It’s time to recast old movies again!
Since watching Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes a few months ago, Mek and I’ve been talking about who we’d cast in a remake. (Er, another one. There was a remake in 1979 with Cybill Shepard and Angela Lansbury, but it doesn’t seem to have gone over particularly well.)
Here’s who we came up with. Spoilers ahead.
Mek and I would like to keep this a period piece (instead of trying to alter the story to modernize it and have, like, James Bond spy tech in there), and Rachel Weisz has sort of an old Hollywood look to her that I think would be nice for Iris. While she’s more known for dramatic work, Weisz can easily do comedy, and I like the idea of seeing her in something a little more screwball. Of course, in my dream remake, this movie would have a little more tension in it too — so she could lightly banter back and forth with Gilbert and be legitimately frightened when it appears she’s on a train full of conspirators, kidnappers, and murderers.
I can’t remember who came up with it first, but Mek and I decided that Michael Redgrave looked a little bit like Aiden Gillen (Littlefinger from Game of Thrones) when we were watching The Lady Vanishes. So when it came time to cast the remake, Gillen’s name came up, and . . . I just kind of liked it. Littlefinger and Gilbert don’t actually have very much in common, of course, but they are both quick-witted characters, and I think Gillen could channel some of that for this movie. He’s got a great smile, and I think he could be a lot of fun as a charming, quippy, roguish musician.
Imelda Staunton — probably best known as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter movies — is a great character actress, and I’d love to see her as this little, old lady who turns out to be a British spy. I can just picture Miss Froy explaining what’s going on to Gilbert and Iris with a little, sweet smile on her face, like she was talking about her grandchildren instead of why people want her dead. And while Staunton’s actually a bit young for the role, I doubt it would be hard to age her up.
Dr. Hartz is basically a blank slate of a villain and could really be portrayed by just about anyone, so we went with Jim Broadbent who — besides being another great character actor and HP Alum — has the sort of kind, Santa-Claus-without-the-beard face that could work in his favor, considering that our heroes trust him implicitly when they really shouldn’t. (Hopefully, he’d also have more character on the page to work with — if one of your bad guys is a famous doctor, I feel the guy should have some actual motivation, especially if his villainy is supposed to be a surprise.)
I couldn’t come up with any Italian actors I particularly liked for the role, so I went Italian-Canadian instead. Signor Doppo is a bad guy — also a magician — who fights with Gilbert in one scene and stares creepily at Iris for many, many others. While l’d like to tone down some of the staring — seriously, sometimes he doesn’t seem to be all there — I think Colantoni could make Doppo an eccentric, funny villain without also being a leering weirdo.
MR. TODHUNTER & “MRS. TODHUNTER”:
Dan Stevens & Emma Watson
Mr. Todhunter is just a slimy, self-important prick who eventually gets himself killed by being a pompous moron who doesn’t listen to anybody. Again, this role — like pretty much all the supporting roles — could be played by a lot of people, but for some reason, Matthew from Downtown Abbey just felt right. (It’s something about his voice. I mean, he has a nice voice, but when I put Mr. Todhunter’s words in his mouth . . . it just clicks.)
As far as “Mrs. Todhunter” goes . . . she doesn’t get a real name in this film, only quote marks. She’s Mr. Todhunter’s girlfriend/mistress, and he’s basically just stringing her along. While Emma Watson is younger than Dan Stevens, she’s not absurdly so, and her youth actually works in favor of the the character arc — a young woman who grows some backbone and independence when she realizes that the married man who she’s having an affair with is never going to leave his wife. I like Emma Watson, but I really haven’t seen her in anything outside of HP yet, and this supporting role might be a nice way to show more range.
CHARTERS AND CALDICOTT:
Hugh Laurie & Rupert Graves
Charters and Caldicott are the cricket-obsessed passengers, and I’ll be honest — we mostly thought of Rupert Graves as Caldicott because (like Aidan Gillen) he somewhat resembles the original actor. But I enjoy his wry, beleaguered sort of humor as Lestrade in Sherlock — as well as his more overtly comedic turn as John Riddell in an episode of Doctor Who — and I thought he might be fun here playing off of Hugh Laurie.
Now, Hugh Laurie looks absolutely nothing like Basil Radford, but I can easily see him in this part regardless, and it might be kind of nice to see him in comedy again after seasons (so many seasons) of House. Laurie, in my opinion, can do no wrong, and I’d love to see him in all his cricket-related fury — after all, an old woman who’s gone missing, well, that’s no reason to miss the big game!
Finally, if you’re going to have someone playing a turncoat-nun-in-high-heels, I think you might as well get Jaime Murray, who I really like as H.G. Wells on Warehouse 13. She plays strong women well, and I’d like the nun to be kind of a badass. Just because.
And like Dr. Hartz, hopefully she will also have a tiny bit of legitimate character motivation in the remake too — because, seriously, when a bad guy switches sides at the last minute, it’s helpful to have a reason that’s better than English solidarity.
Next up: re-remaking Psycho! (Just kidding. I mean, why bother?)