The Moonstone: An Imaginary Cast List

Her Ladyship amuses herself by drawing up an entirely imaginary cast list for the BBC’s proposed new adaptation of The Moonstone, since they don’t look like they’re going to do it themselves any time soon.

Franklin Blake

A character capable of being both mortifyingly unconventional thanks to his cosmopolitan education (a fact that he strongly denies); and of being intensely serious and grown-up, a personality trait that he adopts for most of the novel in his search for the Moonstone. Also has to convince as a lover.

Jamie Bell.

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As well as sublime acting skills in both comedy and drama, but particularly the latter, Bell possesses a natural screen charisma and gravity as demonstrated in Jane Eyre and The Eagle that show every promise of making Franklin more interesting than he is in the book. Might risk looking too serious.

Matt Smith.

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Through his work in The Ruby in the Smoke and The Shadow in the North, and particularly in Doctor Who, Smith has shown himself to be an actor who does quirky extremely well, but is also capable of being heartbreakingly tragic and very frightening. Might risk looking too immature.

Rachel Verinder

A bit of a puzzle, she starts out as a headstrong, outspoken young girl with feminist tendencies before lapsing into the usual semi-catatonic state that possesses all Victorian heroines except the eternally awesome Marion Halcombe after a disaster of some kind.

Saoirse Ronan.

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She’s been playing roles the average forty year old A-lister would balk at since she was 13, so the accumulated experience of Atonement and Hanna in particular make her more than qualified to successfully juxtapose the despair that Rachel endures for most of the novel and her naturally extroverted personality; her charisma ensuring that we’ll never tire of watching her doing it.

Sophie Turner.

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Game of Thrones having shown us that she acts with the maturity of somebody twice her age, something that always promises greatness in an actress, she has the skills and the screen presence necessary to portray Rachel’s psychological transformation, as well as the youth and vivacity to portray her lighter moments. Also has experience with playing semi-catatonic.

India Eisley.

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Though inexperienced with this type of role, she has proved herself to be a sufficiently good actress to make you wish that you could see more of her, in more challenging roles. Her performance in the surprisingly-good Underworld: Awakening was mature, tragic and utterly convincing in its sadness, loneliness and anger. Given a chance to try something more robust, she would rise spectacularly to the challenge.

Gabriel Betteredge

A perfectly sweet, sincere and not-overly bright butler, often accused of softness by his mistress, Betteredge believes that the secret of human existence and the prophesying of future events are possible through the reading of his favourite book (Robinson Crusoe).

Michael Caine.

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A great actor who could play anyone, Caine is nevertheless the sort of actor you can see in a part like this, probably because of its sort-of similarity to his roles in Batman or The Prestige. A comic part is always all the more delightful when you have a titanic, charismatic actor playing it, and Caine bringing his not-inconsiderable skills to Betteredge would make for a tremendous amount of fun and audience compassion.

Michael Gambon.

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Gambon is a British institution. He’s also great at playing characters who demonstrate Betteredge’s quirkiness (Perfect Strangers), his sincerity (Harry Potter) and his tendency to be a bit of a drama queen (Quartet). The combination of these would be both adorable and rather explosive.

Rosanna Spearman

A short, tragic and important role, Rosanna is an ugly housemaid who falls deeply in love with Franklin. The unfortunate man’s complete failure to notice her infatuation, as well as her previous career as a thief that causes suspicion to fall on her following the Moonstone’s disappearance, lead her to take her own life by throwing herself into a pool of moorland quicksand.

Jodie Comer.

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Her sublime and frankly terrifying performance in the Silent Witness episode entitled Fear, in which she played a fifteen year old convinced enough she was possessed by demons to submit to an exorcism, somewhat overqualifies Miss Comer for this heart wrenching part. That and her age may count against her, but it takes an actress capable of portraying emotional torment with constant intensity to make the character work, something that she is more than capable of doing.

Godfrey Ablewhite

Franklin’s rival for Rachel’s hand, Godfrey is a sugary sweet ladies’ man and philanthropist who inevitably turns out to be a crook.

Lee Pace.

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His performance in Lincoln demonstrates his ability to play characters that say awful things with complete sincerity that are believed by most people present.

Toby Stephens.

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While being fabulous at innocent and idealistic love (Jane Eyre and Onegin), Stephens is equally fabulous at playing repulsive Godfrey-like characters (Die Another Day and Possession). Is far too old for the part; but this fact is overshadowed  by general awesomeness.

Ezra Jennings

The most tragic and the most complex character in the book; a doctor’s assistant almost completely socially outcast because of a bizarre appearance that Collins says is the result of mixed-race parentage but the possessor of which simply turns out to be an ugly white guy with two-toned hair. He’s dying, addicted to opium, trying to save up enough money to see to the woman he loves before he dies and develops intense feelings for Franklin that could be interpreted as romantic. Requires the ability to pack an enormous punch in a short space of time.

Matthew MacFadyen.

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MacFadyen’s being a master of profound emotion expressed through silence makes him an ideal candidate for this role, and though gifted with stunning versatility, has experience playing characters that inspire audience compassion, as is exemplified by his portrayal of Arthur Clennam in Little Dorrit.

Richard Armitage.

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Accustomed to playing out the dark in any character, however luminous, this is an actor who knows how to brood emotively, exemplified by North and South and most recently by The Hobbit. His powerful screen presence would also be essential in this small, but vital role.

Benedict Cumberbatch.

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A genius at extraordinary, somewhat unconventional characters, he’s capable of letting emotion run raw and unchecked (Painted With Words, Wreckers) and with seeming to ignore it completely (Sherlock, Parade’s End), both of which are present to a large degree in Ezra. His natural charisma and unusual features would also help a great deal.

Sergeant Cuff

A direct ancestor of the illustrious resident of 221B Baker Street, Cuff is a highly skilled, magnetic and slightly sociopathic user of deductive reasoning who likes to argue endlessly about the correct way to grow white moss roses.

Mark Strong.

harry_396x222While perhaps a little too young for the part, everything about his acting and his person possesses the slightly disturbing Holmesian magnetism necessary for the part, his experience in Emma equipping him for the more compassionate side of Cuff’s personality, that in The Long Firm and Stardust displaying his ability to play brilliant but dangerous men.

Tom Courtenay.

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A titan of acting, Sir Tom is at the stage in his career when he can play anyone exceptionally, but it is principally for his extraordinary screen presence that he’s mentioned here. It’s perhaps more important in Cuff than in any other character that the audience’s eyes stay fixed on him without really knowing why, and the aforementioned charisma as well as his unparalleled skills in acting make him an ideal match for the character.

Charles Dance.

charles_dance_396x222A master of creepy charisma, it is mostly of his performance in Merlin that I’m thinking when casting him as a detective. He commands without saying a word, and is gifted and experienced enough to portray Cuff’s serious side as well as his delightful oddities.

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2 thoughts on “The Moonstone: An Imaginary Cast List

  1. […] Dream cast list for the BBC’s upcoming production of the The Moonstone considers Armitage as a…. […]

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