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Big News

Hypable is back with more in our series of Lizzie Bennet Diaries interviews – this time with star Ashley Clements who plays Lizzie Bennet herself.

It has been a controversial week in The Lizzie Bennet Diaries fandom, but before it all went down Hypable writer Marama Whyte had the chance to ask Ashley Clements, the star of the show, all about it. Hear Ashley discuss her her experiences on The LBD and her thoughts on this weeks developments in this exclusive interview.

Make sure to also read part 1 and part 2 of our interview with Mary Kate Wiles, who plays Lydia Bennet on The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.

Hypable’s exclusive interview with Ashley Clements

Hypable: When did you first audition?

Ashley Clements: My first audition was in December of 2011 actually, which is crazy to say, because that was over a year ago. I went in for my first audition, and that was with Bernie [Su, head writer, director, executive producer and co-creator] and Jenni [Powell, producer], and thought that that went well, they seemed to like me. Then I didn’t hear from them for a month, so I kind of forgot about it.

Then they had callbacks in January and they brought in all the potential Lizzies. There were three girls there for Lizzie and a couple for Lydia and there were six Janes, I want to say, and three or four Charlottes – and I was there for four hours and I read with all of them. So I met everyone before anyone was cast, and saw who could do what. And I was so pleased with who ended up getting the parts, like “Yes, you chose well, this is great – that’s who I would have picked, excellent.”

Was the Lizzie that you originally read very different from how she has developed? Obviously the writing would now mimic certain things in your voice or mannerisms that you have developed, but what about other things?

A part of me says no, but I just saw a part of the first episode the other day and I was like, “Who’s that? What’s happened?” because I’m on this journey with Lizzie and so much has changed for her over the last year and it’s funny to look back. It’s a little bit like opening up a diary – well these are called The Lizzie Bennet Diaries – but I personally grew up keeping real diaries, on paper, and when I would look at that I would be like, “Oh gosh, this is such a weird feeling.” And I had that as Lizzie, seeing the beginning again, going like, “Oh, we’ve come so far Lizzie. We’ve come so far.”

The original sides, well some of that text is not quite verbatim, but pretty close in early episodes. They had already written up to, I want to say 16 episodes or so, when we started. So some of those audition sides were from much later, were from episode 14 or something. They did, when we all got the parts, work to alter the voices of the characters – not dramatically, but just to shape with us.

Bernie and I would always have a read through – well, we still do – of the whole script, just him and I, just to make sentences and words seem more like they would come out of my mouth. Especially because now there’s six writers on staff too, so it’s also a matter of bringing all of those different voices in and making them sound like one person.

But the more we go on, the less stuff like that changes, the less I ask for little word changes and things, because everyone really is very much on the same page with who Lizzie is, and how Lizzie talks, and a lot of that has been adopted from me, from Ashley. Not to say that Lizzie and I are the same, or that she talks exactly like I do, but we have a lot in common and she is certainly written for me at this point. That’s been true since I got the part.

How would you describe your Lizzie?

I’ve been asked before what my favourite thing about Lizzie is, and honestly it is that she is flawed. It’s interesting, a lot of articles have been written about the show at this point, which is lovely, and a lot of them really point out she is very flawed and sometimes hard to like.

And I love that. I love that because she is a much more interesting character to play, to play someone who is struggling with things, and trying to figure things out, and is a good person, but somebody who like all real people, makes mistakes. I think she is admirable in that she is willing to learn from hers, which is certainly something that I always strive to do as well. So how would I describe her? I would describe her as loveably flawed, that’s my quick answer.

It’s a very good one.

But she’s also intelligent and witty and passionate, so passionate, and very loyal to the people that she cares about, and very well intentioned.

That’s true. In this version, not only of Lizzie but of all of your characters, they are less romanticized – probably because you have hours and hours to spend developing them.

We have hours and hours, and also, it’s a modern setting. Women in Jane Austen’s time used their free time to sew and paint and draw and read, and there was no internet, and there was a much smaller group of people that you came into contact with in your life. A modern setting changes so many of those things. They would absolutely have effects on personality I think, just in terms of: one’s temperament remains the same, but the ways that comes out and is seen is different when you have all this other stuff going on.

Yeah, it’s about context.

