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Last Updated: Monday, 14 June 2004, 09:37 GMT 10:37 UK
Spy drama star is 'new Mr Darcy'
Matthew Macfadyen
Matthew Macfadyen has appeared in a number of period dramas
Actor Matthew Macfadyen is to play Mr Darcy in a film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, it is reported.

Macfadyen, best known for his role in the BBC spy drama Spooks, will star opposite Keira Knightley, the Screen Daily film industry website said.

A 1995 BBC adaptation of Jane Austen's famous work made a star of actor Colin Firth in the role of Mr Darcy.

Shooting on the Working Title production of Pride and Prejudice is scheduled to start next month.

The story, which has been adapted for the cinema or TV at least seven times before, traces the tempestuous relationship between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy.

Scottish actor Macfadyen will appear as the arrogant but eligible Mr Darcy with Knightley as his Elizabeth Bennet.

The other Bennet sisters will include Rosamund Pike, who starred in James Bond's latest film, as the eldest sister Jane, and US actress Jena Malone as Lydia, the youngest.

Macfadyen also starred in high-profile TV productions such as The Project and critically-acclaimed Bosnian war drama Warriors.

His period credits include Wuthering Heights and The Way We Live Now on BBC Two.

Will Matthew Macfadyen as Mr Darcy live up to the standard set by Colin Firth? Below are a selection of your views.

I think Matthew will be fine as D'arcy but I'm not sure Keira has the wit or the edge to cut it as Lizzie. Ultimately though this version, like the new film adaptation of Brideshead Revisited with Paul Bettany and Jude Law, will suffer in comparison to the tv series which were not only flawlessly cast and produced but also had the requisite length to develop the characters and plot. Why bother frankly - if there aren't many original screenplays out there, there are plenty of classics which cry out to be filmed
Mike, Oxford

I dont think the world wants or even needs another version of Pride and Prejudice. I for one will not go to watch it. There is only one Mr Darcy and that is Colin Firth. Thank god for DVD!
Liz, Manchester

Why a new version so soon? I canīt imagine other actor playing Mr Darcy but Colin Firth. He "is" the one and only Mr Darcy. This other actor seems to young for the roll and Keira too beautiful and thin for playing Lizzy too. I think Iīm not going to see the new version... I just LOVE AND ADORE the BBC series..
Mabel, Gijon - Spain

If it aint broke, don't fix it. This sounds like a bad idea, it will never live up to the Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle version. What a shame for Matthew Macfadyen and Keira Knightley. I fear they don't have a chance of impressing us Pride and Prejudice fans. Give me Colin Firth in a wet shirt getting out of a pond anyday. Swoon.
Jacqueline, Utrecht, The Netherlands

He's not handsome enough to tempt me!
Melissa, Livonia, MI, USA

It will be an utter failure. Anyone who remembers the 1995 version will never forget the quality and brilliance. The act of making a short film and cutting out lots of plot to try and make a fast buck is ridiculous and only the staunchest of Mr Macfayden fans and pubescent boys will bother to see it. If you must do a film at least put crediable actors in it such as Kate Winslet who would make an excellent Elizabeth, but no one else will ever encapuslate Darcy and it is a futile task.
Emma , Exeter

I think Matthew MacFadyen is the logical heir apparent to the role. Can he out-Darcy Colin Firth? Unlikely. No should he try. Will he make Darcy his own? Very much so, and we'll love what we see. The disaster is the casting of Kiera "Bones" Knightley as Elizabeth. They've got the perfect Elizabeth stuck in the role of Jane: Rosamund Pike. Anyone who saw her in "Wives and Daughters" saw the strength and vitalitiy needed to portray Elizabeth. Let Keira go chase pirates.
Anonymous, Pasadena, California

I am very disappointed that Mr. Macfayden has been selected. He doesn't look a thing like Darcy. Someone said about Colin Firth that "he doesn't look like Darcy, but when he's playing Darcy, he looks a lot like Darcy." I can't see Macfayden pulling it off. And Kiera Knightley should never be Elizabeth Bennet..she's not that type of actress.
Johana, Washington, US

