Dear Readers,

I now consider this blog to be my Juvenelia. Have fun perusing the archives, and find me at my new haunt, here.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The New Top Six Hotties--Post 2002

[Previous installments of my "hotties" series: #15-11, 10-6, 5-1]

This is my list of period literary adaptations' most studly soulful leading men... since 2002. I had to jiggle the qualifying date to fit everyone in whom I desired, but I think it all works out.

Anyway, recall that this is a personal project and has no official significance whatsoever and thus no coherent rules:) Now ogle + debate away!

Oh, and conspicuoulsy absent are actors from 2007's adaptations of Persuasion and Mansfield Park. In such cases as these, a good memory is unpardonable.

#1 Richard Armitage

Recognition of Richard Armitage's delightfully dark and smoldering John Thornton from the BBC's 2004 "North and South", was being clamored for most enthusiastically in the comments section of the previous post.* But my readers need not have feared--this performance utterly captured my heart and threw all of England into an afore-unknown craze called "Gaskell-Mania." Why was Armitage so amazing? He played the role with such repressed passion, and effected a moving transition from stern and forbidding mill-owner to humbler man touched by love's gentle hand, a transition that rivals the change underwent by Darcy in between"Not handsome enough to tempt me" and "dearest, loveliest Elizabeth." Seriously, to parrot commenter Laura E, if you haven't seen this mini-series, go out and rent it RIGHT NOW. It's television at its most extraordinary. I also loved the book.

#2 Toby Stephens

I got into a mini-quibble with a reader about the quality of Ciaran Hinds' interpretation of that memorable Byronic hero, Edward F. Rochester. But CH dispute aside, Toby Stephens truly transcended his pretty-boy looks to play a nearly-perfect Rochester in the 2006 adaptation of "Jane Eyre," an adaptation that truly gave one of the best novels ever written its due. Stephens neither gets Rochester off the hook for his domineering ways and the whole bigamy thing, nor does he render him too unsympathetic, and it's a very difficult line to walk. The emotional bond between Jane and R--the thread that goes from one heart to another--is truly present in this performance.

#3--JJ Feild As Mags always reminds us, it was unnecessary for the screenwriters of '07's "Northanger Abbey" to make Henry Tilney, one of the wittiest and quirkiest characters written, act "mean" towards poor Catherine Morland during one particular scene. But that's a screenwriting issue. As BethDunn points out in the comments, JJ pulls off the mix of clever one-liners, wry observations and occasional awkward proposing (in the hedgerow) that I think Austen would have been largely pleased with.

#4 Dan Stevens

So on the whole I didn't think the "2007 Sense and Sensibility" held up to Ang Lee's '95 big screen version, but one way it excelled its predecessor was Dan Stevens' Edward Ferrars. Basically, his performance kinda pwns Hugh Grant, previous awardee for the same role. His pain was deeper, his passion stronger, his awkwardness less painfully funny. And there was that chopping wood in the rain scene, which was no Darcy-in-the lake, but wasn't half bad either.

#5 Richard Harrington his Allan Woodcourt helps the poor in the slums even though there's no money in it, and he loves Esther Summerson even after she is horribly disfigured by some creepy Victorian disease I can't recall. Nuff said. ("Bleak House," 2006). Just look at that intensity! No wonder he won out over romantic rival Jarndyce.

#6 Hugh Dancy. (2002's "Daniel Deronda.") He's an extremely sensitive, soulful secret Jew, and he is being being fought over by the blonde, shallow (but trying hard not to be shallow) Gwendolyn Harleth and the beautiful, talented, pure Mirah. It's good to be the king. Dancy's performance anchors an adaptation of a very difficult work and makes Daniel's anguished position really come to life.

*(Thanks K, starling, femblogproject, BethDunn, Laura, MFL, anonymous et all for being so engaged!)

Further reading from the EBC archives:

North and South
Liveblogging Jane Eyre
Live-Blogging Northanger Abbey
Live-blogging Sense and Sensibility
Daniel Deronda


  1. Heh. Poor JJ. I don't mean to pick on him. He certainly got that Henry is supposed to be charming and funny, but he had to work harder than he should have had to to get it across. All that smirking!

    Mmm, Richard Armitage. Mmmm.

  2. I love James Purefoy as Donald Farfrae!

  3. Luciana1:33 PM

    Nice first place indeed! Same as mine!