As I recently posted in my Q&A with Bonnie Mae (screenwriter, producer and director) there is a fantastic upcoming movie this year, 2010, from PaperCut Productions LLC– a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice! Not only did I have the absolute pleasure of speaking with Bonnie, but the two lead actors Caleb Grusing and Maia Petee (seen in the pic below), playing Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet (of course!), have answered a whole tonne of questions that we’ve been dying to ask.
Caleb was born in Kansas, but raised in Colorado. He “grew up studying hard, pretty much a nerd and playing sports… I always loved movies of all kinds though.” Although he was never a drama person in highschool and college, and he wasn’t sure about “news casting and mass communications… Advertising, marketing, business and economics” he has now found his niche- working in the entertainment industry for the past four years, saying he could never stick a typical 9 to 5 job!
Seen him? He has been involved in commercials (for Northwest Honda, Brakes plus and others!), modelling on the runway for Andrew Christian (totally find him on google pics- drool!), script writing and acting- he has been in a couple of indie films before such as Down Angel– a melodramatic psychological thriller with the freakiest looking trailer. He also does an Australian accent- who else (particularly us Aussies!) is dying to hear this?
23-year-old Maia, who is also an absolute stunner, has been involved in theater and television previously. Through doing indie flicks she hopes to break further into the industry as she “would love the opportunity to move on to major motion pictures”. She has an interest in photography, and is apparently also starring in Myelin Productions & LARTU Communications & Media Vampire flick ‘Eye of Noor’ as Ma’at an “ancient Pure Vampire”.
A bit of trivia? She boasts a great resume, having even played the role of Anne Frank before, loves to read, is religious and is involved in modelling. She can speak Russian and studied linguistics at the University of Florida… even better? You can fan her on Facebook.
So, with all that aside, I’m sure you’re interested to hear what they have to say. Here you go:
What was the audition process like?
Maia: It was a little bit of a blur, honestly! I found out about the auditions approximately 36 hours before the final audition date, went with very little preparation, and got a second audition. The callbacks were more difficult and complex…each potential actor read with a wide mix of other potentials, and it was impossible to gauge how everyone was doing. Decisions were made about a week later.
Caleb: The audition process was very daunting to begin with. There was a room full of people who all looked very qualified for the part and primed for the audition. Instantly the trademark actor insecurity kicks in haha… but everyone was pretty nice. It was unbelievable to get the call back.
Did you think you would get the role?
Caleb: My hopes were always with getting Darcy. I was so happy to have an opportunity to be a part of a production like this- I would have enjoyed doing anything for this movie. In fact I was joking with Ac, who is playing Mr. Collins, before the parts were posted that I would be happy to play one of the happy people just walking around the town. I can’t say how fortunate and humbled I felt when I was chosen for the role of Darcy.
Maia: My mind was split down the middle. Everything leading up to the decision seemed too serendipitous to have been for nothing, but there’s always that seed of, “Of course not, not me.” We should ignore that thought!
Have you always been interested in Pride and Prejudice?
Maia: Since the age of thirteen, when I tuned out my science teacher to read P&P for the first time under the desk (my aunt had gotten me a copy of the book when I was 11, but I was a little young to be interested then). I got a C in that class, but little did I know that ten years later, that and many other concessions to a wild imagination would pay off big time…
Caleb: As long as I have known about pride and prejudice I have been entranced by the compelling story. I want to be macho but am truly a romantic at heart. I love this story…
What do you think of the script, and how are you finding the language?
Maia: I love the script. It’s so familiar in so many ways, but it deviates enough to leave room for a completely new yet faithful take on the characters. The language is no issue for me; I’ve always been a language nerd. The challenge inherent in the older language with the modern setting is making the lines flow naturally, yet not adopting the cadence of an older era and making the film seem “old.”
Caleb: The script is very fun. There are all the classic phrases that the pride and prejudice fans will be waiting for, plus a new modern spin on the text…
What scenes are you looking forward to most?
Caleb: I cant wait to see the ball scenes and the second proposal… it should be very romantic. *wink wink*
Maia: I’m especially looking forward to two sets of scenes: Lizzy’s relationships with the main ladies in her life, Jane and Charlotte, really establish the kindness and sincerity of her character. Those balance out the other set of scenes I’m looking forward to, which is all of the Darcy scenes, for reasons completely obvious. Elizabeth and Darcy is a relationship that has room for as much complexity as you want to put there, and the more you do, the bigger the payoff.
How are you going about preparing for your character?
Maia: I’m doing a lot of writing. Writing out Elizabeth’s connections to the other characters, placing her in the grand scheme of things… I’m also thinking long and hard about what Lizzy, the Lizzy that Bonnie has written, would be like behind the scenes. What she does in her downtime. What she eats. Another interesting exercise is to do your errands in character. Get coffee in character. Do everything in character! Now, when you have three characters going at once, I can only wish you luck on that!
What sort of costumes are you going to have?
