Tuesday, May 5, 2009

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Casting Coup: Clue

With the success of Transformers and the anticipation for G.I. Joe rising (...right?), Hasbro apparently thought, "Hey, if it works for toys, why not with board games???" To that end, Hasbro has partnered with a number of high-up film people to produce cinematic version of Monopoly, Candy Land (which I actually think sounds awesome), Ouija (...) and -- get this -- Clue.

"But wait!" you're probably saying (and even if you're not, I've already typed it out). "Wasn't Clue already a movie? A fantastically awesome movie starring Madeline Khan's sexy, sexy self as Mrs. White? Did I dream that?" And you would be right; Clue was a comedy in 1984 with all-star cast and three alternate endings. It is an awesome movie.

Here's where Hasbro got clever. Instead of giving us a remake of that movie, they want Gore Verbinski and the geniuses at Universal (yay!!!) to make an original dramatic murder-mystery with twists and turns and DRAMA. An interesting step to take, I think, as even the play-along video and book series took none of it seriously. As of now, it is still in the development stages, so I thought I would propose an approach that may seem complicated, but is actually quite...well, okay, it's complicated.

Over the years, a number of different Clues have surfaced. There's Original, Master Detective, Clue FX, Clue Mysteries, and variations on these. All these different versions mean that several characters, not just the six we all know and love, have been added to Clue Canon. Alongside these new characters are new storylines, new motives, and a new corpse. Pretty cool, eh?

That's not all. If we include dead bodies and a butler character that narrates Clue FX, we have thirteen characters in all. Three of these characters have been used as "non-suspects"; that is, they are playable characters who are not considered to be among those who might have done it. Two separate plotlines include the murders of both Mr. Boddy and his lawyer, Mr. Meadow-Brook. Two characters at separate times have had the surname of Grey, and I use both -- quite cleverly, if I say so myself. And, to top it all off, I've added a character of my own creation, one who premiered when I wrote stage adaptation of Clue back in middle school.

Most of the character info is, indeed, canon.


Who is He: A retired general practicioner, Dr. Black is known and reviled by many. Owner of Tudor Mansion. He holds a masked ball for his birthday, attended by a number of guests. It is here that he happens to mention a possible changing of his will. At first nicknamed "Mr. Boddy" when his headless corpse is found on the front lawn, he is later identified by a mole on his wrist. The head is never found, and it apparent that he was not killed on his lawn, leaving it up to the police to discover who killed him, where, and with what.

My Choice: Academy Award Nominee for Best Actor (Lawrence of Arabia, The Lion in Winter, Becket, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, The Ruling Class, The Stunt Man, My Favorite Year, Venus), BAFTA Award Winner for Best British Actor (Lawrence of Arabia), Golden Globe Winner for Best Actor in a Drama (The Lion in Winter, Becket), Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy (Goodbye, Mr. Chips) and Most Promising Newcomer – Male, SAG Award Nominee for Best Actor (Venus), Hollmann Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (Ratatouille)

Peter O'Toole (Man of La Mancha, Stardust)
I like the idea of Black/Boddy as an elderly man, as it enables all sorts of interesting subplots involving heirs, spouses, and relations. And I love Peter O'Toole, so I would leap at the chance of working with him.

Who is He: Dr. Black's lawyer. It is he who holds the secret of how Dr. Black left his fortune. Chartreuse and Gray are on their way to question him when he, too, is found dead in his office. Are the murders connected?

My Choice: Academy Award Winner for Best Supporting Actor (Million Dollar Baby), Golden Globe Winner for Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy (Driving Miss Daisy), SAG Award Winner for Best Supporting Actor (Million Dollar Baby)

Morgan Freeman (Bruce Almighty, Glory)
Um, again, this is partly for the sake of having a Big Star play a corpse. It's fun, believe me. Freeman also has the sort of breeding that I would associate with a lawyer catering to the hoity-toity. I mean, he sounds like it, at least.


Who is He: An original creation of mine, first created for my unproduced stage adaptation of Clue before resurfacing on the middle school morning announcements in his own mystery program. Chartreuse possesses a deadpan sense of humor. A sucker for a pretty face, Chartreuse finds himself falling for Mrs. Henrietta Peacock.

