Sunday, April 12, 2015

Ages of Characters in Jane Austen Novels vs. the Ages of the Actors who have Portrayed them

I was thinking the other day about the ages of Jane's characters, and then I wondered what sort of ages all the actors were when they played the character, and so I decided to look it up!

*KEY*
- If I have written 'about' before an age in the novel, I am guessing as the exact age isn't given in the book. I have used any information given about whether they are older or younger than another character to base my estimate on.  
- I have used the year the film or series came out to get the actors ages. 
- Obviously '(not in film)' next to a character name means the character was cut from that particularly adaptation.
- If next to a character name it says '(unknown)' it is because the birth year of the actor is not known.


Pride and Prejudice

1995

Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy

Novel - 28
1940 - 33
1980 - 32
1995 - 35
2005 - 31


All the actors were older, but not too much older, except Colin Firth, but Ehle was also older - and hey, Colin still looked great!







2005

Miss Elizabeth Bennet

Novel - 20
1940 - 36
1980 - 23
1995 - 26
2005 - 20


So 2005 was spot on and 1940 were very far off! 





1980

Miss Jane Bennet

Novel - 22
1940 - 29
1980 - 26
1995 - 30
2005 - 26

Once again, all older.






1940

Mr Charles Bingley

Novel - 22
1940 - 28
1980 - 29
1995 - 26
2005 - 25

I see a theme already, do you?





1995

Miss Mary Bennet

Novel - about 19
1940 - 23
1980 - 23
1995 - 28
2005 - 20

1995 was very much older!






2005
Miss Kitty Bennet

Novel - 17
1940 - 31
1980 - 25
1995 - 19
2005 - 20

The older ones were off, the newer ones did well!





1980

Miss Lydia Bennet

Novel- 15
1940 - 23
1980 - 20
1995 - 27
2005 - 21

All rather off, once again!







1940

Mr George Wickham

Novel - about 28
1940 - 36
1980 - 29
1995 - 37
2005 - 24

Quite a mix there!




1995
Mrs Charlotte Collins

Novel - 27
1940 - 31
1980 - (unknown)
1995 - 24
2005 - 31

I didn't realise she was younger in 1995!




2005


Mr William Collins

Novel - 25
1940 - 44
1980 - (unknown)
1995 - 41
2005 - 38


Poor Collins... He really gets the short straw! Considerably older than he should be, poor man!





1995
Miss Georgiana Darcy

Novel - 16
1940 - (not in film)
1980 - 22
1995 - 21
2005 - 18

A bit old, but not too bad.





Sense and Sensibility
 

2008


Miss Elinor Dashwood 

Novel - 19
1971 - 24
1981 - (unknown)
1995 - 36
2008 - 30

I knew Emma Thompson was much older, but I didn't realise Hattie Morahan was so much older as well!






1995

Miss Marianne Dashwood

Novel - 16
1971 - 26
1981 - 18
1995 - 20
2008 - 28


Again, 2008 was a lot older than I thought.






1981

Colonel Brandon

Novel - 35
1971 - (unknown)
1981 - 36
1995 - 49
2008 - 44


Wow Alan Rickman... 49! But he was still good!






1971
Mr Edward Ferrars

Novel - 23
1971 - 29
1981 - 32
1995 - 35
2008 - 26

Oh look, all older again! I think we have only had one spot on so far!




2008
Mr John Willoughby

Novel - 25
1971 - 25
1981 - 25
1995 - 29
2008 - 30

That's more like it!




1995

Miss Margaret Dashwood

Novel - 13
1971 - (not in film)
1981 - (not in film)
1995 - 12
2008 - 14


Pretty spot on.




1971

Miss Lucy Steele

Novel - about 22
1971 - 35
1981 - 25
1995 - 34
2008 - 31

Well I guessed her age, and I think the actresses were probably all older than she would have been.






1995


Mr Robert Ferrars

Novel - about 22
1971 - (unknown)
1981 - 32
1995 - 30
2008 - 28

Younger than Edward, so once again all older!






2008

Mrs Dashwood

Novel - 40
1971 - 53
1981 - 48
1995 - 53
2008 - 47

I guess it isn't overly important for the older parents, but still all older once again.





Emma
 
 
2009
Miss Emma Woodhouse

Novel - 20
1972 - 22
1996 (Beckinsale) - 23
1996 (Paltrow) - 24
2009 - 27

Aside from 2009, not too bad.





