Interview with The Lizzie Bennet Diaries’s William Darcy: Daniel Vincent Gordh. He’s more than a bowtie wearing hipster!| March 13, 2013 at 6:36 PM EST
One of the biggest internet sensations happening right now (not including that certain Kickstarter campaign announced this morning) is The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. A modern day adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice done as a webseries – a vlog from Miss Lizzie Bennet (Ashley Clements) herself. And in episode 59 we were finally introduced to the one and only, Darcy, played by Daniel Vincent Gordh. Look at them looking at each other adorably:
Awwww. Yesterday I had a chance to talk to Gordh about the show and what it’s like to be Darcy.
The End is Near
Despite being upset to acknowledge it, I had to ask about the approaching end to the series.
SSS: You just finished filming. There are only 5 episodes left to air. How do you feel about it? Is it hitting you that it’s over? I feel like your therapist.
DVG: Yeah… it’s hitting me slowly. Ashley and I were there together on the last day and I was sitting next to her, and when they said ‘that’s a wrap’ for the final time, Ashley just kind of… she didn’t lose it, but it clearly had sunk in with her. She started to cry and I put my arm around her and we just sat there for a second with the moment of ‘Wow. Look what we did.’ For me, I just think, I’m so proud of what we’ve done, I’m so proud of the journey, that right at the end I didn’t feel any amount of ‘oh no, it’s over,’ I felt this kind of sense of ‘Man. Look what we did. Look at that journey. That was awesome.’ And luckily I knew these were still going to air for awhile, these are still going on… I’m friends with all of these people now, so I’m going to be seeing them, I’m going to be talking to them. We’re going to be going to conventions together. We still have our wrap party. There’s so much left for us as a community of people working on The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, this experience with each other, that it has kind of comforted me. All these people who I’ve grown close to, who’ve all been working on this thing – there are still parts of it that we’ve left to do and it’s going to stay with us for years, in ways we don’t even know yet. So it’s hitting me, but I’m left with a sense of satisfaction about it. It’s a good feeling.
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On Being Darcy
SSS: Mr Darcy is this major character for women everywhere. Has it hit you that you are in the same sentence as, Laurence Olivier, on a lesser level, but Colin Firth and Matthew Macfayden? You’re in that group now. Did you realize that would be something going into the role?
DVG: That only really came to my mind at all when it was the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice and all these articles came out and there was a lot of coverage about Pride and Prejudice, and specifically Mr. Darcy. There were a lot of polls that asked “Who’s your favorite Mr. Darcy?” and I was on them. And that was… that was kind of when I realized it. I was like, Oh. This show has enough watchers and enough lovers of it that they fully considered it a valid version and adaptation. And lovers of the book, some of them even feel like our adaptation is even more loyal to the book in certain of ways. Realizing it had that legitimacy among people that love the book, love Pride and Prejudice, love Jane Austen, was the first time I realized that. And then I won one of the polls, which was really weird.
SSS: It’s like you should send an apology to Colin Firth. “Hey… I know you’ve done this twice…”
DVG: Yeah. I kind of wanted to.
Here I told Gordh about my Bachelor’s degree thesis comparing Lizzie to Bridget Jones and how I wish this contemporary version existed because the paper would have been better. I also said I’m a super nerd and want to rewrite which he nicel encouraged. If I get to it, I’ll send you a copy!
The Lizzie Bennet Files
SSS: The show is almost done, and viewers, knowing the story so well, have a general idea about what is going to happen. But there have been twists and turns – Lydia’s story, Kitty is actually a cat – will there be anything like that to look for in the last few episodes?
DVG: I think… yeah. I think the surprises of our show aren’t really plot things. Definitely there are people who watch the show who don’t know the story and don’t know what’s going to happen… But yeah, there is… in traditional shows that’s what the surprise is – what is going to happen in the plot? But with us it’s more how we adapt the story. Like you mention Kitty Bennet, that we, well I didn’t make this decision, but that we decided that Kitty is a Cat and Mary is a cousin and Pemberly is a digital empire or Lydia’s shaming in the story be a sex tape. So, we still have to wrap up the story and I think the surprises will be in how we do it. I mean, not in terms of like, we have Lizzie become a ninja or fights crime or becomes an assassin.
SSS: I would watch that sequel.
DVG: The Lizzie Bennet Files.
SSS: Like she is a new Veronica Mars or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I would watch it.
DVG: I think Ashley would be good at that.
SSS: I think so too! Anyway… Will we see any more costume theater in the last few episodes? Because Darcy being Fitz is probably my favorite moment of the series. That was the greatest moment as far as I’m concerned. I loved it.
DVG: Well… thank you. I will tell you that I don’t do anymore costume theater. Sorry, Bernie [Su executive producer] if that is a spoiler. But I don’t, and I don’t think anyone would expect me to in my last episodes on the show. I’m not sure if there is more. I definitely don’t though.
SSS: Was it as fun as it seemed?
DVG: It was as awkward as it seemed, yeah. It’s… for Darcy it’s his worst nightmare, really. To have to go out on a limb and be the center of attention. He’s such an introvert so it’s the last thing he wants. But, the fact that he’s funny is kind of sweet because, clearly, the only reason he would do that is because of how much he cares for Lizzie. But yeah, it was as awkward as it seems because he has to play his sister and then playing Fitz. Yeah… we had one of our better bloopers that day when we were trying to do costume theater. Luckily Craig and I had worked together before and he loved it. But Bernie was terrified that it was going to be perceived as racist the whole time.
SSS: Yeah, I can see why someone would think it could sway that way, but it was really funny and sweet.
