Bronteana: Bronte Studies Blog Archives

October 9, 2005


Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 12:52 pm
Actors on playing Mr Rochester…Part Two

Thanks to Thisbeciel again for most of these quotes. I found the second quote for Michael somewhere online, in an interview he did on one of his audio books. The first quote is a caption from a photo in the original Radio Times article on the 1973 Jane Eyre. [These posts on actors has been brought about by some discoveries in the LERO archives, which explains why I’m starting with Mr Rochester rather than Jane, or other great characters from the Brontës’ novels].

Michael Jayston:

Michael Jayston, who plays Rochester, in front of Norton Conyers, near Ripon; it may have been the model for Thornfield Hall.’I’d love to live in a place like this. It’s much easier to imagine a fire burning in Renishaw, which we actually used for the filming. There there would be no escape; here you could jump out of even the top windows. Rochester is all women’s ideal of a man; arrogant yet strangely vulnerable.’

Thanks to his acclaimed ABC recordings, Michael Jayston is often associated with the Cold War spy thrillers of John Le Carre, yet at heart the man is a romantic. Ask him to name his favourite TV role and he harks back to Mr Rochester in an early version of Jane Eyre because ‘the character had wit, brooding sensitivity, and a romantic quality’.

Ciaran Hinds:

QUESTION: Uh, how did you feel about being offered the role? Rochester was one of the most romantic men of all fiction. How did you feel about being offered the role?

CIARAN HINDS: Well, I don’t know if I was delighted or not… because when you’re offered one of these parts and because they are very well-known from literature, then you have the responsibility of doing it. And, I thought, because I’m Irish, I wondered why they were offering an Irishman a job to play a quintessential sort of arrogant, chauvinistic Englishman. But obviously, I have some of that quality in me. (Laughs) No, because he’s quite a complex character as well apart from that and somewhere inside his psyche his soul has been deeply hurt, but it manifests itself in different ways, like moodiness and different mood swings. Well, I thought, “Yeah, I’ll give it a lash.”

QUESTION: You play this … the character is this gruff, robust person that is kind of soul searching, restless. What do you think he’s looking for?

CIARAN HINDS: I don’t think he quite knows himself because this marriage that he had, that he was tricked into without being told by the family that the woman that he married had a history of insanity, and indeed the family did, and he hasn’t abandoned her, but he’s taken her and he’s hired doctors for her and all kinds of alternative methods of trying to … and he brings her all the way from Jamaica back to England and keeps her in the room with somebody to look after her, but he’s hurt and very, very angry, very, very angry that he’s been tricked like this. But he also then traveled to Europe and had affairs, and then he’d fallen in love again and that’s been thwarted. That’s where Adele, the ward that he looks after, comes into the story. But the reason that he’s prepared to commit bigamy, as he says, he’s prepared to go to jail, only for the fact that he is suddenly deeply involved and in love with Jane, is to make her happy.

ETA: Also, thanks to M from BrontëBlog for providing me with a link to more information on Richard Lebensen, whose illustrations can be found in yesterday’s post.



  1. LOL, this is totally unecessary but- Yayy Michael Jayston!! Boo Ciaran!!! I just had to get that out. 🙂

    Comment by ThisbeCiel — October 9, 2005 @ 9:28 pm |Reply

  2. I was trying to be polite but Ciaran doesn’t know what he’s talking about. ‘Chauvanistic’ indeed… And when I think of Rochester ‘very very angry man’ doesn’t come to mind.

    Pity we don’t have more from Michael, though.

    Comment by Brontëana — October 9, 2005 @ 10:00 pm |Reply

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