Part two of Hypable’s exclusive interview with Ashley Clements, star of hit web series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.
Check out part 1 of our interview with Ashley Clements to catch Ashley’s thoughts on Monday’s controversial episode, how she landed the role of Lizzie, and what she thinks about comparisons to other Pride and Prejudice adaptations. In part 2, Ashley discusses the Lizzie and Darcy relationship, transmedia elements of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and more.
Hypable’s exclusive interview with Ashley Clements
Hypable: While Pride and Prejudice is usually a love story, it seems that your story is not really about romantic love. Yes, that is a thing that happens, but if Lizzie got with Darcy now, she would not be happy because she us still working on this family love – if she hadn’t fixed what was happening with Charlotte she wouldn’t have that friendship love.
Was that the idea from the start – that it was going to be more about the bond between these girls? Obviously Darcy Day introduced a new element, but the show still seems to be based on these four girls.
Ashley Clements: You would have to ask the creators if that was the intention. I honestly don’t think that when the series started that they knew that this is what would be happening now. We all knew sex-tape from the beginning, sex-tape was one of the first things I learned.
Before I even had the part, I did an interview with Bernie [Su, head writer, director, executive producer, co-creator] because it’s an unusual project, you’re getting on board for a long time with something like this and there’s not a lot of parallels to working like this in Hollywood, short of booking a show, but we shoot once a month typically. Anyway, it’s a very unique thing and so we had this interview. I was like, “How are you adapting George and Lydia, because that doesn’t make any sense in the modern time, and please don’t just knock her up,” and he was like, “No, no, we’re thinking sex-tape,” and I was like, “YES! Sex-tape, amazing.”
But at that point no one knew exactly what the series was going to become, no one knew who Lydia was going to become or who Lizzie was going to become. A lot of things were decided from the beginning but at the same time, you make things and they have a life of their own and they grow. Lizzie has said these videos have become bigger than her, she says that on Darcy Day actually, episode 60. She says, “The videos have become bigger than me,” and I think in a way they have become bigger than all of us at this point.
It is clear that when they started, it was the four girls, that’s who was cast. At the beginning it was the four girls, and there was the first 25 or so episodes before you saw a man – Vidcon with Mr Collins was the first time. That was three months of shooting that we did before we had any male characters on the set, three months of episodes.
It was definitely always going to be very female-centric, and it was definitely always about the journey that Lizzie is on. I think this style of the show, and because we have told it in real time, that has allowed a lot of exploration into all the relationships in her life, and made a lot of ‘secondary characters’ into very important characters with strong arcs of their own.
In the book we see there’s a little development for Jane when she’s finally able to say unkind things about Caroline, and she says she doesn’t think that she is at risk of falling in love with Bingley again. There’s growth, but we have really given her a very strong arc, and she is going to continue to become a very strong young woman, while maintaining all of those qualities about Jane that everyone loves so much. That’s just one example, all of our characters have a a lot going on.
But also at the core of the story is Lizzie’s growth. If I had to come up with one line about The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, it would be about Lizzie overcoming her prejudices and her preconceived ideas about people and herself. I think everything else is very important, but that is a departure from Pride and Prejudice. I wouldn’t necessarily say that Pride and Prejudice is mostly about Lizzie.
Fans are going to yell at me for this. Darcy is important, I like the Darcy stuff, don’t yell at me. Honestly I love the Darcy stuff. I love it, I was really excited for it to get going, it’s some of my favourite stuff to film, I love working with Daniel [Gordh, plays Darcy]. I’m a huge romantic, I love that stuff, but I also think the reason that this romance is so powerful and has transcended all these generations is because it’s about two people who affect each other and change each other for the better. They are neither of them where they need to be at the beginning.
It’s not about people who are like, “Oh I think I hate you but it turns out you’re just the right person for me,” which is what so many contemporary romantic comedies do.
And it is by meeting each other and working and realizing things that they become better. We have just really expanded on Lizzie growing in a number of ways – not just in regards to how she sees Darcy, but how she sees herself, how she sees her place in the world, how she sees her sisters, Charlotte, Mr Collins. She’s had a lot of perspective shifts, and that’s really fun to play.