My Choice: Academy Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (Fargo), Golden Globe Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (Seabiscuit), SAG Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (Fargo) and Best Ensemble (Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Seabiscuit, Bobby)

William H. Macy (The Deal, Inland Empire)
Macy is more or less who I had always written the part of Chartreuse for. I just didn't know it at the time. Macy would have the opportunity to play the leading man this time around, not only solving the mystery, but romancing a lady as well! Since he's one of my favorite actors ever, I'd say he deserves it.

Who is He: Chartreuse's partner int he investigation. Unbeknownst to Chartreuse, Gray actually dropped in on the Masquerade the night of the murder. Unbeknownst to Gray, he is actually the illegitimate son of Mrs. White and Dr. Black, and was then adopted by Black's old friend, Lord Gray.

My Choice: Academy Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (Places in the Heart, In the Line of Fire), BAFTA Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (In the Line of Fire), Golden Globe Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (In the Line of Fire), SAG Award Nominee for Best Ensemble (Being John Malkovich), Hollmann Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (Burn After Reading)

John Malkovich (Colour Me Kubrick, Dangerous Liaisons)
There is a creepiness to Malkovich that all who look upon him immediately recognize. It is this creepiness that would benefit the character of Sgt. Gray, as it enables him to be a more believable suspect. Also, I first thought of him for Dr. Black before I went with these plot threads and chose O'Toole, so having him play Black's son was the next logical step.


Who is He: The butler of Tudor Manor, he happened to have the evening off the night of the murder. He fills Chartreuse in on much of the family gossip.

My Choice: SAG Award Nominee for Best Ensemble (Nixon)

David Hyde Pierce (Down with Love, TV's Frasier)
It was between Pierce and Daniel Davis (TV's The Nanny), and while I've seen Davis as the butler, I've yet to see Pierce in that role. He has the voice for it though, and he could do the mannerisms. Maybe give him some spectacles, eh? That'd look neat.

Who is He: Despite the title, there is little evidence to support his claim to royal lineage. However, it does get him in good with the right crowd. Azure is an art dealer who is not an altogether scrupulous businessman. Having been out of town on business on the night of the murder, he is not a suspect -- but he is connected to a number of them, including business partner Brunette and old rival Mustard.

My Choice: Academy Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (In America, Blood Diamond), Golden Globe Nominee for Best Actor in a Drama (Amistad), SAG Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (Blood Diamond) and Best Ensemble (Gladiator, In America)

Djimon Hounsou (The Island, Eragon)
Azure is, most famously, the first black character in Clue canon. And so, the job is to get an actor who is both black, regal enough to pull off the prince thing, suave enough to be an art dealer, handsome enough to rival Mustard. Hounsou has perfect bone structure, and he's a marvelous actor to boot, which is probably important when casting these things.

Who is He: A retired cartographer, Lord Gray now designs water gardens for the rich. A close friend of Dr. Black's, he adopted the illegitimate offspring of the doctor and Mrs. White. Lord Gray alone knows of the history of mental instability in the Black family, making him eager to cover up any connection between his son and the victim, fearing that it was Earl who bumped Black off. He was with Chartreuse on the night of the murder.

My Choice: SAG Award Nominee for Best Ensemble (Gosford Park)

Michael Gambon (The Omen, The Good Shepherd)
Gambon is the very picture of British sophistication to me -- Gosford Park, The Good Shepherd, Sleepy Hollow. The part of Lord Gray would have great pathos involved. Imagine being a parent, thinking your offspring may be an unhinged killer. He'd be quite fantastic in the role, I think.

Who is She: An herbalist who is a key member of the grapevine. Lady Lavender treats many, including Dr. Black, Mrs. Meadow-Brook, Miss Scarlet, and Mrs. Peacock. It is rumored that she may have murdered her husband, but in this case, she is completely innocent, having given a lecture at the university. She and Professor Plum are professional colleagues.

My Choice: BAFTA Award Nominee for Best Actress (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)

Michelle Yeoh (Tomorrow Never Dies, Memoirs of a Geisha)
Yeoh is a marvelous actress. She can bring a bit of the sexy, but more so, she has the sophistication of wealth that Lady Lavender would possess.


Who is He: An art dealer in league with Prince Azure. Brunette is under investigation after Dr. Black blows the whistle on a number of frauds and forgeries Brunette had been dealing. Incredibly, Black still invites Brunette to his Masquerade, giving Brunette the opportunity to silence the whistle-blower once and for all.

