Wednesday, May 25, 2011

"Hunger Games" Casting Mania! (part eight)

I know that I’m really late with this. I was waiting to see if any more of the major characters would be cast...and they were! So this post is gonna be particularly long. I’ll try not to babble excessively.

The Role: Cinna. Ahhh, Cinna. Beloved by all. Cinna is the assigned personal stylist for Katniss, designing the outfits she wears during her public appearances prior to and following the Hunger Games. (Oh, uh, spoiler alert that she survives.) While most Capitol residents are gaudy, shallow, and clueless, Cinna is wise and quietly, calmly subversive. He and Katniss hit it off right away, and he reveals himself to have strong anti-Capitol sensibilities, which he works into his costume designs, transforming our heroine into a walking symbol of rebellion. More I will not say, except to note that Cinna’s total story arc in the series is both awesome and heartbreaking. Sniff.

The Actor: Lenny Kravitz! Didn’t see that coming, did you? This man has been a familiar name in the music industry for a long time, with his contributions to soul and reggae and his smooth good looks. More recently, he was in Precious, a movie that gained major accolades for all involved -- even Mariah Carey, for fuck’s sake. So that answers the question of whether he can act.

My Approval Rating: 7.5 out of 10. He’s an unexpected choice, and I like it when they push the envelope. It’s funny...I always pictured Cinna as a white guy in his late twenties, which just shows how sparingly (in a good way) the character was described in the books. Kravitz is black and 46. However, he’s a cool customer who should be able to project Cinna’s kind wisdom, not to mention make us all swoon. I’m a little leery of his age, but this makes him a little more of a father figure to Katniss. Sounds good!

Who I Would have Picked: I agree with a lot of people that Cillian Murphy would have been an awesome choice, with his porcelain features and quiet, dreamy acting style. Also -- and I know this is so totally gay of me -- Adam Lambert looks just about like I pictured Cinna to look. Can he act? I have no idea. But he’s got the same level of charm. Plus, Cinna is probably gay. I mean, Suzanne Collins never came out and said he was, but the implication was definitely there. So, yeah. Gay singer playing gay stylist. I think this paragraph is getting awkward. Next character!

The Roles: Cato and Clove, the District Two Tributes. These are the leaders of the so-called “Career Tributes,” rich brats backed by richer sponsors who generally clean up in the games. And make no mistake, they’re eeeeeeeevil. Cato is the main antagonist, such a nasty piece of work that he volunteered for the Hunger Games purely out of bloodlust. He uses his size and strength to brutally take names and shed blood. Clove isn’t much nicer, a vicious murderess who’s deadly with a throwing knife. With assorted toadies at their beck and call, they’re determined to rid the world of people like Katniss and Peeta, whom they see as backwater trash. Both of them meet appropriately awful deaths, don’t worry.

The Actors: Alexander Ludwig and Isabelle Fuhrman. Ludwig is one of those generic hot young actors of the moment; he was in Race to Witch Mountain and that god-awful, shit-all-over-a-beloved-children’s-classic travesty that was The Seeker: The Dark is Rising. As for Fuhrman, well...if you’ve seen the movie Orphan, you’re probably screaming and flinging yourself away from your computer screen right now. If you haven’t, let’s just say that she perfectly represents the next generation of Evil Little Horror Movie Children. And now she’s all grown up!

My Approval Rating: For Ludwig, 4 out of 10. I admit to being personally biased against him for his involvement in The Seeker, but all that aside, he’s too damn blonde and pretty to play Cato. People are gonna be whining that he should have been Peeta. No, he shouldn’t have, but he’s gonna have to work hard to convince me he can be a brutal, murderous sociopath who snaps little kids’ necks. Fuhrman, on the other hand, gets a 9 out of 10! I was totally blown away by the casting choice; what an awesome surprise! She really was skin-crawlingly effective in Orphan and I think she’s just right to play a knife-throwing bitch. Kudos! (I’m sure she’s sweet in person...)

Who I Would Have Picked: Call me a hypocrite, but I would’ve picked Alex Pettyfer for Cato. Yeah, I was dumping on him earlier, but that was in regards to him being cast as Peeta or Gale. I’d have no problem with watching that icky pretty boy play the evil Cato, and would cheer heartily when (SPOILER ALERT) he got slowly torn apart by mutant werewolves. Schadenfreude! As for Clove, I’m rather partial to Abbie Cornish, whose gigantic biceps were the most impressive thing in all of Sucker Punch. She’s 28, though, so maybe not. Isabelle Fuhrman is like the best possible choice, anyway. You’ll see.

The Role: Claudius Templesmith, the official Hunger Games announcer. Although he is never seen, his booming voice is often heard echoing through the arena as the Tributes fight for their lives. He keeps the players and viewers updated on kills, statistics, and rule updates, and generally plays up the tension and melodrama for all it’s worth. Not very important to the overall storyline, but the Games just wouldn’t be the same without his voice.

The Actor: Toby Jones, another one of Those Actors who you probably recognize from somewhere or other. He played Truman Capote in Infamous and Karl Rove in W., he was in The Mist and will be appearing in Captain America, and if nothing else, you’ve probably heard him as the voice of Dobby the elf in the Harry Potter movies. Dude doesn’t fill any particular niche, that’s for sure.

My Approval Rating: 8 out of 10. Sure, why not? Jones’s acting choices are all over the map, but he’s proven that he can step vividly into various identities, both real and fictional. It’s not too hard to play a bombastic sports announcer, but they still needed someone with a distinctive and riveting voice, and they could’ve done way, way worse than Jones. Funny how all the best voices belong to Brits; everyone wanted Jeremy Irons for Templesmith. I, on the other hand, favored...

Who I Would Have Picked: Tim Curry. Mmmmm, that voice. Smooth as honey, rough as granite, sleazy and wicked and yet impossible to stop listening to. Whether he’s an evil clown, a pirate captain, a sentient cloud of smog, or a sweet transvestite in a stupid and hideously overrated cult film, Curry’s voice rises above even the silliest material. Plus he’s done, like, more voiceover work than anyone else in the entire bloody world. Plus he’s Tim Curry. Come on.

Phew! That about does it for major Hunger Games roles. There’s still some minor characters to be cast, but I don’t think I need to follow breathlessly. The one remaining major role is that of the vile President Snow, who doesn’t appear much in The Hunger Games but will play a far more prominent role in its two sequels. I’m excited to see who they get, and I’ll be sharing the news with you here. Stay tuned!

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