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'Pride' odd for actors

Published: Friday, July 30 2004 12:00 a.m. MDT

Kam Heskin and Orlando Seale in a scene from "Pride \\& Prejudice."

Excel Entertainment

Remember the fondue scene in "Pride & Prejudice," the recent updated movie version with LDS characters?

Darcy, Elizabeth and Anna are in a cabin during a thunderstorm, with retro square white plates, skewering meat and veggies to dip into cheese.

Watch closely — they never eat anything. All they do is talk and fondue. That is, they dip but don't eat.

So why all the incessant fonduing, fonduing, fonduing?

By the time the filmmakers shot that scene, the actors had been up and working for 24 hours, with only an occasional nap while the crew set up the next shot. It was 10 a.m. and they were tired, a bit dazed, even a little crazy.

"We had just gone mad by that state," said Orlando Seale, who plays Darcy in the film. "We were just sticking stuff in there, and talking around, talking complete jibberish. We had just gone mad."

For Seale and Kam Heskin, who plays Elizabeth, the five weeks spent in Utah filming "Pride & Prejudice" were a bit different from their usual acting gigs.

Both played Mormon singles caught in the drama of looking for a spouse. Perhaps Mormon Victorian equivalents of singles caught in the drama of looking for a spouse. And neither actor is LDS.

"Coming here, I really didn't know anything about this community," Seale said. "I literally had the wildest misconceptions, and I just didn't know, I didn't know. I was totally open-minded coming, but, you know, there are all these negative stereotypes about this community, that I was very, very happy to find completely not the case."

One thing that did affect him, Seale said, was the set of values people in this community have. The filmmakers of "Pride & Prejudice" saw the same characteristics, and how they fit perfectly with a new version of Jane Austen's classic novel.

They said they found not only the societal values similar but also the pressure on singles to get married. Director Andrew Black adeptly creates a comedic similarity between Victorian courting customs and the LDS dating scene.

"You have to be quite careful where you set it," said Seale, "because most societies no longer share the same social morals as the societies did about which (the novel) was written. I think what's clever about this adaptation is they that found a context which works very well with the original story."

Thus the setting of Utah rather than Manhattan. "This preoccupation with finding the right partner for life, and the rush to get married — it's a very important theme in the novel, and very important, obviously, in this community," Seale said.

And while "Pride & Prejudice" is set in Provo, the movie never mentions the town's name. Other than knowing that the characters are Utah college students of the same religion, this movie is more of a romantic comedy than it is an attempt to be part of the LDS genre films. It's a crossover film for all audiences, they say.

"I think it's enjoyable for people who come from an LDS background because they can pick up on the little jokes," said Heskin. "I think those jokes also translate into people beyond that in other cultures, because it's funny, and because it doesn't bang you over the head or proselytize."

In preparation for "Pride & Prejudice" Seale said he read Austen's novel several times before filming, but he avoided seeing other movie adaptations. He felt he would "end up being incredibly intimidated by people like Colin Firth, because there is like no way that I could possibly do it."

Heskin said she also stayed away from previous versions, wanting to stick to this script and this idea. Instead, she focused on the relationships between her character and the others in the film, to develop "some of those universal feelings of marriage and finding the one. 'Cause I think we, all deep down, want to find that one right soul-mate person for us, whether we want to believe it or not."


E-mail: ltaylor@desnews.com

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