Casting Call: ‘The Odyssey’
The Odyssey is one of my all-time favorite stories for its gripping tale of heroic sacrifice, mythological adventure and enough symbolism to warrant an entire college course of material which has helped make it a timeless classic. So how has it not gotten the big screen treatment yet in a modern Hollywood that’s constantly adapting, rebooting and digging up books, comics and passages to be turned into a movie? 2004’s Troy came along and for the most part completely butchered the source material but it was able to give us a perfect representation of Odysseus with the casting of Sean Bean, so we should start there right? Jamie Z. and I came together over our love of Greek mythology and fantasy films and decided to put together a casting list that we felt would be worthy enough for a big screen blockbuster. What follows is a run down of the principle characters from the story sans the Greek Gods which we felt would be too distracting if we were heading into a more balanced and drama-oriented approach.
Directed by Peter Jackson, Scored by Howard Shore, Cinematography by Roger Deakins
It’s no secret my favorite movies of all-time are The Lord of the Rings so if we’re going with a big screen version of The Odyssey then who better to helm it but the maestro of fantasy epics himself Peter Jackson? His inclusion cements Howard Shore‘s beautiful composition of the soundtrack and as an added bonus we felt that Deakin‘s cinematography (what an Oscar snub for Skyfall) would be perfect in this setting.
Sean Bean as Odysseus, Rachel Weisz as Penelope, Kit Harrington as Telemachus
I’ll come out right now and openly share my biased love for Sean Bean but who can honestly stand up and deny this casting decision? The guy played Odysseus so perfectly in Troy (the lone bright spot of the movie) that he’s been the inspiration for this entire article and his roles as Boromir in LOTR and Ned Stark in GOT gives him the mantle of the King of his genre. Speaking of Game of Thrones it’s pretty obvious to us that a reunion of Ned Stark and Jon Snow as father and son in The Odyssey would be a great nod to the fans so Kit Harrington got the call here. Penelope is the fiercely loyal, steadfast and angelic wife of Odysseus so we felt that Rachel Weisz fit that entire laundry list of benchmarks and than some.
Richard Armitage as Antinous, Benjamin Bratt as Eurymachus, Iain Glenn as Amphinomous
While Odysseus is away on his voyage his wife Penelope is accosted by suitors all trying to win over her hand in marriage. Out of these three suitors Antinous is a straight up jerk and we’d love to see Richard Armitage play a villain with no redeeming qualities. Next there’s Eurymachus who seems handsome and debonair on the outside but on the inside is just as vile as Antinous and we think Benjamin Bratt would be perfect for him. Lastly there’s Amphinomus, the nicest of Penelope’s suitors who truly has a good heart so we just can’t resist casting Iain Glen in this role.
Sean Connery as Laertes, Gena Rowlands as Anticlea, Anthony Hopkins as Eumaeus
When it came to Laertes the father of Odysseus we felt that there were few who could parent a bad-ass like Sean Bean, so we’re bringing Sean Connery out of retirement for the role. Plus this could be like his career redemption for passing on the part of Gandalf by re-teaming with the very man he once spurned (Peter Jackson). For the role of Odysseus’ mother we chose Gena Rowlands who could revel in a role in the underworld and for the good Shepard Eumaeus we felt that Anthony Hopkins could easily lend his skills to a worthy character of guidance.
Natalie Dormer as Circie, Kerry Washington as Calypso, Kevin Durand as Polyphemus
Odysseus meets a plethora of supernatural characters along his journey, one being the witch-goddess Circe who turns his men into animals. Natalie Dormer and her powerful eyes would be perfect for this part. Another one of Odysseus’s ladies is Calypso, the beautiful sea nymph who keeps him captive on her island. We felt that Kerry Washington is not only gorgeous but ethereal enough for this type of role so she was a clear must add for us. When it came to the cyclops Polyphemus we felt that actor Kevin Durand not only had the villainous acting chops from Lost and Legion (wait, nobody saw that) but also the perfect look and build for a titan of that caliber.
Monica Bellucci as Helen of Troy, Kevin McKidd as Menelaus, Morgan Freeman as Nestor
Odyssey’s son Telemachus goes searching for his father and meets many famous figures including Helen of Troy and Menelaus, both who survived the Trojan War and retired to rule Sparta. Monica Bellucci would be perfect for Helen who at this point in the story is older and more mature but just as gorgeous as she was when a war was waged over her. Kevin McKidd is our first choice for Menelaus who is good-hearted enough to take his wife back after 10 years of war but still gritty enough to retain the edge of a man who’s seen war. Telemachus also meets with wise old Nestor, another veteran of the battle so better to play the famous King than Morgan Freeman?
Christopher Lee as Tiresias, Mads Mikkelsen as Agamemnon, Penelope Wilton as Eurycleia
Tiresias is the brittle and beaten down prophet that Odysseus meets in the underworld and I just couldn’t think of anyone better for the part than the man who played him in the TV min-series Christopher Lee. Not only does he have a wonderfully diverse and illustrious career but he’s a true perfectionist at his craft and would bring his A-game once again to the part. When it came to the brutal and vicious war-leader Agamemnon we could think of few others who possessed the raw intimidation and depth of acting talent than Mads Mikkelsen (hey we have both versions of Hannibal Lecter in this movie!). Eurycleia is the loyal servant who helped raise both Odysseus and his son so we felt that Penelope Wilton‘s motherly instincts from Downtown Abbey and Shaun of the Dead would be a great fit for this warm and caring role.
Bruce Greenwood as Alcinous, Connie Britton as Arete, Deborah Ann Woll as Nausicaa
Towards the end of his journey Odysseus washes up on the Island Kingdom of Scheria where a young and gentle Nausicaa brings him to her parents for assistance and recovery. It turns out that they just happened to be the King and Queen of the Phaeacians which was basically like hitting the jackpot when in search of aid and supplies. When it came to these warm and welcoming roles we felt it best that Bruce Greenwood could play an honorable King and Father figure, Connie Britton could play an intelligent and open mother figure and Deborah Ann Woll could be a beautiful and affectionate daughter. Not to mention they’d make one hell of a good looking family, no?
So those are our decisions for what we felt was a good amount of the crucial characters to get a solid movie across and a cast list that’s star-studded but realistic enough to fit into one Hollywood budget. And if not? Well, we can dream for a movie like this right? Hopefully one day we’ll get it.