I agree that the 1995 P&P adaption was and still is the closest thing to perfection. However, I'm also interested to see another take on the story; if all turns out well, it will add to the P&P experience. If it turns out bad I'll always have the Ehle/Firth version. Macfadyen as Darcy is very positive news but I'm afraid that Knightley as Lizzy will never do. And I just can't imagine her and Matthew having a romantic tete-a-tete. The best news of all is that Pitt's name won't ever be mentioned again in relation to P&P or Mr.Darcy.
Cindy Sjaardema, Baarn, The Netherlands

There is simply no way a new adaption of Pride and Prejudice can match the splendid lavishness of the BBC adaption. Colin Firth and Jenifer Ehle quite simply made the roles of Darcy and Elizabeth their own, and their chemistry was perfect. Even with 5 hours to play with, the BBC version only just covered all the twists and turns of the romance as well as giving life to the more satirical side of the novel without the characters becoming over-simplified caracatures - a marvellous achievement - , a film of half the length cannot hope to achieve this, even with such talented actors as Keira Knightly and Matthew Macfayden. Sorry, it can't be done! For many millions of people, Colin Firth and Jenifer Ehle are, and always will be, Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, and no one could rival their superb performances.
Poppy, Arundel, UK

I was a bit upset when I heard they were remaking P&P. The BBC version introduced me to the world of classic literature and more importantly, the world of Lizzie and D'arcy, so it is rather personal to me. The BBC tv version was equisite and as near perfect as is possible for a book adaptation. As pleased as I am for a scottish actor to do well, I fear more that Keira Knightley will not be able to carry the part. There's something so classic about Jane Austen's world, I simply can't imagine anyone topping Ehle/Firth's performances. In fact, I don't think anyone ever will.
Eleanor, Houston, Refrewshire

C'mon, give them a chance. While agreeing that Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle were just about perfect as Darcy and Elizabeth, I am excited that Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice is making it to the big screen once more and a new generation will have the chance to enjoy her work. I am sure that many people once thought Laurence Olivier was the perfect Mr Darcy, but times change and there is no harm in someone else having a shot. I do however think that film makers could take a wider view of Jane Austen's books as there are several others which would translate, with class, to cinema.
Sheila, UK

My, he'll certainly have big breeches to fill! Why are they even doing this film? Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle are the definitive Darcy and Lizzy, and the definitive version has already been done, told over 5 hours. How are they going to cram this story into 2? Pride & Prejudice: the Attention Deficit Disorder version! Bad idea, Working Title.
Mari, Philadelphia, USA

This young man is very brave to take on the role of Mr. Darcy in P&P. Colin Firth did it and supplanted the great Lawrence Olivier in everyone's heart as THE MR. DARCY. I wish him luck but Colin Firth will always be Mr. Darcy in my heart.
Jackie Marquardt, Fairfield, PA

This Macfadyen seems Darcyesque enough, but Keira Knightley? Nooo! From what I can see, she wouldn't be believable as the sparky, loyal, witty Elizabeth, Knightley is too pinched and one-dimensional, not solid enough!
Kirsty, London

I think Matthew Macfadyen as Mr Darcy is a very interesting choice. True, he may not be as dark and smouldering as Colin Firth's Mr Darcy but that doesn't mean he won't put his own mark on the character. I think the choice of actor in this new production of 'Pride and Prejudice' wil allow the audience to understand more of the mentality of the character rather than simply the physical aspects.
Rochelle , London, England

Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennett?! Who are they going to find prettier than her to play Jane Bennett (A problem in the 1995 TV version)? As for Macfadyen - oh, dear! In my personal view this is academic really; how can they improve on the marvellous casting and acting produced in the magical 1995 television version? Just think - David Bamber's 'Tour de Force' as Mr Collins bettered...impossible!
Edward, Hull

