Thursday, August 7, 2008

Casting Couch: Neverwhere!

Is there anything as fun as trying to figure out who should play the characters in one of your favorite books? Yes, but those are not things I have been doing since I woke up. Today, Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman!

While Neverwhere actually kind of started out as a BBC television miniseries, meaning it has already been filmed once, that show doesn't really capture the grandeur of the book version. Meaning there's space for a big-budget Hollywood movie version. But who to play in it?

Richard Mayhew—I kind of see James McAvoy in this part, although I think when I first read it a I saw someone like Ben Chaplin, I think he is too old for the part now. Lots of points for McAvoy, though. For one, he's Scottish, just like Mayhew, so no need to fiddle with his accent. Also, he has a kind of unassuming disposition, and though I haven't seen Wanted yet, I assume he can carry of the role of the unlikely action hero, or the role of the almost but not quite an action hero. Also, it's the lead, and he has some star power that could launch such a project.

Door—A tricky role, since age is appearance is so important. You need someone who simultaneously possesses childlike innocense and some degree of muturity, and is actually quite possibly an adult. Also, she has to be kind of pixieish, without being a manic pixie dream type or anything. Oh, and red hair. Really, really, red hair. So, though I haven't actually seen her in anything, I am going to go with Rachel Hurd-Wood, who played Wendy in that last Peter Pan remake, and was in Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, a movie I really want to get around to seeing sometime soon. Basically, she looks exactly like Door, seems, from the Perfume photos on IMBD to possess the self-possession necessary to play the actual hero of the story, and hey, she worked opposite Alan Rickman, so she has to be pretty good, right?

The marquis de Carabas—Hmm, a theatrical, cunning black Englishman of uncertain motives with hints of casual cruelty? Really, this part is so Chiwetel Ejiofor I was picturing him as I read it. It's like someone was just trying to come up with the ultimate part for Chiwetel to have fun with.

Hunter—Um, I really don't know who should play Hunter, but she is kind of important, so I still wanted to include a spot. You could really cast Halle Berry for all I care with this part. Sophie Okonedo? Freema Agyman?

Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar—Hard. My two favorite characters in the book. For Mr. Vandemar, I would go with Ian Whyte, the 7'2" Welshman who played the Predators in the recent Predator movies. For one, he's 7'2," and not as a result of Gigantism. He seems perfectly porportioned. I calculated once that, since Mr. Vandemar is described as two and a half heads taller than Mr. Croup, and if Mr. Croup were, say, 5'6," and a head was about eight inches, then Mr. Vandemar is 7'2." In other words, in the book Mr. Vandemar is huge. Ian Whyte seems to be identitcally huge, and that is fortuitous. Also, Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar are described as looking like a fox and wolf together, and Ian looks suitably wolfish, even without makeup.

Mr. Croup is distinctly harder for me, as he is my favorite character in the book, and consequently the most higly focused in my mind, and no actor really looks like that image. However, having given it some thought today, I think Michael Sheen would do the part justice. Like Ian, Sheen is Welsh, and I have always thought it preferable that these two have similar accents. They are a duo! (And I always found it disconcerting in the BBC version that Mr. Vandemar had the same accent as Richard Mayhew; there should be no familiarity between those two.) Sheen is also not to tall—IMDB lists him as 5'9," so he would probably have to take his shoes off when doing scenes opposite McAvoy—that the height differential between Croup and Vandemar wouldn't be lost. He can obviously play vicous characters, as he did in Underworld, as well as cerbral types, so I see him as perfectly capable of pulling off the specific quirks of Mr. Croup. And damn if he doesn't look like a fox.

Islington—Sinead O'Connor. I love Sinead O'Connor. Islington needs to be larger than life, ethereally beautiful,yet neither female nor male. Reading the book, I always pictured it as bald, white-skinned almost to the point of translucence, and with a voice that was as ethereal as it was. Sinead is very good as pulling of the bald look, has the beauty for it, and there is no realy reason to cast one sex or another with androgynous characters. But really, I am also kind of thinking about character here. Though I haven't seen her turn as a foul-mouthed virgin Mary in The Butcher Boy, He songs are actually really well-played emotional peices, and display the exact range needed paly both angelic gentleness and angelic wrath. Anyone who can sing "Troy" the way she does can play the former angel of Atlantis. I can't wait to hear her scream "They deserved it!"