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BECOMING JANE

About The Characters
Jane Austen is widely regarded as the greatest English writer since William Shakespeare, with novels that continue to enrapture and inspire readers around the world, even propelling the current craze for "chick lit.” Yet, in the popular imagination, Jane herself is most often depicted as so prim and proper that one could barely get to know her. In BECOMING JANE, audiences will see a different, more intimate portrait of Austen – as a cautiously ambitious, whimsically humorous young woman, already wholeheartedly devoted to her love of words, but also starting her adult life with the same feisty independence that was to become a trademark of her most popular fictional heroines. On the cusp of womanhood and of true greatness, she refuses to be fettered by social imperatives or restricted by her gender – much to her parent's chagrin.

"Our Jane is full of life and youthful exuberance. She is also tough, intelligent, unsentimental, precocious, witty, and a little above her station in rural, sheltered Hampshire,” says Julian Jarrold. "She is independent-minded and looking for an intellectual equal. So when the charismatic, roguish but intelligent Tom Lefroy arrives, the sparks begin to fly.”

The filmmakers knew the role would be no easy bill to fill – and were especially surprised when the clear winner came down to a rather unconventional seeming choice, the American actress Anne Hathaway. The New Yorker had already proven herself as an actress of contrasting refinement and Audrey Hepburn-like charm, winning international acclaim as the ingénue royalty in the box office hit THE PRINCESS DIARIES, playing a hardnosed businesswoman in the Academy Award®-winning BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN and doing a comic turn in the high fashion satire THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA.

But it was Hathaway's profound love of Austen, knowledge of her works and total dedication to portraying the writer that took Jarrold and the producers by storm, winning them over.

"When I met Annie, I knew she was the right person for the job,” recalls Jarrold. "She was so passionate about Jane Austen and already an expert on her novels. She's very bright, hardworking and committed. She was completely dedicated to doing the research, developing an immaculate English accent, learning piano, mastering the dances and the manners of the period. She even learned a rudimentary sign language taught to her by Philip Culhane who is partially deaf and plays her brother George. I also believe Annie has a fresh, lively and provocative attitude, which is just right for the part of a young woman who rails against the pressures of the marriage market. And there was fantastic chemistry between her and James McAvoy.”

Robert Bernstein adds: "We saw something special in BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN and the fact that Anne is also such a great admirer of Jane Austen really meant something. Anne gives the character of Jane a vulnerability which is very captivating.”

Hathaway had been avidly reading Austen since the age of 14. "In high school, I did a comparative paper on Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility,” she says. "I fell in love then with Jane Austen and the world she created.”

Reading the screenplay for BECOMING JANE reawakened Hathaway's love for that world – and expanded upon it in a fun and imaginative way by putting Jane herself the center of a breath-taking but impossible romance. "I was so impressed with how intelligently written the script was and how emotional and passionate it was,” she says. "What I also loved about it was that it captured a young couple falling deeply in love with each other. That appealed to me and also the fact that it didn't have a fairytale ending. It is such a classically written drama and it has a timeless quality.”

When Hathaway told her mother about the role, she provoked an interesing reaction. "She said, ‘That seem

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