Star of Lost in Austen talks about her role

September 3, 2008 by  
Filed under Features

Lost in Austen Review

Jemima Rooper plays Amanda Price in ITV’s four part adaptation/modern interpretation on Pride and Prejudice in which a modern girl (Rooper) finds herself trapped in Austen’s world. Here, she chats about the role and the character of Amanda (she’s got gumption, we’ll say that).

Lost in Austen begins Wednesday night at 9pm on ITV1

What attracted you to the role of Amanda?
I’m very similar to Amanda. I’m from Hammersmith, I’m 26 and I really feel an affinity with the character. I found out later that the writer, Guy Andrews, had me in mind while he was writing the script. The story is absolutely exquisite, it’s beautiful and perfect, plus the central character is funny, tragic and interesting and I think that’s rare in a lead role.

How does Lost in Austen compare to other period dramas?
The great thing about Lost in Austen is that it features all the characters we love from Pride and Prejudice, but they’re seen through a modern young woman’s eyes and placed in very different situations. It really gives the story a new lease of life and sets it apart from other remakes of classic novels.

Tell us about Amanda.
She’s a modern girl but she has a romantic streak. She seeks solace in reading Pride and Prejudice. When she enters the story she soon discovers how different it is and sees the negative points of the lifestyle she’s idolised. She’s too clumsy to fit into the manners of Georgian society and makes a mess of many of the situations she finds herself in.

How does Amanda compare to Lizzie Bennet?
Amanda is much less equipped to enter Lizzie’s world than Lizzie is to enter the modern world, as Lizzie is a progressive and confident woman. There are obvious parallels between the two though and Amanda finds her voice in Austen’s world, as she becomes more outspoken and makes her presence known.

Why is Amanda so impressed with the world of Pride and Prejudice?
Pride and Prejudice represents everything that her life is not. The manners, the etiquette and the courtesy she thinks are missing from her life.

How does Amanda react to becoming lost in the world of Austen?
She doesn’t react very well. She thinks she’s going mad and there’s an adjustment period when she thinks there’s some sort of conspiracy against her. She is then constantly trying to catch up and react to the events unfolding around her.

How is she received by the people in Austen’s world?
They take her at face value and think she’s completely absurd. The younger Bennet girls think she’s wonderful and interesting, whereas the older characters tend to be wary and threatened by her.

Who is her closest ally in the Austen world?
Jane Bennet, the eldest sister, takes her under her wing and they form a lovely friendship, despite how very different they are. There are also parallels between her and Wickham, despite the fact he’s from the Georgian era. There’s something they recognise in each other.

Who is her worst enemy?
Her worst enemy is Caroline Bingley; she takes a disliking to her from the start and does everything she can to trip her up. Also in a weird way Mr Darcy is her enemy as he thinks she is the most revolting creature he has ever had the misfortune to meet.

How does Amanda’s presence affect the way Pride and Prejudice develops?
Her presence throws the whole story completely off kilter. She’s so unusual that she attracts the attention of all the characters and the plot spirals out of control. She starts to battle to keep the story on track so she doesn’t ruin one of the greatest novels ever written.

Lost in Austen has an incredible cast. How did you enjoy working with your fellow actors?

I have been so lucky with the people I’ve worked with. I already knew three members of the cast and felt privileged to work with those I hadn’t.  We’ve all kept in touch and we’ve been meeting regularly since filming ended.

What was your favourite scene to film?

There were so many scenes when we got the giggles – Alex Kingston is a terrible giggler! The ball scenes were tremendous fun to work on too.

What’s next for you after Lost in Austen?
I’m in a play called Her Naked Skin which opened at the National Theatre at the end of July.