May 11 2012 11:00am

The Two Southern Nancys: Casting Crowley and Aziraphale for Good Omens

Casting Aziraphale and Crowley in a Good Omens movie

The world has been threatening a Good Omens adaptation for years now, for film and television both. (Neil Gaiman himself actually wrote a screenplay a long while back, which is fascinating if you ever come across it....) The rumor mill has started up again, and it looks like we might get a TV version from the BBC. Now, I’m a little nervous on that account because the sort of humor found in a book like this doesn’t always translate well to screen, but I’m willing to play the game: Who gets to be Crowley and Aziraphale?

Up front: I made an attempt to pick people who I thought might actually be interested in the playing the roles. I know that fans of the book have cried out names like Kenneth Brannagh for Aziraphale and Johnny Depp for Crowley in the past, but I don’t think there’s much chance of that. (Also, much as I love Depp, I’d rather he stayed away from Crowley.) So I’m going to go with some names that maybe haven’t been tossed into the ring yet. Everyone is from the UK, since it’s unlikely that they would be casting Americans for a BBC production. A couple picks will be wishful thinking. We’re allowed to dream.


So let’s start with...

Aziraphale — Our stuffy, prim Principality who tries his best not to sell books from his shop in Soho. Collector of rare Bibles and gayer than a tree full of monkeys on nitrous oxide. Well, he appears to be, anyway. Let’s take a look at what we’ve got:


Mark Gatiss

Mark Gatiss is about as posh and prim as you can get, and hilarious to boot. There are some in the Good Omens fandom who would prefer an ultra-young pretty boy for Aziraphale, but I think we should be going in the opposite direction; he and Crowley are essentially opposites, after all. Funny enough, there are some BBC Sherlock fans who have asserted an alternate universe where Sherlock and Mycroft secretly are Crowley and Aziraphale... and that makes a frightening amount of sense. (There’s fanfic. Check “Good Omens/Sherlock crossover”. It’s sort of brilliant.) Just imagine Mycroft, drunk and with terrible fashion sense, sneering at potential customers in a dusty, tiny book shop. It would be glorious.


Shaun Parkes

Shaun Parkes brings a wonderful combination of play and gravity to every role I’ve seen him in. (Except Izzy in The Mummy Returns, but we’ll talk about that movie’s issues some other time.) There’s a lot of fun to be had with Aziraphale, but you have to be able to pull back from that and really lay out that he’s an angel. In touch with God, believer in the ineffable. Shaun Parkes would take out that book, bell, and candle and you would know things were serious. Also, he’s great at epic friendships (see: Casanova).


Russell Tovey

He’s a bit young for my tastes in this role, but Russell Tovey can go from weeping to ridiculous with no questions asked. He’s also unforgettably endearing, which might be a good element to bring to Aziraphale’s character. Being angelic is distancing enough — give the audience something they can latch onto. It’s easy to imagine him with all of those unfortunate angelic manners, confusing everyone with a smile that’s actually masking his irritation. And he’s got that sniffy temper down pat. He’d be plain adorable.


Peter Davison

I’m not going to lie... Davison might take my top place in these picks. Can you think of anything that makes more sense than the Fifth Doctor playing this part? The confusion, the ineffective sternness, the Frowny Face? Davison has everything required. He’s also plenty experienced at the desperate chase and running around in a tizzy, considering that he had more companions to keep track of than any Doctor before or since his tenure. And then there’s Aziraphale’s unfortunate love of ye olde magician tricks. I’d love to watch Davison put on a terrible magic show for a bunch of bratty children.


Simon Pegg

It’s not likely Pegg would do this at the current rate he’s going, so this is a dream pick. More than anything, it would just be amazing to see what he’d do with the role. I imagine that his Aziraphale would be some weird combo of Tim from Spaced and Hot Fuzz’s Nicholas Angel for that blind sense of duty. He’d be giggly and adorable in the famed drunk scene, and I’d love to hear him utter the words, “Tartan is stylish.” The look on his face once they reached the potential sight of Armageddon would be worth it all by itself.


