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.
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.