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'Austenland' Cast, Crew Talk Romance

17 Jan, 2014 By: Chris Tribbey

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Normally, producing a movie is high-pressure stuff. Not this time around for Stephenie Meyer (the “Twilight” franchise).

“For the first time it was someone else’s story, so there was no pressure,” she said of Austenland, out Feb. 11 on DVD and Blu-ray Disc from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. “There was a lot of pushing [on my part], I guess, since that’s what producers do. When you’re writing books, it’s just you, alone, in a dark room, being kind of sad.”

Based on the novel by bestselling author Shannon Hale (“Princess Academy” series), Austenland coincides with the 200th anniversary of the first publication (Pride & Prejudice) from the woman it celebrates, author Jane Austen. The film follows a young woman (Keri Russell) who adores all things Austen, and spends her life savings on a trip to the eccentric resort Austenland.

“When I was younger I was obsessed less with Jane Austen and more with Nancy Drew,” Russell joked. “Getting to make Austenland is probably the closest I’ll ever get to living there.”

She said Austenland is the ultimate romance film … one that men shouldn’t complain too much about being dragged to with their girlfriends.

“Jennifer Coolidge (American Pie) is in this movie! Need I say more?” she said.

“It’s only fair that sometimes they should have to see some of our movies,” Meyer said. “[For women] like Jane in this film, we all have a version of a fantasy we want to escape to.”

Director Jerusha Hess said Austen resonates with so many romantics centuries later because of both her writing style and the subjects she tackled.
“The appeal of Jane Austen was she was quirky and funny. She made fun of the upper class, wrote romantic comedies,” she said.

Actress Jane Seymour (Live and Let Die, East of Eden) was more than happy to join the cast, having a set of first-edition Jane Austen books by her bed at home.

“I could read them over and over,” she said. “I think in this day and age, everyone wants real romance, and no one does romance like Jane Austen. What we got to do was send it all up. We pushed the envelope as much as we could during this romantic romp.”

Sony Pictures puts a commentary on the discs, featuring Hess and Meyer discussing the film, and there’s also a cast Q&A featuring Russell, JJ Feild (Captain America: The First Avenger), Bret McKenzie (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey), Coolidge, Georgia King (“The New Normal”), Ricky Whittle (“Single Ladies”), James Callis (“Battlestar Galactica”) and Seymour.

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