Re-casting the 1953 Best Picture lineup along with Walter (The Silver Screening Room) as we both prepare for the 1953 retrospective n June. Now on the 1953 biblical drama The Robe. How does it look in 2014?
…a young woman in a Palestine village saved by Jesus who sings…
Played here by Anika Noni Rose
Miriam is a character who should appear pious enough to be a true Christian but with the undertones of someone you could see being very unhappy before. And she gets a big song. Anika seems like a perfect fit, she's dappled in playing very pious women to more sinister ones and she'd nail that mournful religious number.
…our hero’s father who does not understand his brashness, or his eventual Christianity…
Played here by Charles Dance
Dance seems like the perfect fit for the father who tries, mostly unsuccessfully, to bridge the generation gap dividing he and his son.
…the head disciple of Jesus, and the film’s Jesus-figure…
Played here by Damian Lewis
In keeping with my decision to ignite the film with racial tension (White Romans, Iranian Greeks and Black Palestines) I wasn't sure who to cast as Peter. I ended up going with Lewis because Peter is almost Jesus-like in The Robe and I'd buy Lewis as a Jesus figure even if it's unlike the roles he usually plays.
…a leader in a Palestine village who believes in Christianity…
Played here by Sidney Poitier
I went older than the film to my benefit, I think. Justus is the ad hoc leader of the village and must command respect without appearing to be too autocratic or controlling. Poitier would nail that easy sense of suggesting someone we should defer to.
…the Emperor of Rome, sympathetic to our hero…
Played here by Anthony Hopkins
Like with Poitier, Hopkins seems an obvious choice for Tiberius. Someone who has seen the world and is wiser than those around him but willing to humour them in their follies.
...who replaced Richard Burton and Jean Simmons? Who plays Caligula? More below the jump....
…the new Emperor of Rome, uppity and arrogant…
Originally played by Jay Robinson
Played here by Michael Pitt
…Greek slave to Marcellus who become a follower of Christianity…
Played here by Ramin Karimloo
Karimloo is a theatre actor but I don't doubt he could make the transition to film. Demetrius, although not the lead, must be electric enough to control our attention when he's on-screen. It's a quality I think Ramin has that would serve him well on the big scree.
…our hero’s childhood sweetheart, unofficially pledged to Caligula…
Played here by Carey Mulligan
To be honest I don't feel this role is worthy of Carey, but no one else seemed to work in it. Diana is too much a tool of circumstance instead of a character with purpose, and yet Carey seems like the only one who could make Diana's occasional purposelessness work without making her seem askance in the film.
…notorious ladies man who eventually transforms from crazy man to Christian hero…
Played here by Tom Hiddleston
Right? I considered going younger briefly but Hiddleston works for many reasons. He is believable as a ladies man, and I'd relish the opportunity to see him lose his mind. It's a role that demands gravitas and although (oddly) he has not headlined a feature film, as yet, I'm confident he'd make it work.