Can you talk a little bit about those episodes and any thoughts you have on them? What’s going on with Lizzie?
87 is, I hope, an incredibly powerful episode because it deals with Lydia’s feelings of guilt and Lydia blaming herself for her, essentially, abuse. Which I think is just devastating, because so many girls have been there, so many girls have been through bad experiences and then blamed themselves.
For Lizzie it’s a lot of realizing that her sister is not someone that she has ever seen before, that she has had a very close-minded view of her sister, and it’s the beginning of her looking at her in another way. There are times in that episode when Lizzie is quiet and lets Lydia say a lot of things that are upsetting. I’m expecting there to be some backlash about people saying that Lizzie should jump in earlier, but what we discovered with that was that Lizzie was letting Lydia speak for the first time.
As discussed in episode 86, when Jane tells Lizzie “We don’t listen to Lydia,” it’s the first time that Lizzie starts to really listen to Lydia and not cut her off until she’s done speaking. I hope that it’s powerful and resonant for people, it was very moving and powerful to be a part of. Mary Kate Wiles [plays Lydia] is tremendous in 87 and I’m excited to share her brilliance with the world, though I am also expecting there to be a lot of people thinking that we handle it the wrong way.
But there’s no way to please everyone – I know I said that, but it’s something I remind myself of on a pretty regular basis, and I think that it will emotionally resonate with some people. It certainly did with me, not that I have ever experienced anything quite like what Lydia is going through, but I think a lot of young women can relate to being in relationships with people who treated them badly and holding themselves responsible. The element of forgiving yourself for being in a negative situation like that, I hope it’s really powerful. It was to be a part of.
And 87 is the first time that Lizzie ever initiates a hug with Lydia in the series.
It is the first time that she hugs Lydia, and it’s the first time that she says “I love you” to Lydia. She has looked at the camera and said “I love Lydia,” but she hasn’t said “I love you” to Lydia until now.
So we’re starting to go back now, slightly away from the Lydia/George situation, and more about addressing Lizzie and Lydia in the next few videos, is that safe to say?
That is absolutely safe to say. I would say that both 88 and 87 focus on sister relationships and the way this story developed, the way it got written, Lydia became much more than I think the creators knew she would become, and that is in part due to Mary Kate Wiles, and also in part due to Rachel Kiley [writer for The LBD and The Lydia Bennet] who wrote the spin-off series. And to the fans who reacted to her, and to Bernie and Hank [Green, executive producer and co-creator] who let Rachel and Mary Kate go there.
It became clear to me that, and it’s something that Bernie and I talked a lot about and Bernie absolutely agreed, that this point in Lizzie’s story – Lizzie can’t just get together with Darcy and have learned her lesson with him and have everything be sunshine and rainbows if she wasn’t going to come through and learn to see her sister in another way. It’s a relationship she’s had her whole life, and without learning to alter her prejudices about her own sister, the story wasn’t going to feel complete for me, then Lizzie’s growth was never going to feel complete.
So it was very, very important to me that Lizzie have that realization that she had been seeing her sister as something other than who she was, and also that moving forward it’s slow going. We’re not going to put a bandaid on it and be like, “Now Lizzie and Lydia understand and see each other for who they are,” and I’m very glad.
Lizzie and Jane have always been very close, they’re closer in age, and who doesn’t get along with Jane? I think Jane makes such a poignant, true statement at the end of 86 when she says, “My sisters are so alike.” It’s so fun for me. There are moments when, I’m so invested in this character now that when I read scripts, I see them very much through a Lizzie lens. And of course there’s an actor brain going on, and I can see things outside of Lizzie, but I don’t see all of them until things come out, and I can remove myself from it more.
In the Lizzie/Charlotte fight, I was so on Lizzie’s side of it. It wasn’t until the episode came out that I was like, “Oh yeah, Lizzie’s not totally right about that,” but I put my brain so much into Lizzie’s. And the same with 73 and 74, I was like, “Well Lizzie’s not so bad here.” So it’s really fun for me as an actor to realize that I was seeing something so much as Lizzie that I didn’t notice something else that was clearly there.
So in 86 when Jane says Lizzie and Lydia are so alike, that was the first time that I, Ashley, was like, “Oh god, that is true.” That is true. I’ve been a part of this show the whole time and I wouldn’t necessarily have said, “Well Lizzie and Lydia have a lot in common, that’s part of the reason they butt heads so much,” I wouldn’t have said it, because I didn’t see it and neither did Lizzie. It’s really interesting playing a character for this long and being so in her head, it’s not an experience that I’ve had before.
Really only actors who are on long-running TV series, and maybe now web series – but this is pretty new for things to be this long on the web. So the fact that I have been playing her for a year and have gone on this journey with her is really cool and interesting and I’m learning from her a lot too.
Watch out for part 2 of our interview with Ashley Clements
Images: ashleyclements.net, tumblr