No no no!!! Macfayden's acting abilities may be up there, but you must have someone dashingly handsome as Darcy...try Rupert Everett, Hugh Jackman, or someone of the tall, arrogant, but handsome calibre. Macfayden doesn't have a masculine enough jaw, I suspect he'll need a seriously good wig to make up for his own rather thin, receding, floppy hair. I am sorry to be blunt, but there it is. Approval on the casting of Lizzie and Jane, but they have it all wrong for Darcy. Dear oh dear, just when I thought they had period dramas down to a T.
Helena Cole, GB

While I reckon that casting Keira Knightley as Lizzie is a stroke of genius, my first impression of the Darcy news is how on earth will he live up to the legacy of Colin Firth?!.. Colin made the character his own, so will take some beating! I mean, Macfayden is a good actor, but I'm really not sure if he's 'right' for the part, in looks and manner. But hopefully I'll be proven wrong, so I won't pass my final judgement until having seen the new adaptation! Can't wait!
Emily, Birmingham

I'm not a particular fan of TV/films of classics, but I watched the original BBC adaptation after reading the book, and was immensely impressed at how closely the TV adaptation was to the book, and at how well the casting and story had been done. Why do we need another one?! The film can surely not make it any better, especially as they will have less than half the time to play with. I shall continue watching the BBC adaptation!
Dave, Loughborough, UK

No one will compare to Firth. He set the standard and he had 6 episodes in which to allow us to slowly come to the *boil*! Not a fair comparison in my opinion.
Bee Deved, NY, USA

Ooh, this has just made my day. He's a way better choice than Brad Pitt... let's just hope they replicate the soaked-shirt scene in the movie!
Cath, Amsterdam, Netherlands

First thought, why would anyone want to make a film of P&P when the BBC made the definitive film and Colin Firth is the definitive Mr. Darcy, never to be matched at least not for many a year. A film cannot do justice to the book, the BBC 6part series only just covered everything. I think they should leave well enough alone, nothing can possibly match the 1995 BBC series starring Colin Firth & Jennifer Ehle which was perfect in every way, including every other member of that cast. Who could match Benjamin Whitrow for example as Mr.Bennett. I for one will not be going to the cinema to see this P&P I would rather watch my 1995 P&P DVD for the umpteenth time!!!!
Ann Whittle, Brighton, England.

On one hand, I'm dead chuffed because Matthew is a great actor as well as gorgeous; however, the fact that it'll star Keira Ubiquitous Knightly and that it will be made by Working Title, really disturbs me. Expect a soundtrack heaving with Blue, Girls Aloud and cliched 60's soul, as well as cameos by Emma Thompson, and the rest of the usual luvvie crowd...sigh....
Rimple, Manchester

Hmmm, it is difficult to imagine anyone but Colin Firth as Mr Darcy. And the very skinny Kiera Knightly as Elizabeth? Oh dear....
Helena, Northwood, England

Nothing will ever beat that scene of Colin Firth with his shirt dripping wet. Pure lust on legs!
Tamsin, UK

I think he looks the part. He is young and has the face that I can imagine looking both conceited and misunderstood as well as reserved and dashingly handsome. Also, he dosen't come with too much baggage. Well done cast directors! Sincerely, a big Pride & Prejudice fan.
Florence Hampson, London

You shouldn't even try to remake P&P. It will be a flop. Who can do better than Colin Firth? Or Jennifer Ehle? I for one will not watch you new production.
Amanda, Pittsboro, USA

When I heard there was going to be a new version of P&P I thought it was pointless because the BBC version could never be beaten. However hearing that Matthew Macfayden is going to be Mr D has changed my mind and I can't wait for it's release - I just hope they have him diving into a lake too - he will definitely be good in a smouldering role!
Joanna Fox, Trowbridge, UK

What a fantastic choice! It'll be great to have such a talented young British actor back on our screens. Any chance he could be the next James Bond? Please?!
Tory, London

