Matthew Macfadyen Wishes He’d Enjoyed Filming ‘Pride & Prejudice’ More: ‘I Felt Like a Middle-Aged Dad’

Matthew Macfadyen has been in some high-flying projects but currently stars in the critically acclaimed HBO series Succession. Macfadyen is famous for his role in the beloved movie Pride & Prejudice playing Mr. Darcy. However, the actor wishes he’d enjoyed filming the series more, saying, “I felt like a middle-aged dad.”

Matthew Macfadyen smiling
Matthew Macfadyen | Noam Galai/Getty Images

Matthew Macfadyen was cast as Mr. Darcy because he was different

Macfadyen had been in a few English projects before his casting in the 2005 Jane Austen-inspired film, but director Joe Wright wanted a big-name attraction for the film leads.

He almost overlooked actor Keira Knightley for the role of Elizabeth Bennet due to her beauty. However, he decided to give her a chance due to her work on the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise but had a tough time casting someone to play Mr. Darcy since Colin Firth had cast “a long shadow on the character.”

After casting the internationally known Knightley, Wright decided to go with a lesser-known actor to play Mr. Darcy. Wright said that choosing Knightley allowed him to go with Macfadyen, who was the perfect fit because he was a “proper manly man” and didn’t fit the pretty boy archetype.

Matthew Macfadyen wished he enjoyed filming ‘Pride & Prejudice’ more

There’s no doubt that Macfadyen did Mr. Darcy a great justice with his performance. While he was mainly unknown before the role, he became the object of many Austen fans’ desires and inspired several fan fiction works.

The actor brought an intense vulnerability and shyness to Mr. Darcy that endeared him to the fans but deep down, Macfadyen was struggling. Speaking to Vanity Fair, Macfadyen said:

“I wish I had enjoyed it more. But I did feel pressure. Maybe it was a self-imposed pressure of, ‘You know this is a big film, don’t get it wrong.'”

Macfadyen further told the publication that he had to go through a special diet and intense workout as the studio had assigned him a personal trainer to get into the svelte shape seen on his Mr. Darcy. He admitted to not feeling “very Mr. Darcy-ish.” “I felt like a bit of a middle-aged dad,” he said.

Matthew Macfadyen wished someone had told him everything was a game

As an unknown at the time, it’s easy to see how he would have been snubbed during award season for the more popular Knightley. However, Macfadyen didn’t imagine how much negativity he would get in the press circles until he showed up to an event seemingly unprepared.

The actor confided in the publication about his first time doing publicity for a major film, Pride & Prejudice. He recalled arriving late with an unironed shirt to an event hosted by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the controversial body overseeing the Golden Globes.

Macfadyen recalled a conversation with an old gentleman where he was told he wouldn’t receive a nomination. The actor said the man gave him a heads up saying, “You won’t be nominated. Keira will be nominated.”

Macfadyen shared that all he could think about at that moment was his family. “I had a little baby, and I just wanted to be at home. I wish I’d had someone to tell me, ‘This is how this works. This is the game.'”

Although Macfadyen didn’t receive a nomination or an award for his role in the 2005 film, it got him closer to his predecessor Firth, who, according to the outlet, was such a huge fan of Macfadyen’s Mr. Darcy that he reached out to the actor, sending him a fan letter and letting Macfadyen know that he was Firth’s favorite Mr. Darcy.

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