Sunday, 3 July 2011

My Ideal Middlemarch Cast

Something I stumbled across a few days ago was that there is/was a new Middlemarch (2011) in development. From what I can see this has been announced since sometime in 2009 so considering it is still in development it does not look promising. However the script is still attached to Andrew Davis (Little Dorrit, Northanger Abbey 2007, Pride and Prejudice 1995 among many other great films) who also happened to write the screenplay for the 1994 TV mini-series of Middlemarch- which I thought was awesome!
Director and Producer Sam Mendes is also still attached to this project (along with the Lost in Austen film which is also still in development).

Because I read the novel after seeing the 1994 mini-series I feel in love with those actors and it is hard for me to see anyone else as the characters. However I thought it would be fun to share my ideal cast for this new adaptation. I would love to hear your thoughts too!

*Remember this is only for fun, and my imaginary cast. These actors/actresses are in no way (well that I know of) linked to the 'real' Middlemarch film in development.

Dorothea Brooke

Previously played by: Juliet Aubrey

Who I would cast: Emily Blunt (The Young Victoria).

Dorothea is such a strong, complex character. She is considered the major character, the heroine of the story. She has a beauty that seems other worldly and is at times as referred to as a 'saint' because of her kindness towards those who are stationed below her. She is steadfast in her morals and has differing views to those around her. Upon meeting Mr. Casaubon, Dorothea finds somewhat of a kindred spirit...well for the time being. She is particularly interested in social reform.

The actress who portrays Dorothea needs to convey the physiolocial depth and her spirit yet be elegant enough to show her manners, intellegience and grace. I loved Emily Blunts performance in The Young Victoria, I thought she was believable in the role and I think she would make a wonderful Dorothea. She also looks strikingly similar to Juliet Aubrey, who played Dorothea in the 1994 mini series.

Other actresses I would suggest: Abbie Cornish (Bright Star), Gemma Arterton (Lost in Austen), Carey Mulligan (Pride & Prejudice, 2005).

Will Ladislaw

Previously played by: Rufus Sewell

Who I would cast: Ioan Gruffudd (Amazing Grace)

Will is a dark sheep, an outcast, his hertitage is complicated making it hard for him to find his social niche. Will is a broody, meloncoly character who has a lot of mystery surrounding his identity. I find it really hard to actually understand his character because he changes a lot, sometimes changing to suit different situations. Will is also very much in love with Dorothea, he admires her, both her beauty and ideals. Will seeks political reformation.

The actor who plays Will Ladislaw, would have to be able to keep the cloud of mysteriousness looming around their portrayal but still be let the audience in to see his appeal. He is a likeable character and we have to be able to see past his moodiness. I would personally cast Oliver Ackland in a heartbeat- I have always thought he would play this part perfectly. But that was before I knew of Ioan Gruffudd, now Ioan could play any character that was thrown at him- he is extremely talented and I just love him! And his performance in Amazing Grace shows me he'd do this character justice. So even though I'd love to see Oliver in this role Ioan beats him out by 0.1%

Other actors I would suggest: Oliver Ackland,  Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey)

Dr. Tertius Lydgate

Previously played by: Douglas Hodge

Who I would cast: Rupert Penry-Jones (Persuasion)

Tertius Lydgate (isn't that such an awesome name!) is in character very similar to Dorothea and Casaubon, he has aspirations that are very different to those during the time, he wishes to do more for the world- leave his mark. However just like Dorothea these dreams are often unattainable. He has moved to Middlemarch in order to help in the hospital and also work on his own scientific discovery. He is fairly concieted at times and is not swayed by others opinions however Rosamond is the one person who has influence over him.

Tertius I found to be such a hard character to cast, I'm not sure exactly why, maybe because I thought Douglas Hodge's portrayal was so 'spot on'. So... Rupert Penry-Jones, where did that come from? Truely I have no idea, but I think he may be able to pull off the whole Doctor act for some reason. Also he had the arrogance needed for Capt. Wentworth in Persuasion, but the kindness also so I can kind of see him as Tertius. Plus I think he and Romola (see below) would make a really cute couple!

