Of all the multinominated films vying for Academy Awards this Sunday, Pride & Prejudice may be the most overlooked. The latest adaptation of Jane Austen's ageless tale picked up four nominations including a best-actress nod for Keira Knightley but its buzz is nowhere near that of higher-profile contenders such as Walk the Line and Brokeback Mountain. Jena Malone, who plays Knightley's on-screen sister Lydia is a bit skeptical of putting too much stock in awards, but she hopes the extra attention will bring new audiences to the film. TVGuide.com found this out when we spoke with Malone about the classic romance's arrival this week on DVD.
TVGuide.com: Before landing the role of Lydia, were you a fan of Jane Austen's novels?
Jena Malone: Well, the only real exposure I had to them was through standardized education, which debilitates the greatness of any novel. When I was actually able to seek them out myself, I found much more in them. I became a much greater fan by working and living that life while filming.
TVGuide.com: What is it about Pride & Prejudice that makes it such an enduring story?
Malone: I think we are all separated from each other by social classes and expectations. Even today, it's still very hard to meet the right someone for you. Where do people go to meet? What are the rules and regulations for courting? It's something that fascinates us still, so it's interesting to go back in history to learn how those practices are similar to what we experience today.
TVGuide.com: What was it like being the only American amongst a mostly British cast?
Malone: Coming into it, I was a little scared. I thought there might be cliques to a certain degree, because they had worked in England and worked together before. But they were nothing but wonderful. It was awesome. It was really nice to be accepted as this strange American who has a British woman living in her mouth.
TVGuide.com: It seems as though giggling is Lydia's primary form of communication in many scenes. How were you able to bring the character some depth?
Malone: You have to trust the director [in this case, Joe Wright] you are working with. You have to give a lot of different types of things and he's going to tell you what's working. Particularly, when they get in the editing room, you see what works and what doesn't. Apparently, my giggling worked.
TVGuide.com: Were you at all surprised when you heard that Keira had been nominated for a best-actress Oscar? [Knightley had been largely shut out of other awards-season nods.]
Malone: Yes. I mean I was excited for her, because I know all the hard work she put in and I thought she did a wonderful job. But I was also sort of surprised. A surprise like this is a glorious thing, though. I don't really understand a lot of the Academy's choices on things, but this made me think maybe I should start thinking about them differently.
TVGuide.com: You voiced a character in the American version of Howl's Moving Castle, which is up for best animated feature. What was that experience like?
Malone: It was really strange. I wrote the director [Hayao Miyazaki] at the beginning of 2005, just saying that I respected his work and if there was ever an opportunity to work on any of his movies in the future, to please let me know. Three months later, I got a call saying there was a part available. So I went down to audition, put myself on tape, and I was on a trip to Disneyland with my family when I found out that I got it. The next day, I went to the Disney studios to record it.
TVGuide.com: So you became a fan of Miyazaki's work through his previous film, Spirited Away?
Malone: Yes. These beautifully strange images and glorious childhood worlds he creates are so full of absurdity, hard truths and bizarre creatures. He's a really interesting filmmaker.
TVGuide.com: For such a young actress, you have been in numerous acclaimed indies from Donnie Darko to Cold Mountain to The Ballad of Jack and Rose. What attracts you to unconventional Hollywood material?
Malone: I have no idea... maybe a strange upbringing? There's something about these stories that speaks to something deep inside me. I just want to be a part of them and help tell them.
Who else is in the running for an Oscar? And who are the favorites to win? Click here for TVGuide.com's comprehensive Academy Awards coverage.