And now for...

Crowley — A dark-haired demon with great cheekbones. Snakeskin boots (that might not be boots). Garden of Eden’s very own tempting serpent. Abuses his houseplants and owns a 1926 Bentley that he loves more than anything on Earth. Here are a few choices:


Colin Morgan

Sure, he’s young, but Crowley is likely to be on the young side anyhow. Colin Morgan has the cheekbones, the hair and, more importantly, the acting chops to pull the role off. He’s great with comedy and would know exactly what to do with those scenes where Crowley’s superiors in Hell tried to intimidate him. With the work he’s done on Merlin, this would be one heck of a fun follow up. Give him a role that’s iconic, but outside the family television umbrella. We already know he’s great at being something of a punk (Remember Jethro on the Doctor Who episode “Midnight”?), which Crowley definitely is, no matter how fancy his suits and car happen to be.


Damien Molony

After watching him on the latest season of Being Human, I’m hooked. Molony is just superb, and would bring a vulnerability to Crowley that would make him more than some smooth, cool agent of Hell. We already know he’s capable of bringing a lot of age to a role, despite how young he is, and that would make Crowley more real to us. A being who has been around since before the Earth was created. His Crowley would probably be calm and collected for the majority and then whip out weirdness at the most unexpected points. Yes.


Aidan Turner

Okay, another vampire from Being Human. It’s not my fault that the prerequisite for playing a vampire is also dark hair and cheekbones that won’t quit. Maybe Aidan Turner will be off to different pastures after The Hobbit, but if he comes back for a bit, he would be unbelievable in this part. The way that Turner handles humor is simply effortless, and it would make some of the absurdity of the Good Omens universe seem like the most natural thing in the world. He’s also great with giving us lovable characters who have tricky, sharp edges to them. Mitchell’s relationship to Herrick on Being Human is incredibly similar to the one that Crowley has with Hell, and Aidan Turner would make you feel for the demon in those moments.


Tobias Menzies

Drama is more Menzies’ suit, but he does it brilliantly. Anyone who saw him play Brutus in Rome knows it. He’s got a great look for Crowley and he strikes as the sort of man who could do any part he put his mind to. And he’s actually damn funny in Casino Royale as M’s put-upon assistant, so let’s see what else he can pull out of the hat! He could probably rock those snake eyes that Crowley flashes whenever the sunglasses are off.


Benedict Cumberbatch

Obviously the dream pick here. Cumberbatch is off in the greenest of green pastures, and I doubt he’ll be doing television outside of Sherlock anymore, if he can help it. Now, apparently Terry Pratchett has said that he wants Cumberbatch to play Aziraphale, but I honestly think he’d make a much better Crowley. As I said before, it has been noted that Sherlock and Mycroft have certain elements in common with the angel-demon duo, but I’d be happy to see him play the demon opposite any of the actors above. He’s already playing a dragon in The Hobbit, so being snakelike should be no problem. And he’s played so many dramatic roles lately, I’d love to see him try something funnier. He would gracefully balance Crowley’s rage with that irrepressable urge to do Bruce Lee impressions in his spotless apartment. I need to see this.


So, who did I leave off? Who wants Daniel Craig to play Aziraphale? (Someone’s gonna get upset about the lack of Freeman, McAvoy, and Fassbender, I can tell.) Who are your dream picks? Discuss!

Emily Asher-Perrin already has plans to be Aziraphale for Hallowe’en this year. It’s gonna be apocalyptic. You can bug her on Twitter and read more of her work here and elsewhere.

