Tuesday, July 29, 2008

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Casting Coup: Pippi Longstocking

I promised it, and now I'm delivering it! I bought the book on Sunday. I read it Monday. And I cast it Tuesday. Which is today. Because my good friend, the Lovely Lea, requested it, I present to you....


I felt no need to go into the whole rigmarole with the South Seas and blah-dee-blah, keeping instead with the original book that first captivated Swedish children in 1945, and American kids in 1950. Since then, there have been several film adaptations: Swedish in 1949 and 1969, Russian in 1982, American in 1988, and Canadian in 1997. Naturally, I was first introduced via the '88 version, entitled The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking. It was third grade, we saw it twice, and all I could think to myself was, "HOLY COW MRS. PEACOCK IS IN THIS MOVIE!!!" (Indeed, Eileen Brennan was nominated at the Razzies for her performance. Fuck you, Razzie Committee. IT'S NOT FOR YOU!)

But it wasn't until Sunday that I actually read Astrid Lindgren's original story. And let me tell you, it is fascinating. Pippi is the strongest little girl in the world, as strong as ten policemen! She marches to the beat of her own drum, and is true to herself no matter what. With her are her horse, Little Old Man:

...and her monkey, Mr. Nilsson:

She has no parents: Mum's dead, and Pop, a ship's captain, was lost at sea. So, this nine-year-old girl lives alone at Villa Villekulla, next door to the Settergrens, who are more traditional. Supposedly.

Hell, let's just throw you right into the mix. Click "Read More!" to read more.


Who are They: In "Pippi Goes to a Coffee Party", Pippi visits her old friends the Settergrens. Mrs. Settergren has a coffee party, which Pippi of course dirupts when she pours sugar on the carpet ("Why should there be the kind...to sprinkle on things if somebody doesn't go and sprinkle it?"), dives into the pie ("You mustn't feel bad...The main thing is that we have our health."), and tells stories of her Grandmother's maid, Malin ("The only annoying thing was that as soon as company came she would rush at them and bite their legs."). Each of the women subjected to this have complaints about their maids. Mrs. Berggren's is messy, Mrs. Granberg's borrows without asking, and Mrs. Alexandersson's steals.

My Choices: I've decided that all the adults should be glorified cameo appearances. So, I chose the three most proper women I could think of. Women we would love to see in hats and pearls.

Academy Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (Enchanted April), Joan Plowright (101 Dalmatians, Dennis the Menace) as Mrs. Berggren

Juliet Stevenson (Infamous, Emma) as Mrs. Granberg

Academy Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (American Gangster), Ruby Dee (A Raisin in the Sun, Do the Right Thing) as Mrs. Alexandersson


Who is He: So, Pippi goes to the circus and pretty much puts the whole place out of business when she spontaneously becomes part of the show. And is much better at it. She beats the strongman. The ringmaster grows quite exasperated ("Horrible child! Get out of here!")

My Choice: He looks nothing at all like the illustration, but I like his build and his presence, as far as ringmaster-types go. Academy Award Nominee for Best Live-Action Short Film (Little Surprises)

Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park, Independence Day)


Who are They: The cops made the mistake of trying to drag Pippi to the orphanage. She gets the best of them, as you can see.

My Choices: Buffoonish, so perhaps some comic actors. But they're cops, so they have to look believable in uniform.

Will Arnett (TV's Arrested Development, Blades of Glory)

Academy Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (Chicago), John C. Reilly (Step Brothers, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story)

Who is She: A good-hearted, sweet soul who has to contend with Pippi on her first and only day of school. Two possible reasons for her going crazy. This exchange:

TEACHER: "Pippi, can you tell me what seven and five are?"
PIPPI: "Well, if you don't know that yourself, you needn't think I'm going to tell you."

Or maybe this:

Strong cases for both, really.

My Choice: She's described as sweet, so I wanted someone who not only could play a Mom type, but who was easy on the eyes. Of course, she also gets very stern, so I wanted someone who could play irritated and pissed.

Carla Gugino (Spy Kids, Sin City)


Who are They: Two tramps named Bloom and Thunder-Karlsson (fuck off, that's why). They want a sandwich, but when they see Pippi counting gold, they decide to try to steal from her. Instead, they wind up making friends and dancing the night away. They finally leave, upon which Pippi pays them each with gold coins: "These you have honestly earned."

My Choices: They are not buffoonish, like the cops. Still, they have to be of the straight-faced-shock school of comic timing. I chose a pair of Britishers.

Mark Addy (TV's Still Standing, A Knight's Tale) as Bloom

Richard E. Grant (Gosford Park, Spice World) as Thunder-Karlsson

Who is She: Mother to Tommy and Annika, she allows her children to continually spend time with Pippi, even after the coffee party. And the police interference. And the school incident. Not a very wary woman, clearly.

My Choice: Someone who can be exasperated yet motherly at the same time? Sign up this Academy Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (Working Girl, In & Out)

Joan Cusack (Addams Family Values, Friends with Money)


Who are They: Sickeningly sweet kids who gets roped into Pippi's crazy antics. Tommy does not bite his nails, and "always did exactly what his mother told him to do". Annika keeps clean and "never fussed when she didn't get her own way". They clearly need to introduce a little anarchy in their lives. Or a little Pippi.

My Choices: Yes, yes, yes, I actually found a pair of innocents to take on these roles! The boy, meh, I found him on a TV show, but the girl is going places. Seriously. The last time I had a hunch about a young actress about her age, it was for a certain little tot in Signs. And she almost won an Oscar, may I remind you. So, here they are, my child stars:

Miles Williams (TV's Wonder Showzen, TV's The Guiding Light) as Tommy

Future Academy Award Nominee/Future Hollmann Award Winner Rhiannon Leigh Wryn (Hulk, The Last Mimzy) as Annika


Who is She: The lead, a red-headed orphan who doesn't need some bald-headed billionaire to make her feel complete. She's CRAZY. Pippi is seriously crazy. Look at that. She's out for blood. You're next.

My Choice: She may be 10 instead of 9, but come on. Look at her.

Ryan Newman (Monster House, TV's Hannah Montana)

Lea? Proud?

1 comment:

V said...

These are all great choices! Oh, and I had that Pippi book, with those exact illustrations, but I think I lost my copy years ago.

Hmmm, I need to think of a book for your casting coup. I'll get back to you on it.