While the 2003 film seemed to prove beyond doubt that adapting Alan Moore’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was a bad idea, rumor has it that Fox is attempting to adapt it for television. Chances are that the pilot won’t make it out of production hell (or the show will get canceled after five episode because it’s Fox), but either way it seemed like a fun chance to do some armchair casting with who’s out there today...
Just to be clear, I usually cast from people who I deem to be a “reasonable” pool, meaning actors who often work, or at least have worked, in television. Cumberbatch and Hiddleston are not on this list because they are on every list. Occasionally an unreasonable request slips in there because I’m only human. Alas.
Mina Murray—Sophia Myles
She captivated oodles of fans in her turn as Madame de Pompadour on Doctor Who’s “The Girl in the Fireplace,” but what impressed most about Myles was not how well she could balance in all that French finery—it was how commanding her presence was. She could easily helm the show as Dracula’s Mina Murray, with all the poise and strength that would prove what a mistake it was to keep the character on ice for the decade-old film. (Seriously, how Quatermain ended up in charge in that script is an infuriating not-so-mysterious mystery.) She’s also no stranger to American television following her run in Moonlight, so she’s got a edge over the competition. Plus, we already know she’s got the chops for period acting I know, I know, someone out there is probably shouting Michelle Dockery! at me. Yes, you are very smart, she’d be lovely too. If I could seriously dream cast, I’d probably pull Haley Atwell in as an alternative for the part. You know, any woman who can shoot a pistol at Captain America while he cowers....
Captain Nemo—Sendhil Ramamurthy
Captain Nemo is difficult in that there are not a plethora of mainstream Indian actors to choose from (being a fault of casting, not a lack of actors), leading to the same seven or eight names coming up over and over. That being said, Nemo could be the ideal place to cast a fresh face who no one has seen before to showcase some new talent. But this is a casting post, so who’s about now with the chops? One of the first options who comes to mind is easily Sendhil Ramamurthy because he’s familiar with genre work due to his time as Mohinder on Heroes. Mohinder had that brooding nature that is incredibly well-suited to any interpretation of Verne’s Nautilus captain. In addition he’s a good age for Nemo; television likes to skew too young for everything, but Ramamurthy is not so young for an audience to have to suspend their disbelief over the complexity of the character. Another good call (if they could get him over to the U.S. would be Jeetu Verma who played “The Indian” in Tarsem Singh’s The Fall.
Allan Quatermain—Jason Watkins
Just to be perfectly clear, there is no way that Allan Quatermain even vaguely resembles Sean Connery. According to author H. Rider Haggard’s description of the guy, he’s wiry, short, and not exactly handsome. No Connery for anyone, and anyway he’s retired. And not a TV guy. So let’s go with someone who’s laid down a few impressive performances in genre television, but deserves a shot at something with a little more meat on bone. Jason Watkins showed ridiculous range as Herrick in Being Human, and was creepy fun in Doctor Who’s “Nightmare in Silver,” but he’s never tackled a role quite like this one. I think it would be a whole lot of fun to let him at it. Casting a person like Watkins would prevent the role from being romanticized, which Quatermain’s source material never really did, but Hollywood and television love to do. And preventing Quatermain from being a cringe-worthy character due to insensitivity is something that the show would absolutely have to battle with utmost care. Another interesting younger possibility would be Dominic Cooper, though he may be strictly into film now.
Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde—Ben Whishaw
Maybe this is a bit of wishful thinking on my part, as these aren’t normally the sorts of roles Whishaw takes and he’s getting bigger by the day—he’ll be in Terry Gilliam’s The Zero Theorem this year. But he’s done television (The Hollow Crown Trilogy, The Hour), and I literally cannot think of another person I would more prefer to see in the role. Imagine Skyfall’s Q in Victorian Era garb, and then just imagine him becoming a beast who has more in common with Jean-Baptiste Grenouille of Perfume: The Story of a Murder. It’s horrifying. It’s gorgeous. I’m getting chills and heart palpitations just imagining it. Having someone play Jekyll with such a mild manner would make Hyde’s appearances all the more jarring—and of course, there’s also the question of how to handle Hyde. It’s commonly achieved via special effects or prosthetics, though certain productions go for different actors (always a mistake). I’d prefer them to go the prosthetics route, if only because it seems as though no one has made an impressive, modern effort to do that kind of transformation with the same actor in a long time.
Hawley Griffin, The Invisible Man—Iwan Rheon
I can’t help it, I’m uttered tickled at the idea of Rheon playing practically the exact same character he played on Misfits, just older and far more mentally disturbed. Iwan Rheon’s Simon Bellamy was such a subtle and heartbreaking portrayal, it would be great to give him the chance to kick that character up a notch and really shoot for the crazy rafters. And now he’s got even more cred to his name, having recently portrayed Ramsay Snow/Bolton in the latest season of Game of Thrones. Barring that, casting someone who has a knack for truly off-beat characters, like Mackenzie Crook, would also be a step in the right direction.
Campion Bond—Hugh Bonneville
That sounds about right doesn’t it? Not dear old Jimmy Bond (who is perhaps the most horrific figure to consider in these stories), but Grampa Bond, who is just trying to do the right thing, maybe, thank you. Hugh Bonneville seems like the most trustworthy, stalwart guy, which is want you want from MI-5 and the Empire’s finest. The Englishman’s Englishman’s Englishman. He just works in a cuddly but-don’t-cuddle-him sort of way.
Fu Manchu—George Takei
It’s always awkward casting characters that play into deep-rooted stereotypes, which means whoever played the part of Fu Manchu would have to have a heavy grasp of the ironic and a willingness to try and transcend any campy one-note villain schtick. Which you know George Takei would be only too happy to do, so I suggest we get him outfitted for this show, stat.
Professor Moriarty—Richard E. Grant
Let’s be honest: it was fun seeing Grant play the Great Intelligence in Doctor Who, but he was woefully underused. That and he didn’t really get the chance to enjoy playing evil the way one does playing the Napoleon of Crime. It would be much more interesting to see just how villainous Grant could be if really turned loose in a sensibly odious way.
Mycroft Holmes—Should Just Be Mark Gatiss Again. Obviously.
You know it. I know it. Plus, crossing those universes over would mess with everyone’s heads in the meanest way.
And there are so many more possibilities: Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Jimmy Bond? Katie McGrath as Rosa Coote? Paterson Joseph as C. Auguste Dupin? What about those briefly sighted super cameos that crop up everywhere? Are we going to bring Asa Butterfield back to TV for the Artful Dodger? Discuss!
Emily Asher-Perrin always wanted to play Jekyll and Hyde as a kid. She still kinda does. She has written essays for the newly released Doctor Who and Race and Queers Dig Time Lords. You can bug her on Twitter and read more of her work here and elsewhere.