Sir Marmaduke Rowley
"When Louis Trevelyan was twenty-four years old, he had all the world before him where to choose; and, among other things, he chose to go to the Mandarin Islands, and there fell in love with Emily Rowley, the daughter of Sir Marmaduke, the governor. Sir Marmaduke Rowley, at this period of his life, was a respectable middle-aged public servant, in good repute, who had, however, as yet achieved for himself neither an exalted position nor a large fortune. He had been governor of many islands, and had never lacked employment; and now, at the age of fifty, found himself at the Mandarins, with a salary of 3,000 pounds a year, living in a temperature at which 80 in the shade is considered to be cool, with eight daughters, and not a shilling saved..."
Geoffrey Palmer was born in London on June 4th, 1927. He began his career as an assistant trainee stage manager at the Q Theatre London; he is today one of British television's most reliable actors and can be seen on PBS in the BBC comedy series As Time Goes By with Judi Dench. He has also appeared in numerous films including A Fish Called Wanda, The Madness of King George, Her Majesty Mrs. Brown and Peter Pan.
"Both Sir Marmaduke and Lady Rowley felt that there might be objections to such a marriage as that proposed to them, raised by the Trevelyan family. Lady Rowley would not have liked her daughter to go to England, to be received with cold looks by strangers. But it soon appeared that there was no one to make objections..."
A native of Berkshire, England, Geraldine James has appeared in several groundbreaking films and television programs, including Gandhi and the Masterpiece Theatre titles The Jewel in the Crown, Rebecca, The Hound of the Baskervilles and White Teeth. Winner of the Best Actress Award at the Venice Film Festival in 1989 for her performance in She's Been Away, James also appeared in Calendar Girls with Helen Mirren.
"...Emily Rowley, the daughter of Sir Marmaduke, the governor..."
"... Lady Rowley had been right when she said that her daughter Emily also liked to have her own way..."
"... Emily Rowley, when she was brought home from the Mandarin Islands to be the wife of Louis Trevelyan, was a very handsome young woman, tall, with a bust rather full for her age, with dark eyes that looked to be dark because her eye-brows and eye-lashes were nearly black, but which were in truth so varying in colour that you could not tell their hue. Her brown hair was very dark and very soft; and the tint of her complexion was brown also, though the colour of her cheeks was often so bright as to induce her enemies to say falsely of her that she painted them. And she was very strong, as are some girls who come from the tropics, and whom a tropical has suited. She could sit on her horse the whole day long, and would never be weary with dancing at the Government House balls..."
A no-nonsense Scot, Laura Fraser didn't find it difficult to play an independent spirited young woman with a mind of her own. At the time of the casting for the role of Emily, Laura was living in New York with her Irish actor boyfriend. She financed her own journey to the audition for the role.
"There is a little bit of me in Emily, as I can also be quite reckless but I'm not as stubborn as she is. I understand her: she doesn't compromise, which is not very smart in life but she won't lie. I've been a jealous person myself," explains Fraser. "I've been distrustful, convinced that somebody's having an affair with somebody else. If you believe it in your head, everything looks like a lie. When you're looking for it, you always see it -- even the change of expression in their face."
Fraser knew she wanted to act by the age of 10, having been inspired by her father, owner of a building company, who wrote shows for her school. She has been a professional actress since she was 18 and spent a year at the Royal Scottish Academy for Music and Drama.
Fraser appeared in the television film Iron Jawed Angels with Hillary Swank and in Casanova, scheduled for air by Granada in 2005.
"... Louis Trevelyan was a man of whom all people said all good things. He might have been a fellow of his college had he not been a man of fortune. He might already, so Sir Rowley told, have been in Parliament, had he not thought it to be wiser to wait awhile. Indeed, he was very wise in many things. He had gone out on his travels thus young, not in search of excitement, to kill beasts, or to encounter he knew not what novelty and amusement, but that he might see men and know the world. He had been on his travels for more than a year when the winds blew him to the Mandarins. Oh, how blessed were the winds! And, moreover, Sir Rowley found that his son-in-law was well spoken of at the clubs by those who had known him during his university career, as a man popular as well as wise, not a bookworm, or a dry philosopher, or a prig. He could talk on all subjects, was very generous, a man sure to be honoured and respected; and then such a handsome, manly fellow, with short brown hair, a nose divinely chiseled, an Apollo's mouth, six feet high, with shoulders and legs and arms in proportion -- a pearl of pearls! Only, as Lady Rowley was the first to find out, he liked to have his own way ..."