DVG: Yeah, in the context of it.. it was so not about performing race. It was merely a moment of levity that reveals the closeness on Darcy’s end of the relationship.
The Many Daniels
When getting ready for this interview, I found Daniel’s character reels on his website. It was funny to see him in such, well, let’s go with loud characters. Especially when I’ve been so used to seeing him as Darcy.
SSS: Have people found your character reels? What has been their reaction? Have they been weirded out?
DVG: Yeah…It’s been funny. Once people place you in a show and they see so much of you and they feel like they know you. And that connection between character and actor is a tricky line to walk across. So there’s people that ship characters and people that ship the actors and want them to get together too. I mean… I don’t care, I think it’s great people are going to have different reactions to the show and characters. They will like it or hate it or love it or be obsessed with it or it will activate their fantasy life in some way. I’m kind of happy for it to do those things. But it’s funny for me, objectively, to watch people be so shocked that I can play these others characters. They think I am Darcy…
SSS: You’re just a hipster with a bowtie.
DVG: Yes! They think I’m just a hipster with a bowtie and they think I’m just awkward and closed off and all of those things that Darcy is and means to them, it must be how I am too. It’s funny because I’m so different. There are many ways that I’m similar and connect to the character, yes, but seeing me and talking to me, I’m much more emotionally open and joking and happy to be the center of attention because I am a performer. It’s kind of hilarious to me to see people be so shocked that I can play these other characters because it’s what I do. It’s gratifying because it’s like, “oh good. you bought it” because it’s what I aim to do. In that way it’s very rewarding.
SSS: So is this your first real interaction with a fandom? I don’t think you would have had this and experienced it yet.
DVG: No… I mean a lot of people have seen my sketch stuff, but it hasn’t created this kind of… I think the fandom of the Lizzie Bennet Diarires is kind of phenomenon. I think, sure, it’s been viewed a lot and the scope of the show is big, a lot people have seen it and it has a lot of view. But I don’t think the number of views is the thing. I think it’s the level at which the viewer engage. I… I hadn’t even heard the word fandom going in.
SSS: [laughs] Welcome.
DVG: [laughs] Yeah, I didn’t even really know what that meant or what that was. But Ashley eased me into what I was into a little bit. But it wasn’t until I was on the show that I really got it… but it hasn’t been scary. It’s been good. The fans have been really happy with what we’ve done. Well, of course there are certain things some people aren’t as happy with, there is always drama to be had, but for the most part they’ve been happy and very supportive. And there’s a lot of people who didn’t like what I was doing at first and then started to like it and became supportive. I think… sometimes the fans want me to respond to things and get disappointed if I don’t. But… I mean, I can’t even get back to my mother sometimes. So, they are going to have to go in line behind her. Sometimes expectations of me are a bit unrealistic, but generally they are really lovely and I’ve been surprised by how wonderful the fans are.
Fiction VS Reality
The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is Transmedia at it’s best. The characters have their own twitter accounts. There have been spin-off series. There are websites for Pemberly Digital. It makes the experience even more realistic, which….
SSS: As a fan I think all of that leads for the lines to be a bit blurred.
DVG: Yeah, I think there are two reasons for that. One is the format of the show, being a vlog. And because it is not a huge budget it actually makes it more accessible in some ways. And there are people who don’t realize it’s not real because of the format. And also there is the transmedia stuff that – it’s been… it’s easy if you’re a fan of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries to incorporate into the social media practices of your day that you’re already using it for anyway. You can tweet the characters and be involved in the story that way. Or you’re on facebook and you see things from your friends and then things from the actors who give you more information about the show. It slides easily into your everyday life. And then the episodes are short. They are easy to watch.
What the future brings…
SSS: Beyond Lizzie Bennet… tell me about some of the other things you are doing. I saw you post about House of Secrets.
DVG: Yes! I was offered to be the narrator… to do the audiobook of a new audiobook which was written by Ned Vizzini who wrote… It’s Kind of a Funny Story and Chris Columbus co-wrote book, he did Home Alone, Mrs. Doubtfire, the first two Harry Potter movies… he’s just a legend. So I was working on it last week and some this week because it’s a long story. But yeah, I’m doing an audiobook which I’ve never done so it’s kind of exciting.
SSS: Do you do a lot of voices?
DVG: Yes, I do all the voices. It’s like doing voiceover work. It’s actually like being a storyteller, and I mean that in the most basic sense – it’s just telling people a story. My uncle is actually a storyteller. He’s been a storyteller in education for a long time, so my family of some tradition… in telling stories that way. So it’s been really interesting and fun getting to do this and it’s all my voice. So I’m doing that. I’m also doing the second season of Hipsterhood which Julia Cho [Charlotte from The LBD] produces.
SSS: Oh, yes, I caught up with the first season of that the other day.
DVG: Oh good. You watched it?
SSS: Yeah! It’s really cute.
DVG: Yeah they’re funny and cute and really digestible. The next season is going to get out of their heads… actual verbalization. The first season takes place almost entirely in their heads and the second season gets out of that and a little more into what you’re used to seeing in a show. I also have a couple other things I’m working on that I don’t think I can reveal yet.
SSS: Oooo. Intrigue.
DVG: I can say, I think I’m going to be doing stunts!
It was a pleasure to get the chance to talk with Gordh and I for one am anxiously awaiting the last few episodes of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries . If you haven’t seen an episode yet – there is no time like the present to catch up! That’s the beauty of a webseries. You don’t have to wait until DVD! And look for Gordh in all of his upcoming projects as well!
Follow Daniel Vincent Gordh on Twitter: @DanielVGordh
Follow The Lizzie Bennet Diaries on Twitter: @TheLBDofficial
Also, follow me on Twitter, of course! @serrae