Sister-Wives, and I can say with total conviction this Mr. Darcy was so bad they would’ve been better off casting the husband from Sister-Wives. There was nothing about him that was even remotely similar to being Mr. Darcy other than him being a British male with curly brown hair. I might be wrong though. According to some reviews on Amazon, you need to be in with the LDS singles crowd to really “get it.”
6. Martin Henderson, Bride and Prejudice (2004)
Bride and Prejudice is the version starring Aishwarya Rai as Lalaita (the Indian Elizabeth Bennet). The movie itself should have been great — Chadha also directed North Korean fave Bend It Like Beckham — but it ultimately fell flat. I blame it all on Martin Henderson. The adaptation takes place in 2004, generally a cheesy-ass year, but even that doesn’t excuse Henderson’s corniness. There is so much wrong with this dude: his stringy hair, how he dresses while chilling by the pool (photo), and the fact that he is inexplicably American while most of the supporting cast is British.
One of the most attractive things about Mr. Darcy is his chemistry with Lizzie even when he’s being a total jerk. When his Darcy tries to challenge Lalaita, the lack of chemistry makes him come off as a racist white saviour.
5. Wishbone, “Furst Impressions” (1995)
Wishbone was a live-action children’s show about a Jack Russell Terrier who is bored and daydreams himself as the main character in classic literature stories. This episode is titled “Furst Impressions.” Gget it, dogs have fur and it’s about FIRST IMPRESSIONS?!? You get it. Here Wishbone imagines himself as Mr. Darcy. It’s very cute, but a little weird and sad when you think about it. Wishbone, a DOG, plays Mr. Darcy opposite a human Elizabeth Bennet. How does that work, logistically? Does she know he’s a dog? Does he really want to be human? So many questions.
I know it seems reckless of me to place a dog before two humans on this list, but Wishbone impressively understands Mr. Darcy’s hidden depths. He’s not a bad guy, just bad at FURST IMPRESSIONS.
4. Matthew Rhys, Death Comes to Pemberley (2013)
Death Comes to Pemberley is a British TV series based off the murder-mystery novel by P.D. James, and it is more or less well glorified fan fiction. Taking place six years after the events of Pride and Prejudice, we’re able to see Mr. Darcy and Lizzie as a couple just shy of their seven year itch. Rhys plays a fiery Mr. Darcy, still bewitched by his wife but, like most dudes, unable to let go of being poorly socialized. Maybe I think too highly of male development when I say I expected Mr. Darcy’s poor communication skills to develop. Yeah, it was cute six years ago, but dude, grow up.
3.Colin Firth, Pride and Prejudice (1995)
Colin Firth in 1995’s Pride and Prejudice mini-series is so popular and memorable, in 2013 a creepy twelve-foot statue of Colin Firth wearing a wet shirt was erected in the middle of a lake.
The mini-series definitely has the home-court advantage as well as more hours of character development. Despite a gratuitous scene of Colin Firth in a wet shirt, this Darcy falls short with a lack of balance between arrogance, romantic emotion, and uneasiness. When he professes to Lizzie that he most ardently admires and loves her, he breathes heavily but with a total absence of intensity and passion.
2. Colin Firth, Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)
I have fought many people over this, but Colin Firth as Mark Darcy beats out Colin Firth as Fitzwilliam Darcy. Most don’t even consider him in the rankings of Mr. Darcy, but I feel like Colin Firth’s age and experience beats out his younger self. He’s still a posh and stubborn jerk, but much less frosty and pompous. When he tells Bridget he likes her “just as she is” after dinner, it’s exactly how a modern Fitzwilliam Darcy would have done it. He’s totally reluctant at first, physically uncomfortable, and totally insulting but says, “I like you just as you are”, with conviction and warmth. After that scene, I pretty much forgot Hugh Grant was at his peak and how he had his all-time best hair in 2001.
1. Matthew McFadyen, Pride & Prejudice (2005)
Every character in this adaptation was perfectly cast. Matthew McFadyen is my Mr. Darcy and the only Mr. Darcy I picture when re-reading the book. By the last scene, when he walks across the field at dawn (wearing the loosest chemise with his chest hair showing), I start tearing up because I know what’s coming. McFadyen’s Darcy is so passionate, he can hardly say “I love you” because he’s so out of breath and totally bewitched by Elizabeth Bennet. And his eyes! They’re so sad and hopeful! I’m willing to cage fight anyone who disagrees with me when I say this: it should have been a hairy-chested twelve-foot tall Matthew Mcfadyen in the middle of that lake.
Sarah Hagi is a 20-something year old Canadian writer who is still trying to figure out if she could have been a child prodigy. You can follow her on twitter here.