Oliver Dimsdale grew up in North Hertfordshire. He studied French and economics at university, but always knew that the only thing he really wanted to do was act.
"When I was 13 I got a radio play for the BBC and I just carried that on at school and then at university. I thought to myself I'll give it a crack, I'll go to drama school, I'll see whether I can make a living out of this. I'm safe in the knowledge that I've tried my hand at many other things and I know full well that this is the only thing I can do."
It could be construed as a brave choice because -- though you'd never know it from watching him in character -- Dimsdale has a noticeable stammer, something that could be seen as a big drawback in a profession where the voice is paramount.
"It does seem ironic, but I don't really see it as a problem in many ways. I just see it as something that I've lived with from the age of about six or seven. I guess it's one of these things where you as the artist find your voice in something, and ironically I found my voice in words and characters and my imagination. I've learned how to handle it and how to get by. I had some speech therapy when I was younger and was taught several techniques to help. It's quite strange that once I've learned a line and I know the rhythms of a scene or the traits of a character, then I no longer think of myself as someone who stammers. So I don't."
His credits so far include playing Shelley in BBC 2's mini-series Byron. He also played Pip in Great Expectations at Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre.
Stephen Campbell Moore
"... Mr. Hugh Stanbury, a gentleman who had not a shilling... "
"... Mr. Hugh Stanbury had been at college the most intimate friend of Louis Trevelyan, and at Oxford had been, in spite of Trevelyan's successes, a bigger man than his friend. Stanbury had not taken so high a degree as Trevelyan, indeed had not gone out in honours at all. He had done little for the credit of his college, and had never put himself in the way of wrapping himself up for life in the scanty lambswool of a fellowship. But he had won for himself reputation as a clever speaker, as a man who had learned much that college tutors do not profess to teach, as a hard-headed, ready-witted fellow, who, having the world as an oyster before him, which it was necessary that he should open, would certainly find either a knife or a sword with which to open it ..."
A friend in need is a friend indeed, and Louis Trevelyan couldn't have a truer one than Hugh Stanbury, who puts his own troubles aside to help out when Louis and Emily's marriage hits the rocks. He behaves selflessly, but Stephen Campbell Moore, who plays Hugh, admits that his own advice to Louis wouldn't be quite so encouraging.
"I'd say get rid of her and move on. Don't beat yourself up about it -- and please don't go mad in the process!" he laughs. "Hugh adores Nora. By being a part of the family and dealing with their problems he's also serving himself, however unconsciously. That's what I found most interesting -- even though he's meant to be a slightly heroic figure, he's actually just as human, fallible and self-deceiving as everybody else."
Campbell Moore's break came with Stephen Fry's 2003 film Bright Young Things, in which he played Adam to considerable acclaim. Prior to that he worked solely in the theatre, mainly with the RSC.
"... Mr. Glascock was a good-looking man, just under forty, in Parliament, heir to a peerage, and known to be well off in respect to income. Lady Milborough and Mrs. Trevelyan had told Nora Rowley that should encouragement in that direction come in her way, she ought to allow herself to fall in love with Mr. Glascock. A certain amount of encouragement had come in her way, but she had not as yet allowed herself to fall in love with Mr. Glascock ..."
Almost as soon as she arrives in London Nora Rowley is courted by the eligible and rich Mr. Glascock, heir to Lord Peterborough, played by Raymond Coulthard. Coulthard has appeared previously in Masterpiece Theatre's Foyle's War and Rhodes.
