Jerusha Hess Talks Working With Stephenie Meyer on Austenland

Last summer, Stephenie Meyer’s production company filmed the Shannon Hale novel Austenland. The director was Jerusha Hess(pictured far right with film stars Jennifer Coolidge and Keri Russell) of Napoleon Dynamite fame. Hess Talks with Collider about what the experience was like.

What was it about that story that attracted you?

JERUSHA: The story is very simple and sweet, but I thought there was room for a lot of crazy quirkiness in it. That’s what I think I brought to it.

How did you end up teaming up with Stephenie Meyer, as a producer?

JERUSHA: It was great. She knew the author as well, and she just wanted to be a part of it. She was heavily involved. She’s great. She was really lovely and it was really fun. When I was directing the movie, she was so supportive and just enjoyed the comedy of it. She enjoyed being on a set that was laid back and didn’t have paparazzi circling it. It was a good change of pace. She was like, “Oh, this is how movies are made? I didn’t know.”

See more on Collider

Official Press Release For Austenland Issued

There isn’t much here that we didn’t already know, but Moxie pictures ( which is one of the groups producing the film ) issued the following press release:

“Seven weeks of principal photography recently commenced on location in the UK on romantic comedy “AUSTENLAND,” the big screen adaptation of award-winning author SHANNON HALE’s novel about Jane Austen-obsessed contemporary heroine, “Jane,” played by Golden Globe award-winner KERI RUSSELL (“Felicity”, “Mission Impossible II”,”Waitress”). JJ FEILD (“Captain America: The First Avenger) and BRET MCKENZIE (the Emmy award-winning “Flight of the Conchords”) join Russell in the directorial debut of JERUSHA HESS (“Napoleon Dynamite”), who adapted “AUSTENLAND” for the screen with Shannon Hale. LA-based UTA will handle international sales.

JERUSHA HESS previously co-scripted the indie hit and Sundance favourite “Napoleon Dynamite” with her husband and writing/producing partner, director JARED HESS. She also co-wrote “Nacho Libre” and “Gentleman Broncos” and is executive producer on Fox’s animated TV series “Napoleon Dynamite”.

The colourful international supporting cast on “AUSTENLAND” includes US actress and comedienne JENNIFER COOLIDGE (“American Pie”, “Legally Blonde”), JANE SEYMOUR (“Wedding Crashers”), RUPERT VANSITTART (“Braveheart”) and JAMES CALLIS (“Battlestar Gallactica”, “Bridget Jones’ Diary”).

“AUSTENLAND” is a romantic comedy about 30-something, single Jane Hayes, a seemingly normal young woman with a secret: her obsession with Mr. Darcy—as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice—is ruining her love life; no real man can compare. But when she decides to spend her life savings on a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women, Jane’s fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become more real than she ever could have imagined.

“AUSTENLAND” is produced by Stephenie Meyer (“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1,” “Breaking Dawn Part 2,” “The Host”) through Fickle Fish Films, the production company of Meyer and Meghan Hibbett, and Moxie Pictures‘ Gina Mingacci. Executive Producers are Robert Fernandez and Dan Levinson of Moxie Pictures and co-producer is Jane Hooks (“Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, “Bronson”). Jared Hess (“Napoleon Dynamite,” “Nacho Libre,” “Gentleman Broncos”), Meghan Hibbett, and author Shannon Hale are associate producers.
Creative talent on board includes cinematographer Larry Smith, BSC (“Eyes Wide Shut”, “Bronson”) and Emmy award-winner and BAFTA-nominated production designer James Merifield (“Little Dorrit”,”Brighton Rock”).

The film is financed by Fickle Fish Films.”

You can find Moxie pictures on:!/MoxiePictures

On Shannon Hale’s blog, she states which actors are playing which characters:

Jane – Keri Russell
Nobley – JJ Feild
Martin – Bret Mckenzie
Miss Charming – Jennifer Coolidge
Colonel Andrews – James Callis
Mrs. Wattlesbrook – Jane Seymour
Mr. Wattlesbrook – Rupert Vansittart
Georgia King – Lady Heartwright
Ricky Whittle – George East

Shannon Hale also made the following clarification on her blog:

“There is no Sir John and Aunt Saffronia, Mr & Mrs. Wattlesbrook merging those roles. It was the right choice for the adaptation to screen. Isn’t that a gorgeous cast? I’m so thrilled! If there is anyone you aren’t familiar with and you read my blog, then you shortly will be. I’ll devote a post to each of them over the next few weeks. The actors playing George East and Lady Heartwright (she got bumped up to “lady” in the screenplay) weren’t mentioned in the official announcement, so I’ll wait to drop their names.”

You can follow Shannon Hale on Twitter!/haleshannon