For Elizabeth, who is 20 in the novel, the producers searched far and wide, interviewing hundreds of actresses between 15 and 30. The part went to Jennifer Ehle, who is in her mid-20's and had appeared in a television mini-series and two stage products by Peter Hall since leaving drama school in 1991. "I also had five syllables as Cynthia Lennon in a film called 'Backbeat,'" said Ms. Ehle, who jumped at the part of Elizabeth.
"Elizabeth has many of the characteristics that women in the 1990's think that we have reclaimed, or even invented," she said. "It's exciting to see those in a woman written by a woman in the early 1800's." [more]
The quote above is very similar to that in the Orange County Register article. My pick of the other interesting bits:
In one scene, after stripping down to a shirt and tight riding pants, he plunges into the pond on his estate, observed, as it happens, by Elizabeth Bennet, who is well on the way to dropping her prejudice after getting a good eyeful. It is pretty clear that she doesn't mind the look of Darcy's estate either. Sex and money indeed.
Just as important, the British public had to believe Mr. Firth as Darcy, one of the most memorably drawn characters in the language. An early vote came while shooting was in progress, when Angela Horne, whose house in Wiltshire stood in for the Bennet abode, took Mr. Firth's measure.
As Ms. Fine tells it, Mrs. Horne, who is well into her 80's, approched her one day and said, "I was most intrigued when they wanted to use the house for 'Pride and Prejudice,' but I was terribly worried about Darcy. Well, I met him this morning, and he will do. He gave my heart quite a flutter."
Ms. Birtwistle has been getting fan letters ever since. One was from a woman who recounted, with some embarrassment, a visit to the hospital emergency room after seing the last episode. Her symptoms -- shortness of breath, sweating and racing pulse -- suggested an impending heart attack.
"The doctor examined her, asked what she had been doing, thought a bit and came up with a diagnosis," said Ms. Birtwistle. "He told her, 'You are in love with Darcy.'"