"... Mrs. Trevelyan had described Colonel Osborne truly as far as words went, in saying that he had known her since she was a baby, and that he was an older man than her father. Colonel Osborne's age exceeded her father's by about a month, and as he was now past fifty, he might be considered perhaps, in that respect, to be a safe friend for a young married woman. But he was in every respect a man very different from Sir Marmaduke... Now Colonel Osborne was a bachelor, with no burdens but those imposed upon him by his position as a Member of Parliament, a man of fortune to whom the world had been very easy. It was not therefore said so decidedly of him as of Sir Marmaduke, that he was a middle-aged man, although he had probably already lived more than two-thirds of his life. And he was a good-looking man of his age, bald indeed at the top of his head, and with a considerable sprinkling of grey hair through his bushy beard; but upright in his carriage, active, and quick in his step, who dressed well, and was clearly determined to make the most he could of what remained to him of the advantages of youth. Colonel Osborne was always so dressed that no one ever observed the nature of his garments, being no doubt well aware that no man after twenty-five can afford to call special attention to his coat, his hat, his cravat, or his trousers; but nevertheless the matter was one to which he paid much attention, and he was by no means lax in ascertaining what his tailor did for him. He always rode a pretty horse, and mounted his groom on one at any rate as pretty. He was known to have an excellent stud down in the shires, and had the reputation of going well with hounds. Poor Sir Marmaduke could not have ridden a hunt to save either his government or his credit. When, therefore, Mrs. Trevelyan declared to her sister that Colonel Osborne was a man whom she was entitled to regard with semi-parental feelings of veneration because he was older than her father, she made a comparison, which was more true in the letter than in the spirit. And when she asserted that Colonel Osborne had known her since she was a baby, she fell again into the same mistake. Colonel Osborne had indeed known her when she was a baby, and had in old days been the very intimate friend of her father; but of herself he had seen little or nothing since those baby days, till he had met her just as she was about to become Mrs. Trevelyan; and though it was natural that so old a friend should come to her and congratulate her and renew his friendship, nevertheless it was not true that he made his appearance in her husband's house in the guise of the useful old family friend, who gives silver cups to the children and kisses the little girls for the sake of the old affection which he has borne for the parents. We all know the appearance of that old gentleman, how pleasant and dear a fellow he is, how welcome is his face within the gate, how free he makes with our wine, generally abusing it, how he tells our eldest daughter to light his candle for him, how he gave silver cups when the girls were born, and now bestows tea-services as they get married -- a most useful, safe, and charming fellow, not a year younger-looking or more nimble than ourselves, without whom life would be very blank. We all know that man; but such a man was not Colonel Osborne in the house of Mr. Trevelyan's young bride... "
After wowing audiences as newspaper editor Cameron Foster in BBC 1's acclaimed series State Of Play, Bill Nighy stole the show from a strong ensemble cast in Love Actually as faded rock star Billy Mack.
"I never had a burning drive to be an actor," he admits. "I flunked school and didn't seem to have many prospects. But I met a girl who was going to drama teachers' college and she suggested that I might go to drama school, and it seemed like a bit of a gas not to go to work for a bit. I never thought I would be an actor for very long, if at all. I was an average mess as a young man and I didn't really have a thought in my head worth reporting. I was a bit of a dreamer."
"But I'm a lucky boy. I've been in world premieres of plays which I think will be performed a hundred years from now such as Skylight by David Hare, Tom Stoppard's Arcadia and Betrayal by Harold Pinter -- and this is what I will tell my grandchildren, that I worked with those writers."
It was in another David Hare play, A Map Of The World, that Nighy met his long-term partner Diana Quick in 1982. They have a 19-year-old daughter Mary.
Nighy has enjoyed roles in such films as Shaun of the Dead, Lawless Heart, Still Crazy, Alive and Kicking and on television in Longitude, Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, State of Play, The Canterbury Tales, and Masterpiece Theatre's The Lost Prince. He can be seen in the much-anticipated Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005) with John Malkovich, Sam Rockwell, Mos Def and Zooey Deschanel.
Nighy comments on his role in He Knew He Was Right: "Colonel Osborne is a vain man who behaves in a manner which is heartless and cruel. In the novel it's slightly ambiguous but I think there's no doubting where Trollope stands on the matter. Osborne technically does no wrong, but in effect he causes great harm to two young people who could really live without it. It's fair to say that he knows what he's doing. He doesn't expect to have any real affair with Emily. He's presumably had a career in the world of women. He's had some success in that area and now I think he's got to that age when he can still cause a flutter around the house. That he can still be considered a threat I think he finds irresistibly flattering, because he's reached a certain age where his appeal is fading."