1996 (Paltrow)

Mr George Knightley

Novel - 37
1972 - 45
1996 (Beckinsale) - 33
1996 (Paltrow) - 35
2009 - 37


We actually have some younger for Knightley!






1996 (Beckinsale)
Mr Frank Churchill

Novel - about 25
1972 - 40
1996 (Beckinsale) - 28
1996 (Paltrow) - 25
2009 - 32

Another guess, but mostly older I would think!





1972
Miss Jane Fairfax

Novel - 20
1972 - 23
1996 (Beckinsale) - 28
1996 (Paltrow) - 30
2009 - 29

1972 was the closest this time!




2009

Miss Harriet Smith

Novel - 17
1972 - (unknown)
1996 (Beckinsale) - 19
1996 (Paltrow) - 24
2009 - (unknown)

I reckon the 2009 Harriet was quite young and close to the age of 17.



1996 (Beckinsale)
Mr Philip Elton

Novel - 26
1972 - (unknown)
1996 (Beckinsale) - 25
1996 (Paltrow) - 31
2009 - 31


Could have been worse.





2009

Mrs Isabella Knightley

Novel - about 23
1972 - (not in film)
1996 (Beckinsale) - (unknown)
1996 (Paltrow) - 32
2009 - 40

Another guess, but likely older actresses, as I don't think she was too much older than Emma.




2009

Mr John Knightley

Novel - about 34
1972 - (not in film)
1996 (Beckinsale) - 36
1996 (Paltrow) - 49
2009 - 41

Again, a guess but he is younger than Knightley, so once again the actors are older!






Mansfield Park

1983

Miss Fanny Price

Novel - 18
1983 - 25
1999 - 32
2007 - 25


Oh look, still older!




1999

Mr Edmund Bertram

Novel - 24
1983 - 28
1999 - 27
2007 - 29


That isn't too bad actually.





2007
Mr Tom Bertram

Novel - 25
1983 - 23
1999 - 35
2007 - 32

Another younger actor slips in in 1983!





1999

Miss Maria Bertram 

Novel - 21
1983 - 22
1999 - 28
2007 - 23

 Close other than 1999.






1999

Miss Julia Bertram

Novel - 20
1983 - 29
1999 - 24
2007 - (unknown)


A bit mixed for Julia.




Northanger Abbey

2007


Miss Catherine Morland

Novel - 17
1986 - (unknown)
2007 - 24


I didn't realise she was that old!






2007


Mr Henry Tilney

Novel - 25
1986 - 33
2007 - 29


Older once again!






1986
Mr John Thorpe

Novel - about 20
1986 - 33
2007 - (unknown)


Another guess, but likely older!






1986
Miss Isabella Thorpe
 
Novel - about 19
1986 - (unknown)
2007 - 22


Close to my guess!






2007

Mr James Morland

Novel - about 20
1986 - (unknown)
2007 - 32


Older than my estimate, keeping with the theme!





2007
Miss Eleanor Tilney

Novel - about 23
1986 - 28
2007 - 32


Older than my guess again!





2007
Mr Frederick Tilney

Novel - about 27
1986 - 33
2007 - 33



Snap! Both 33!






 
Persuasion


1995
Miss Anne Elliot 

Novel - 27
1971 - 38
1995 - 32
2007 - 31


Not bad other than 1971!





2007

Captain Frederick Wentworth

Novel - about 33
1971 - 33
1995 - 42
2007 - 37

A guess, but the actors were probably a little older, except 1971.  





2007
Miss Elizabeth Elliot

Novel - about 30
1971 - 34
1995 - 38
2007 - 41

Older again! What a surprise!






1995
Miss Mary Musgrove 

Novel - about 25
1971 - 29
1995 - 33
2007 - 25

Mostly older I would think.





2007
Mr William Elliot

Novel - about 26
1971 - (unknown)
1995 - 29
2007 - 33

To my guess, a bit older.





1971


Miss Louisa Musgrove
 
Novel - 19
1971 - (unknown)
1995 - (unknown)
2007 - 23


Quite close in 2007






1995
Miss Henrietta Musgrove 

Novel - 20
1971 - 24
1995 - 24
2007 - (unknown)

Oh, another snap!






