By now Carrie Hill Wilner has convinced all of us to read Villette. I can neither add nor take away from her words, lest God take away from me my share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll. What I can do is dream-cast the Villette film adaptation that does not yet exist, even though Jane Eyre gets remade every eight years with an increasingly younger and hotter cast; by 2016 Jane and Rochester will be played by Stoya and James Deen, who are great people with fantastic careers, but could never be described as “poor, obscure, plain, and little.”
Let us anticipate a correction to this oversight, and begin at once.
You cannot cast Kristen Stewart, I told myself firmly. BUT SHE WOULD BE SO –
NO. YOU CAN’T.
Fine. Fine. Fine. (But she would be.) I will confess that Lucy is where I find myself at most of a loss; it’s possible that a total unknown would be best for this. Because, first of all, there’s only so plain you can get, right? Even the most awkward-looking of actresses is still several orders of magnitude hotter than your average person. So the problem with pretty much everyone we talk about casting is going to be “BUT SHE’S SO GORGEOUS.” I KNOW. It is a problem.
Lucy is supposed to be in her mid-20s, but it’s hard to find someone that age who can pull off that kind of severe repression and bristly reserve. And then, I don’t know, we’ll have to really bust out the de-glamorizing team, because you’re still going to be pulling from a Murderer’s Row of Babes.
I think Nathalie Emmanuel is the best way to go here. She’s fairly underutilized as Missandei on Game of Thrones (and guys, I am trying HARD not to just pillage actors from the three popular period dramas on TV right now), but what I’ve seen of her there, she can pull off QUIET SURFACE BELYING A THOUSAND EMOTIONS in her sleep. The success of a Villette film has to rise and fall on the strength of its Lucy, and it’s already hard as hell to translate such an interior novel to a medium of primarily WATCHING PEOPLE DO STUFF. So you need someone whose face is just wildly expressive, but in a restrained way. And if she cannot pull off a flawless English accent, you might as well just go home; I think she has to be English. Also, I have a feeling Emmanuel’s reading of “My heart will break!” towards the end would be absolutely murderous. Nathalie it is.
M. Paul Emanuel
“A dark little man he certainly was; pungent and austere. Even to me he seemed a hard apparition, with his close-shorn, black head, his broad, sallow brow, his thin cheek, his wide and quivering nostril, his thorough glance and his hurried bearing. Irritable he was; one heard that, as he apostrophized with vehemence the awkward squad under his orders.”
Oh, friends and lovers, this role was a JOY to cast. Who but the Tooch could pull this off? The key to M. Paul, right, is that he’s an absolute thorn in Lucy’s side, like Ginevra’s frowning counterpart, but he is slowly and irresistibly lovable. It has to be believable that someone could fall in love with him, but it has to be equally believable that he would be a poison and an irritant and easy to overlook for a long time. The Tooch has more layers than Hungarian spongecake. He’ll sneak up on you, heart-wise. He’s a tiny tempest wrapped in an adorable, hairy package. He makes no sense, but it’s perfectly understandable.
Dr. John Graham Bretton
One of the Chrises. Pratt, Hemsworth, Pine, whatever. Blandly hot but ultimately undeserving. I don’t care which one. Maybe Jamie Bell if you want the audience to feel more than a pang of regret when Lucy thinks about him during the hallucinogenic parade, but he might be too good for Graham, WHO IS A DUMB IDIOT.
NATALIE DORMER, I HOPE YOU NEVER STOP GETTING CAST AS PERFECT BITCHES. She was scientifically created in a lab to play Ginevra, who is vain and selfish and the actual worst and has more than a soupçon of GAY AS HELL SEXUAL TENSION with Lucy. Gahhh, their scenes together set me AFLAME. Ginevra always shows up at Lucy’s side demanding that she tell her how pretty she looks and making her give her food, and Lucy’s response is pretty much always a swift kick in the ribs. It’s “I hate you, you’re the worst, don’t go.” It’s Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, only with two Katharine Hepburns, which is how things should have been to begin with.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw has a DAMN ANGEL’S FACE. She’s also the only actress I can think of who could save Polly from being completely insipid. There’s a wonderful creepiness to Polly’s whole vibe that’s easy to lose in her CRUSHING GOODNESS – when she’s little, she’s like a surreal little doll-baby who doesn’t have emotions, and when she grows up, she’s sort of terrified of everything and everyone? And she kind of…invites her father to lock her up in a convent and send the man she loves away, which is incredibly creepy in the way that only Victorian ladies can be creepy.
WHO WOULDN’T WANT GINA TORRES STARING AT THEM SURREPTITIOUSLY AND GOING THROUGH THEIR THINGS AT NIGHT. I mean, you wouldn’t want those things to begin with, right, but if someone had to do it, you would want it to be Gina Torres. Madame Beck is pragmatic and terrible and SENSUAL with a STRONG MASCULINE ENERGY and has a piece of clockwork where her heart should be, and I want to watch Gina Torres place a beautiful boot on everyone else’s throats.
Okay, I was able to make the Galaxy Quest TV show happen through the force of my dream-casting, so I guess get on this, please.
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.