Maia: Let’s see… a lot of pink. That’s all I’m going to say. The costumes won’t be period; they’ll be modern. I can’t promise a fashionista Lizzy, though. That’s not her focus!
Caleb: Mr. Darcy is a fairly conservative but well dressed gentleman. I have a number of different suits and formal clothes… and a surprise outfit!!
What are you drawing on to bring out the on-screen romance?
Caleb: Maia is beautiful.. and such a great sport.. it makes her a very easy person to be drawn in by.. She also has a very agreeable personality which is highly compatible its nice when you actually like the person you are acting with… I simply had to open my eyes and heart to let the on screen romance bloom.
Maia: These are two passionate people who clashed in all the right ways. This is not merely a romance: it’s a story of awareness and change, and what these two mean to each other now that they’ve each been the catalyst for the other’s self-revelation. That’s a vulnerability and a bond that you don’t find often in new love, and I think that if I keep that in mind, the depth of the love story will come across.
How would you describe Mr. Darcy?
Caleb: I would describe Darcy as fairly introverted but confident. So much of Mr. Darcy’s character is unspoken so it is crucial to not over play it. Mainly Mr. Darcy must appear arrogant to others while not being arrogant to himself. Mr. Darcy just tells the truth as he sees it.
Other than acting, what other passions and hobbies do you have?
Caleb: Besides acting… and I don’t want to sound cliche’ but I love to watch and go to the movies. This is really want I have wanted to do my whole life. I also love to snowboard and play basketball and while not very adept at either I keep convincing myself to keep trying… 🙂 mainly to give the kids something to laugh at…
Do you think you are like Lizzy Bennet?
Maia: I believe I am very, very similar in many ways. I have a passionate intensity about me that has been pretty hard to tone down for most of my life. Things are black and white for me. One should always do what’s right. I’m very straightforward, and hate drama of any kind. What I’m still working on is developing the ability to laugh at situations and life. That’s a critical skill.
Have you played a similar role before?
Maia: Not on the stage or on screen! The characters I’ve played have all been very different, all with at least a seed of negativity and darkness (which is funny, because I’m a positive person) or at least neutrality. This is new for me in that Elizabeth is a very sympathetic character with dynamic views and follies.
How have you been getting into character?
Caleb: I have been researching every source i can get my hands on. I am reading books by different authors giving a different points of view for darcy, websites and watching the different portrayals of Mr. Darcy. I love the process…
Do you have any worries performing as such a prominent figure from literature?
Caleb: Great question… The pressure is always there when portraying such a cherished story and beloved character… a number of people have asked me that same question and the best way I could answer is that my intentions are to keep the essence of the Mr. Darcy everyone knows and loves while making him a bit off beat from the others… We have an awesome opportunity and responsibility to create a new and unique story. I feel a great deal of pride in making this adaptation modern and fresh. My hope is to bridge the literary gap and expose this incredible love story to a younger audience.
What are you most nervous about?
Maia: Being able to get what I know is inside of me out there on camera.
How would you describe your acting style?
Maia: What’s happening to my character? How would she feel? How would she act? Do that. Be detailed. Eschew stock reactions. That’s it.
What are your plans after Pride and Prejudice?
Caleb: After pride and prejudice is completed i would like nothing better than to ride a little wave of momentum attract some new projects… *as always fingers are crossed*
Maia: My plans are contingent on what the film does, where it goes, et cetera! I’m in this for the long haul. I’ll continue to pursue film, modeling on the side, until…just, until. Forever. I’ll take it where it leads. There are specific stories I want to tell, and when I have time, I’m working on my first feature-length screenplay. If it gets finished, I would love to shop it around and see if there’s a place for the concept.
What do you think of your co-lead?
Maia: That’s a very general question. In the most general sense, he’s just fantastic. Completely fantastic. He’s a true professional, very encouraging, very caring, and very good. At this point, if I had to act opposite anyone else, even Colin Firth, I might just stage a riot.
Caleb: Maia is fantastic! She is so much like a little kid. She brings an air of fascination and wonder but has so much energy every time I see her… and she is a very busy girl! I have really enjoyed getting to know her off set. Her feisty attitude is not an act… haha… it makes it very easy to create some genuine reactions. I thoroughly enjoy spending any time I can with her off screen.
You can also contact Maia and Caleb via Twitter. Maia: @LoveInQuanta and Caleb: @KnowoneSpecial. Their last tweets, respectively-
LoveInQuanta– What we say and do now echoes in eternity.
KnowoneSpecial– Coming to grips with the fact that i don’t have a handle on very much..but by letting go… everything gets done.. how ironic
I’m incredibly excited to see this duo act our favourite literary couple, how about you? The film release is yet TBA, so it looks like judgement on how they perform Darcy and Elizabeth will have to wait! Until then- Do you have any other questions for them? -I’m sure they would be thrilled to answer to any fans. If you want to check out some updates on the film, and fan the new Pride and Prejudice then you can do so via the Facebook group (definitely worth it- there are some gorgeous photos as well, *sigh*) and you can be part of the Twitterati and check out the Twitter posts.