Jane and I in March, 2009--the day that we signed the Peace Treaty!
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Tell us when you first became a Darcyholic, Jane.
Well, I’d always been a borderline case, since first reading Pride and Prejudice at school, and then seeing the BBC dramatization of the novel in 1995. But I became a fully paid up member after seeing the movie version in 2005 with Matthew Macfadyen as Darcy. There was no stopping my addiction then.
How did it manifest itself?
I was filled with an overwhelming desire to see as much of Mr. Macfadyen’s work as possible. I was already a fan of the Spooks series he’d starred in, and had the box set of DVD’s, but now I searched the internet to find any of his older work, and dreamed of the day I might actually meet him in person.
And did you? Meet him, I mean.
Yes. It was back in 2007. I was standing outside the stage door entrance of the Royal Court Theatre before the Saturday matinee of the play he was appearing in, The Pain and The Itch, when he suddenly appeared out of the adjacent tube station, his man bag casually slung over his shoulder.
What did you do?
My heart was beating like crazy, but I left my two friends standing and boldly accosted him.
"Please, could I have your autograph, Matthew?" I asked him, my voice trembling, before continuing. “And could you sign it to Jane, please?”
And what do you remember most about the occasion.
He was SO tall! I couldn’t get over how tall he was and I almost told him so, but thankfully I’d become quite tongue-tied from being so up close and personal with the Darcy of my dreams, so I just muttered my thanks and congratulated him on the excellent reviews the play had received before he thanked me and disappeared through the stage door. But I’ll never forget his genuine smile – the smile he always seems to hide once a camera is pointed at him - and his gorgeous velvety voice, and how shy he seemed to be by being accosted by three women who were, shall we say… a little older than he was… and oh yes, how modest he was as we talked about the reviews.
Do you remember anything else about the day?
Yes. Realising after he’d gone that I hadn’t taken the time to look closely into his blue eyes, and wishing that I had rather than stare at his hands as he’d signed my playtext.
So, did meeting him help you to overcome your addiction?
Oh no, in fact quite the opposite. After that day I was completely enthralled. As Darcy says in the movie. ‘I came to Rosings to see you… I had to see you.’ That’s how I felt. I’d met him once and seen him on the stage once, but once just wasn’t enough. If nothing else I had to meet him again so I could remember to gaze up into his blue eyes, and see if they were as gorgeous as they looked on screen.
How many times have you met or seen him since then?
I’m embarrassed to confess, although to be honest I haven’t kept an accurate tally. I think I saw The Pain and the Itch about four times, then the following year I saw him at a Spooks Q&A evening, and at the UK premieres of Frost/Nixon and Incendiary, both of which I was fortunate enough to get tickets to actually attend and walk the red carpet, although no-one asked me for my autograph!
Since then I’ve seen him at a Masterclass where he answered questions about acting and his career, and in 2010 on the stage in Bath, and then in London, when he starred opposite Kim Cattrall in Private Lives. I think in total I saw Private Lives seven times, and each time it was fabulous! He sang, he danced, he kissed Kim and carried her over his shoulder (lucky lady) He wore silk pyjamas, and all in all he was the perfect Elyot!
Then last year I attended a charity evening when he and other noted actors read selected passages of novels or poetry. One of the pieces he read was an excerpt from Anna Karenina, which as he’s just finished filming Joe Wright’s adaptation of Tolstoy’s great novel must have been a touch of serendipity as he hadn’t got the part of Oblonsky then.
And that’s all?
Oh, no! I forgot the premiere of The Three Musketeers last October! I got quite close then, as you can see!
I presume with all these encounters you have managed to achieve your goal and examine his eyes closely?
Not to my satisfaction, his closeness always seems to render me speechless and wipe my brain of coherent thought. But I have remembered to take the odd peek, and it seems that our eyes are of a very similar colour!
You must have had ample opportunity to overcome your addiction by now, Jane? Can we consider you cured?
I don’t think I want to be cured, actually. I’m quite happy being a Darcyholic, or perhaps I should say a Matthewholic!
While I don’t have any published works to offer, you can read my humble offerings on A Happy Assembly, or on Austen Underground, where I am JaneV. All my stories are also on my Meryton Reading Room page, and I’m happy to hear from you via email at Janegracechurch@gmail.com