Before there was Augustus Waters, Noah Calhoun and Christian Grey, there was Mr. Darcy. A perfectly brooding yet enticing literary character who has been loved by multiple women spanning centuries, Darcy perfectly embodies the type of man many of us seem to lust after. You know the one, he’s a mystery to figure out, comes off as aloof (a giant jerk), yet there’s something about him that makes us swoon despite our instinct to write him off entirely. The thing we love most about Mr. Darcy? He’s really not a jerk, but a beautiful, caring and generous creature who learns from his prior mistakes and whose initial distance and cold shoulder was really his way of fighting the enormous love that was growing for Elizabeth Bennet. We love Darcy for Darcy, but we also love him because it gives us hope that those hot snots we can’t help but be drawn to are really so jerky because they’re simply infatuated with us. Perfect logic? I think so. While we continue to ponder over our real life Darcy like men, we can reread Pride and Prejudice over and over again, or we can watch one of the many adaptations of the tale that have hit both the small and big screen. For your pleasure, here’s our definitive ranking of the Darciest of the screen Darcys.
5.) Laurence Olivier (1940)
Ok, were going way back to one of the original film adaptations of Jane Austen’s novel. While there are two versions of Pride and Prejudice that stand out far more amongst the rest (we’ll get to that later), we can’t forget about some of the original actors cast as Darcy. One of the most popular British actors of his time, Olivier was a quintessential Darcy, looking the part and perfectly nailing his snooty air and the tactless way in which he proposes to Elizabeth the first time around. While Olivier was good in the part, he made it easy to remember that he was simply playing the part, not quite melding into the character to make for a super memorable movie-watching experience. Check out a clip of Olivier as Darcy here.
4.) Matthew Rhys (PBS’s Death Comes to Pemberly, 2013)
Not only was P. D. James’ novel Death Comes to Pemberly a convincing spinoff of the classic novel, the PBS adaptation of it provided us with one incredible Darcy. Rhys is near perfection in his portrayal of the famous character, playing a Darcy well into his marriage. The PBS miniseries allows for Rhys to cover every scope of the Darcy we know and love so well, fluctuating between the softened man in love and a serious figure dealing with a murder on his grounds. You can’t help but want to give him a hug as he becomes more and more stressed about the events that have occurred. Marriage and fatherhood have left Darcy as sexy and alluring as always. Watch this clip and drool over the handsome Rhys in action.
3.) Colin Firth (Mark Darcy, Bridget Jones’s Diary, 2001)
Ok yes, this isn’t a traditional portrayal of Fitzwilliam Darcy, but the character of Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones’s Diary is based on Austen’s leading man. And anyone who is a fan of Mr. Darcy can easily see the similarities. He’s a very wealthy and prominent figure of society, a tiny bit of a snooty brat, very attractive and drives us crazy in a good way, goes out of his way to constantly help Bridget without wanting to outright take the credit for it, loves her “just the way she is” and is the definition of chivalry. Firth was no stranger to the character of Mr. Darcy, having portrayed him in the 1995 BBC miniseries, and brought the same qualities to his modern version that made us love him in his first go. Naturally, I had to watch the movie halfway through writing this article and fell in love with the wonderful Firth for the thousandth time. If you don’t melt after watching this speech, something’s wrong.
2.) Matthew Macfadyen (2005)
Here we are, the top two Darcys. And it is seriously so hard to pick between these last two leading men, but our winner edges out the runner up for reasons we will get to in just a moment. In second place, we have Matthew Macfadyen. Having lost my Pride and Prejudice virginity to the 2005 film, I so badly wanted my first Darcy to be my favorite. Macfadyen is truly fantastic in the role, only being beaten out by our winner by a few minor details. Of course, he’s handsome in a slightly jerkish sort of way. His accent makes you go weak in the knees and you literally feel the chill of his cold shoulder to Elizabeth initially. But it’s his performance as a man so miserably in that truly tugs at your heart. The secret glances, the grasping of Elizabeth’s hand as he puts her in her carriage, the way in which he literally seems to be in pain if he has to hide his feelings anymore upon telling Elizabeth…butterflies. Yet the most perfect moment as Darcy? Macfadyen emerging from the fog to tell Elizabeth once more how he feels. Watch this, rewind, watch again, repeat. Bravo, Macfadyen, Bravo. We love, we love, we love you.
1.) Colin Firth (BBC miniseries, 1995)
And the Darciest of the Darcys is without a doubt Mr. Firth. Like I said, Firth and Macfadyen are literally neck and neck in the competition, but with the BBC miniseries having nearly four more hours on the 2005 film, there’s a whole lot more Mr. Darcy to enjoy. Firth’s performance is flawless throughout. It’s as if by divine intervention Ms. Austen herself threw him in the way of a casting director for he truly is Mr. Darcy come to life. Those smug looks, the softening of his beautiful brown eyes by love, delivery of famous lines such as “I love you. Most Ardently.” Sigh. And of course, the ultimate tipping factor, the thing I’d be most amiss for if I didn’t mention it. That glorious, glorious lake scene. Oh Colin, you naughty, naughty Darcy.
So there you have it folks, the best Mr. Darcys around. You all have left your mark on one of the most beloved fictitious men around and have provided us with wonderful visual representations, thank you gentlemen. Here’s hoping that one day, we may all find our own Mr. Darcy. And until then, let us be happy that we have so many fantastic versions with which to get our imaginary fix.