Mordicai Knode
1. mordicai
Benedict Cumberbatch was my first thought, & the most obvious one. What about uh, Cillian Murphy? Similar thing. Oh! Naveen Andrews? Wait, what, who would he play? I just feel like he'd be good on this project for some reason?
Dawn EdtrxRex
2. Dawn EdtrxRex
There are many, many terrific options, but I am afraid I can't think anymore because you broke my brain with the idea of Gatiss and Cumberbatch in the roles. And now I have to go find the fanfic rather than doing my job, because you have destroyed my productivity for the day. I hope you're happy.
Helen Peters
3. Helen
It's already been cast, but they called it Eternal Law, set it in York, without Dog! Samuel West and Tobias Menzies. Swap them round so West is Crowley and Menzies is Aziraphale if you wish.
Clare McBride
4. The Literary Omnivore
I am upset about the lack of Freeman and Fassbender! (Not McAvoy; too slick and hip to be Aziraphale, too rumpled and good-natured to be Crowley.) Freeman would make a cute, if young, Aziraphale, but I think Gatiss is a genius piece of dream casting. I can just see him crumpling his mouth up with distaste. Brilliant.

But I don't think Cumberbatch would make a great Crowley. He'd be fine, surely, but Crowley has this very specific slick, wicked, and confident charisma that I don't know if I could buy Cumberbatch as having. I'm trying to imagine the scene during the corporate training with Cumberbatch, and I'm not getting it. Fassbender, on the other hand, has that specific flavor of charisma (just look at him in interviews), the cheekbones, and a literally toothsome smile. He's kind of perfect for the role, in a world where he would do television.

Out of pure curiosity, why doesn't Fassbender (or Freeman or McAvoy) work for you, Emily? I'd love to get a different perspective on it.
Dawn EdtrxRex
5. SnowWitch Pirateson
Mark Sheppard already plays a great Crowley in Supernatural. I always kind of thought he fit the bill for Good Omens as well.
Dawn EdtrxRex
6. Annalisa
I have strong feelings about this. Richard Ayoade should be Aziraphale. Noel Fielding should be Crowley. The end!
Dawn EdtrxRex
7. ElizabethB
David Tennant for Crowley! Think about it- he's got the humor and charm and a good measure of intensity from his days as The Doctor and he can be shady and weird and kind of evil- think of Vincent from Fright Night or Barty Crouch Jr. from Goblet of Fire. This would be a great opportunity to get him back on a great supernatural show in a complex and interesting role.
And I think the Cumberbatch would be great as Aziraphale! Give him some glasses and a jacket with elbow patches, make him blond again- he can totally pull off a Giles-like stuffyness with a dose of humor. (Then again I think either of them could do any role they set their minds to)
Also- what about Anthony Head for Aziraphale? Giles always did have that guardian angel-ish quality...
Dawn EdtrxRex
8. monamayfair
While I love these two characters I could never really settle on who I would love to see in their roles. On the other hand I would absolutely love to see Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe in the roles of Anathema Device and Newton Pulsifer (don't worry I know it'll never happen, but a girl can dream).
Dawn EdtrxRex
9. Dfotw
Tom Hiddleston (of recent 'Avengers Assemble' fame) as Crowley? Great cheekbones, enough charisma to drop an angel at fifty paces, and comes with his own fangirl army already!

I'd've never thought of Mark Gatiss for Aziraphale, but YES!
Dawn EdtrxRex
10. StrongDreams
OK, I was already thinking along these lines but @7 cinched it,

Aziraphale=Peter Davison
Crowley (Crawly) = David Tennant
Anathema Device = Georgia Moffett
Dawn EdtrxRex
11. Myrmidryad
I would love to see Colin Morgan doing Crowley. I'd never considered him for the role before, but I would definitely watch the hell out of that. He definitely has the cheekbones. Gatiss would be a perfect Aziraphale, I think. He'd pull off the irritated, slightly flustered librarian look a treat.
Emily Asher-Perrin
12. EmilyAP
@theliteraryonmivore and Dfotw - In all honestly, the only reasons that Freeman, Fassbender and Hiddleston aren't on this list is because I think they're all a bit too big to do the project on television. Any of them would work of me: Freeman would be wonderfully incredulous as Aziraphale, Fassbender has got Crowley's attitude down pat (just Magneto but a little bit kinder and sillier), and Hiddleston, just, YES. He would be gorgeous. But I doubt they could get any of them on board. *sad*
Dawn EdtrxRex
13. Raoulduck
Tenacious D. For an American cast production, anyway.
Dawn EdtrxRex
14. Tahirire
Mark Sheppard IS Crowley. (He even signed my Good Omens copy, lol.) I say if it ain't broke, don't fix it. :)
Dawn EdtrxRex
15. Alashandra
I've always seen Paul Bettany for Aziraphale, personally. Though, again, people might consider him to be a bit on the young side.

