I love fan-casts. Seeing who others picture in different roles, what I like, didn't think of before, what I disagree with, the whole thing just kind of fascinates me. I've worked on a few casts and the one I wanted to start with here has seemingly not a large draw, but something I do care about. And I'm of the mind that if there's something you're choosing to work on, you should enjoy it, and care about it. So, even if it isn't as sought after as others, here goes; A Tale of Two Cities.
A Tale of Two Cities is my favorite novel. I read it in school and grew to love it. I've not watched any attempt to make it into a movie (whether cinematic or TV) but wanted to give it a try on my own. One of the reasons I love the story is because there are so many characters introduced, seemingly for no reason, but they all come back into play in the storie's climax so perfectly. But, I will only be doing some of the main characters that the story really revolves around.
The biggest trouble in trying to cast Two Cities is the fact that the characters of Charles Darnay and Sydney Carton are to have a resemblance that they could possibly take the other's place. The easy answer would be that the same actor plays two roles, but I think that's a worse way to do it. And I'd actually come up with a few pairings, but I'm going to roll with these.
Sydney Carton- Tom Hardy
Sydney Carton is an alcoholic, self-proclaimed worthless man. He's actually very intelligent and becomes the hero in the end. The character arc is rather sudden at the end, though he does soften from his initial appearance. Even still, he is aloof, and feels though he denies and can't accept his feelings. Thus, he feeds his self-loathing.
Charles Darnay- Logan Marshall Green
Charles Darnay comes from an aristocratic family, though renounces his family name. While Carton's life seemed mostly a decline ever worse, Darnay's kept escalating to the life that Carton would have wanted. The two cities referenced in the title are Paris and London, though a parable can also be made for Carton and Darnay. Two men of such physical resemblance, yet entirely different.
“...Why should you particularly like a man who resembles you? There is nothing in you to like; you know that. Ah, confound you! What a change you have made in yourself! A good reason for taking to a man, that he shows you what you have fallen away from, and what you might have been! Change places with him, and would you have been looked at by those blue eyes as he was, and commiserated by that agitated face as he was? Come on, and have it out in plain words! You hate the fellow.” -a drunken Sydney Carton after drinking with Charles Darnay.
Speaking of their physical resemblance, here's another example of the similarities with the two actors. I feel that Tom Hardy has the ability and look to play the desperate man that is Sydney Carton, and Logan Marshall Green has a younger look and that, more of an aristocrat to play Charles Darnay.
The object of these two character's affection (and near every other male character's) is Lucie Manette. Lucie embodies compassion, love, and virtue. She is deeply attached to her father, once thought gone entirely.
Lucie Manette- Dianna Agron
“She was the golden thread that united him to a Past beyond his misery, and to a Present beyond his misery: and the sound of her voice, the light of her face, the touch of her hand, had a strong beneficial influence with him almost always.”
I have a soft spot for Dianna Agron. And I think she fits the part pretty well. Lucie has a sort of fragility and strength all-in-one due to the things she's been through. And she's entirely charming, as she draws the attention of many suitors. Lucie ranges from 18 to eventually marrying Charles Darnay and having children. She thinks entirely innocently, when needing to beg for her husband's life to be saved, she does so "as a wife and mother". As was mentioned, her compassion is very great. Though she marries Darnay, she is approached by Sydney Carton, at a most vulnerable time for him, and her compassion helped him, despite not reciprocating the feelings he expressed.
“In the hour of my death, I shall hold sacred the one good remembrance—and shall thank and bless you for it—that my last avowal of myself was made to you, and that my name, and faults, and miseries were gently carried in your heart. May it otherwise be light and happy"
As mentioned, Lucie Manette is very devoted to her father. She'd not met her father till things of 18 due to his incarceration. As such, he is a tortured man for a portion of the novel. In moments of lucidity, he is wise and influential among his community.
Doctor Alexandre Manette- Peter Capaldi
Capaldi is 57, but I feel that he can play older, lost, and tortured, as Doctor Manette would be. Capaldi's turn as Doctor Who has shown these qualities. I think that much of pain can be sensed and seen through the eyes, and Capaldi is very good at expressing that.
Doctor Manette goes through an arc of a senseless inmate, "recalled to life" only by his daughter Lucie's arrival, to a man of distinction. Again, I feel that Capaldi can portray these very well. Manette was wrongfully imprisoned and remained for 18 years. Those seeking retribution for the actions that put Manette in prison are the Defarges.
Madame Defarge- Helen McCrory
Madame Defarge is entirely unlikable. Then you hear why she is that way, and you have sympathy for her. The. She continues to attack characters that you've grown attached to and becomes rather unlikable again. In the performances I've seen from McCrory, she could portray that. She is a main motivation for the movement she and her husband are part of.
Monsieur Defarge- Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Despite his actions, I always rather liked this Defarge. He cared for people still, and his actions weren't ever openly as vicious as his wife's. But I always pictured someone like Jeffrey Dean Morgan playing him.
The man who helped reunite father and daughter is Jarvis Lorry. He is frequently concerning himself as "a man of business" and hopes to portray himself as that. Deep down, though, his heart is stronger than his head. For those he really cares about, which turns to be those of the Manette household, he is a softy. He's described as very old, and that's jokingly referred to as a requirement to work at Tellson's bank. I can't find an actor to fit the physical description I had in mind while reading. But this is close.
Jarvis Lorry- John Hurt
Another member of the Manette household, one who has devoted her life to Lucie; Miss Pross.
Miss Pross- Olivia Coleman
Miss Pross is entirely devoted and fiercely loyal to her mistress, Lucie. She is strong, brusque, yet lovable. Her strength comes fully tangible when Madame Defarge confronts her. The encounter leaves Pross deaf and Defarge deceased. Olivia Coleman has displayed this wonderful strength motivated by love through some of her roles.
And finally a character that can also be contrasted with Sydney Carton; his work mate.
C.J Stryver- Andrew Buchan
Stryver is Charles Darnay's defense attorney when Darnay is first introduced. Actually,me hen many of the characters are first introduced. He is ambitious, seeking to climb the social ladder, but not exactly willing to work for it. Sydney Carton is listed as his counsel when it is Carton who actually does most of the work. The two work closely together, but are very different. Stryver is proud and foolish. He, too, has an interest in Lucie Manette. But, his is not motivated out of love, but of status. The two as contrasted very well with the consecutive chapters "The Fellow of Delicacy" (Stryver) and "The Fellow of No Delicacy" (Carton).
I have frequently thought about how I'd describe A Tale of Two Cities and I think I've boiled it down to right about this; it's the greatest story of love that I know. It is the story of how one man (Sydney Carton) can have such love for a woman (Lucie Manette) that he recognizes she doesn't care for him, nor would it be good for her if they were together.
“For you, and for any dear to you, I would do anything. If my career were of that better kind that there was any opportunity or capacity of sacrifice in it, I would embrace any sacrifice for you and for those dear to you. Try to hold me in your mind, at some quiet times, as ardent and sincere in this one thing...think now and then that there is a man who would give his life, to keep a life you love beside you”
Those words would prove true, as he would take Charles Darnay's place in prison just before his execution, giving his life for Charles'. Not only giving his life for Charles, but to allow Lucie the life that she so dearly loves. It's just a powerfully tragic, beautiful depressing idea. And I love it.
Any thoughts on casting, I'd love to hear. If anyone reads this, that is.