An Evening With Ciarán Hinds

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Report by Jen K.

We have met Captain Wentworth…and he was, by all accounts, a most charming and agreeable gentleman.

I was feeling a bit sleepy on the train down to Brooklyn College so I resolved to pick up a coffee on my way to the campus. A Starbucks was in my path. I popped in. Oh, look who’s standing at the counter, with his coffee and his cell phone, it’s Ciarán Hinds, just like a normal person. I placed my order and went over to the pick-up area (about a foot and a half to the left of where he was standing) – he very nearly brushed by me on his way out.

I got my coffee, left, and spotted out the campus gate. I noticed CH was walking up the middle path and thought, “okay, he knows where he’s going, I’m going to follow him at an extremely respectful distance.”

While recognizing one of the people he was walking with as a co-JASNA-NY chair I was accosted by some other JASNA people who had come early to help with the party. We all catch up with each other as CH is meeting the film professor who helped create this event. Then it’s “here are the Jane Austen people” and then howdoyado, nice to meet you, howdoyado. Thank goodness I was wearing my gloves while shaking his hand. At least I hadn’t started literally shaking at that point. That came later.

How lovely it was to see P2 on a big screen! Even if the print was showing its age and the sound level threatened to deafen the young, it was still possible in a way not possible on my TV to see many details I had never seen before. Why did I never notice that bizarre paint job in the dining parlor at Bath? How garishly opulent that whole place was? There was more – ladies? What a nice reminder of how much I admire Persuasion as a film. While sometimes it felt rote, having seen it so many times, I really enjoyed the theater experience. This was the first time I heard the Captain blurt out “I regret” and actually believed I knew what he meant. Not, ‘I regret being an ass recently’, but ‘I regret not getting in touch with you sooner’. Conjecture, maybe, but isn’t it nice to get something new from something I know so well?

The Q&A was with a Jane Austen scholar, Captain Wentworth i.e. Ciarán Hinds, and a film professor at the school. It was an interesting discussion – Austen scholarship augmenting the actor’s experience with the work, augmented by the film professor’s take on the cinematic choices. CH had not viewed the film in about 10 years and had nothing but nice things to say about Amanda Root, especially, and all the other actors on the film. The director came from a theatre background and chose actors with RSC/classical experience specifically. Apparently he had said he meant to “trash the hotel room of costume drama” with this new adaptation. The film professor said he felt the movie had something to prove but admired the actors’ subtle performances. The Austen scholar provided color commentary regarding themes of the work and how they played out in the film and CH was very interested and attentive. He called the Elliots ‘ghastly’ and joked about the amount of time they spent in mud. Also praising the realistic effect of having the women wear no makeup (as opposed to the samey 80s versions) but claimed all the ‘boys’ were wearing it. If I think of anything more, I’ll add it, but really, this post is long enough!

In addition to being funny and informative about acting and filmmaking, CH was kind enough to stay for everyone who wanted a photo or an autograph. Chatty and personable and totally understanding. What I understand now is why anyone would like him very, very much.