Thursday, 22 November 2007

A cast can look at a king

I'm sorry I missed posting last week - God knows where the time goes. There's been a lot going on and I'm more than a little tired, actually.

You'll know that I've mentioned the novels of C.J. Sansom before - they're Tudor detective novels (Dissolution, Dark Fire, Sovereign). I read today that the BBC is going to turn them into a series, which is a promising thing - and certainly very good for Mr Sansom. They've cast Kenneth Branagh as the detective, hunchback lawyer Matthew Shardlake. Now this I'm not so sure about - I do think he was excellent both as Heydrich in 'Conspiracy' and as Shackleton in ... 'Shackleton' - but I don't see him as Shardlake. He's not my vision of the man at all. This is always the problem with these things, isn't it? I'm very fond of Daniel Craig (first had my eye on him as the love interest in 'Moll Flanders' years ago), but he's not Lord Asriel in Northern Lights - or as we're supposed to refer to it in its film avatar, The Golden Compass. Tricky business, casting. I bet we've all got examples in mind where we thought the casting was barking - I believe it's called 'stunt casting' in Hollywood, where the most unlikely star is cast, and no doubt it draws the oxygen of publicity which all productions need to survive. If we were to award the 2007 prize for the barkingest, stuntiest casting of the year it would have to go to Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Henry VIII in the current overblown series 'The Tudors' (and don't get me going on the surfeit of howling inaccuracies and laughable costumes ...). Rhys Meyers not only bears absolutely no resemblance whatsoever to the giant jowly monarch, he seems to think that to characterise a king who was a dangerous bully but also learned and cultured, all he needs to do is bluster, bellow and pout like a tot in a tantrum and show his biceps at every opportunity. What with that, and reducing the count of his sisters from two to one, then marrying her to a king she didn't historically marry, after she had bonked the Earl of Suffolk (was it?) on the ship to Portugal etc, etc, etc, - it's the best comedy series on the box at the moment.

How many of you remember dear old Keith Michell as Henery, long ago? Now there was an actor - knew not just how to bellow and scare the living daylights out of his court, but also how to wheeze and limp and be pustular and ulcerous of leg. Ah, the good old days ...

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