1. The obvious question... how'd you get introduced to the Scarlet Pimpernel? ~ One of my dearest friends told me I needed to read it. The funny thing is—it was after church and I can remember almost exactly where the conversation took place, but for the life of me I still can’t remember what actual copy I first read. I may have gone right ahead and purchased it unread—a rather unheard of practice at the time. :) If I did, then it’s the copy I still have, which is also one of my favorite book covers of all time. I read it March 5-8, 2002. (And I would include the review I wrote—though it’s rife with spoilers—but I’m afraid it would make this all too long.)
2. If you could meet any of the characters in real life, who would you choose and why? (you can use the obvious answer of Sir Percy if you really want to, but this is your chance to get creative. ;)) ~ Armand St. Just. I know in the 80’s film he’s up to some less than honorable behavior, but in the first book he’s wonderful. We get to see and hear so little of him, but he’s so intuitive in his loving understanding of Marguerite; and it’s heartbreaking how he knows everything, but he can’t tell… and he doesn’t. Later, his inferred and complete trust and levelheaded trustworthiness during the ending rescue operation/escape is perfect.
3. What are your top 3 favorite quotes from the books or movies? (yes, just three) ~
“How strange it all was! She loved him still. And now that she looked back upon the last few months of misunderstandings and of loneliness, she realized that she had never ceased to love him… the real man, strong, passionate, willful, was there still—the man she had loved, whose intensity had fascinated her…”
“She had quite controlled her impulse by now of rushing down… A man capable of acting a part, in the way he was doing at the present moment, did not need a woman’s word to warn him to be cautious.”
“…laughingly he took off the disfiguring wig and curls, and stretched out his long limbs, which were cramped from many hours’ stooping. Then he bent forward and looked long and searchingly into his wife’s blue eyes.”
4. Who is your favorite supporting character in the books? (Percy and Marguerite are ineligible) ~ Maybe Sir Andrew?
5. Which film versions have you seen and which do you like best? ~ I’ve actually only seen the classic 1934 with Leslie Howard and Merle Oberon—and I’m afraid I didn’t duly appreciate it, which consequently and logically means I don’t have a favorite, thus far. (But again, I’ve only seen it once.)
6. What's your top-absolute-favorite scene in the first book? (if you've read it-- if not, what's your favorite scene in whichever movie you prefer?) ~ The scene on the steps with Marguerite and Sir Percy just before daybreak after the ball. It’s super romantic (and may or may not even be a little over-the-top on the melodrama :)), but it’s truly stunning and one of the most memorable scenes in literature. So again, yes, romantic in every wonderful sense of the word.
7. If you could dream-cast a new adaptation of the book (a period piece, that is) who would you choose to play the roles of Sir Percy, Marguerite and Chauvelin? ~ This one is tremendous fun. Let’s see, I’m going to make two answers out of this. First, Marguerite has two indispensable points. Preferably she has reddish-gold hair and she needs to have sparkle. The public see a gorgeous, vivacious woman of society, but the depths of her character are masked behind her persiflage as surely as Sir Percy’s are by his. That’s the defining part of their characters, so both have to be charming, etc.—just heading in opposite directions. :)
If I had been doing a black-and-white film way back when, I think Olivia de Havilland could have done a beautiful job.
And (since this is a hypothetical arrangement and we’re willing to adjust about ten years or so) I think Richard Todd would have made a fabulous Scarlet Pimpernel—perfectly balancing his withdrawn moments with his teasing intensity and decisive action.
And since this is most definitely going to be a classic, of course no one is better suited to Chauvelin than Claude Rains.
(Wow. Just think what a classic this could have been—somebody should have done it!!)
And (#2) if I were doing a period piece today I think Samantha Barks could do a lovely job as Marguerite.
Sir Percy is supposed to be blond and broad-shouldered (for which reasons I can’t fault the 80’s, though again, I haven’t seen it yet so he may be perfect in other respects, too), but for a different casting—and a different take on the part—I think I can possibly see Richard Armitage in the role. What do you all think?
And Chauvelin… hmmm. Maybe whoever-the-man-is-who-plays-Septimus in Return to Cranford. I always picture Chauvelin rather small and shriveled, but Septimus would make a thoroughly creepy villain if he tried and that’s what counts.
(Oh, I can feel the intensity rising right now. Can you picture all three of those together during the grand ball scene?!?! Somebody OUGHT to make this!)
8. Do you think the Scarlet Pimpernel does his rescue work purely for "the love of sport," as the narrative would tell us (and as he would often claim) or does he have more noble motives that he won't admit? Explain your answer. Show your work. ~ I don’t think it’s purely from a love of sport. On the terrace, he says, “Twenty-four hours after our marriage, Madame, the Marquis de St. Cyr and all his family perished on the guillotine, and the popular rumor reached me that it was the wife of Sir Percy Blakeney who helped to send them there.” “Nay! I myself told you the truth of that odious tale.” “Not till after it had been recounted to me by strangers, with all its horrible details.” Those aren’t the words of a man who doesn’t feel for the suffering. And shortly after, the news of Armand’s danger strikes him hard: “At first mention of Armand St. Just’s name and of the peril in which he stood, Sir Percy’s face had become a shade more pale.” (Of course, his reaction is also wrapped up in his knowledge of how Marguerite was involved in the events of the previous night, but he’s also certainly worried about Armand.)
9. Second to Chauvelin, who is the worst villain in the book series, and why? ~ Since I’ve only read the first book so far I can’t choose on this one…
10. What's your favorite novel in the series (if you've read more than one)? If not, which one are you most excited to read? ~ My sister recommends El Dorado—so quite possibly that’s floating around somewhere on my TBR list.
11. If you could change one thing about your favorite version of the movie, what would it be? ~ This is an excellent question, but I’m afraid (due to the reasons stated above) that I can’t… Oh, I would edit out all those objectionable scenes in the 80’s so I could actually get around to watching it much sooner one of these days. :)
12. Lastly... how would you convince a skeptical friend to read/watch TSP? What is it that you love about it? ~ Much as I love certain stories I don’t think every book/movie is everyone’s cup of tea, so generally if I have a friend who happens to be super skeptical about something I won’t push it—much better not to read something than be dragged into it and then dislike it! (Now, if it’s a family member I can be quite persistent; though even then I’ve found it’s best to let them discover it in their own time and on their own terms and not talk about it overmuch. ;))