My Choice: Hollmann Award Nominee for Best Actor (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly)

Mathieu Amalric (A Christmas Tale, Quantum of Solace)
Marvelous French actor playing a French fraud. And he looks good in brown. His Dominic Greene was the perfect model for this character. I fancy he'd use a blunt instrument.

Who is He: Rev. Green does not run the local church; rather, he is a traveling evangelist who holds revival meetings on Dr. Black's lawn. When Black catches him stealing from the church funds, his reputation is at risk. Fortunately, there is the Masquerade to attend.

My Choice: Academy Award Nominee for Best Actor (The Visitor), SAG Award Nominee for Best Actor (The Visitor)

Richard Jenkins (Intolerable Cruelty, I Heart Huckabees)
Jenkins is the priestly type, the kind whose face you'd trust. Rev. Green must appear trustworthy in order to fleece the flock. Jenkins can also play madcap and cornered, something Rev. Green must feel if he is to have a motive.

Who is She: The widow of Miles Meadow-Brook, and the chief gossip of the village. She and Miles were not known for their harmonious marital bliss -- quite the opposite! Mrs. Meadow-Brook is lovely, of course, and this is something that did not go unnoticed by Dr. Black. Could Miles have killed Dr. Black out of jealousy, only to be murdered by his unhappy wife?

My Choice: Academy Award Winner for Best Actress (Blue Sky) and Best Supporting Actress (Tootsie), BAFTA Award Nominee for Best Actress (Tootsie), Golden Globe Winner for Best Actress in a Drama (Blue Sky), Best Supporting Actress (Tootsie) and Best Female Acting Debut (King Kong), SAG Award Nominee for Best Actress (Blue Sky)

Jessica Lange (Grey Gardens, Big Fish)
Still beautiful at the age of sixty, I can still see her playing the vamp. And she's old enough to be the biddy, as Mrs. Meadow-Brook is wont to be. And she looks good in blue and shades thereof, which Mrs. Meadow-Brook is traditionally adorned in.

Who is He: A military man, intensely masculine and hot-tempered. Colonel Mustard is an accomplished author, and has been working on one covering his exploits until his publisher, Dr. Black, pulls out at the last minute. Mustard is an expert shot and carries a torch for Miss Scarlet, though Miss Peach also offers him her attentions.

My Choice: Academy Award Nominee for Best Actor (The English Patient) and Best Supporting Actor (Schindler’s List), BAFTA Award Winner for Best Supporting Actor (Schindler’s List), Golden Globe Nominee for Best Actor (The English Patient) and Best Supporting Actor (Schindler’s List, The Duchess), SAG Award Nominee for Best Actor (The English Patient) and Best Ensemble (The English Patient), Hollmann Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (The Duchess)

Ralph Fiennes (In Bruges, The Reader)
Dashing, masculine, British, and can do an American accent if need be. A romance between him and either Scarlet or Peach would be welcome. He has been doing stick-in-the-mud types lately (In Bruges excepted), so a colonel would be no problem, I imagine.

Who is He: An old, bitter gardener, Rusty is preparing for retirement. Rumor has it, however, that Black has changed his will, and the ancient Rusty cannot bear the idea of being broke at his advanced age. His landscaping tends not to agree with the designs of Lord Gray, and so the two have a bit of a rivalry.

My Choice: Academy Award Winner for Best Actor (Tender Mercies), BAFTA Award Winner for Best Supporting Actor (Apocalypse Now), Golden Globe Winner for Best Actor (Tender Mercies) and Best Supporting Actor (Apocalypse Now), SAG Award Winner for Best Supporting Actor (A Civil Action)

Robert Duvall (Thank You for Smoking, Network)
Lookit those hands. Those hands are rough, a gardener's hands. He's also old as hell (and heaven!), so the bitterness of Rusty would come through. Plus, how much would you love to see Robert Duvall in something like this?

Who is She: Your typical Southern Belle, this schoolteacher is sweet as molasses and as beautiful as a magnolia blossom. As Dr. Black's niece, she's more than set up for life when he dies -- unless he's changed his will. Miss Peach is an eligible bachelorette with designs on Colonel Mustard, though Professor Plum seems to be the only one who appreciates her company.

My Choice:

Kristin Chenoweth (Bewitched, RV)
She has a Southern accent and...well, come on, do I really need to elucidate matters for ya? She's Kristin Freeking Chenoweth.

