In my review/rant of the BBC version of David Copperfield, I discussed the complete miscasts of several of the beloved main characters. Yes, I want to do a re-cast of my own. Take this post as my dream cast for my favorite novel. It's not that anyone really cares, but this is my blog so I can do whatever I wish and no one can ever stop me. (evil cackle)
I've stated that I'd like to see an Hollywood take on the classic Dickens tale, even though Dickens is totally British (haha). I even specified the director I'd like to see take on such a challenge--Alfonso Cuaron. Honestly, I haven't seen all the film he has directed, but the directional styles he exhibited in the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and A Little Princess is what a realistic Victorian-age fairy tale needs to come to life. I know Cuaron has already done Dickens in the form of a modern-day version of Great Expectations and I still have not seen the film because I don't believe in re-naming 99% of the characters of a novel for a film just to make it more "hip."
There are several versions of David Copperfield and it would seem rather unfair that I am re-casting a film that I haven't seen every single version of. But seriously, I would need a longer life if I want to watch every single film version ever made of David Copperfield. This is simply my dream cast, a cast that has never been featured on film.
While reading David Copperfield, I constantly imagined who would be the perfect David on film. He is kind, yet foolish. He is charming, yet courageous. He is immature, yet responsible. When I watched The 400 Blows and Antoine and Colette, I realized that Jean-Pierre Leaud could have made an excellent David Copperfield. Like Antoine Doinel, David is very much a romantic at heart. Unfortunately for me, it isn't the sixties anymore. Leaud is much too old to play David now.
Then I saw Hellboy on TV one night and there was something very David-esque about Rupert Evans's performance. Let's face it, John Myers is probably the most unnecessary character ever created for a superhero movie. He is there so the audience can have someone to relate to in the midst of freaks, but serves next to no purpose to the story whatsoever. I guess Myers's short-lived romance with the Selma Blair character revealed that Hellboy had the hots for her, but love triangles in superhero movies are becoming too much of a new, unnecessary fad. Apparently, Evans didn't participate in the second film due to scheduling conflicts or money issues--not that they needed him anyway.
But if anyone ever attempts make another adaptation of David Copperfield and wants to do it right (like by not casting Hayden Christensen), they need to cast Rupert Evans in the lead. He is arguably not the best-looking guy in the room--and David should never be played by someone dripping sex--but he has a certain natural shyness and charm about him. I don't know if that was the way Myers was written in the script, but it would certainly work for David.
The actress who plays Agnes Wickfield needs to seem ideal for David every single time we see her. The Agnes in the BBC version looked much too old and motherly while standing next to David. They looked even more ridiculous when they finally reveal their feelings to each other and officially become a couple. There was no chemistry or warmth in their scenes together at all and the final revelation between them was far from developed.
Usually, I prefer women in stories who are brave and imperfect on the edges. Agnes is the opposite, but she possesses a lovable sincerity that is completely irresistable. Agnes is an idealized housewife in the most traditional sense, but there is this strength and faith about her when it comes to the people she loves the most. Some consider her character to be the least authentic of all of Dickens's colorful characters, but she is undoubtedly the character that Dickens wished he could have only had the chance to spend the rest of his life with. Simply put, Agnes only exists in a figment of an author's imagination and that is why I love her so much.
I seriously considered several actresses until I settled with Emily Mortimer. She is six years Evans's senior, but she looks so young that her age doesn't really matter. Mortimer's performances are always full of sweetness and vulnerability, but many of her characters are also very grounded but never too simple. Mortimer may very well add another dimension to Agnes's angelic demeanor. Hopefully, she can deliver a performance that will add the human desires (which Agnes has very much of) to a character that is often criticized as "flat."
Dora Spenlow needs to be played by someone significantly younger than everyone else to emphasize on her immaturity and child-wife status. The actress in the BBC version just looked about everyone else's age. Plus, she just seemed like an older woman pretending she was a little girl so it came off as a little awkward. She didn't exaggerate Dora's childish antics so the comedic opportunities that should have reeked from the character never flowed through.
This is exactly why Emma Watson would make the perfect Dora.
Watson is only eighteen years old, making her significantly younger than both Evans and Mortimer. Physically, she would definitely come off as an incompetent child-wife, so her performance will be all the more convincing. Watson also has a notorious reputation when it comes to over-acting, which is what a Dora performance needs. Dora needs to freak out about things, yet be overly sweet when she admits that she is completely useless. Watson would be fabulous in the role.
There is also Tommy Traddles, the true best friend of David. BBC completely discarded the character while I found him to be the lighthearted character the film needed. I actually think Martin Freeman would be perfect as Traddles because how "aw shucks" he looks, especially in the BBC version of The Office. He'd be a wonderful Traddles, I bet.
Although I found the actors who played James Steerforth and Rosa Dartle "just right" in the BBC version of David Copperfield, I came across a fan site of a British actress by the name of Rachael Stirling who just looked a lot like how I imagined Rosa Dartle. If they ever make another David Copperfield film, Stirling would absolutely look the part. All she needs is a devilish scar. (For those who are unfamiliar with Stirling, she is the daughter of Diana Rigg, a former Bond girl.)
While the actor who played Uriah Heep in the BBC version wasn't bad, I would actually love to see Ralph Fiennes do something wicked with the Heep character. He has already played two very terrifying but iconic film villains: Voldemort in the Harry Potter films and most memorably, Amon Goeth in Schindler's List. I'm afraid Fiennes is a little too old for Heep since in the novel, Heep is supposed to be only a few years older than David--but hey, a little artistic license never does any harm.
I don't think there is need to re-cast the other actors. I loved Maggie Smith, Bob Hoskins, and Imelda Staunton in their roles and can't think of anyone who could replace them. Smith understood the character of Betsey Trotwood more than any other actor ever could.
So here I concluce my rant regarding my dream cast of my favorite novel, David Copperfield. As you can see, I made an extra effort to cast British actors in the roles. I'm not saying there isn't a version out there that suits my taste, but an epic, cinematic treatment directed by Alfonso Cuaron and a lovely cast is what I'm searching for.