Rosamond Vincy

Previously played by: Trevyn McDowell

Who I would cast: Romola Garai (Amazing Grace, Emma 2009).

Rosamond is very beautiful and admired greatly within Middlemarch. She is an upperclass, well-educated woman alike Dorothea, however they are quite different in ideals. Rosamond sometimes comes across as a villainess type character however she is not calculating or evil she is simply selfish and does not think of the harm she may be causing others or herself.

Romola was the only person who came to my mind, and as soon as I had thought of her that was it. I think she would be great as Rosamond especially given the way she played Emma (Emma, 2009).

Fred Vincy

Previously played by: Jonathan Firth

Suggested actors: Hugh Dancy, James McAvoy (I cannot pick between the two)

Fred Vincy is my favourite character in Middlemarch. He appears at first to be your typical spoilt upper class college boy. At the beginning he is quite a lost character drifting from gambling, sleeping and visiting his childhood sweetheart Mary Garth. But as the story continues he finally finds his place in Middlemarch, thanks to Mary. He is quite a handsome and relatively smart young man although he is often taken for a fool. What I love the most about him as a character is his sincerity, he means what he says, even if he is quite blunt at times. I also love that he loves Mary, despite their differences in status.

Fred was the hardest choice, I found so many actors who I thought could convincingly execute the role. Matthew Rhys (The Abduction Club), James McAvoy (Becoming Jane) and Hugh Dancy (King Arthur) being my favourites. Perhaps I found it so hard also because I LOVED Jonathan Firth in the role- his is my favourite Firth *GASP* (Sorry, I'm not much of a Colin fan). Anyway I couldn't decide between Hugh and James so I left it as a tie (I'd have to audition them before making a decision haha).

Other actors I would suggest: Rupert Evans, Ben Whitshaw, Matthew Rhys

Rev. Edward Casaubon

Previously played by: Patrick Malahide

Suggested actors: Guy Pearce (The Count of Monte Cristo, The King's Speech)

Casaubon is a rather ugly, middle aged scholar. He has ideal's quite like Dorothea and wishes to make his mark on the world by unearthing some type of religious discovery. He is so absorbed in completing this that he often neglects those around him. Casaubon is often seen as one of the villains in the novel however I disagree, he like Rosamond just doesn't think, he is selfish and I think that he -underneath it all, is hurt easily and that leads him to make the decisions he does.

When thinking upon an actor to play Casaubon I couldn't help but get the image of Guy Pearce out of my head. I have been in love with him since I first saw him in the Australian TV Series Snowy River: The McGregor Saga. He had quite the heart-throb status at that time, however since seeing him in The Count of Monte Cristo I am convinced he can play the 'bad guy', not that Casaubon is really a bad guy. Anyway the reason I settled on him is the image of him playing King Edward VIII in The King's Speech, yep add some really bad make-up, a horrible wig and he is definitely my Casaubon.

Mary Garth

Previously played by: Rachel Power

Suggested actress:  Morven Christie (Lost in Austen, The Young Victoria)

Mary Garth is the childhood sweetheart of Fred Vincy. She comes from a poor family and isn't exactly considered pretty, she is rather plain - and when I say plain I refer to the ordinary, common place look of women at that time. Eliot says of her "If you want to know more particularly how Mary looked, ten to one you will see a face like hers in the crowded street to-morrow," . Although Mary lacks the beauty of either Dorothea or Rosamund she makes it up for it in her common sense, the lack of unattainable dreams and her lack of pride. She is honest, hard working and a great judge of character. Even though she doesn't agree with Fred Vincy all the time, she truly loves him and can see him for the man she knows is underneath.

I found it really hard to think of someone for this role purely because in suggesting someone I don't want people to think I am infering that the actress is plain. I can think of many beautiful actresses which would suit this role so I decided I would just have to pick a beautiful one- despite Eliot's description. The actress I settled on is one I think would be  absolutely perfect- Morven Christie. I thought she gave Jane Bennet a lot of heart in Lost in Austen. If you have seen her act, I am sure you will understand why I think she would be a great Mary Garth.

