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