Welcome to the first in my new "Disney live-action fan casting" series, in which I take a classical Disney animated film and try to find the right actors to portray the film on-screen today.
There have been many attempts at telling the legend of King Arthur in cinema over the years, but the only one that told of Arthur's origin was Disney's The Sword in the Stone. A vastly underrated film, this was a brilliant retelling of the story and the relationship between Arthur and Merlin. So, as part of my "Fan casting live-action Disney" series of articles, I've picked out the actors who I think could bring this film to life on the big screen!
Jacob Tremblay As Arthur
Maybe an obvious choice, but Room showed the entire world that Jacob Tremblay is an incredibly talented actor, and his timid style and stature would suit Arthur a.k.a "Wart", the young boy who discovers his destiny as King of England. A key characteristic about Arthur is that he has very low ambitions, he doesn't want a lot at any point in the film. This becomes even more apparent when he becomes king, and he shares this with Tremblay's character in Room, as both of them are stuck in small worlds. Neither of them know anything about the larger world around them, and both films are about their characters being taken out of that comfort zone and into the larger world.
Patrick Stewart As Merlin
With such a talented child playing the role of Arthur, you would obviously need a legendary actor to play Arthur's mentor, and Patrick Stewart is as legendary as they come. His illustrious career has seen roles such as King Richard the Lionheart and Professor Charles Xavier, so he certainly has a good background in bringing legendary British characters to life on-screen. Having seen him sporting a short beard in The Green Room, it's become very clear that he could pull off the look of the mythical wizard, and he definitely knows how to lead a film like this, having commanded the screen (and the ship) for many years in Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the subsequent films.
Meryl Streep As Madam Mim
Meryl may get a little typecast in this sort of role, especially since her appearance in Into the Woods as the hilarious and mystifying witch, but that's only because she's just so good at it! She certainly has the singing abilities needed for this adaption, and could quickly turn the character from terrifying to campy, embodying the nature that Madam Mim had in the original film. She's also easily able to pull off elegance and crudeness in equal measure, as Mim magically changes herself between these at various times.
Richard Madden As Sir Kay
For Sir Kay you need a young man who can carry himself as if he is royalty, even if he really, really isn't. Richard Madden has had to carry himself as if he is royalty both for Cinderella, where he was playing a character born to be a king, and in Game of Thrones as Robb Stark, where his character had to adjust to the life of a king (in the North) slowly. However, I think he would be excellent at playing a character who thinks he is better than he really is, and who orders the young Arthur about constantly. It's easy to imagine him as the arrogant Kay, a self-centered, lazy trainee knight.
Timothy Spall As Sir Ector
Of course Sir Ector has to be just as cruel to Arthur as Kay, making it even sweeter when the pair discover that Arthur is the rightful king. Ector supposedly takes care of Arthur, but really treats him as well as the Dursley family treats Harry Potter. Timothy Spall is excellent at pulling off all kinds of characters, from the snivelling, villainous Wormtail in the Harry Potter series to the legendary Winston Churchill in The King's Speech. Spall will be able to develop Ector beyond the original film, possibly as a more sympathetic character, while retaining his poor treatment of the future king.
John Hurt As Archimedes
Finally we come to the bristly, angry talking owl that keeps Merlin company, and helps in Arthur's lessons as well. Archimedes needs an actor who can show a full range of emotions in his voice. John Hurt is a brilliant actor who played the great dragon in the TV series Merlin for five years, making this both a smart and ironic choice, as Hurt's character helped train Merlin himself in that series. Aside from that, Hurt has done a lot of voice work, and would have no trouble fitting into the role of the constantly irritated owl.
And that's how I think The Sword in the Stone could be transformed into a modern, live-action Disney film. But enough of this reboot talk, check out one of my favourite moments from the original film below, and check out more of my Disney live-action fan casting series coming soon! Look out for my Tangled edition, coming on Wednesday!