Masala: Freida Pinto and Ṣọpẹ Dìrísù Talk Regency Romance

Looking back from the 21st century, the rules of courtship in Regency-era England might seem overly complicated and formal. But those principles become all the more complex when it comes to one Mr. Jeremy Malcolm.

Based on the 2019 short film and Suzanne Allain’s novel of the same name, “Mr. Malcolm’s List” premiered in theaters on July 1 and will be available on demand on July 21. Single and in possession of a good fortune, Malcolm (Ṣọpẹ Dìrísù) has become the most eligible bachelor in London, but to fend off unwanted lady callers he’s written up a list of nearly unattainable qualifications for his potential wife. Jilted by Malcolm and his high standards, Julia Thistlewaite (Zawe Ashton) vows revenge, roping in her longtime friend Selina Dalton (Freida Pinto) to play the part of Malcolm’s ideal woman.

Pinto and Dìrísù recently sat down with Character Media to chat about “Mr. Malcolm’s List” and the significance of “color conscious” period dramas. Although the role of Mr. Malcolm was originally written as white, once cast, Dìrísù helped bring new dimensions to the character. “I wanted to give him a deeper history than a character that would have been written as white [but] had just been played by someone that wasn’t,” he said. “The introduction of Yoruba and his heritage gave a real depth to the character that wasn’t missing, but it was an added flavor that is quite important to the specificity of this character.”

Pinto went on to share her hopes for how “Mr. Malcolm’s List” will be received in society, particularly in regards to the film’s diverse representation. “It’s so important that people of all races feel seen and heard in this way, and it’s also very important that when they feel seen and heard, to not have the instinct to want to justify their presence, because that weakens the whole reason why we’re doing this,” she said. “Go out there and feel the emotions of these characters and go along with the experiences. That’s what we’re really trying to do with this film.”

For more, watch our full interview above, then make sure to catch “Mr. Malcolm’s List” before it leaves theaters!