2:00 pm EST, February 11, 2013

Exclusive interview: Mary Kate Wiles talks ‘Lizzie Bennet Diaries’ sex tape controversy and more [part 1]

You were an english literature and theatre major, so this is kind of a perfect combination for you.

I was, definitely. I’m in heaven. It’s crazy to see the things that people get themselves into, but sometimes you have to step back a little bit because you really want to know what everyone is saying, but then it’s like “Oh god, this is getting in my head”.

I’m really glad that our fans care so much, and it’s a really cool way to look at a classic story. It’s really neat to see it through a modern lens because obviously, there’s something about stories like that that keep them relatable. There’s something about Pride and Prejudice that makes it one of the most read stories, still.

I think the thing about Pride and Prejudice is the characters. Obviously Jane Austen had limited space and it really was Lizzie’s story. What you guys have done so well is that you have taken all of the characters but really fleshed them out so that everyone feels like an actual person that you could encounter on the street, or someone that you could find in your own life.

That’s where a lot of the issues have come up with Lydia, because she has become a lot more empathetic than she ever has been, and a lot of people have issues with that.

Exactly.

Talking about your vlogs themselves, Rachel Kiley [writer for The LBD] wrote most, if not all of them?

The only one she did not write was the one that is just of my cat. That one actually wasn’t planned.

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Did you guys discuss Lydia’s character? How much input have you had into those as she writes them, or does she go away and write them, and then bring them back for your input afterwards?

As time has gone on it has become clear that we were really on the same page about Lydia and I don’t even know how it happened, it was very gradual. Rachel thankfully has always had Lydia at heart, and has always said “I want to write for this character, I see something in this character that makes me excited.” It was in the first round of Lydia’s vlogs, which are still very much “I’m doing a vlog, watch me, and suscribe to my channel, and here I am with Mary,” that there was this one episode “Babysitting”, which was the fifth episode I think in that round. We almost didn’t shoot it, and when I read it I said we have to have this episode.

It’s the first time you really see Lydia without her guard up, and it became clear to me that Rachel really got where this girl was coming from. It makes me want to cry thinking about it, because that was the beginning of thinking “Oh, there’s so much more here than a lot of people think, or than Lydia wants them to think”. So through that she and I have been pretty much always on the same page with her, which is really cool.

We have a really great relationship and I’m really thankful for her writing such a great story that I really, really love, and have come to care for. She’s very generous to talk to me about what I think, and she was with Wes [Aderhold, plays George Wickham] about George. I just think she’s great and I’m really excited that we’ve gotten to do it.

Talking about Wes, did you read with the actors who were auditioning for Wickham?

Yeah, yeah. I was pretty adamant about wanting to have my two cents in on that.

Did Ashley [Clements, plays Lizzie Bennet] read as well?

Actually she was out of town the first day, so I read Lizzie with all of the Wickhams. They would walk in and be confused. Then we both read with them at the callbacks. Wes was actually the last guy to come in, he almost missed his audition because his agent didn’t tell him about it or something. When he walked in I was like, “It has to be this guy.” Then he came back for the callback and both Ashley and I were like there’s no other choice, he just makes us weak in the knees.

And he’s so sweet and wonderful, and I didn’t get to work with him as much the first time around, I just spilled water on him – but this second time around working with him has been a dream. He really cares about making sure that he has a solid place where he’s coming from with Wickham, and the reasons that he does the things that he does, which sometimes people don’t like to hear – but if you can’t then you can’t act a character.

And he has had a tough job.

He has. I just want to give him all the awards, I think he’s so fantastic. He and I rehearsed together before we shot, but then the day we shot he just brought all these things that to me was like “Oh wow. Oh, you like me.” It was working on my brain! Like, “You are so touchy, so snuggly, and I like that.” He’s just in it, and so present, and that made my job a whole lot easier, so I can’t give Wes enough praise. And he seriously doesn’t have a mean bone in his body, he’s the sweetest most bubbly person, and I’m so proud of him for making all of these people hate him.

It’s a tough gig.

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