Persuasion (2022) Trivia Challenge, by Diana Oaks

Persuasion (2022) Trivia Challenge, by Diana Oaks

On July 15, the Austen adaptation tally went up by one when Netflix released a modernized-but-still-Regency production of Austen’s final novel, Persuasion. The reviews are largely in and opinions appear to be as diverse as the cast, ranging from deeming the work a “triumph” to a “hot mess.” Today, we’re setting all that aside and just exploring some fun bits of trivia around this most recent frolic in the world of Austen. We’ll start with the trivia challenge quiz. Take the quiz below to see how much you already know.

Persuasion Quiz:

  1. Early press releases about a new production of Persuasion for 2022 release named actress Sarah Snook in the role of Anne Elliot. What happened to that casting?
  2. One cast member from the Elliot family is known to be in possession of “souvenirs” from the set. Who is it, and what was taken?
  3. According to Dakota Johnson, Anne Elliot’s fashion style in Bath was intentionally patterned after a modern American singer/songwriter. Who is it?
  4. Persuasion screenwriter Ron Bass has plans that will soon put him in the same category as screenwriter Andrew Davies. What is that category?
  5. Many viewers have wondered why Henry Golding wasn’t cast as Captain Wentworth when his onscreen chemistry with Dakota Fanning was so strong. Why wasn’t he?
  6. Cosmo Jarvis was raised in Devon, UK. Where was he born?
  7. Both Dakota Johnson and Cosmo Jarvis have acknowledged a degree of superstition in their interviews. One of them knocks on wood, the other always gets into a plane right foot first. Which one is which?
  8. How did Dakota and Cosmo develop a relationship ahead of filming?
  9. What musical simile did Dakota Johnson use to describe the choice to modernize Austen’s novel?
  10. Who was cast as Anne’s confidante in the film?

Wasn’t that fun? How many do you think you got right? There are a few of those questions that can be gotten with a good guess or a bit of thought, so I’m cheering for you all to get a few right. Read on to see how you did.

10.) Casting Mr. Elliot. A frequent criticism of the casting was that Henry Golding, who portrayed Mr. Elliot ought to have been cast as Captain Wentworth, with viewers citing the undeniable chemistry between Dakota Fanning and Henry onscreen. The director, Carrie Crackness cites Henry’s “fizzy, immediate charm,” as the reason he was perfect for the role of Mr. Elliot, and that his ability to charm Anne set him up as a plausible rival to Captain Wentworth.

Mr. Elliot flirts with Anne, teasing her about her octopus story.

9.) Superstitious leads. Both Dakota Johnson and Cosmo Jarvis were asked about any superstitions they carried in recent interviews, and both admitted to owning at least one. Dakota Johnson said that she always boards planes with her right foot first, although she doesn’t recall how that started. Cosmo had several, admitting that he knocks on wood, and avoids walking under ladders, or breaking mirrors. He draws the line, however, at considering avian poop landing on him to be a source of good luck.

Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth on the beach in Lyme. Persuasion 2022.
In this scene, Cosmo Jarvis appears to have escaped bad luck from birds flying overhead. Sadly, his character, Captain Wentworth wasn’t so lucky in love here.

8.) The case of dueling Persuasions. Fox Searchlight was first to announce their upcoming production of Persuasion, in October of 2020, with Sarah Snook as Anne Elliot. In January of 2021, they announced that Joel Fry would co-star as Captain Wentworth. Something changed, however, when in April of 2021, Netflix announced a Persuasion production of their own. Soon after, the Fox project was scrapped.

7.) Modernizing a Regency-era novel. When the screenwriters, directors, and actors reviewed the novel, they developed specific ideas to make the story relatable to a modern audience. They started by simplifying the language structure and then, (they believe it was sparingly) superimposing language and cultural frameworks that weave twenty-first-century attitudes and themes into a nineteenth-century setting. This concept transforms Anne Elliot into a different character than the one Austen wrote. The goal was to portray Anne as a feminist who was caught inside a structure that she can’t see but is rebelling against. For this reason, they skewed the dialogue and introspection to be more liberal and comedic.

The transformation was not limited to the dialogue but was incorporated into Anne’s wardrobe as well, with her clothing differing from the conventional pallet and styles, particularly in Bath, where her aesthetic was modeled after Patti Smith, a contemporary singer/songwriter known for her eclectic style.

Anne Elliot’s Bath wardrobe is styled as fashion-forward, reminiscent of Patti Smith. Seen here with Lady Russell.

6.) Who was cast as Anne’s confidant? You were. The audience. This was the point of Anne’s constant breaking of the fourth wall, it was to engage with the viewer directly. This concept – a way to bring Anne’s inner monologue into the story evolved over the course of script development. The pet rabbit she often held is a remnant of early versions of the script where the bunny served as her primary confidant.

Dakota Johnson frequently breaks the fourth wall to interact directly with the audience.

5.) A long-distance process. The pre-production stages of Persuasion occurred during the height of the pandemic. For this reason, the two leads became acquainted over Zoom, working through this video medium to develop a relationship that would lead to the onscreen chemistry needed to support their roles. They met in person only two-weeks before filming began.

