Where do I start? There's an article here with several photos. Sadly no quotes from James, but you can see him at the premiere. And this outfit, I have to stop here and say that he was wearing FOUR LAYERS. Four. Two flannel shirts apparently (or is one a flannel COAT?), one suede coat, one undershirt. And red pants, which was slightly baffling. (Bret McKenzie also had red pants on, so maybe there was some connection.) I checked the weather in Utah that day, and it was -6 C/35 F. Incidentally, in Finland we had -24 C/-11.2 F that day; I wore my down coat, which I would never ever wear for -6. I don't think James could survive a minute in Finnish winter. (And no, it's not always -24 here.) I know it's a matter of what you're used to, but man.
In some pictures, he's wearing a green hoodie, but here some of the other things are taken off. I like that hoodie. He looks good in green. The flannel shirts look good too, it's just... so many layers! And I'm mystified by this eye patch. Nice winter boots, though.
Before I go any further, here's a tip to James. This is how I survive the coldest days of winter. (Maybe it's not the best idea for an actor though, if he wants to look good for press photos.) Here's a possible idea of how it might look on him:
Look how happy he is! About the pants, he's leaning a bit or something, and his torso is.. Ugh, I drew the pants before the coat. Oh whatever, it's not the Mona Lisa, you get the picture. (Note that I'm not saying his torso is that big, just that down coats can be HUGE.)
Speaking of leaning, adorable lean-in picture of the cast and crew who were present. Ricky Whittle is apparently strong enough to hold them all like a bookend.
Cute group shots, everyone's happy, and James hugs Keri Russell, and I'm not going to launch into an "OMG Keri Russell, I've watched her things since I was 11" thing, but I did watch Daddy's Girls back in the day... Also, Keri is totally gorgeous and seems lovely.
Shots from the Austenland party later on. I think the tall bearded guy is Jared Hess, whose wife Jerusha directed the film. She looks like a cute pixie, by the way. And James getting cuddly with Jane Seymour! Ah how worlds collide, I used to watch Dr Quinn - Medicine Woman before I even heard of James etc. etc. (I've gotta stop doing this every time James meets an actor I have seen in something else. He exists in the same universe so it's only natural.)
Lovely shot here. Looks like an official photo shoot they had. EYES. Oh my giddy aunt.
James posted some Austenland-related pictures on his Twitter. Colonel Andrews in uniform! A must-see.
Also, there was a Q&A! Here's a more official video from Sundance Institute, and there's another one on YouTube taken from another spot, apparently by an audience member. You can see a bit more of James in the latter, but sadly he was standing on the very far left and there were many people on stage. So he's sort of lost from the frame for a lot of it. A lot of Bret McKenzie, who's very funny too. James and JJ Feild seem to talk the least.
James is cute as usual, though. He starts by saying, "I wasn't aware that Steve Austin actually wrote any books, but I was always a huge fan of Steve Austin." Huge laugh from the crowd. "And I actually modeled my performance.. bits of it, seem to have been cut out, those bits." *Indignant look and headshake * "But yeah I read the script and obviously just, yeah I wanted to be involved, (in pretty much any character). Yes I'm just echoing everything that everybody's said already, it really was a lot of fun to make. And it looks like you enjoyed it too." The last part is for the audience, so that sounds good. I didn't know who Steve Austin was, but he's someone from Wrestlemania. I wonder if James is really a fan (probably not).
Someone - it might be Shannon Hale, the author of the book, but I'm not sure, and I'm sorry - says, "I remember one night we were sitting around and just chatting, and a PA came up to James and said, 'You're wrapped for tonight.' James said, 'Oh really? Usually that's good news, but here one wants to linger.'" That made her so happy. "I wasn't acting," James says, and everyone laughs. Then they hug. Awww! It's clear James has a great chemistry with these people, and that making this movie was a fun experience. So I feel all happy and gooey inside.
Other cute moments:
Ricky Whittle says Jerusha Hess told them, "You know the story, you know the characters, now have fun with it." This is where I got really excited, because if you tell James that, what can the result be besides comedy gold?
Bret McKenzie shows off his "abs", and I started to wish James had done the same, but no. Ricky Whittle, the resident ab, pec, and bicep man of the movie, attributes his looks to good genes. He also said his chest and crotch got him the part.
Speaking of bodies, Keri Russell was pregnant during the film, and they had to try and hide the belly with scarves. Awww!
There's also an exclusive clip of Austenland on MTV's website. James' faces are hilarious! :D
The reviews are mostly positive - breezy and modestly funny; "plenty of life in old Austen yet"; "a delightful mix of charm, satire, romance, and irreverence"; "pleasant comic romp". However, at least one reviewer found it lifeless and typical rom-com fare - "a Katherine Heigl movie minus Heigl." Ouch!
James is described as "campy comic relief character" and "clownish". Well, that's something he does well. I'd love to see him in more serious roles, because he does the soul-crushing guilt stuff even better. But I really love watching him be funny, and some of these reviews list him as one of the best. And then there's this:
Finally, I have to applaud James Callis’ Monty-Python worthy comedic performance. His over-the-top, expertly timed parody of the 19th century romantic gentleman gave me more laugh-out-loud moments than I’ve had in a long time.
Monty Python worthy. Is there higher praise than that?
In short, it sounds like a real triumph for James, and I think I'm going to enjoy this film. He has a lot of scenes with Jennifer Coolidge, who some reviewers scolded for being too over-the-top, but we'll see. I'm not too keen on the idea of her trying to hit on James' character and failing; such narratives are often based on the idea of the female character not being as attractive (whether it's done by making her look bad or act bad). Also, in reality, there are way more often men who throw themselves at women. But this also means James will be a sex object in the film, and that's something I can definitely get behind. Coolidge's character can be like the biggest fangirl ever.
It seems like the film might even get into cinemas, unless I'm being way too optimistic. It would be awesome to see James on the big screen again. I'll be watching closely for Austenland news. I have got to see this movie!