Tuesday, April 15, 2008

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Casting Coup: Wuthering Heights

*An oldie from the Livejournal days. This one goes back to the week before I started this blog. The news is already outdated after only a year, with Portman out, Gemma Arterton and Ed Westwick in. Many of the pictures are new, since I used to exclusively use hot-linking in the ol' LJ days.*

I'l go back to black next week, but recent developments have made today's Casting Coup necessary.

A recent announcement claims not only a new production of Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights is in the works, but Academy Award Nominee Natalie Portman (Closer) will be playing the role of Catherine Earnshaw.

I'm a fan of Natalie. I like her in a number of flicks. She's one of the few good things about the first two Star Wars prequels. In Leon, she's haunting. In Everyone Says I Love You, she's surprisingly realistic in a screwball musical-comedy. In Garden State, she's the wonderful embodiment of every high school guy's fantasies. She's just a brilliant actress.

And yet... I'm sorry, Catherine?! She's sickly and what not, but she's not exactly a pixie. Something about Natalie Portman has just never struck me as English. French, maybe, but English? I just can't see it. Catherine should be more intense, more strikingly beautiful. And let's be honest, Natalie looks perpetually 16.

Obviously, I'm going to give her a shot, try to keep an open mind. But meanwhile, I can't help but think of who else would be swell. Who would I choose?

Who is He: The narrator representing us, the readers, he arrives at Wuthering Heights and gets to learn the whole history of everything. Hooray! Occasionally misunderstands things, due to his inability to really understand anything past his own privileged world.

Previously played by: Miles Mander (1939) and Paul Geoffrey (1992)

My Choice: Up-and-comer who insists on playing leading male roles billed as supporting in fictional dramatizations of real-life political events.

Michael Sheen (The Queen, the upcoming Frost/Nixon)

Who is She: Privileged matriarch of the hoity-toity, conservative, probably in-bred Linton family. Not cool with Heathcliff.

Previously played by: Pamela Brown (1970) and Jennifer Daniel (1992)

My Choice: Funnily enough, she appeared in the 1992 version of the film, but in a different role.

Academy Award Nominee Janet McTeer (Tumbleweeds, Marple: The Murder at the Vicarage)

Who is He: He, too, has a stick up his bum. Proprietor of Thrushcross Grange.

Previously played by: Cecil Humphreys (1939), James Cossins (1970) and Simon Ward (1992)

My Choice: Not actually British, but according to native Brits, he does the accent better than some Englishmen.

Daniel Davis (The Nanny, The Prestige)

Who is She: Matriarch of the Earnshaw household, she does not care for Heathcliff. Like, say, she hates him. But it's okay, because she dies first.

Previously played by: Rosalie Crutchley (1970)

My Choice: She only does a few things a year, but Lordy, she's awesome. And she's dating Saffron Burrows, so she has great taste.

Fiona Shaw (My Left Foot, the Harry Potter films)

Who is He: Head of the Earnshaw clan at Wuthering Heights. Adopts Heathcliff, preferring him to his own son, Hindley. This creates a problem, naturally.

Previously played by: Cecil Kellaway (1939), Harry Andrews (1970) and John Woodvine (1992)

My Choice: Too old? Maybe, but I miss this guy, and he certainly has a kinder face than those other guys.

Timothy West (Ever After, Agatha)

Who is He: Religious, elderly, fanatically, stubborn, unkind--a pain in the ass, but he remains a servant at Wuthering Heights throughout the novel. Which is weird, considering that he's pushing seventy at the beginning of the novel, so he's about 120 by the end.

Previously played by: Leo G. Carroll (1939), Aubrey Woods (1970) and Robert Demeger (1992)

My Choice: A bit more upper-class than the character, but he's an actor, so he can do it.

Hollmann Award Nominee Leslie Phillips (Venus, Millions)

Who is She: Wife to Hindley. She, too, does not care for Heathcliff, and to call her a whiny bitch would be generous. Methinks.

Previously played by: Morag Hood (1970) and Janine Wood (1992)

My Choice: The original choice for Bellatrix Lestrange, actually, though now she's got another role in the Harry Potter series.

Helen McCrory (The Queen, Becoming Jane)

Who is He: Earnshaw's son and heir. After his father's death, he forces Heathcliff into servitude, before becoming a depressed alcoholic. Abusive and resentful.

