Today we continue mourning the loss of Lizzie Bennet Diaries with the continuation of our creators’ interview: listen as Bernie Su, Margaret Dunlap and Rachel Kiley tell us all about the casting process, the shooting process, and what may be hidden inside the show that you’ve never noticed!
Make sure you read part one, and stay tuned to LeakyNews for parts three and four!
LN: Can you tell me about the casting process and why things went the way they did: was it collective or did they come in bit by bit?
BS: We did the normal casting call using a service called Breakdown Express. People submitted and I think Lydia had 800 [submissions]. Jane had 900, Lizzie had 1000, and Charlotte had 1200 (mainly because we can do all races, so I think that’s why her number was bigger). Breakdown Express feeds independent actors and a caresses and it sends messages to all these actors and management companies that hey, this is what is out there right now. So management companies would submit actors, and some would submit themselves – most notably Ashley Clements! – and then we would consider them. It’s photos plus resume plus reels plus a message if they write one. Ashley did send a note that she loved Price and Prejudice which I think did get her the call in. I actually remember marking it. I remember saying oh, she looks like she could be it, and she likes Pride and Prejudice? Why not! Click!
So that’s the first thing. From those collaborative 4,000 we’ll say, I think we called in 200 of them and had them read as an audition over the course of two days and it was a very exhausting two days. After that you mark the ones to rematch, their audition tapes. From there you mark maybe three or four – for these girls it was three or four pretty much – to call back.
For the callbacks we had all the Lizzies read against every one of everybody else. So the candidates for Lizzie were there for three hours and first the Janes came in and they read against the Lydia’s… and then from there we put all the tapes together and then we picked our final four that we ended up with.
MD: For anyone who wants to go into the arts thinking they were never have to use combinatorics, you’re wrong.
BS: It got a little complicated. It was funny, we were actually at the callback auditions. Rachel was out of time but Margaret was there. I was like okay, we saw this combo and that combo – who are we missing? And they’d yell out! And [we'd say] oh! Okay! You guys are up next! Let’s go!
It was a fun process. There was a lot of consideration too – I thought casting got easier after that because we had bases, but here we didn’t have bases. Every other character we had, you’d have, they’d have to be good with at least this one person so we can knock them out accordingly. There were so many variables in this case, it was hard. It was last January when we were going through everybody and we had various discussions about it.
MD: And if we go with Lizzie A does that mean we can’t use Lydia B and vice versa. It was really fascinating.
LN: Who was the first piece to fall into the puzzle?
BS: span class=”pullquote pgLeft”>You start with Lizzie; you kind of have to. I think that there was a major consensus on Mary Kate as Lydia. There was no debate at all. Every other character there was some form of debate, why to go with one person or another, but it was a universal of Mary Kate as Lydia.
RK: I was actually rereading our casting notes two weeks ago from that first time and I was reading Bernie, you sent me, the audition tapes, the original ones, from the very first round, and everyone wanted Mary Kate as Lydia, from the very beginning.
LN: What scene did she have to read?
RK: It was the Bing scene from episode six, and then the callbacks were the swimming with scissors one.
BS: Oh that was so funny.
MD: “What is with your dorky listing coupons?”
RK: I was visiting my parents at the time and I remember sitting with my parents at the kitchen table watching that over and over and over again and my mom was like, what are you watching? “This is probably too dirty for you mom, don’t worry about it.”
BS: The scissor thing, I think, it’s funny because I remember in the auditions when Lydia or Mary Kate was doing that with Ashley it literally was like she was going to kill her with the scissors. It looked very scary.
MD: And Ashley did her very good, “I am very worried about this but it still looks funny” face.