Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Q: What is the handsomest man in the world doing in your book trailer?

Ah, Antonio Cupo... the face that launched a thousand hits on youtube. I have had, as you might imagine, quite a number of inquiries on this subject. Consequently, I thought I should do a post to tell everyone all about it, and a bit about making the trailers in general.

Here is a picture which might convince you of how 15-year-old Georgiana Darcy, despite all of her sense and timidity, might be powerless to refuse an offer of elopement with George Wickham. After all, what would you, at that age, have done if he had burst into your Mayfair breakfast room declaring his undying affection?

I have known Antonio for years, or rather I knew him many years ago, and when I was writing “Follies Past” I imagined him as Mr. Wickham. I always thought that if I were lucky enough to have my book made into a film or television adaptation, then he would have to play that part. His appearing in the role in the trailers is just one of many incredible serendipities that came to pass in their making.

Originally, I planned to dress in costume, hidden by a trench coat, and sneak around Fort Edmonton Park followed by a friend who would intermittently film me with an iPhone. Clearly, it got more involved.

Firstly, I decided to hold auditions, to get more people involved and invested in the project, and perhaps spread the word a bit. My co-worker offered to book the Varscona Theatre for me to hold the auditions at, which legitimized the whole thing in an almost fraudulent way, and tempted a number of very good actors to come out, none more than the illustrious Mr. Troy O’Donnell, of the Freewill Shakespeare Company, among other things. When he responded to my audition notice asking to be considered for the role of the butler, I believe I fell in a fainting fit upon the sofa. Not wanting to deceive him, I explained that this was not a real gig, zero budget and no actual lines, but he still wanted to do it, and we were overjoyed to have him. I think his cameo is stellar: “Mr. Wickham to see Miss Darcy.” Perfect!

Also, having Gabby Bernard play Georgiana was a bit of a dream. I worked with her on a theatre festival a couple of years ago, and always thought she looked just like Georgiana ought to. Plus, she has great presence and her accent is terrific. Even the non-speaking roles were brilliantly done, like Dolores Kohler, who plays the housekeeper, was so charming in moment on screen.

On top of that, we got to film at Rutherford House, which is such a beautiful venue. But I don’t think anything could top my amazement and thrill at having Antonio play Wickham.

It was such a last-minute thing, and I didn’t even know if he was in the country. He is a very successful, international film and television actor. In Italy he is a huge star – seriously huge. He was on the most popular Italian television show ever. He was on Dancing with the Stars, as one of the stars. He has been on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine numerous times.  And that is just in Italy. He is also constantly working on high-profile film and television projects in Canada, the US and the UK. So it was more than a little cheeky of me to message him on Facebook 3 days before we started shooting to see if he might allow me to fly him to Edmonton and be in my film.

At first he said he couldn’t. He was out of town on vacation. The fact that he even responded made me bold to ask again, offering to move the filming date to accommodate him. To my eternal shock and unending gratitude, he said yes. I felt like a school girl who had just been asked to the prom by the captain of the football team.

At that point, I decided to expand two of the scenes into their own trailers. At first, I was going to make one trailer, with all the people saying “Wickham.” I was going to film the actors saying short lines containing the name “Wickham” and edit them down to that one word for the sequence in the one trailer. But once Antonio said he was coming, I thought I ought to do a bit more with the introduction scene and the break-up scene and make them independent little vignettes. So that gave me three trailers where I only planned to have one. And I was really happy with how the extra two turned out. It also gave Leah Beaudry, who plays Wickham’s false lover, a chance to show off her acting chops. She is really very good, and I was so happy to get to work with her, and to put her talents to work promoting my book.

So Antonio came, and all of Edmonton swooned in his company. Not only has he possibly the prettiest face on the planet, but also the most generous spirit and charming manner, not to mention a terrific voice and solid acting skill. And furthermore, without him, the trailers would not have been half so good as they are for a number of other reasons.

Antonio happens also to be quite a talented amateur photographer, and offered us the use of his high-end camera and lenses, as well as lights and sound equipment, and a tonne of invaluable expertise on film-making gleaned from years of experience on sets of actual productions with actual budgets and actual filmmakers.

The production quality was not as good as it might have been due to our having shot half the footage on a handy cam before he became involved, causing us to have to muddy some of the images and audio we recorded on his camera in order to make them match. But the result was still infinitely superior to what we could have achieved without him.

So, that is the story of our making the trailers for Follies Past, and of the striking face of Mr. Wickham.

Melanie Kerr is the author of Follies Past: a Prequel to Pride and Prejudice

Read Chapter 1      Watch the Trailers    Order Paperback      Download eBook


  1. So I was perusing IMDB (okay, stalking Mr. Wickham) and found out he was on Dark Angel. I'm dying. That was my fav show back in the day!!

  2. Yes, he was indeed on Dark Angel, twice I think. He once showed me a cut on his arm that he got from Jessica Alba during a fight scene.