Yes, very much so.

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  • LitMer8

    Great interview!! I loved all the questions and her responses were just really interesting! Can’t wait to read more!

  • http://twitter.com/surrexi Victoria S

    It’s cool that you’re using fan-made gifs from Tumblr, but you really should have credited the original makers rather than just “tumblr.” Tumblr didn’t make them, and tumblr doesn’t own them. It would have been great if you’d put a caption on each gif/gifset with the username of the creator and a link back to their original post.

    That said, great interview. I’m looking forward to reading more, and I hope that the images and image sets you use in part two have proper credit.

    • Kourai

      Also, they are hot linking some of them from my site. I have to pay for my bandwidth, and they are basically stealing it.

  • Angie

    Dear Ashley Clements: don’t miss the Lawrence Olivier/Greer Garson P&P. Yes, it’s the wrong costume period and we won’t even mention the hair, but I can’t imagine those 1940s bodies in Empire waists anyway. See it for the acting. Edmund Gwenn as the father is particularly fine, as is Edna May Oliver as Lady Catherine. And, not BTW, I do really like the LBD.

    • ackhanolkar

      It occurred to me that perhaps they were recycling dresses from Gone with the Wind. ; )

  • Lisa

    Thanks hypable for posting great LBD interviews and articles!

  • Carilyn

    As devastated as I am for Lydia, I’ve related more to Lizzie these past few episodes. It was one thing to misjudge Darcy, who dropped into her life, but her realizing how she misjudged her own family is poignant for me. When Lizzie laments over how she thinks she’s so witty and thinks she knows so much, only to be completely blindsided – I really felt for her there. And the thing is, it’s not just Lizzie. I think we all have a blind spot when it comes to our family. We think we know them so well, and to a large extent we do. But we forget that we only see what they show us, and the family history that allows us to know them so well is also what makes us blind to other parts of them, the parts they play in other parts of their lives.
    Also, I feel like Lizzie and Lydia are most parallel after their fight, ironically – both falling in love at the same time with guys they never thought they’d be interested in, and now both are blaming themselves over and over for stuff that’s really on Wickham.
    Sorry to wax philosophical, but I’m just so glad this series has discussed stuff like this. Ashley, you make an awesome Lizzie Bennet :) Glad you’re enjoying this ride as much as we are.

  • http://samsoondowntherabbithole.com/ dewaanifordrama

    Great interview! I am excited for part 2. I just love where they’ve gone with the Lizzie/Lydia storyline and how well Ashley is portraying Elizabeth Bennet. I think that for me one of the reasons she is so compelling as Lizzie is that I think no Austen adaptation I have seen so far has done so well to capture how flawed Elizabeth Bennet is. She is pretty flawed in the novel, but I think we love her so much that it is hard to see her flaws if we are not looking carefully enough. Ashley has made her come to life, and has shown her as a very flesh and blood sort of character that we can identify with because we are all flawed too. I think that is one of the most powerful ways a character can influence the audience – by letting us see ourselves, and realizing that perhaps we too need to let go of some of our pride and prejudice.

  • SnatcherGirl

    You put that Darcy-hand-gif in there just for more likes, didn’t you?!

    More likes coming right up.

  • http://twitter.com/TheDallas Dallas

    I am loving these series of interviews with the LBD cast!

  • Sunnykimmy

    I read until the video and then wrote this really long comment about how I don’t mind that Lizzie didn’t cut Lydia off when she was talking and a few other things I thought were significant in the episode. Then I went back to reading the interview and Ashley mentions all of it and explains it exactly the same. So now I can just say that I agree and I’m glad I got the messages the writers were trying to convey in 87. AlI I can say is that everyone working on this show is really talented and I think it’s a privilege to see what they’ve created. I really can’t say that I disagree with much of anything they’ve done because the story and characters live for me and almost everything they do and experience feels authentic. I rarely ever get the feeling that this is just a bunch of actors acting something out that’s been written for them. It feels real and because of that never out of character =)

  • http://twitter.com/chelsaat Chelsey Saatkamp

    Great interview! I was in tears at the end of episode 87… I just love this storyline so much. Keep up the amazing work Ashley.

  • Ashley

    Really? You guys are hotlinking? Wow. Bravo.

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