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Christopher Lloyd as Manhattan?

Casting stars for comics

(This  Stripped column originally appeared in the June 26-July 2, 1997 Long Island Voice. Click on the artwork for a larger image.)

by Beth Hannan Rimmels

'NUFF SAID:

"It can't be true! History's foulest fiends and cruelest criminals all in the same room—and me without an autograph book. Drat the luck!"

— Elvira in Elvira, Mistress of the Dark #48

With Batman & Robin out, Men in Black soon to follow and Spawn due in August, comic book movies are hot. The ongoing debate over casting Superman for Tim Burton’s next flick (Nicolas Cage or Ralph Finnes) helps to beg the question, what stars should play what comic book characters?

This is just a wish list. I don’t have any inside information (I wish I did) and heaven knows, this isn’t going to sway the Hollywood types if they decide to do another dunder-headed maneuver like casting Kevin Costner as Robin Hood or prevent a star from buying a property they’re wrong for (like Lucille Ball and Mame). I’m just playing armchair casting director.

Famke Jansson

I’ll start with a dead-easy one: Catwoman. I liked Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns, even though the script didn’t do right by her. But, if they ever bring Catwoman back in the Batman films or in her own movie — as is much discussed — I don’t see Pfeiffer wanting to come back. So I nominate Famke Jansson who played the villainous Xenia Onatopp in GoldenEye. She’d be perfect: lithe, catlike, gorgeous, smart and dangerous.

Watchmen, based on Alan Moore’s award-winning miniseries, has been floating around Hollywood forever. My cast would include Nick Nolte as the Comedian (aging jock body with a world weary attitude), Christopher Lloyd as Dr. Manhattan (an impossible role to cast but Lloyd seems to be able to play anything, including a Toon in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?), Jonathan Frakes as Ozymandius (Frakes only occasionally get a chance to really sink his teeth into a role so I think he’d enjoy this); Genie Francis as the Silk Spectre (a chance to let Mrs. Frakes work with Mr. Frakes, plus she’s the right physical type and I think she’s a better actress than she’s gotten credit for on General Hospital), Long Island’s own Steve Buscemi as Rorschach (a meaty role that would definitely get him noticed) and (I admit this is a stretch, but he’s the closest I can come up with) Nathan Lane as Nite Owl. Lane can do drama. Movie audiences just aren’t used to it.

Wesley Snipes signed to play the title role as Marvel’s Blade, the Vampire Hunter. I’d cast him instead as Hardware with Viveca Fox, who was so good in Independence Day, as Technique. A lot of celebs complain — with good reason — that there aren’t enough good roles for black actors. So I still scratch my head over the fact that no studio has bought the rights to characters like Hardware or Icon. If I were Brandy’s manager, I would grab the rights to Icon so she could play Rocket. It would be a great career move because she could do an action film with genuine dramatic moments and something to say. Icon himself is tougher because he should be large and physically imposing, but he also needs a commanding presence and a level of eloquence that puts the role out of reach for many athletes turned actors. My first choice would be Laurence Fishburne, but he’d never do it, so my second choice is Andre Braugher from Homicide. It would be nice to see him with hair.

Will Smith could follow up Men in Black with the role of Tech-9 from Blood Syndicate. Tech-9’s a natural leader and all-around good guy you don’t want to mess with. He also has some bitchin’ guns. I nominate Michael (Worf in the new Star Treks) Dorn for Holocaust because he should try a villain role and it needs an actor with A VOICE. I’d make Rosie Perez Flashback, but the rest are hard to cast. Brick would definitely need an unknown since I don’t know of an actress who would want to wear that makeup.

For something totally different, Wolff & Byrd, Counselors of the Macabre would be a really funny movie. I nominate Barry (Get Shorty, Men in Black) Sonnenfeld to direct because Wolff & Byrd shouldn’t try to be funny. Played dead straight, it’ll be hysterical. If you’re not familiar with Wolff & Byrd — buy it. It’s about two attorneys who specialize in supernatural law and it’s a riot. I suggest Rene Russo for Alanna Wolff and Alan (Cybil, Civil Wars) as Jeff Byrd.

I haven’t even gotten to half my suggestions or anyone else's, so we’ll do this again. Who would you cast?

 

Column 1997 Long Island Voice. GoldenEye photograph 1994 MGM. Wolff & Byrd: Counselors of the Macabre artwork 1997 Batton Lash and Exhibit A Press.