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Sunday, October 08, 2006

Tenant on Television

This is blatantly an advertising ploy to bank on the new fans of Mr. Stephens, but who cares? Tenant of Wildfell Hall is on television! I won't get to see it, but do watch it. It is the only available adaptation of Anne Bronte's novel. Many cast members from this film found their way into Jane Eyre 2006...

I have never seen this film, but I imagine it will be a little strange to see Toby Stephens playing a romantic lead opposite Tara Fitzgerald now that I'm used to these actors playing Rochester and Mrs. Reed! This link is less spoiling.

I would actually advise against visiting the link above if you are not familar with the story, because it completely unravels the plot, in my opinion. I also don't care much for the comment below about Toby's career. Humph!

This adaptation was originally broadcast in 1996, and is only the second screen version of Bronte’s novel in history (the first was made way back in 1968). The far more lavish 1996 version stars the strikingly beautiful Tara Fitzgerald in the lead role. Tara was already a well-known actor by this time, having appeared alongside Hugh Grant in two films (Sirens and The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain) and Ewan McGregor in Brassed Off.

Yet there was a time in Tara’s early years that she thought she’d never make it as a performer. At 17 she failed to get places at either RADA or the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and ended up travelling around Europe and working as a waitress. She then returned to London, more mature and self-confident, and landed a place at the prestigious Drama Centre, where the likes of Anthony Hopkins and Pierce Brosnan trained.

Rupert Graves, who plays the Byronic and flawed Arthur Huntingdon, had a similarly rocky road to success. As a teenager he was a punk rocker, before running away from school at 15 to become a circus clown (!) His boyish good looks eventually got him noticed, and he was soon appearing in such posh productions as A Room With a View.

By contrast, Toby Stephens (who portrays Gilbert Markham) had a far more assured path to stardom. After all, his mum happens to be Dame Maggie Smith, which must have opened a fair few doors! His early career was marked by Shakespearean roles on stage, but he’s since become more mainstream – and even played a Bond baddie in Die Another Day.

Tenant of Wildfell Hall is airing October 21st at 8 pm on uktv.


Anonymous said...

I watched this movie some time ago and Toby is great in it but, alas, he has not so much screen time. I guess Tara does also a very good job if her character is meant to be unsympatetical: she did managed to do this very well! I am not a great fan of Anne Bronte's writings; I feel that she tried to copy her older sister and she created a sort of reverse J-R relationship, which managed to be rather un-romantical and lacking depth (IMHO). But I am happy that BBC promotes the movies with Toby Stephens: he is great as Rochester and definitely deserves more recognition as an actor.

Kelly said...

Toby Stephens is absolutely perfect as Gilbert Markham, which is one reason why I have such a hard time imagining him as Rochester. The debauchery, however, is entirely too explicit; and I find Fitzgerald's Helen a little lacking.

Gallivant said...

This is a very good adaptation of what is my favourite Bronte novel of all - just edging out Jane Eyre, even though I think Charlotte was actually the better writer. And Helen is one of my favourite heroines - a truly gutsy fighter. Tara Fitzgerald was fine in the role, but Toby Stephens as Gilbert really stole my heart when this first came out. Another 'Jane Eyre' face is Pam Ferris, who is Mrs Markham. There are some cool touches to this TV series - weird twisted black trees and some scenes with little Arthur which (apparently) directly reference Kubrick's The Shining! I shall look out for those this time. Look out too for James Purefoy as Mr Lawrence.

pennyforyourdreams said...

Oh I watched this first time round, but I can't remember much. Toby doesn't look that much older now, worryingly, or not. The gallery is well worth a look, I like James Purefoy's very big hat. I like to think that the actors argue about who gets the largest hat on set, then the director has to come and separate them.

I like Tara Fitzgerald and I don't think she got enough to do in Jane Eyre, a few death rattles and some screeching and thats her lot. She was fab in this though.

And Kelly some of the scenes were definitely a bit erm, steamy. That's not in the book I thought as I watched and had to turn over because my parents were there too :/