Two persons that come to mind when we think of lesser characters in the Pride and Prejudice movies we’ve been discussing here on our blog are Sir William Lucas and his daughter Maria, who both add a very nice touch in their own ways.
Sir William is found in most of the adaptations, with varying degrees of exposure in each. Of course, because he is a minor character in the story, most versions give him very little to do. Not so with my favorite: I would say hands down, without any doubt, the best portrayal of this man is by Christopher Benjamin in the 1995 BBC/A&E version. He exhibits that sense of carefree, innocent pride of someone who has been elevated to the knighthood and now feels compelled to spread goodwill throughout the kingdom, as if that were his commission from the monarch. Thankfully the director/producer (or whoever’s job this is) picked the perfect actor for the part.
Having Sir William and Maria present when Elizabeth visits the Collins’ parsonage creates some very fine scenes. One particular spot that comes to mind is when they’re being talked at by Lady Catherine, and as Elizabeth speaks up with a differing opinion and turns to ask Sir William if he would agree with her, he is truly shaken and looks dumbfounded as to what to reply! Priceless expression, to say the least.
With regard to Maria Lucas (who by the way, is sometimes called “muh ree uh” and other times “muh rye uh” - it seems it could be either way in Jane Austen’s time; you can go here to learn here about the Great Vowel Shift)... now where was I? Oh yes, Maria Lucas -- she is Charlotte Collins’ younger sister, and appears in only one version, the very one mentioned above, played by Lucy Davis. Even though we have no other version to compare her performance with, Lucy is excellent at playing the part of a young silly girl. She displays a childish nervousness at meeting Lady Catherine, and later a comical fear of displeasing her even when the great lady is nowhere nearby. Oh yes, don't forget her fabulous spinning around when calling Elizabeth to come see “such a sight” -- and no, it is not that the pigs have gotten into the garden!
Sir William and Maria with Elizabeth at Rosings
Maria... that face!