I'm sorry, but I think the Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle version is the definitive one. There's no Darcy like Colin! I also think that Keira Knightley is too attractive to play Lizzie - remember that in the book she was supposed to be much plainer than Jane. Working Title are good, but not good enough to improve on the BBC's perfection!
Annabel, Bristol, England

If there must be yet another costume drama provided by the BBC could it not be something original, rather than yet another version of Pride & Prejudice? Spooks was excellent, but is notable by an absence of comaparable drama, compared to shows from the USA such as Sopranos, West Wing, 24, Six Feet Under & Nip/Tuck.
Stuart Sands, London, England

Nobody can beat Colin Firth - he was made for the role and played it perfectly. I'm sure that Macfadyen will do a good job, but doubt it will be a patch on Colin Firth - had me swooning on the sofa!
Jo, Watford, UK

I don't see what was wrong in giving the part to Colin Firth. After all, he knows the part- virtually making it his own in the 1995 series. He's also proved his worth as a Hollywood actor in films such as Bridget Jones,and The Girl With the Pearl Earring. I say get the original series cast back for the film, they are all exceptional actors, otherwise I fear the movie adaptation will not live up to the standards already set.
Sarah B, Warrington, UK

For me, and many others of my generation, Colin Firth IS Mr Darcy. I can't imagine anyone but the cast who played them in the 1995 version in any of those roles - for example, even now when I see Alison Steadman on TV, I think of her as Mrs Bennett. Matthew Macfayden is not a bad looking chappy but he's not Colin Firth and cannot possibly live up to the expectations of my comrades and i!
Samantha, London, UK

Quite frankly I am in a state of bliss. My all-time favourite actor playing my all-time favourite character - what more can I ask for? This role will definitely set Matthew on the richly-deserved road to super stardom.
Caroline Pye, Shopshire, UK

Fabulous, he's ideal for the part. Pity about Keira Knightley in the role of Elizabeth Bennet! Big mistake. I love Pride and Pejudice and have seen every film, TV adaption ever made and I'm not sure Keira Knightley will be able to live upto the role. In my opnion anyway!
Dawn Berresford, Nottingham England

It is wrong for the BBC and film companies to keep doing remakes, when there are other excellent books out there just waiting to be made into films. Leave Colin Firth's Darcy as the final version!!! Who can forget the lake scene ? The remake will just ruin people's memories.
Annette Meredith, Shrewsbury, England

I hope this doesn't delay the next series of Spooks..! I want to know what happens after the cliffhanger at the end of Series 2!
Jon Gyngell, Ashford, Middx. UK

The delicious Hugh Jackman would make a lovely Mr Darcy! And Colin Firth was terrific in the role. Afraid I don't think much of Matthew Macfadyen.
Julie Shackman, Edinburgh

I think that he is a good choice. It will be intresting to see whether he is as good as Colin Firth, but Colin Firth was a virtual unknown, while Matthew Macfadyen is known in the UK at least from Spooks, so maybe he has had a head-start, but it will be intresting.
Alex Skander, Leeds, UK

Adorable. Excellent choice, beautiful voice. But Keira Knightley is too attractive and rather bad at acting.
CCC, England

Never mind Macfadyen as Darcy, Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennett?! What's going on?
CJ, London, UK

Perhaps Working Title should have waited 50 years until the 1995 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice was erased from the collective memory. There was 50 years between Laurence Olivier's and Colin Firth's interpretations. How will the new production stand the comparison? I feel a bit sorry for Mr. McFayden in view of the mammoth task he has in front of him. It's a bit unfair to him. How can we ever forget Mr. Firth's "definite" Darcy?
Fran, Indianapolis, USA

Colin Firth took the role of Fitzwilliam Darcy and made it his own, Matthew Macfadyen will have to go along way to match Firth let alone beat him. I do not envy his task, but I wish him all the best.
Travis, Pride and Prejudice Devotee, London, U.K.

