Friday, 6 July 2012

Inverse Casting: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Over at the Large Association of Movie Blogs (LAMB) I run the LAMB Casting feature where I invite LAMB members to re-cast recent and oftentimes older films. Because I’m running the feature I never actually participate, and considering the fine choices – that’s good, I’d probably lose. Sometimes I do get the inkling to do some casting. Recasting older films (or plays) intrigues me most when I’m making marked differences from the initial presentation. So, consider this the beginning of a new series here – Inverse Casting.

I’m starting with a singularly small cast – a film with quartet of players, Mike Nichols adaptation of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

I was having a conversation with Paolo earlier this week and one of the things I turned to was re-casting films across race lines, and the same topic had come up in a lit class earlier, so I’m inversing the race for this inaugural run of Inverse Casting with an all-black version of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf which, admittedly, skews a bit older than it probably should.

Honey – Kerry Washington
…the meek wife who loses her inhibitions as the night wears on…
At 35, Kerry Washington has been acting for such a long time I feel I’m doing the slightest bit of disservice by casting her as the young, closet-drunk Honey. But, in so many significant ways she emerges as one of the actresses I’d consider most proficient at working Honey’s nervousness, eagerness, sadness and drunkenness with aplomb. It’s weird how despite being in her mid-thirties she still has that aura of newness around her as if her talent is yet to be – completely – “discovered” by the masses. Hopefully that sense of newness dissipates soon and she becomes as known as she should be.

Nick – Anthony Mackie
…the new Science professor, the “perfect” young up-and-comer…
Mackie is younger than Washington, but the two were particularly lovely together two years ago in Night Catches Us. Within that bracket of not quite young not quite old actors Mackie is one I’m most intrigued to see get more recognition (also in the group, Ben Whishaw, Ben Foster). There’s a potent aura which Mackie evokes, in a non-threatening way, the idea of the perfect alpha-male. It’s one of the reasons his performances, for example in The Hurt Locker are so often compelling. The idea of someone that seems so much to be a prototype intrigues.

See my picks for the original “Fun and Games” couple – George and Martha – below the jump…

George – Laurence Fishburne
…the somewhat beleaguered but always bitingly witty history professor…
Akeelah & the Bee was showing this past week and I began pondering the state of Laurence’s film career. Before Contagion last year, his last significant foray on the big screen was in 2003 with Mystic River, Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions and Biker Boyz. At 50, I find him too young to be relegated to the “wise older man” roles he seems to be falling into. Way back when this blog was in its infancy I’d suggested that he and Angela Bassett headline a production of August Wilson’s Fences, but Denzel Washington and Viola Davis did that on the stage so recently – that’s hardly a possibility today.

Martha – Alfre Woodard
…the overwhelmingly caustic wife of our Professor, and the hostess…
Confession. When Craig (dark eye socket) submitted an entry on Alfre Woodard for his excellent Take Three feature over at The Film Experience, the first thing that came to mind was – “wouldn’t she be excellent for Martha?”. Hence, this post. I don’t think I’d get much argument when I proffer that Alfre Woodard (with her sixteen Emmy nominations, and four wins and Oscar nomination) is one of the finest performers of her era. I struggle to think of a film, or series, where she appears that doesn’t benefit from her presence. It’s unfortunate, though, that she’s been relegated to a specifically supporting or at times cameo performer robbing her talent of getting the true focus it deserves. If I could I’d fund an adaptation (on the screen – large or small, or on the stage) of Alfre as Martha. Could you imagine the line-deliveries?

What do you think of my all-black Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Would you watch? Do the actors skew too old? Would Alfre be as marvellous as I think she would. Who’d you want in these roles?

(If you care to suggest a film for the next inverse casting. I might change race, I might do some gender-bending. Who knows. It’ll be contrary to the norm, whatever it is.)


simzbrazil said...

Angela and Laurence actually did do Fences together at the Pasadena Playhouse back in 2006. I got the opportunity to see them work their magic together in the production and it was phenomenal. You were smart to suggest it! :)

Candice Frederick said...

i wouldn't hate this at all.

W.R. said...

I think your idea of Anthony Mackie is spot-on. The only other men that popped into my head as Nick were Nate Parker or Derek Luke. But, they just don't feel like quite a fit for it as Mackie does.

Honey: Anika Noni Rose. I realize she's incredibly beautiful but I figure make-up can help capture the mousy look that Honey is said to have. Her petite stature and effective gift of portraying vulnerability is what made me think of her.

George & Martha: Your picks of Fishburne and Woodard are inspired. For the sake of choice, I would suggest Giancarlo Esposito and Debbi Morgan. They're two actors, both with exceptional talent, who I've felt deserve better film roles and I would love to see how they bring to life Albee's words.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

simzbrazil oh, really? that's great! they work so well together in what's love got to do with it.

candice i know, right?!

wayne ANIKA CROSSED MY MIND! it was between her and k, and i felt anika keeps being cast as people so much younger - she's probably tired.

also, debi morgan. she'd be intense, too.

Craig Bloomfield said...

Thank you for the double link mention, Andrew. Very kind!... Also, I like your casting choices for this WAoVW - they need to make it now!

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

craig the pleasure's all mine on the linking - alfre will be plugged by me ALWAYS.
(also, the need to make this movie, indeed.)