Mr. Arthur Brooke

Previously played by: Robert Hardy

Suggested actors: Hugh Bonneville (Lost in Austen, Downton Abbey)

Mr Brooke is the uncle of Dorothea and her sister Celia. He is the sole caretaker of his nieces after the death of their parents.

Hugh is a legend in my eyes, his performances are always so well executed. I loved the way he played Mr Bennet in Lost in Austen, he was hilarious. Mr Brooke is a kindly man, however he is somewhat of should I put this...dimwit, that being said I find him to be quite a funny character and would love to see Hugh's portrayal of him.

Rev. Camden Farebrother

Previously played by: Simon Chandler

Suggested actors: Harry Lloyd (Robin Hood BBC, Jane Eyre 2011)

Farebrother is the vicar of Middlemarch. He is a kind man who has a way with cards, by gambling and winning he is able to make up for his small salary, as he must provide for his Mother, Sister and Aunt.

Okay, so I had to include Harry somewhere in this imaginary cast just because I think he is awesome. It's a pity I couldn't also fit Richard Armitage, Henry Cavill and Logan Bartholomew in here somewhere too! Anyway back to Harry - I would have liked to cast him as Fred (because he is my favourite character in Middlemarch) but I just don't think he suits the role. However I think he could definitely give a great performance of  Farebrother.

Nicholas Bulstrode

Previously played by: Peter Jeffery

Suggested actors: Liam Cunningham (The Abduction Club, Northanger Abbey 2007)

Bulstrode is a powerful banker in Middlemarch, he funds many of the insitutions in and around town therefore enabling the control that he wants over the people. He is a deeply religious man, but as the reader we find Bulstrode to be a hypocrite. He is a shady character who's past is linked directly to financial woes of Will Ladislaw.

Liam Cunningham has shown time and time again that he is a talented actor. He is great at playing the evil villain (Northanger Abbey, The Abduction Club) but I also love seeing him in good roles (First Knight). Bulstrode is perhaps considered a villain however he also has this almost vulnerablity to him, at times I feel a little sorry for him. Liam, I believe would be able to bring both these elements to the character.

What do you think of my suggestions? Who would you cast in these roles?


Ye Olde Cyber Shoppe said...

Those are some excellent suggestions. I am a big Rupert Penry-Jones fan so I'd love to see him involved. Doesn't seem like it would need remaking though. It's not as though it's that old.

Funny that Causabon is meant to be ugly because I don't see Malahide that way. Even if he did have that horrid hairstyle :-)

Miss Laurie said...

Okay, this is such an interesting post! I love dream cast lists like these! I'd heard a while ago that Middlemarch was going to be remade but it's true we haven't heard anything about it in a while. I wonder if they would consider using the same script as the 1994 series or is Andrew Davies would write a brand new one?

Emily Blunt would be perfect as Dorothea! And she does look remarkably like Juliet Aubrey. Abbie Cornish might also work well in the role.
Ioan Gruffudd! He'd certainly be a bit more appealing than Rufus Sewell. Maybe he'd be too old to play the part though?
Tertius Lydgate is truly an amazing name! I've always liked the name Tertius since first watching the 1994 miniseries! Now attaching beautiful Rupert Penry-Jones to that name would be incredible! I think he could do the character justice. Here's a few other suggestions, what about Andrew Buchan (Cranford, Jane Eyre 2006, Garrow's Law) or Tom Riley (Mr. Wickham in Lost In Austen & played a great doctor in Casulty 1907 TV series)?
Ramola Garai would probably be perfect as Rosamond! Her role as Gwendolen Harleth in Daniel Deronda reminds me a bit of Rosamond. Kimberley Nixon (Sophy Hutton in Cranford) might make a good Rosamond too. I've seen her in a Poirot episode and her character was quite spoiled and prissy a contrast to her sweet Sophy character.
Jonathan is my favorite Firth brother as well! I LOVED him as Prince Albert in the Victoria & Albert TV miniseries, and I always enjoy his TV and film appearances! Hugh Dancy looks quite a bit like Jonathan so he'd be my choice but Ben Whitshaw is probably a better age maybe.
Guy Pearce is an interesting choice to play Casaubon and I think he could do it well. Patrick Malahide was great though, and he too was rather a heart-throb when he was younger with his piercing blue eyes and Irish accent.
Morven Christie would be perfect because she does have such heart in her characters (have you seen her as Rose in Oliver Twist 2009?) and she is pretty and plain at times depending on the camera angle.
Hugh Bonneville would be very interesting in the role of Mr. Brooke! He played a great dim-witted Mr. Rushworth in Mansfield Park 1999 (he was younger for sure) and I too enjoyed his portrayal of Mr. Bennet.
I've never seen Harry Lloyd before (well only as Young Steerforth in David Copperfield). Funny how he has a cleft chin like Simon Chandler does!
I love Liam Cunningham and if you think about it the two "villains" he's played have also had that vulnerability, they aren't pure evil (at least General Tilney doesn't).