Who is She: Mrs. Peacock is the grande dame of Clue, a well-mannered lady of great wealth. That wealth, by the way, comes from four husbands, all of whom died mysteriously. Could Dr. Black have something concrete on the local dowager? Even he did, Chartreuse may not be looking hard enough, and Mrs. Peacock does seem to be gearing up for husband Number Five...

My Choice: Academy Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (Pieces of April), Golden Globe Nominee for Bets Supporting Actress (Pieces of April), SAG Award Nominee for Best Actress (The Station Agent), Best Supporting Actress (Pieces of April) and Best Ensemble (The Green Mile, The Station Agent, Good Night, and Good Luck.)

Patricia Clarkson (Miracle, the upcoming Whatever Works)
No surprise here, I'm sure. Patricia Clarkson, as you should know, is one of those actresses I can't get enough of. A beautiful older woman who has played the priss before, I feel as though Patty C is the only one who could pull off Mrs. Peacock admirably. And she is adorable in blue. She should wear that.

Who is He: The smartest guy in the room, Prof. Plum's intelligence is masked by his social awkwardness. An expert on poisons and herbs, Plum teaches at the nearby University and frequently discusses herbology with Lady Lavender. Much of Plum's past is unclear, though it seems as though Dr. Black knew a thing or two. Plum pines for Miss Peach, but she seems not to notice him.

My Choice: Golden Globe Nominee for Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy (Stranger Than Fiction) and Best Supporting Actor (The Producers), Hollmann Award Nominee for Best Actor (Stranger Than Fiction)

Will Ferrell (Step Brothers, Night at the Roxbury)
He can do serious. I know Stranger Than Fiction was rather light, but it was unusual for Ferrell to play a role that subdued, and he nailed it. I imagine him with a mustache and glasses would be awesome. Because it would be. He could be the comic relief, and seeing him awkwardly flirt with Miss Peach would be AWWWWW.

Who is She: Dr. Black's former secretary, this Eastern European mystic crashes the Masquerade with the revelation of a vision -- Dr. Black, DEAD! The guests laugh it off, but Madame Rose is soon proved right, though Chartreuse suspects that she may have had a hand in his demise. His suspicions become stronger when it is revealed that Rose and Black shared a father...

My Choice: BAFTA Award Winner for Most Promising Newcomer (The Lacemaker)

Isabelle Huppert (8 Women, I Heart Huckabees)
Beautiful. Mysterious. French. Huppert's otherworldliness lends credence to the mystic's mystique. She always delivers, too, no matter what the genre.

Who is She: A starlet on the rise, Miss Scarlet arrives in town under mysterious cirucmstances. Though forty years his junior, she seems to be intimately acquainted with Dr. Black. She appears to have designs on all the men in town, leaving Miss Peach bitter. She may be French, but her father married an American widow before his death, making her stepmother none other than Mrs. Peacock. This means Chartreuse must tread lightly with her, even as she constantly lies and covers up her past.

My Choice: Academy Award Winner for Best Actress (La Vie en Rose), BAFTA Award Winner for Best Actress (La Vie en Rose), Golden Globe Winner for Best Actress in a Musical/Comedy (La Vie en Rose), SAG Award Nominee for Best Actress (La Vie en Rose), Hollmann Award Winner for Best Actress (La Vie en Rose)

Marion Cotillard (A Very Long Engagement, the upcoming Public Enemies)
Oh holy crap she is so beautiful.

Who is She: Dr. Black's faithful housekeeper. Having attended to his needs for fifty years, Mrs. White also happens to be the mother of Dr. Black's only son, the one adopted by Lord Gray. Mrs. White has grown tired of her job, and begins to realize that she will only be free when Dr. Black dies. When it is hinted that he is drawing up a new will in which she will not benefit, Mrs. White appears to panic. Luckily, she is the only servant at Tudor Manor when the Masquerade is held.

My Choice: Academy Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (Enchanted April), BAFTA Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (Equus) and Most Promising Newcomer (The Entertainer), Golden Globe Winner for Best Supporting Actress (Enchanted April)

Joan Plowright (Last Action Hero, Curious George)
Plowright has such sad eyes, I think, and Mrs. White is a tired, sad woman. She could bring class to any role, and I don't think I've seen her in a challenging mainstream role in ages. It's time.

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