I like Aidan Turner for Crowley, though Mark Sheppard is a great one, too. And comes with his fans from...well, all over the sci-fi world.
Dawn EdtrxRex
16. Jacob Marley
Benedict Cumberbatch as Aziraphale and Aiden Gillan as Crowley.
Dawn EdtrxRex
17. BookwormEla
Definitely Simon Pegg for Aziraphale: you had me at his (likely) utterance of "Tartan is stylish". I don't watch much TV so I'm more familiar with actors who work in film - I like dfotw's suggestion of Tom Hiddleston for Crowley.

I've always assumed that the two of them don't look particularly old - maybe in their thirties - though that might be due to the influence of the cover illustration on my copy of the book - so Davison isn't my top pick (though I agree he would be good).
Dawn EdtrxRex
18. mytvisevil
Aziraphale= Toby Jones.
Crowley= Cillian Murphy.
Dawn EdtrxRex
19. hep1013
You know, in his natural ginger, I could really see Cumberbatch as Aziraphale. I'd also prefer someone older, but I could see him doing the irritation/affability balance nicely, while also getting that otherworldliness that an angel has to have. Yeah, I think I'm with Pratchett here (although the thought of a Gatiss/Cumberbatch pairing is delicious, I grant).
Dawn EdtrxRex
20. L A Moody
Alan Rickman for Crowley. We've already seen him play a darkly comic angel in Dogma. And he definitely doesn't get enough chance to play comedy -- although he can bring down the house with just one arched eyebrow.
Dawn EdtrxRex
21. hungrych
If they made a Good Omens movie with Benedict Cumerbatch as Crowley and Dylan Moran as Aziraphale I would explode so many times.
Emmet O'Brien
22. EmmetAOBrien
I have always thought either Peter Davison as Aziraphale with Rowan Atkinson as Crowley, or, if one were going Hollywood, Hugh Grant as Aziraphale and Edward Norton as Crowley.

I can see Cumberbatch and Gatiss, though I would have swapped them around from Emily's suggestions. And just now looking at this thread I find myself imagining Richard E. Grant as Crowley and Paul McGann as Aziraphale.

