Friday, 17 August 2012

Inverse Casting: The Lion in Winter

Whew. I’ve been so lazy busy with actual life stuff and blogging wise with the 90s Performances Showdown (which you should be voting on) I’ve not done a legitimately post for a few days. So, what better way to return with some gender-bending casting fun for you? Behold, Take Three of my tentative new series “Inverse Casting”. Re-casting any older film but with the inverse – change the race, sex, sexuality, age, nationality. Anything goes.

Today I’m re-casting one of my favourite films, the caustic take on British Royalty Tony Harvey’s The Lion in Winter. As you know, I adore Kate Hepburn and good as Glenn is in the TV version stepping into Kate’s shoes as Eleanor would be a challenge for any performer. So, I’ve switched the genders for the seven main roles of the film. Potential shenanigans ahead.

King Philip – Carey Mulligan
…the young prince now growing into his own as King…
Timothy Dalton was 24 when he made his film debut in this. And Carey is certainly more established but when it comes to navigating the emotions which come with adapting to maturity and responding to the thrust of newly found responsibility she’s been adept at handling that. Of the seven principals Philip is certainly the least essential (he is the lone visitor) but even with a sliver of screen-time I’d be intrigued at seeing what Carey could do with this.

Alais – Ben Whishaw
…the mistress of the King who grew up like a daughter to the Queen…
True, Ben Whishaw is over 30, and as much as I’ve been impressed with him elsewhere (why aren’t you watching The Hour) I’ll always think of him as the willowy John Keats forever. And, yes, Jane Merrow was the weak link in the original film I’d love seeing Whishaw a) caught in a May-December romance b) falling prey to a cougar and c) being someone sexual object.

John – Mia Wasikowska
…the awkward youngest of the tree, the King’s favourite…
I am not much a fan of Mia Wasikowska, which might suggest some sadist tendency on my part casting her as the awful John. Possibly. Still, even as I’m waiting to be assured of Wasikwoska’s worth as a performer, I’d be intrigued by seeing her play so against type with the physicality which John would require. And, yes, a part of me would just love to see her reaction to being called a “walking pustule”.

Geoffrey – Romola Garai
...the overlooked second child, always planning and sneaking...
I don’t find Romola Garai as inherently sneaky as Geoffrey is, but she needs to be cast inn more things and even as Geoffrey’s calling card is his craftiness, he is significant for the way he seems to be constantly thinking and Garai’s countenance does telegraph that sort of important thoughtfulness. And, I could very well seeing her kill the “I know. You know I know. I know you know I know. We know Henry knows, and Henry knows we know it. We're a knowledgeable family.” line.

Richard – Rosamund Pike
...the eldest child, steely and observant, and bent on being king...
Rosamund has been so lovely recently playing the warmest of characters (Pride and Prejudice, An Education, Made in Dagenham) but she can do steely well – see Die Another Day. As the oldest of the siblings it’s important to find a performer who can believably step into line as a queen, but with still enough youth to not seem quite self-assured. Pike also seems to be a believable older sister to both Garai and Wasikwoska.

King Henry II – Emma Thompson
...the ruminating king, unsure which of his children should succeed him...

I wrestled with so many performers to fill this role (there are some fine women in their fifties, even if most films seem to forget that). I settled on Thompson just because of her ability to be regal and terrible but still warm. Since the film will become the LionESS in winter it’s important to find an actor who can command the screen with intensity and lull us into understanding even in questionable moments. And, the film depends on many things but it’s the key dialogue which is foremost.

Queen Eleanor – Gary Oldman
...the smart, caustic, coquettish, imprisoned queen....
And who for Kate? Gary Oldman might seem like an odd choice, and before his excellent turn in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy last year he’s been robbed of key parts, and he’s worth them. And this is a part which performers dream of. Teasing, fearsome, wily, comedic, fun, funny – essential perfection. Oldman is not my favourite performer of his era, but he’s the performer of his era that I’d love to see tackle a role like this the most.

Previously Inversed: Glengarry Glen Ross; Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf

What do you think of my English gender-bending? Who would you trade in? Who would you replace?


Yojimbo_5 said...

Ooo, spot on.

Runs Like A Gay said...

What a brilliant idea, and spot on casting, keep imagining Oldman chewing out Eleanor's lines.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

yojimbo thanks!

ben i wanted someone so different from kate, but still able to bite off quotable dialogue. and oldman fits the bill. (and knowing your relationship with the play, i'm glad you approve :D)