Although it was a lot of fun to put together, I actually found this week’s Top Five Wednesday topic, Favourite Fancasts, quite the challenge! Although I can quite easily create casts for a ballet version of a favourite book, or cast stage actors for a fictional musical adaptation, I had trouble coming up with film/TV casting for some of my favourite books. I’ve put together a list (by book/series) of some of my top choices though.
1) Luke Newberry as Kell Maresh
(The Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab)
I feel like there are two types of fancasts. There are the ‘oh you know who would be great in this role? so-and-so!’ You’d like to see them play the role and you believe that they would be great, but it wouldn’t break your heart if there was an adaptation and another actor was cast instead. Then there are the other kind. The kind of fancast where an actor is SO RIGHT for a character that it’s hard to picture anyone else in the role. Luke Newberry is this second kind for me.
Physically he fits the role well. He’s English, in his twenties, and has a fair, slender, red-haired appearance. We know he’s fine with wearing contacts in order to portray Kell’s mismatched Antari eyes because Newberry wore contacts frequently when he played PDS (Partially Deceased Syndrome) sufferer Kieran Walker on (the excellent drama) In The Flesh. Most importantly though, his acting on the show was brilliant and has some similarities to our beloved Kell Maresh. Kieran is an outsider, alienated from others in his village initially due to his sexuality and then by his condition as a re-animated person. His worries and past deeds weigh on him heavily, meaning Luke Newberry has a perpetual furrowed brow on the show and can scowl with the best of them, perfect for serious Kell. And Kieran eventually stands up against those who seek to oppress his kind and becomes more confident with who he is as a person. His acting in this show is brilliant and I honestly can’t picture anyone else as Kell anymore!
2) Eddie Redmayne as Felix Harrowgate and Jamie Bell as Mildmay
(Doctrine of Labyrinths by Sarah Monette)
When I saw the Jupiter Ascending trailer for the first time I had two thoughts – what the Hell is this? and OMG it’s Felix! Sarah Monette’s criminally underappreciated Doctrine of Labyrinths series is told primarily from the perspective of two protagonist half-brothers, dramatic, gay wizard Felix Harrowgate, and laconic, gruff but inwardly sensitive thief Mildmay.
Tall and handsome with red hair, pale skin, and mismatched eyes (one yellow, one blue), Felix is a member of the court, well-dressed, and impossible to ignore. I can think of no one better suited for the role than Eddie Redmayne circa his Jupiter Ascending days. Felix is the kind of part that requires a balance between camp and genuine emotion, as he is charming, but is also capable of cruelty, even towards those he loves. I think Eddie Redmayne would be an ideal choice.
As Mildmay, I’d cast Jamie Bell (pictured in Turn). Mildmay and Felix have a striking resemblance that leads them to discover that they’re actually half-brothers. How appropriate then that I sometimes mix Bell and Redmayne up! Mildmay is one of my favourite fictional characters. Short, but strong, he moves with grace (perfect for an actor who once starred in Billy Elliot!) and is also fair and red-haired, but has a long scar down one side of his face. I feel like Bell’s more compact build and sharper features, yet physical similarity to Eddie Redmayne would make him a great choice for the role. I feel like Jamie Bell is one of those actors who is really very good, but is either not cast in, or isn’t choosing the best parts to show off what he can do. Mildmay would definitely give him a chance to shine.
3) Alfie Enoch as Maia
(The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison)
Alfie Enoch seem to have this eternal vaguely clueless, puppy-dog look to him. Nowhere was this more obvious than in the first season or so (before things got especially dark) as Wes in How To Get Away With Murder. Add some prosthetics and makeup and he would be absolutely perfect for Maia, the lonely, mixed-race character in exile who becomes emperor when his estranged family die in a mysterious accident. What I loved so much about this book was how nice Maia is. Literally all he wants are to have a friendship or two and to make things better for everyone. It’s impossible not to love Maia as he tries to muddle through complicated court intrigues alone. I’m convinced that the utterly adorable Alfie Enoch would be perfect for this role.
4) Amandla Stenburg as Syenite and Harold Perrineau as Alabaster
(The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin)
I haven’t decided on picks for The Fifth Season‘s other two narrators, Damaya and Essun, but even though she may be a little on the young side, I’d love to see Amandla take on snarky and headstrong Syenite as she becomes a confident and talented young woman and finds love. For the older orogene Alabaster, who is described initially as older than 40, with black so dark it’s almost blue skin, and tightly-curled hair, I think Harold Perrineau would be a good fit, capable of showing both vulnerability and irritation.
If you thought I could make it through a T5W without including The Lymond Chronicles, well then you are wrong! This is my favourite book series of all-time, which means I have a lot of thoughts on who I would cast in major roles. Unfortunately for Francis Crawford of Lymond himself, I have to cheat a little, because I would need a time machine to make either of these castings work!
5) Tom Hiddleston OR Peter O’Toole as Francis Crawford
(The Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett)
So this was Richard’s brother. Every line of him spoke, palimpsest-wise with two voices. The clothes, black and rich, were vaguely slovenly; the skin sun-glazed and cracked; the fine eyes slackly lidded; the mouth insolent and self-indulgent.