Also, sign me up for the squeeing over Tom Hiddleston's cheekbones bit.
Dawn EdtrxRex
23. Sunday
Aziraphale - Benedict Cumberbatch
Crowley - Tom Hiddleston
Kevin Marks
24. KevinMarks
Clearly it has to be Hugh Laurie as Crowley and Stephen Fry as Aziraphale. (Admittedly, that probably means we need to make the Gilliam-directed version happen. World's first feature film funded by Kickstarter? )
Dawn EdtrxRex
25. Moriarty
Honestly, I'd like James Nesbitt as Crowley (though I adore Mark Sheppard the Good Omens Crowley is a very different beast). And Sephen Fry IS Aziraphale
Dawn EdtrxRex
26. Ellen B.
I rather like Peter Davison for Aziraphale, but my dream Aziraphale is David Hyde Pierce. I really can't see anyone else in the part. Granted he's not British, but he'd be so terrific.
Chuk Goodin
27. Chuk
I don't think I've ever seen Peter Davison in anything but in that pic he looks like he'd be a good Aziraphale. (I hadn't put much thought into it myself but Stephen Fry would be good.)
And that Damien guy should play Crowley just because he's named 'Damien'.
Liz Bourke
28. hawkwing-lb
Tom Hiddleston and Idris Elba. Don't care who plays which, they'd be my dream picks for the roles anyway.
Justin Levitt
29. TyranAmiros
I see Cumerbatch as more of a Newt character myself, because I think Crowley needs to be a bit more slick, more like Tony Slattery circa when he was on Whose Line. They need to get the guy who played Vernon Dursley in Harry Potter for Mr. Tyler, and I would love to see Jo Brand as Madame Tracy.
Dawn EdtrxRex
30. Anna Bright
I actually gasped aloud when I read your suggestion of Davison as Aziraphale, because it is so utterly perfect to me even though I had never considered it.
Clare McBride
32. The Literary Omnivore
@EmmetAOBrien: God bless you, because I think my dream casting is now Paul McGann as Aziraphale and Fassbender as Crowley.
Dawn EdtrxRex
33. Chelsea Funk
Dawn EdtrxRex
34. Avendesora
Dylan Moran seem to fit the bill for that Crowley character.
Dawn EdtrxRex
35. RobinB
And now for something completely different I like Depp for Aziraphale and Hugh Laurie for Crowley
Dawn EdtrxRex
36. alreadymadwithaziraphale
While I'm less sure on who can be Crowley, I'd always imagined Aziraphale to look like Buffy: The Vampire Slayer's Giles in terms of demeanor(minus the occasional instances of controlled violence when called for). Hence, I nominate Anthony Stewart Head for the role.
Josh Storey
37. Soless
As much as I'd love to see the Hiddleston/Cumberbatch fan poster that's going around tumblr come true, I'm with Kevin Marks on this one.

Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry. Stephen even tweeted that they're doing something together again... Ah, we can dream.
Dawn EdtrxRex
38. Tabaqui
Ooh, man. I actually love your first two picks for Aziraphale - either of those gentlemen would be *awesome*. But - if we're going dream-team here, for Crowley....Jonathan Rhys Meyers!!! That would be...devilish. :)
Dawn EdtrxRex
39. ObsessivelyOdd
I think you broke my brain with Colin Morgan, I have to admit. I think he deserves a chance to show he's more than just a goofy smile. This might be slightly unfair to his performance in Merlin, but I personally don't think the role does him justice. I saw him on stage in London once and he was superb. I'd love to see what he'd bring to this role.

Out of the Aziraphales, my favourite would be Mark Gatiss, but... I agree with Alashanda - Paul Bettany could be perfect for it. Somehow, I don't think he'd agree though, which is a huge shame.
Dawn EdtrxRex
40. linnea4
Bill Nighy and Alan Rickman play so well together, but they are older than most of the others recommended.
Dawn EdtrxRex
41. ShaunaB5
I'd love to see Tobias Menzies as Crowley and Martin Freeman as Aziraphale :)

On youtube, I watched 'Forget Me Not(2010) - Tobias Menzies' with 'Martin Freeman being adorable - Swinging With The Finkels end scene'.

In Tobias' scene, he was so smooth and carefree --while insulting the ladies in a way that made them think he was just being funny. This is exactly how I see Crowley.

In Martin's scene, I absolutely love his reaction to the gift Mandy Moore's character gives him. He's so adorable and innocent. The way he gets high pitched and genuinely overwhelmed with emotion seemed quite angelic and very Aziraphale to me.

So those are my picks :)
Dawn EdtrxRex
42. let's_save_the_universe
David Tennant as Crowley. Just... yes. He had a kind of hissy, snakey thing going on in Harry Potter, didn't he? And now Aziraphale will always be Mark Gatiss for me. You have broken my headcanon, you know that?