I think it's going to be pretty tough for Macfadyen to step into the shoes of Colin Firth as his portrayal of Mr Darcy has left a deep impression on most women over the age of 15! However, good he may be, he'll never quite match up to Colin Firth!
Catherine, Reading, Berks

Colin Firth is going to be a very hard act to follow but Matthew might just do it. I first saw a then totally unknown Matthew Macfadyen at The Lyceum theatre in Sheffield several years ago when he played Benedict to Saskia Reeves Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing and I felt he was going to be a big star. His performance in Warriors was superb and I think he will do a fine job as Mr. Darcy.
Jane, Sheffield, UK

Noone can ever take the place of Colin. He is and always will be Mr Darcy. I love him! Matthew is nice, but in my eyes more of a Bingley.
Ruth Taylor, London

I always thought Mr Darcy was in his 30s, this guy looks too young. Colin Firth can't be beaten.
kirsty, dumbarton, scotland

I think he's a great actor, and I'm sure he'll become as associated with the role as Colin Firth is.
Alexandra Gibbs, Reigate, Surrey, UK

Matthew Macfadyen looks like a very nice young man. I don't recall ever seeing him in anything before, but as to living up to the standard set by Colin Firth. Well I am afraid he doesn't stand a chance. That is why quite a few well known names had already turned the role down - they had the foresight to see what would happen. Matthew being relatively unknown has less to lose I suppose, and I wish him well in his profession. But not as Mr Darcy. There can only be one - COLIN FIRTH.
Mrs Anne Govier, Chard, Somerset, UK

Why remake it at all? We already have the definitive version in the BBC Jennifer Ehle/Colin Firth version. Keira Knightley is a wonderful actress but far too young to play Elizabeth Bennet, and surely no one could be better than Alison Steadman as Mrs Bennet. Having said that, good luck to all involved,
Michelle Foster, UK

He is much more animated than Colin Firth could ever be.
Katy Thomas, London

Why are they bothering to remake it when the Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle version has been so popular? So many people have seen that version that they will be hard put to see anyone else in the role other than Firth. Macfadyen probably won't look so good in a wet shirt either...
Hilary, Edinburgh, Scotland

Matthew is a bit of a dish, and I like him as an actor but there is only one Mr Darcy and that is Colin Firth!!
Lynn, Southampton,UK

My desk is covered with pictures of Colin Frith as Mr Darcy.BBC's was excellent and the whole series had all that a viewer could want,comedy,sexy without sex & no fool language.
Carla Russell, Eastleigh

In my opinion I am afraid that there will always be only one Mr Darcy. Colin Firth is very sexy and I dont think that Matthew Macfadyen has it in him.
Stacey, Chatham, Kent, UK

Why are they making another version of Pride & Prejudice? The BBC version with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle was so beautifully done. Keira Knightley seems too young to play Elizabeth, and Colin Firth just *is* Mr Darcy now and forevermore!
Ruth, Reading

Never! Colin Firth will always be Mr Darcy to me! No one can ever replace him!
Vicky , Glasgow, Scotland

Never mind Macfadyen as Darcy,what a terrible choice for Elizabeth! Keira Knightly is very pretty but she doesn't project enough personality to carry off such a well-loved character. Think I'll stick with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle as my Darcy and Elizabeth.
Kirsten Vigar, Winchester, UK

I think for those of us who know and love the BBC TV production with Colin Firth Matthew will have a very hard task to make anything like the same impression. I should know - I'm still suffering from "Darcymania" even though is has now changed to "Firthmania". I wish him all the luck in the world but in my opinion nobody can play Darcy as Colin Firth did and anyone taking him on within such a short time (it is still being repeated and the video and DVD still sells like mad) is going to be compared to Colin's Darcy. A brave man indeed.
Christine Cheetham, Leeds, England

I can see him being a very good Mr Darcy and think he is such a refreshing good actor, but do we really need another Pride and Prejudice so soon. The last one was fantastic.
Emily, London, UK