I have found doing this really interesting, and as I am sure you can see there is a clear theme; mostly the actors have been older than they should have been. But, if they are all older than they should be, it sort of works I suppose as it is proportional!


Your affectionate friend,
post signature

35 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. Thank you very much for the stats. It shows detail and a dedication to the novels. However the stats do not take into account the variables. For example when the films were made the actors were a certain age when they made it. They could not choose that because the producer, scriptwriter etc could not say when so and so actor is 17 years old for Northanger Abbey we will make this. It is pot luck how old the actors were. Also Emma Thompson in the way she moved, moved like a thirty something not as a nineteen year old. Historically, women were expected to wear full adult clothes at around 15 years old. There was no concept of being a teenager until the 1940s. Margaret Dashwood would be considered a tweenager now. Actually that is something the two productions got right. Margaret is meant to be a child but would have been expected to behave like a lady in polite society. Thank you. A delightful post.

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    2. Yes I stated at the beginning that I went on the year they films came out - it would have been too complicated and taken even more than the 7 hours this already took me to work out when they were actually filmed! I am glad you enjoyed it though :)

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    3. You might have subtracted a year to allow for the age of the actors. In the case of TV adaptations, two years (one for the British release, another for the American release) might have been a bit more accurate.

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  2. This is such a good idea! I love this!

    I think that with make up actors can easily be made younger - and I also think people back then looked older with all those 'grown-up' gowns and societies, if you see what I mean! I think Elizabeth Bennet in 1995 could pass for a 20-year-old - well, perhaps not, but it just doesn't bother me. :-)
    And, haha, Lydia Bennet - Julia Sawalha did look old, no doubt about that, but she was SO BRILLIANT. :-)

    Thank you for doing this... very interesting indeed.

    ~ Naomi

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it :) and yes, I agree with what you say. Many of them could really pass for the age they were meant to be playing!

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  3. I wanted to add how old the actresses were from the YouTube adaptations, but I can't find their birthdays. :P

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  4. Wow! Thanks for taking the time to make this list!! Very interesting!

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  5. I loved this post Sophie, I found it really interesting. M xx

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  6. Fascinating piece of research, Sophie. For the most part, I don't think it matters too much if the actors are a few years older than their characters. Casting a 15 year old as Lydia Bennet would have been just wrong given what happens to her. My main complaint about casting is the older parts, such as Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner and Admiral and Mrs. Croft. They're almost always cast far too old. Chances are Mrs. Bennet was still in her early to mid 40s if she married in her late teens. And in at least one Persuasion sequel I've read, Mrs. Croft has been young enough to have children around the same time as Anne.

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    1. I am glad you like it :) I agree, I think most of the actors can pass for the age they are meant to be, but it was interesting to see anyway :)

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  7. Great fun reading through this post. Thanks for all of your hard work. ~ Jen

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  8. This is so fascinating! An awesome post!

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  9. I'm impressed. This was a lot of work! Very, very interesting.

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  10. Wonderful research! Thank you!

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  11. This must have taken a while! Very interesting, and it's interesting too that some of the actors seemed further away from the age of the character than others. I was particularly surprised by Felicity Jones, I thought she was younger than that when she played Catherine Morland!

    It's hard to pitch some of the ages, but I think Isabella Knightley was probably older than 23, as she has five children. I'm not sure if it mentions the children's ages in Emma, that might help the estimation. Certainly not 40 like in the 2009 adaptation though!

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    1. Yes it did - about 7 hours all in all! I am glad you like it :) I thought she was younger too! And yes you are probably right about Isabella!

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  12. Great research! I enjoyed your hard work! Thanks.:)

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  13. Fascinating. Though not altogether surprising. Having been in theatre, I know that actors and actresses always state a "playing age" rather than a real age, which might run below and above by a factor of 10 to 20 years! If you have the kind of face that can look older or younger, you would make a point of saying it. Otherwise you'd never get cast in anything! But it does lead to some ludicrous casting sometimes, I have to agree.

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    1. I am glad you like it :) And yes, I agree you need to pass for both up and down your ages!

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  14. Very interesting! Thank you very much for such comprehensive research and for sharing its results with us. To tell the truth, as long as I like the TV adaptation, I don't mind Alan Rickman, Colin Firth, Jennifer Ehle or other actors to be older than their chacters:)

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    1. I am glad you enjoyed it! :) And I agree with you!

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