When I read The Lymond Chronicles for the first time in 2012, The Hollow Crown miniseries was still fresh in my memory and Tom Hiddleston in Henry IV became my indisputable headcanon for Francis Crawford. For so many reasons, Hiddleston seemed a perfect fit. Physically his long fingers, fair hair, thin mouth, blue eyes, and slender build are all appropriate. Hiddleston is a mimic who seems to enjoy (and does a passable job at) different accents, including Scottish and Irish (I wonder how his Spanish is). He even has Scottish heritage! The actor enjoys Shakespeare, meaning the sometimes dense language in Dunnett wouldn’t throw him off. Five years ago Hiddleston was on the older end of the spectrum to play this character, but could have pulled it off. Now, unfortunately, I think he’s a little too old for the role, but oh if I had a time machine! Regardless, I desperately want him to voice the audiobooks of this series, how perfect would that be?!
Peter O’Toole circa his Lawrence of Arabia days was the author’s imagined dreamcasting for her famous character. When I finally watched the film (for Lymond reasons, of course) I felt like I understood so much more about the way Dunnett had written Francis Crawford. The deliberate choice to describe Francis’ hair not as blond but as “yellow”, his “cornflower blue” “heavy-lidded” eyes, and of course the melodic timbre of his voice. All of that is in Peter O’Toole’s Lawrence. If I had a time machine and could bring forth a young Peter O’Toole he would be excellent in the role.
Kathryn Winnick OR Natalie Dormer as Marthe
“A girl far younger than Kiaya Khatun, with high cheekbones and open blue eyes, set far apart; with a patrician nose, its profile scooped just less than straight. The face of a Della Robbia angel, set in gleaming hair, golden as a Jupiter’s shower.”
Marthe is described as having a such a physical resemblance to Francis that the similarity is striking enough to be uncomfortable. Importantly, Marthe is also a badass and has to look like she could kill you and you would enjoy it. Kathryn Winnick is superbly in control as Lagertha in Vikings, and Natalie Dormer’s smirk is just perfect for the bitter Marthe. Either of these women would be wonderful but Winnick is the better physical match for Tom Hiddleston and is capable of an ice queen demeanor that makes her my top choice for the role.
Sarah Bolger as Philippa Somerville
Philippa is probably my favourite character in the series, and I feel like the charming Sarah Bolger, pictured here in period-appropriate clothing thanks to her role as Mary Tudor in The Tudors, would be a splendid choice to play this Queen of my heart.
Aidan Turner as Jerott Blyth
“Blyth himself, his handsome black head bent, his only ornament the gold ring belonging to the dead girl he was to have married, looked distant and unlike the intelligent, talented and spectacularly wild young gentleman he had been.”
This one came to me recently, but now I can’t get it out of my head! Jerott Blyth is dark and handsome, but also incredibly stubborn, repressed, and not the sharpest tool in the shed. I haven’t actually seen Poldark, but I’m definitely a fan of Aidan Turner’s from Being Human UK and Desperate Romantics. He can brood with the best of them, and would be an excellent companion for Francis.
Holiday Grainger as Joleta and Michael Fassbender OR Arnie Hammer as Graham Reid Malett
This is another time-machine cast since I think they’re all getting on a bit to play these roles. Graham Reid Malett appears on the scene as a match for Lymond’s mind and talents. Handsome and tall, with guinea gold hair, I can see either Michael Fassbender or Arnie Hammer playing the role well. I think I’ll always picture apricot-haired Joleta Reid-Malett as Holliday Grainger from The Borgias.
Eddie Redmayne as Will Scott and Amy Manson as Christian Stewart
He was a graceful creature, with fair skin and a thatch of carroty curls
Comely and tall, with hair of fine dark red and a decisive air to her, she was pleasant and positive to talk to, and it was impossible to tell that she was blind from birth.
I won’t hijack the entire post for Lymond, but I can also strongly picture Eddie Redmayne (the only actor to appear on my list twice) as Will Scott, although he’s again perhaps five years too old at this point. Will Scott is rash and young, joining a band of outlaws because, despising hypocrisy, he admires the band’s consistency in professing no virtue and being exactly as bad as they say they are. Is he a bit of an idiot? Yes, absolutely, but there’s something lovable about Will Scott nonetheless, particularly since the first book in the series, The Game of Kings, is largely viewed through his eyes. I hold an almost Marius Pontmercy affection for the character, and can definitely see Redmayne (an excellent Marius in the Les Miserables movie) doing ‘Marigold’ justice. I’ve had Scottish actress Amy Manson in mind for blind, good Christian Stewart ever since her Desperate Romantics days and I remain convinced that she would be an excellent choice.
Surprise, surprise this week’s Top 5 Wednesday more or less dissolved into fancasting for Lymond, but hopefully it was still an interesting read! If you’ve read some of these books, what do you think of my fancasting choices? Who are your choices this week?