4.) He never met a reflective surface he didn’t like. So says Anne in describing her father, Sir Walter Elliot, played by actor Richard E Grant. Grant sat for the portraits that were used to illustrate the narcissism of his character, five portraits in total. These portraits, at least four of them, have found a home in Grant’s personal residence.

Sir Walter Elliot, surrounded by portraits of himself.

3.) Like a cover. The producers of Persuasion knew that their decision to modernize Persuasion to the degree that they did would not meet with universal approval. In one of her publicity interviews, Dakota Johnson compared it to being “like a cover,” which is a version of somebody else’s song that the artist changes to make it their own.

2.) Kind of like Andrew Davies. Andrew Davies’ fingerprints on Austen adaptations are everywhere. He started with the 1995 production of Pride and Prejudice, followed by Emma, Bridget Jone’s Diary (and its sequel), Sense & Sensibility, and Sanditon. The Netflix production of Persuasion is veteran screenwriter Ron Bass’s first foray into Austen, but he has announced that he already has screenplays for Pride and Prejudice and Sense & Sensibility underway, presumably with Netflix.

1.) Diverse races and diverse birthplaces. With the success of colorblind casting in the Netflix series Bridgerton, it was an easy decision to replicate the approach in Persuasion. As I reviewed the biographies of the members of the cast, the deviation from entirely British casting was a trivia point that proves not to be trivial in the least. Here is a partial list of the actors and their origins:

  • Richard E. Grant (Sir Walter Elliot)  Mbabane, Hhohho, Eswatini, South Africa.
  • Henry Golding (Mr. Elliot) Malaysia.
  • Ben Bailey Smith (Charles Musgrove) London, England.
  • Mia McKenna-Bruce (Mary Musgrove), Bexley, Kent, England.
  • Dakota Johnson (Anne Elliot) Austin, Texas, USA
  • Cosmo Jarvis (Captain Wentworth) Ridgewood, New Jersey, USA. He moved to Devon, England as a baby.
  • Nikki Amuka-Bird (Lady Russell) Nigeria.
  • Agni Scott (Mrs. Croft) Republic of Cyprus.

Bonus: You may have wondered, as I did, exactly how tall the actress who portrayed Mary Musgrove, Mia McKenna-Bruce, is. According to her bio in IMDB, she is exactly 5′ tall (1.52m)

Mary Musgrove is the central figure, exactly as she prefers.

That’s it for today. I hope you enjoyed that, and if not, I hope you at least learned something new. We would love to hear your comments, and if you know of any other fun trivia for this production, we want to hear it!

Persuasion Quiz answers: 1.) Fox Studios abandoned their plans to adapt Persuasion when Netflix announced their production. Sarah Snook was to have starred in the Fox film. 2.) Actor Richard E. Grant has several of his Sir Walter Elliot portraits from the Kellynch Hall set hanging in his personal residence. 3.) Patti Smith 4.) Screenwriter’s who have adapted more than one Austen novel into a screenplay. 5.) The filmmakers wanted Mr. Elliot to feel like a legitimate rival to Wentworth. 6.) Ridgewood, New Jersey, USA 7.) Johnson, plane; Jarvis, wood. 8.) Via Zoom calls for several months plus two weeks in person before filming began. 9.) Their adaptation is like a “cover” of the original song. 10.) The audience.

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10 Responses to Persuasion (2022) Trivia Challenge, by Diana Oaks

  1. This was a fun! I love the Netflix Persuasion, and the trivia answers gave me even more reasons to watch it yet again. Fan Fiction enhances my enjoyment of Jane Austen. I’m new to Austen Authors, and will look forward to more! Thank you!

    • I’m glad to hear that you’ve found enjoyment in both the film and the trivia. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  2. I got the answer to the confidant question right but that’s it I’m afraid! I must admit that I enjoyed this adaptation and will watch it again. I totally agree with Cosmo as Wentworth as I definitely preferred him to Mr Elliot.

    • I agree that Mr. Elliot was just a bit too smooth to be convincing as a sincere love interest. I was surprised that they have him actually marry Mrs. Clay though. And I’m glad you got at least one answer. Knowing the correct answer now and then is good for the soul.

  3. I have the excuse of not having Netflix for not having seen this. But from the trailers, I’m not sure I’m interested in it. But I do always love your movie posts. Thanks for this!

    • I find it frustrating when productions that have a wide interest are limited to a single streaming service. If you weren’t attracted by the trailers, however, I think you probably would have felt similarly about the film. I’m glad you enjoy the movie posts though. Now that I’ve covered the ones from past decades, the new ones are few and far between. It was fun to jump back into movie research mode though.

  4. Sorry, didn’t watch it. After seeing the trailer… Oh, heck no, nada, no way. I just couldn’t stomach it. I have to draw the line somewhere and it started with Emma, Sanditon, Bridgerton, and now this. GRRR! Actually, I hated the new and improved Fanny Price in the 1995 Mansfield Park. Oh, and then we have the miss-casting of the other Mansfield Park where Fanny was running through the manor house chasing that stupid pug. I think I need to take a sedative and have a little nap to calm my nerves. Thanks for sharing. I always enjoy your posts. Blessings.

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