Mr. Darcy soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien; and the report which was in general circulation within five minutes after his entrance, of his having ten thousand a year. The gentlemen pronounced him to be a fine figure of a man, the ladies declared he was much handsomer than Mr. Bingley, and he was looked at in great admiration for about half the evening, till his manners gave a disgust which turned the tide of his popularity; for he was discovered to be proud, to be above his company, and above being pleased; and not all his large estate in Derbyshire could then save him from having a most forbidding, disagreeable countenance.
Oh, Mr. Darcy, one-half of one of literature’s most famous couples. Miss Austen described him as above, and filmmakers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries have attempted multiple times to capture that man and his essence. Some have been more successful than others.
So, I’ve decided to collect a sampling of some of the many portrayals of the Mr. Darcys through the years. Why? Yeah, for no particular reason other than just because. Just because Mr. Darcy is a smoldering romantic hero and it’s fun to compare and contrast his cinematic portrayals. And just because it’s fun to gaze at some rather fine actors in the process.
So, here it is: my list of a dozen Darcys on film. Just because.
A Dozen Darcys
(In No Particular Order)
1. Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy (Colin Firth)
Pride and Prejudice (1995)
The definitive Mr. Darcy, that’s what many consider Colin Firth’s portrayal in the 1995 BBC miniseries. For many, this is it. Mr. Colin Firth is Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. He’s tall, handsome, noble, reserved, observant, awkward, arrogant, loving and lovable. Those delightful dimples emerge when he deigns to smile. Those fine, sparkling eyes. That cleft chin. That iconic wet shirt. Oh, my.
2. Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy (Matthew Rhys)
Death Comes to Pemberley (2013)
An older, married, settled Mr. Darcy, Matthew Rhys’s performance of the iconic literary hero takes him into uncharted territory. This Darcy – ever astute, reserved and honorable – takes on a murder investigation. He’s thrust back into dealings with the dastardly charming Wickham. There are marital strains, things left unsaid, as well as gentle flirting and unspoken understandings between him and his beloved Elizabeth. Mr. Matthew Rhys’s Mr. Darcy is captivating.
3. Mr. Henry Nobley (JJ Feild)
Mr. Nobley is the Darcy-type in this fictive Regency realm that is Austenland. He’s handsome, aloof, observant, seemingly disinterested in everyone and everything beneath him, and on it goes. The Darcy-obsessed Jane (Keri Russell) initially despises him, but maybe he’s the only real one in this hyperreal realm. And maybe these growing feelings of attraction are also real enough. Mr. JJ Feild does not disappoint in this Darcy-esque role. And when he chooses to smile, those dimples are downright dangerous.
RELATED: Austenland Film Review
4. Mr. William “Will” Darcy (Martin Henderson)
Bride and Prejudice (2004)
The Bollywood Darcy to bridge a cultural divide. A rich American in India, Mr. Martin Henderson’s Mr. Darcy is a fish out of water – awkward, uncomfortable, tentative and unsure about this new place and these new people and this new culture. He’s handsome, earnest, honorable, curious and misunderstood. He sings, he dances, those baby blues gaze longingly, and those dimples, oh, those smiling dimples…I do have a thing for dimples.
5. Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy (Matthew MacFadyen)
Pride and Prejudice (2005)
Ah, the wet, puppy dog Darcy of the 2005 movie version of P&P. Mr. Matthew MacFadyen’s Mr. Darcy is all awkward vulnerability and haughty reservation, rendered miserably shy by his secret passions for one Elizabeth Bennett. And those blue eyes pierce right through the soul. And that proposal scene in the rain, where the rat-a-tat repartee ends in an electrically charged near kiss, leaves us all in a pitter-pattering puddle on the rotunda floor. Sigh.
6. Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy (David Rintoul)
Pride and Prejudice (1980)
This is the first BBC Pride & Prejudice miniseries to have jumped across the pond to be viewed on American TV screens. And Mr. Rintoul’s Mr. Darcy is the beautiful iceman – wooden, stiff, arrogant, with some great curly locks that want tousling from some female fingers. There are no glimpses of gradual thawing of this Mr. Darcy – no dips in the pond, no puppy-dog eyes in the rain. The man is cold and aloof throughout, until the final minutes of the final episode, when Lizzie finally accepts proposal 2.0. Then, he thaws in a flash and relaxes and smiles – finally! – and it is well worth the wait.
7. Mr. Donovan Darcy (Ryan Paevey)
Unleashing Mr. Darcy (2016)
The Hallmark Darcy. This modern-day Mr. Darcy is all wavy black locks, steely blues and, yup, there are those dimples again. Mr. Paevey’s Mr. Darcy is generous, model handsome, and loves dogs, but still doesn’t seem to be able to make a good first impression. But he’s a persistent man, not letting misunderstandings and misconceptions and miscommunications thwart true love.
8. Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy (Laurence Olivier)
Pride and Prejudice (1940)
The first Darcy ever to grace the silver screen, Mr. Olivier’s Mr. Darcy is a smoldering charmer with a twinkle in his eye and a cleft in his chin. This Mr. Darcy openly pursues Miss Lizzie and smiles his enigmatic smile rather liberally. He laughs, he jests, and the passions smolder behind those teasing smiles.
9. Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy (Elliot Cowan)
Lost in Austen (2008)
He’s got a Rock of Gibraltar jaw, this chiseled Mr. Darcy of the fun and funny, fan-fiction miniseries Lost in Austen. Mr. Elliot Cowan’s Mr. Darcy is very good at glowering, but with a modern-day woman perturbing and disturbing and alluring him, well, he does loosen up by the end. This Mr. Darcy leaves the book pages behind and finds metanarrative love with a Darcy fan-girl. And yeah, he rocks the wet shirt.
10. Col. Fitzwilliam Darcy (Sam Riley)
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)
This rockstar Darcy with the emo hair, melted chocolate eyes, and distinctive gravelly voice, wears black leather and decapitates zombies like nobody’s business. Ah, Mr. Sam Riley’s sword-flashing Mr. Darcy of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a no-nonsense warrior. But underneath that hard, regimented, militaristic exterior is the passion of a poet. Drown in those chocolate eyes.
11. Mr. William Darcy (Daniel Vincent Gordh)
The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (2012-13)
The immaculate, coiffed, metrosexual (with high-end hipster tendencies) Darcy of the Emmy award-winning, viral, YouTube series, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, is played by Mr. Daniel Vincent Gordh. No Brit, this Darcy is a wealthy, American businessman, heir to Pemberley Digital, an entertainment corporation. He shows up a little late in the series, this Mr. Darcy, although his reputation does precede him. But he is worth the wait, n’est-ce pas?
12. Mr. Mark Darcy (Colin Firth)
Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001), Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004), and Bridget Jones’s Baby (2016)
This is about as meta as it can get. Referencing his own heartthrob status as the quintessential Mr. Darcy from BBC’s Pride and Prejudice from 1995, Mr. Colin Firth was cast as attorney Mr. Mark Darcy in Helen Fielding’s hugely popular Bridget Jones rom-coms. No cravats for this Darcy, he sports some wickedly awful Christmas sweaters and some sleek, tailored suits. He’s a bit naughty, gets into fights, but still, he’s got the smoldering gaze down to a heart-thumping T. And who’s not melting at his declaration to the perpetually frittering and flustering Bridget: “I like you very much. Just as you are.” Sigh.
13. Bonus: A Baker’s Dozen
Mr. John Thornton (Richard Armitage)
North and South (2004)
Okay, so he’s not Mr. Darcy per se. But since Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South is often compared to Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, some even calling it the industrial P&P, well, that means I can throw Mr. Richard Armitage’s Mr. John Thornton into the mix. He takes Darcy smoldering to a whole new orbit of intensity. Okay, maybe I just wanted to have an excuse to put up a picture of Mr. Richard Armitage as Mr. John Thornton. You know, just because…
Out of these dozen Mr. Darcys, who is your favorite? Sound off in the comments.