Previously played by: Hugh Williams (1939), Julian Glover (1970) and Jeremy Northam (1992)

My Choice: Funnily enough, he's played Timothy West's son before.

Dougray Scott (Dark Water, Ever After)

Who is He: The weak, mopey son of Heathcliff and Isabella. Isabella takes care of him until she dies (everyone does in the novel, don't worry about spoilers), then he's sent off to the abusive Heathcliff and forced to marry Young Catherine.

Previously played by: Jonathan Firth (1992)

My Choice: Another Ever After alum. I guess I really miss that movie.

Lee Ingleby (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Marple: Nemesis)

Who is He: The son of Hindley and Frances, Heathcliff takes charge of him when Hindley is too drunk to do otherwise. Hareton becomes an ignorant, angry field worker. He's tender-hearted, though, and falls for Young Catherine.

Previously played by: Jason Riddington (1992)

My Choice: A little scrawny now, but I'm sure with some field work, he could buff up. And he's good-looking, and can play angry and belligerent. I'd believe it. Just add some facial hair, and he's good. Just watch his bare-knuckle boxing in Becoming Jane.

James McAvoy (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Atonement)

Who is She: The daughter of Edgar and Catherine, she's a lot like her mother, but also a little like her father. She's headstrong and stubborn, but she's also forgiving and tender-hearted. Looks a great deal like her mother, though, and at times, they are played by the same actress.

Previously played by: Academy Award Winner Juliette Binoche (1992)

My Choice: Uh, fuck that two different actresses crap. I'm getting girls about the same age, but who can play mother and daughter with the right make-up. And they resemble each other. And Young Catherine would be blonde, anyway.

Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada, Poirot: Death on the Nile)

Who is She: Daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Linton, Isabella is meek and silly, falling for Heathcliff despite his obvious hatred for her family. She runs off to London with their son in the middle of the night, but dies anyway.

Previously played by: Academy Award Nominee Geraldine Fitzgerald (1939), Hilary Dwyer (1970) and Sophie Ward (1992)

My Choice: Oh, sure, red-head instead of blonde, but (1) they do it better, and (2) I would kill to see her in this part.

Isla Fisher (The Lookout, I Heart Huckabees)

Who is He: The son of the Lintons, he's kind of weak. Like, a spoiled brat who becomes a cowardly man. Marries Catherine, thus leading Heathcliff to hate and vow revenge upon him. Handsome and pleasant company, though.

Previously played by: Academy Award Winner David Niven (1939), Ian Ogilvy (1970) and Simon Shepherd (1992)

My Choice: Looks like Isla's brother. He's a handsome, pleasant enough fellow, but he's also skinny enough to play cowardly and pampered.

Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins, Breakfast on Pluto)

Who is She: She narrates the core events of Wuthering Heights to Lockwood--and, thusly, us. A housekeeper, I guess, she is a little older than everyone else and so is able to narrate the events with an almost perfect memory. Her compassion for these people makes her unreliable at times, though.

Previously played by: Academy Award Nominee Flora Robson (1939), Judy Cornwell (1970) and Academy Award Nominee Janet McTeer (1992)

My Choice: Hey, she turns 49 today! And is one of the greatest actresses in the English language!

Academy Award Winner Emma Thompson (Howards End, Angels in America)

Who is She: Daughter of the Earnshaw clan, she loves Heathcliff to an almost ridiculous intensity, but marries Edgar for the money and social power. Then she ruins everyone's lives. Beautiful and spoiled, arrogant and free-spirited, she is prone to mood-swings and temper tantrums.

Previously played by: Academy Award Nominee Merle Oberon (1939), Anna Calder-Marshall (1970) and Academy Award Winner Juliette Binoche (1992)

My Choice: Now, this is one bad-ass chick that men would obsess for.

Eva Green (Casino Royale, The Golden Compass)

Who is He: The lead guy of the novel, a vengeful orphan who is obsessively in love with Catherine. Because he cannot have her, he exacts a lifelong revenge on the entire Earnshaw-Linton bloodline. Sexy, kinda, if you're into that kind of thing.

Previously played by: Academy Award Winner Laurence Olivier (1939), Timothy Dalton (1970) and Academy Award Nominee Ralph Fiennes (1992)

My Choice: Former comedian, with dark enough features to do this. Superb actor, in my book.

Eric Bana (Troy, Lucky You)

Still want Natalie Portman?

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