Aunt Jemima Stanbury
"... But there was a rich aunt, Miss Stanbury, to whom had come considerable wealth in a manner most romantic -- the little tale shall be told before this larger tale is completed -- and this aunt had undertaken to educate and place out in the world her nephew Hugh. So Hugh had been sent to Harrow, and then to Oxford, where he had much displeased his aunt by not accomplishing great things, and then had been set down to make his fortune as a barrister in London, with an allowance of 100 pounds a year, his aunt having paid, moreover, certain fees for entrance, tuition, and the like. The very hour in which Miss Stanbury learned that her nephew was writing for a penny newspaper she sent off a dispatch to tell him that he must give up her or the penny paper. He replied by saying that he felt himself called upon to earn his bread in the only line from which, as it seemed to him, bread would be forthcoming. By return of post he got another letter to say that he might draw for the quarter then becoming due, but that that would be the last. And it was the last.
Miss Jemima Stanbury, the aunt of our friend Hugh, was a maiden lady, very much respected, indeed, in the city of Exeter... She was a little woman, now nearly sixty years of age, with bright grey eyes, and a strong Roman nose, and thin lips, and a sharp-cut chin. She wore a head-gear that almost amounted to a mob-cap, and beneath it her grey hair was always frizzled with the greatest care. Her dress was invariably of black silk..."
Daughter of actor Raymond Massey (Dr. Leonard Gillespie in the '60s television series Dr. Kildare), award-winning actress Anna Massey was born in 1937 in Thakeham, Surrey. Veteran director John Ford was her godfather and she was briefly married to Jeremy Brett (Sherlock Holmes).
As well as roles in Hitchcock's Frenzy, Michael Powell's Peeping Tom and as the menacing Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca, Massey won both a Bafta and a Royal Television Society Best Actress Award in 1987 for her poignant performance as Anita Brookner's romantic and lonely heroine, Edith Hope in Hotel Du Lac.
He Knew He Was Right is not Massey's first Trollope -- in 1974 she played Lady Laura Standish in The Pallisers.
"I've been in Trollope's world before and I think he's a brilliant writer," she comments. "I think He Knew He Was Right is wonderful, a dark and original story about love and how it can go wrong. Aunt Stanbury is the most remarkable character but a lot of people couldn't live anywhere near her! She's very demanding, very eccentric -- but people do tend to get more eccentric as they age. She's lived alone a lot of her life but I believe it's better to live alone than with the wrong person."
Massey can be seen in the 2005 release Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont, also starring Joan Plowright and Rupert Friend.
"... Mrs. Stanbury, the widow of the late vicar, lived in a little morsel of a cottage on the outskirts of the village, with her two daughters, Priscilla and Dorothy. Their whole income, out of which it was necessary that they should pay rent for their cottage, was less than 70 pounds per annum ..."
Joanna David, a native of Lancaster, England, is the mother of actress Emilia Fox. Her extensive acting credits include roles in Lillie, Pride and Prejudice, Bramwell, The Way We Live Now and The Forsyte Saga.
"... Priscilla, the elder daughter, was the one of the family who was generally the ruler ..."
"... Priscilla was a young woman who read a great deal, and even had some gifts of understanding what she read. She borrowed books from the clergyman, and paid a penny a week to the landlady of the Stag and Antlers for the hire during half a day of the weekly newspaper..."
"... The elder sister was older than Hugh, but Dorothy, the younger, to whom this strange invitation was now made, was two years younger than her brother, and was now nearly twenty-six. How they had lived, and dressed themselves, and had continued to be called ladies by the inhabitants of the village was, and is, and will be a mystery to those who have had the spending of much larger incomes, but have still been always poor ..."
"... Dorothy Stanbury was light haired, with almost flaxen ringlets, worn after the old-fashioned way which we used to think so pretty when we were young. She had very soft grey eyes, which ever seemed to beseech you to do something when they looked at you, and her mouth was a beseeching mouth. There are women who, even amidst their strongest efforts at giving assistance to others, always look as though they were asking aid themselves, and such a one was Dorothy Stanbury. Her complexion was pale, but there was always present in it a tint of pink running here and there, changing with every word she spoke, changing indeed with every pulse of her heart. Nothing ever was softer than her cheek; but her hands were thin and hard, and almost fibrous with the working of the thread upon them. She was rather tall than otherwise, but that extreme look of feminine dependence which always accompanied her, took away something even from the appearance of her height ..."
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