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Celebrating A Dozen Mr. Darcys – Just Because

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.

RELATED: 5 Versions, 5 Characters: The Best of Pride and Prejudice in Film and Television

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)

Photo: BBC.

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.

RELATED: Pride and Prejudice (1995) – A 20th Anniversary Review

2. Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy (Matthew Rhys)

Death Comes to Pemberley (2013)

Photo: Origin Pictures/Masterpiece.

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.

RELATED: Death Comes To Pemberley TV Review – An Enchanting Adaptation

3. Mr. Henry Nobley (JJ Feild)

Austenland (2013)

Photo: Fickle Fish Films/Moxie Pictures.

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)

Photo: Pathé/Miramax.

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.

RELATED: Bride and Prejudice (2004) – You Know What They Say… No Life, Without Wife!

5. Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy (Matthew MacFadyen)

Pride and Prejudice (2005)

Photo: Focus Features.

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.

RELATED: Pride and Prejudice (2005) – A 10th Anniversary Review

6. Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy (David Rintoul)

Pride and Prejudice (1980)

Photo: BBC.

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.

RELATED: Pride and Prejudice 1980: A Must For Every Austen Fan

7. Mr. Donovan Darcy (Ryan Paevey)

Unleashing Mr. Darcy (2016)

Photo: Hallmark.

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.

RELATED: Unleashing Mr. Darcy (2016) – A Sassy Re-imagining of Pride and Prejudice

8. Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy (Laurence Olivier)

Pride and Prejudice (1940)

Photo: MGM.

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.

RELATED: Pride and Prejudice (1940) Film Review – Adaptation of Austen’s Classic Love Story

9. Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy (Elliot Cowan)

Lost in Austen (2008)

Photo: ITV.

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.

RELATED: TV Review: Lost in Austen: A Fun Take on Pride and Prejudice

10. Col. Fitzwilliam Darcy (Sam Riley)

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)

Photo: Lionsgate/Screen Gems.

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. 

RELATED: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Everything You Could Ever Want

11. Mr. William Darcy (Daniel Vincent Gordh)

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (2012-13)

Photo: Pemberley Digital.

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?

RELATED: Web Series Adaptations: An Exploration

12. Mr. Mark Darcy (Colin Firth)

Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001), Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004), and Bridget Jones’s Baby (2016)

Photo: Universal Pictures.

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.

RELATED: Bridget Jones’s Baby: A Riotous Reminiscence of Romance

13. Bonus: A Baker’s Dozen

Mr. John Thornton (Richard Armitage)

North and South (2004)

Photo: BBC.

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…

RELATED: North and South (2004) Review – A Look Back at One of the Best Period Dramas of All Time

Out of these dozen Mr. Darcys, who is your favorite? Sound off in the comments.

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By on October 23rd, 2017

About Jessica Jørgensen

A lover of words, stories and storytellers since her youth and just plain curious by nature, Jessica embarked on a very long academic journey that took her across a continent (from Canada's west coast to its east) and even to the other side of the globe, where she currently lives an expat existence in Denmark. She now trails many fancy initials behind her name, if she ever cares to use them, and continues to be ever so curious. She's a folklorist, a mother, a wife, a middle child, a small town girl, a beekeeper, an occasional quilter, a jam-maker. She curates museum exhibits, gets involved in many cultural projects for this and that, collects oral histories when she can find the time and continues to love stories in all their many and varied forms. The local librarians all know her by name.

More posts by this author.

11 thoughts on “Celebrating A Dozen Mr. Darcys – Just Because”

  1. I’m loving this “just because” vibe! Keep ’em coming! Also, my fave Darcy is Richard Armitage as John Thornton 🙂 Absolutely loved North and South ❤

    • Oh, I’m a huge North & South fan myself — a recent fan, as I just watched it for the first time earlier this month. I really do not know how I hadn’t seen it before. I’m now a huge John Thornton/Richard Armitage fan (-:

  2. Another vote for Mr. Thornton here. How is it that for so many of us our favourite Mr. Darcy is Mr. Thornton?! It makes no sense yet perfect sense at the same time. How can this be? 😉

    • Well, I saw North & South for the very first time earlier this month — yes, I know, how could I not have seen it! — and was simply blown away. I’ve been a big Colin Firth Mr. Darcy fan for many, many years, but, well, after seeing Mr. Richard Armitage, I had to admit to myself, that Mr. Thornton might just have knocked Mr. Darcy off of top billing…

  3. This is such a fun list to read through, and I love that you were able to give each version of Darcy their proper due. Although Colin will always be the quintessential classic Darcy portrayal for me, my favorites would actually have to be split between Matthew Rhys, Daniel Vincent Gordh, and Sam Riley; they each just bring out such different fascinating facets, and their adaptations put Mr. Darcy in such unexpected and compelling situations, which only serve to make him even more attractive!

    Oh, and THANK YOU for including Mr. Thornton; he really does take that whole brooding, passionate hero trope to a whole other level 🙂

    • Thanks, Kirsty — it was a fun list to put together. And I, too, rate Mr, Firth as the best Mr. Darcy — whether as Fitzwilliam or Mark — but I do find myself rather surprisingly pleased with Sam Riley’s depiction. And I did enjoy the two Matthews — MacFadyen and Rhys. Yeah, I pretty much enjoy every P&P portrayal out there and will always find something to enjoy about the varying Mr. Darcys (-: As for Mr. Thornton’s inclusion, well, I just couldn’t stop myself (-:


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