Austen University — Casting

Elizabeth Gilliland Rands
6 min readMay 18, 2023

It’s all about the Austen adaptations

You might say I’m something of a Jane Austen addict. I love reading her novels, her letters, and her juvenilia, and anything Austen-adjacent is sure to catch my attention. While I’d like to say that I’ve seen/watched/read every Austen retelling, variation, and adaptation that exists, there are simply too many for that to be true. However, I can say that I’ve seen more than my fair share. (Some — like my husband — might even call it an unhealthy amount of Austen consumption.) I even wrote my dissertation on Jane Austen adaptations because of how much I love them.

All that being said, you better believe that when I started writing my own Austen variation series, I thought about what would happen if it got turned into a film adaptation. (Actually, I would prefer a TV adaptation since that would give more time for the characters to develop and unfold and I could add in some plot lines I had to delete for sake of time…but I digress.)

So, without further adieu, here would be my dream cast if the Austen University Mysteries series ever gets made into a TV/film adaptation.

Haley Lu Richardson, from Vengeance Wiki

Haley Lu Richardson has the right mixture of playful, witty, and edgy to take on Lizzy Bennet’s banter. Plus she’s just so dang likable.

Ross Butler, taken from 13 Reasons Why Wiki

Ross Butler is always who I envisioned playing my version of Darcy. He has the right level of aloofness and sympathy to bring Darcy to life.

Natalia Dyer, from People

Natalia Dyer would make a great Elinor “Nora” Dashwood, with her mix of smart, practical, and secretly romantic.

Sophie Turner, from Ebay

Queen of the North! With her flair for the dramatic, statuesque height, and fiery red hair, Sophie Turner would make the ideal Marianne Dashwood.

Alfred Enoch, from Tumblr

Alfred Enoch just has such a wholesome, likable face that I think he’d make the perfect Charlie Bingley. Who wouldn’t love this guy?

Ashleigh Murray from Archieverse Wiki

Ashleigh Murray would make a fantastic Karoline Bingley. Karoline is an aspiring influencer, and that intense parasocial gaze would definitely set her on the right path.

Timothee Chalamet, from Zwierciadlo

I’m sorry, Timothee Chalamet. I’m sure you’re a very nice person, but when I look at you, I see the spirit of Wickham. Look at that smirk.

Gaspard Ulliel, from MenHairstylesWorld

I don’t actually know who this actor is, but when I googled actors with long dark hair, he came up, and I knew I’d found my Willoughby. Doesn’t this look like an MFA poet to you???

Jennifer Coolidge, from Nikki Swift

Jennifer Coolidge as Mrs. Jennings. Do I need to say more? (I would actually pay so much money to see this.)

Kathy Bates, from Newsweek

Kathy Bates would make an incredible President de Bourgh. She has that Southern twang and that steely grit that would make her the perfect fit for this role.

Dwight K. Schrute, from Wikipedia

No, that’s not a typo. I wouldn’t cast the actor Rainn Wilson to play Mr. Collins — I would cast Dwight Schrute, because that character is basically how I envisioned a modern-day Mr. Collins.

Hugh Laurie, from Television Academy

This one is a bit of a cheat, since Hugh Laurie has already played Mr. Palmer in Emma Thompson’s wonderful film version of Sense and Sensibility. But since that’s one of my favorite pieces of Austen casting ever, why fix it if it ain’t broke? The only difference is in my version, he is Professor Palmer.

Lana Condor, from Pinterest

As soon as I saw Lana Condor in To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, I knew she would be my dream Catherine “Caty” Morland. She’s just the right mix of sweet/naive and tough.

Griffin Gluck, from TV Insider

Griffin Gluck would be an amazing Tilney. He has the right clever snarkiness mixed with a genuine charm that keeps him from coming across as mean — perfect for our guy Henry.

Lily Reinhart, from Seventeen Magazine

Lily Reinhart is who I imagined when I wrote Emma Woodhouse. Tall, blonde, athletic, preppy, but with a little bit of an edge — she would be perfect!

Penn Badgley, from Vanity Fair

Okay, I know Penn Badgley is probably too old to play this 20-something character, but he’s who I had in mind as I was writing the character of Knightley. (With his other roles in mind, kind of makes sense why Caty would be so convinced he might be a murderer, no?)

Gina Rodriguez, from Teen Vogue

Sorry to do Gina Rodriguez dirty and choose a dressed-down photo (although she’s always beautiful), but I wanted to reflect perpetually busy, hardworking PhD candidate Ana Elias (Anne Elliot). Rodriguez is a fantastic actress and would knock it out of the park.

Leo Suter, from Facebook

Leo Suter has the grit of a Viking and is no stranger to Austen adaptations (shout out to Mr. Stringer!), so I think he’d make a great Detective Wentworth.

Benjamin Norris, from The Tab

No list would be complete without my guy Rushworth, who would be played brilliantly by Benjamin Norris (IMO, the best part of Never Have I Ever, and that’s a very high bar to clear).


This was a lot of fun, but also a lot of work — there are too many characters in this series! Are there any characters I left out? Did you have a different vision as you were reading the books? Let me know!

If you haven’t read them already, check out the books in the Austen University series:

Book 0.5Sly Jane Fairfax (a prequel novella)

Book 1 What Happened on Box Hill (Northanger Abbey and Emma combined)

Book 1.5 Dear Prudent Elinor (a prequel novella)

Book 2 The Portraits of Pemberley (Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice)



Elizabeth Gilliland Rands

Writer, Mom, Wife, English Instructor, Dr., Chocoholic. Co-founder of Bayou Wolf Press and the Detours Ahead podcast: