Friday, June 23, 2017

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Casting Coup: Tess

Best Picture, Claude Berri/Timothy Burrill
Best Director, Roman Polanski
Best Music - Original Score, Philippe Sarde
Best Cinematography, Geoffrey Unsworth/Ghislain Cloquet - WON
Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Pierre Guffroy/Jack Stephens - WON
Best Costume Design, Anthony Powell - WON

It's the last day of Casting Coup Week! Starting Monday, we start wrapping up 1980 with a Top Ten, Retro Hollmann Awards Nominations, then two days of the awards proper.

Before we get into all that, though, let's talk about Tess, baby. It's only the third cinematic adaptation of the Thomas Hardy novel, the previous two going back to the silent era. Even TV versions are scarce - one in 1960 for ITV (with Geraldine McEwan!), one in 1998 for LWT (with Justine Waddell!), and one in 2008 for BBC (with Gemma Arterton!).

Perhaps it's the subject matter: Hardy's story takes to task the rich for exploiting the poor, religious institutions for their hypocrisy, patriarchal society for its subjugation of women, and the justice system for its treatment of domestic abuse and rape victims. Now that I've written it all out, I'm surprised there isn't a new version of Tess in the works right now - it is, unfortunately, timeless.

And if they were to make a new version right now - who might they hire to fill the many roles? I have a few suggestions....
an impoverished rural county

A drunk, a peddler who shirks work, a man who becomes obsessed with his once-noble lineage - and how he can make a buck off it.

Originally played by:

John Collin

My Choice: SAG Award Nominee for Best Ensemble (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)

Jason Flemyng (SnatchX-Men: First Class)

Tess's mother, who hopes for the best for her daughter,  concerned with the future and well-being of all her children.

Originally played by:

Rosemary Martin

My Choice: SAG Award Nominee for Best Ensemble (Adaptation.)

Cara Seymour (American PsychoAn Education)

The clergyman who reveals to John that he is probably descended from noblemen dating back to Norman days, and who forever alters Tess's fate.

Originally played by:
Tony Church

My Choice:
John Sessions (Florence Foster Jenkins, Denial)

A clergyman who is sympathetic to Tess's plight, up to a point.

Originally played by:

Richard Pearson

My Choice:

Brendan Coyle (The RavenMe Before You)

home of the d'Urbervilles

Her husband having purchased the title, Mrs. d'Urberville lives in luxury - and darkness. Not just because she's blind, but because she doesn't like anyone but her animals. That includes her son.

Originally played by:
Sylvia Coleridge

My Choice: Hollmann Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (My Week with Marilyn), BAFTA Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (Wilde)
ZoĆ« Wanamaker (Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone, TV's Poirot)

Wealthy heir to the (purchased) d'Urberville name, he sees Tess coming a mile away. Manipulative, charming - and unapologetically wicked. A real louse.

Originally played by:

Leigh Lawson

My Choice:

Domhnall Gleeson (BrooklynStar Wars: The Force Awakens)
We've seen him snivel, we've seen him charm - can he do both at once? I have faith.

where Tess finds work

Who runs the dairy.

Originally played by:
Fred Bryant

My Choice: Golden Globe Nominee for Best Actor - Musical/Comedy (In Bruges, The Guard), BAFTA Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (In Bruges)
Brendan Gleeson (Calvary, Suffragette)

A dairymaid who works with Tess, in love with Angel Clare - indeed, she almost runs off with him to Brazil.

Originally played by:

Suzanna Hamilton

My Choice:

Holliday Grainger (Jane EyreMy Cousin Rachel)

Another dairymaid, also in love with Angel Clare - when he chooses Tess, she is driven to drink, though the two women later become friends on another farm.

Originally played by:

Carolyn Pickles

My Choice:

Sophie McShera (Cinderella, TV's Downton Abbey)

Another dairymaid in love with Angel Clare.

Originally played by:
Caroline Embling

My Choice:
Georgie Henley (The Chronicles of Narnia, The Sisterhood of Night)

home of the Clares

Father of Angel, patriarch of a family of holy men, who finds his son to be ... difficult.

Originally played by:

David Markham

My Choice: BAFTA Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (A World Apart)

David Suchet (Effie Gray, American Assassin)

Wife of the reverend, mother of Angel, concerned for her son's future - and social status.

Originally played by:
Pascale de Boysson

My Choice: BAFTA Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (Another Year)

Lesley Manville (Topsy-TurvyMr. Turner)

A childhood friend of Angel's, a schoolteacher whom his parents hope he weds.

Originally played by:

Arielle Dombasle

My Choice:

Evanna Lynch (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, G.B.F.)


The son of a vicar, he lives the farmer's life, much to his family's chagrin. Falls in love with Tess, but Mr. Intellectual ain't the Prince Charming he seems to be.

Originally played by: Academy Award/Golden Globe Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (Equus)

Peter Firth

My Choice:

Liam Hemsworth (The Hunger Games, Independence Day: Resurgence)
Purely because of The Dressmaker, where he cemented himself as the heartthrob of all our dreams. Or mine, anyway.

Will this girl ever catch a break?

Originally played by: Golden Globe Nominee for Best Actress - Drama (Tess)

Natassja Kinski

My Choice:

Lily James (Cinderella, Baby Driver)

[credit for Tess stills goes to Aveleyman, except for Retty and Mrs. Clare]

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