This is up on EhleNews (parts 1, 2 and 3), but it's worth repeating. Fairytale romance and all.
My pride and groom
By Emily Scarff
25 October 2002
JENNIFER EHLE TALKS ABOUT HER SECRET MARRIAGE AND THE FILM THAT COULD THRUST HER INTO THE LIMELIGHT. EXCLUSIVE BY EMILY SCARFF
She once had her head turned by Colin Firth in his famous role as Mr Darcy, but Pride And Prejudice star Jennifer Ehle has revealed how she finally found happiness with the man of her dreams in a small town in America.
Last year, she married unknown writer Michael Ryan, 33, in a secret ceremony. They had met near the home of Jennifer's parents - her American writer dad John Ehle and English actress mum Rosemary Harris - in North Carolina.
"I could not be happier," says Jennifer, 32, whose new film Possession, co-starring Gwyneth Paltrow, is out today. "I hated the idea of another high-profile romance. To find this man, who is quiet and lovely, is the best thing that has happened to me."
She became famous as Elizabeth Bennet in the hit BBC drama Pride And Prejudice, in which she had a love affair with co-star Firth, now 41, both on screen and off it. However, nothing compared to the impact her husband had on her.
"Michael really did sweep me off my feet," she says. "I've now sold up in London and we are living in America. I am not saying where because there are always Jane Austen fans who might find me. The quiet life suits us both.
"My birthday is December 29 and I am a typical Capricorn. I might feel deep passions and I am certainly aware of that, but I'd rather keep them to myself. So to find someone who is very special and out of the public eye suits me perfectly. We were able to get married in Scotland last November and, apart from close friends and family, no one knew a thing."
Jennifer has spent most of the last seven years, post-Firth, on her own. By contrast, he has since married Italian producer's assistant Livia Giuggioli, and they have a 19-month-old son, Luca.
"I had not been in a proper relationship for a long time before I met my future husband," she says. "I got left out of the loop. Why was it so hard to find a man? I don't know. Maybe it was a change of gear in my working life as I went between Britain and America to do various things.
"I got used to being on my own. I was an only child and went to boarding school at 15. I did a flatshare at college and lived with a boyfriend for a year. After that, up to my marriage, it's been just me.
"I bought my first flat in London four years ago and there were a lot of alterations. It would have been great to have had someone at the other end of the tape measure, but it was not to be at that time. It would have been nice to have had someone to ask, `Are we doing the right thing, honey?' when I was renovating the kitchen."
Jennifer pauses then adds, "Colin is a very nice guy and a great actor. He's been good in everything I've seen, whether it's Shakespeare In Love or Bridget Jones's Diary. By the time Pride And Prejudice came out, we were not a couple. The way our so-called `affair' was reported was so wrong. We were two single people in a proper relationship which ended.
"There was a silly photograph taken by the BBC in the Blue Peter garden at Shepherd's Bush, London, on the very day we met and before we even started filming. It was then published after the relationship ended, like some sort of engagement photograph.
"You can't do anything about such things and I try not to let intrusion worry me. But I'd always thought that when I did begin a new relationship, it would be nice to do it without it being reported, particularly in the early stages."
Jennifer's clearly achieved that level of anonymity with husband Michael, of whom she says, "I don't want to talk about him much because he deserves his own privacy. But, I have always found that difficult, trying to get the balance right between work and personal life. Where does one end and the other start?"
Jennifer's latest film, Possession, is set in the modern era but uses flashbacks to take the viewer to Victorian times. As in Pride And Prejudice, she dons period costume to play 19th century feminist and lesbian Christabel LaMotte. The modern day characters are investigating whether Christabel had an affair with Queen Victoria's poet laureate Randolph Henry Ash, a married man, played by Jeremy Northam.
"It was a great cast and a wonderful romance, which was hard to resist," says Jennifer, who admits to being an incurable romantic in real life. "I am one of those people who really does believe in love, even if I hate talking about it."
Hopefully, Possession will provide the impetus to take Jennifer a few more rungs up the Hollywood ladder. To date, her film career has struggled to take off, despite acclaimed performances in This Year's Love and Sunshine, with Ralph Fiennes. At one point, she even sent off for a job application form from the bookshop chain Waterstones so she could earn some money between roles.
"I often think badly of myself when I am out of work," she says. "It seems that so far as my career goes, I am either struggling to keep my head above water or sitting on a desert island, basking in the sunshine."
Yet Jennifer had plenty of warning about how tough her chosen profession could be from her actress mother.
"I often ask myself why I am doing this," she admits. "I never say to myself that I will be acting forever.
"What I am trying to figure out is why I feel very different now to how I did 10 years ago. I decided to go to drama school at the age of 15 and everything I did in life was working towards that goal. My feelings have changed a lot in that time. I am not so driven these days."
Jennifer's life has been one of constant change as she switched between England and her native America with her parents.
"I first came to England as a baby," she says. "I also spent a couple of years in London from the age of 11. I grew up mainly in America and changed schools a total of 18 times. But when I had to make a choice of whether to spend my adult life in Britain or America, I chose London.
"I thought it would be a nicer city to be unemployed in as an actor rather than New York or Los Angeles. I also wanted to enjoy some classical training and get female roles which are interesting.
"The business and physical scrutiny scared me in Hollywood. I am 5ft 7 inches tall, I am no waif to look at and could not compete with an American movie star. But being married has helped me get things sorted out more clearly in my own mind. As for the future, who knows?
"I was not out there looking for marriage. It just happened out of the blue. Which is probably the best way to fall in love."