As this is the number one search term bringing people to the blog, I thought it would be a good idea to do a post about his performance in The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Indeed, he was such a wonderful Jasper that it would almost be rude not to. I am conscious, however, that my lovely visitors from the other side of the Atlantic have not yet had the chance to see the drama (I believe it airs on April 15th), so I will stick to a non-spoiler preview. All screencaps were snagged from the grande_caps LiveJournal community.
So. John Jasper, then. Dickens introduces him thus:
“…a dark man of some six-and-twenty, with thick, lustrous, well-arranged black hair and whiskers. He looks older than he is, as dark men often do. His voice is deep and good, his manner is a little sombre.”
All present and correct, here, I think.
Interestingly, a lot of people tend to perceive Jasper as a grizzled old git, but Dickens makes it pretty clear that he is actually a looker. Just a bit miserable with it.
Not only does Matthew Rhys look the part, but he has the voice for it too – both speaking and singing (unlike Claude Rains with his hilariously faked Where’er You Walk). And he is also completely convincing as a cathedral choirmaster.
Watch that scarf, though…
Jasper might be a hot fox with musical talent to spare, but this doesn’t prevent him from being a terribly flawed and generally sinister individual. (So much the better, eh? Or is that just me…) For one thing, he’s regularly smacked up to the eyeballs on opium.
(He takes that scarf EVERYWHERE.) And, for another, he has a fatal attraction to his nephew’s fiancee, Rosa Bud, whom he teaches music. She says of him: “He has made a slave of me with his looks. He has forced me to understand him without his saying a word; and he has forced me to keep silence without uttering a threat. When I play, he never moves his eyes from my hands. When I sing, he never moves his eyes from my lips. When he corrects me, and strikes a note, or a chord, or plays a passage, he himself is in the sounds, whispering that he pursues me as a lover and commanding me to keep his secret.”
Forced to repress every emotion and instinct, John Jasper is heading for one of the longest, darkest nights of the soul imaginable. And things aren’t looking that good for Edwin Drood either.
There. I hope that gave you enough Matthew Rhys action to pique your interest. If not, here’s a gratuitous extra picture.