Yes, I reckon Madfadyen could do a good job, and certainly a better one than Colin Firth. That particular adaptation of Pride and Prejudice was a pathetic shadow of the earlier BBC version, with David Rintoul and Elizabeth Garvie, who eclipse Firth and Ehle effortlessly.
John Kearney, Malvern

Sorry but there is only one Mr Darcy - Colin Firth!
Theresa, Scotland

Why oh why are they remaking a classic?! just leave it be! Pride and Predudice DOES NOT need the 'Hollywood' treatment at all! The Colin Firth/Jennifer Elhe partnership was perfect as they captured the spirit of the novel! Just leave it alone.
Vicki Mason, Guildford, England

Bring back Colin ! Firth is a fantastic actor and the lake scene was, ahem, well..... Lets hope the 'new' Mr Darcy wears wet shirts just as well. Looking forward to seeing it.
Alexa, Newbury

Maybe it's just me but I just don't rate this guy as an a actor - he's terribly wooden. Great voice though. I don't think anyone can surpass Colin Firth - he's permamently fixed in the nation's mind now as THE ultimate Mr Darcy.....
Claire, London

Its just too soon for another pride and prejudice remake. Everyone remembers the Colin Firth version. Colin Firth IS MR Darcy.
Alex, Notts

How can you improve on perfection? With the BBC version still so fresh in people's minds (and in their video/dvd collection), I cannot see the point in making a film version at all.
Liz, Aylesbury, Bucks

The casting sounds... interesting. While I can see Matthew Macfadyen as Darcy, I think Keira has been cast because she is the woman of the moment. On past performance, I don't think she has the spirit or the human insight that Lizzy has in spades.
Abi, London

I have always been a fan of Matthew, and Pride and Prejudice is my favourite book ever, but I don not think he has the presence to make a good Mr Darcy. Sorry.
SG, uk

No offence to Matthew Macfadyen but he'll never be able to do what Colin Firth did. He doesn't look like my idea of a brooding romantic lead despite his undoubted acting talent. I don't think that this is the right role for him and he'll always be compared (in unfavourable terms) to Colin Firth who was truly wonderful, as was the whole BBC adaptation.
Lucy, Durham, UK

No one can ever recreate what Colin Firth gave to Mr Darcy but he's talented and good looking so definately a good choice for me. I'll be watching!
Sarah Jones, Crewe, England

With Keira Knightley cast as his squeeze can you blame the guy for taking the part? I certainly wouldn't mind kissing her and getting paid for it. Added to which the delectable Rosamund Pike as another of the sisters, starting to wish i was an actor now!
Stephen, Cardiff

NO, NO, NO, NO, there can only be one true Mr Darcy in my mind and thats Colin Firth !!!!!!!
Dawn, Poole, Dorset

If it ain't broke don't fix i i say! Why remake something that is such a new classic already? I think he'll have a hard job, as anyone would to live up to the amazing job done by Colin Firth especially playing opposite Keira Knightley who's new found fame will udoubtedly eclipse this vaguely unknown guy. Pride & Prejudice in general is one for the girls so surely its more important to have a stunning strong My Darcy, and from the picture featured, he ain't really floating my boat.
Carol McWilliams, Cornwall, UK

I don't believe that Matthew Macfadyen can bring the intensity that Colin Firth brought to Mr Darcy. I always thought that Colin's acting skill in the series was comparible to Lawrence Olivier, dark, moody, fascinating and intense. All very difficult things to bring to fruition on screen.
Jo Smith, Arnold, Nottingham

I've only just finished watching the BBC's version of Pride and Prejudice on DVD and thought it was brilliant! Colin Firth was perfect as Mr Darcy.... why go and make another version?
Vanessa Veglio, London, England

As a huge Spooks fan I am very pleased to hear that Matthew Macfayden has been selected to play Mr. Darcy working together with Keira Knightley. I am very much looking forward to seeing the new film.
Steve, Nuneaton, UK

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