I love your suggestions! I've been wanting to make some dream cast lists of my own (Mansfield Park and Lady Susan particularly). This post was SO interesting! :)

Mel said...

Ye Olde Cyber Shoppe: Thank you, Malahide is such a great actor isn't he! I don't think he is ugly either...well in real life, but in Middlemarch the did make him look quite terrible :)

Miss Laurie: Thank you for such a long comment! I was thinking the same thing about the script at first however I think this newer version is supposed to be like a film- so I would say it would need significant condensing :(

I am so glad that you liked some of my suggestions. I also thought Ioan may be a little old for the part but I think he has a boyish charm about him and so he might be able to pull it off.
I have never heard of Andrew Buchan (I really need to see Cranford!) but Tom Riley is a great suggestion I loved him in Lost in Austen.
Kimberley Nixon...once again I haven't see her in anything- I REALLY must see Cranford :)
YAY! I am so glad somebody else loves Jonathan Firth better than Colin! I thought I must be the only person on the planet, I haven't seen him in Victoria & Albert but I loved him in The Prince & Me.
I haven't seen Oliver Twist 2009 but if Morven (another interesting name) Christie is in it, I am sure it would be worth the watch!

I'd love to read your dream cast lists! Thank you for posting such a long and detailed comment :)

birdienl said...

What an interesting post! You really made some excellent suggestions, if only Andrew Davies would read this!
One person I cannot get into is Guy Pearce for Causabon. Actually, I'm in the middle of rewatching the first series of Snowy River: The McGregor Saga, so he really is Rob McGregor for me now. And I've not yet seen The King's Speech, so I've got no recent image of him.

Mel said...

birdienl- "if only Andrew Davies would read this" What a compliment thank you so much!
I can absolutely understand if you can't get into Guy Pearce as Casaubon especially since you are watching him as Rob McGregor- I loved him that role!
Thank you for taking the time to comment


hellokitty said...

This is such a great post!!!!!
amazing if it has James McAvoy in it, its worth seeing hehehe,nah but you have certainly picked awesome actors to play the roles!!! except {if you don't mind me saying} the guy from Persuasion~ Rupert Penry-Jones, sorry just don't like him, but then again i don't have a better suggestion.
Thanks Mel,
Hello Kitty xxx

Melody said...

I just saw 3 of the actors you mentioned on Daniel Deronda - Romola Garai, Hugh Bonneville, and Hugh Dancy. (Well, I watched it minus a few scenes. haha) So that picture of Hugh Bonneville gave me the creeps. :P

Anything 'clssic' (or old-fashioned film in general) with Romola Garai in it, I would hope to watch. =D

Mel said...

hellokitty: Thank you so much! James McAvoy is amazing isn't he :)

Melody: I haven't seen Daniel Deronda- so I'm sorry that the picture of Hugh Bonneville gave you the creeps, I take it he was the 'bad guy' :)

Melody said...

Ohhhhh yes. haha...