Mind you. I adore Crowley from Supernatural so much that I'd love Mark Sheppard to play Good Omens Crowley. If only because of the fanfic that this would cause.
Dawn EdtrxRex
43. Arthur Dent
I'd like to see maybe Dylan Moran or Tim Roth as Crowley. Dylan Moran because once you've seen him as Bernard Black, being a demon isn't much of a stretch, and Tim Roth because I think he'd be able to pull of the deadpan humor and occasional demonic tendencies of Crowley. much as I'd love to see Simon Pegg fill this role, I agree that it's more of a dream role; so I'm thinking if John Simm grew out his hair and gained a few pounds, he'd be a good Aziraphale. Otherwise, if Christopher Eccleston can imitate a different version of a British accent to be the southern pansy, I think he'd be able to pull it off.
Dawn EdtrxRex
44. Bailey Jayne
I love Mark Sheppard and would love to see him as Crowley, with Mark Gatiss as Aziraphale! Just the way they act and both actor are very good at taking undertones and running with them, so a lot of the fans would have an amazing time with these two as a pair!
Dawn EdtrxRex
45. durhamred
Jonathan Rhys Meyers - CROWLEY
Dawn EdtrxRex
46. hol
Cumberbatch would make a perfect Crowley. He's a very charismatic actor and could play the role with ease.
Dawn EdtrxRex
47. Becky Grice
Aziraphale: Derek Jacobi
Crowley: Benedict Cumberbatch
Death: Sean Connery (that's who he always sounds like to me)
Shadwell: Ken Stott
Agnes Nutter: Dame Judi Dench
Madam Tracy: Alison Steadman
Newt & Anathema: Richard Ayoade & whoever can act like a younger Helena Bonham-Carter
Hastur & Ligur: Ray Winstone & Mackenzie Crook

Ok, I know that's fairly detailed but there's been plenty of time to mull over this one in the past few years.

But, whatever they do, please, please, please - get Adam right.

PS. I quite fancy the role of Sister Beryl if anyone's offering...
Dawn EdtrxRex
48. Montanto
I've always been a proponent of going with Stephen Fry and
Hugh Laurie
Dawn EdtrxRex
49. Italy Bittaly
I think Chase Crawford should play Crowley & Matt Czuchry should play Aziraphale. That's just my two cents :)
Dawn EdtrxRex
50. Artemis Bow
Adian turner for the win!...or possibly Benedict cumbermatch.
but i think adian is just more suited for the role
Dawn EdtrxRex
51. Dianthus
I've already seen multiple instances of one Buffy alum nominated to playAziraphale - and it's an idea I can get behind - but I'd like to nominate another: James Marsters for Aziraphle, or Crowley. He's an honorary Brit, and the flashback-to-William scenes strongly suggest he could pull off Aziraphale with ease. As for Crowley, well, he could pull that off in his sleep, and look d*mn good doing it.
Better still, Head for Aziraphale and Marsters for Crowley - while we're dreaming.
Dawn EdtrxRex
52. Roan
Tom Hiddleston as Crowley.
Simon Baker as Aziraphale.
Dawn EdtrxRex
53. iwastoe
Julian Rhind-Tutt for Aziraphale and Colin Morgan for Crowley.
Dawn EdtrxRex
54. habristiel
Mark Sheppard for Crowley.
Dawn EdtrxRex
55. Rick Vaughn
Here's my list:

John Cleese as the Metatron
Benedict Cumberbatch as Newton Pulsifer
Sophie Winkelman as Anathema Device
Tracey Ullman as Madame Tracy
Russell Brand as Aziraphale
Eddie Izzard as Crowley
Sean Connery as Sergant Shadwell

My tumblr post:
Dawn EdtrxRex
56. lavablu
Benedict Cumberbath as Aziraphale
Mark Sheppard as Crowley
Simon Pegg as Newton Pulsifer
Ruth Negga Shirley as Anathema
(agree) Dame Judy Dench as Agnes Nutter
James Earl Jones as Death
Deborah Ann Woll as War
Adrien Brody as Famine
Joseph Gordon Levitt as pollution
Don Cheadle as Liger
John C Riley as Hastur
Harry Dean Stanton as Shadwell
Helen Mirren as Madam Tracy
Alan Rickman as Metatron

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