Wednesday, August 05, 2009

As detailed two days ago, if the Chronicles of Narnia are going to be brought to the big screen (joining literary brethren the Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia), it needs to be faithfully done. To do so would mean fully embracing the roots of the story, based on Welsh legend and mythology. As detailed yesterday, this can be further bolstered by taking filming on location to Wales itself, utilizing the amazing topography as well as ancient castles.
It stands to reason that the final big piece in an essentially Welsh story filmed in Wales would be to have as close to an all-Welsh cast as possible.

For starters, I think you actually go against the obvious and not bring on board the most recognizable Wales native in the acting business--Anthony Hopkins. Too recognizable (and probably too expensive).

However, there are plenty of noteworthy Welsh actors who aren't so big as to overwhelm the story while still accomplished enough to make for a quality film rather than a popcorn flick.

Ioan Gruffudd as Gwydion: one of the major heroes of the story, the war leader for the forces of good and next in line for the position of High King of Prydain. Gruffudd portrayed Reed Richards in the two Fantastic Four movies, was Lancelot in a recent King Arthur film, and has seen action in blockbusters such as Titanic and Black Hawk Down.

John Rhys-Davies as Dallben: every story of this type has to have the all-knowing wizard type, be it Ben Kenobi in Star Wars or Gandolf in LOTR. Dallben is a 300 year old enchanter who is arguably the most powerful figure in Prydain and stands as a major foe to the forces of evil. Rhys-Davies, having portrayed the dwarf Gimli in the Tolkien series, already has an impressive background in this genre. He also had a notable role in the Indiana Jones series as Sallah. At over 6'1, he can cut an imposing figure.
Michael Sheen as Coll: Sheen has burst on the scene recently with two significant roles, first as Tony Blair in The Queen, then as David Frost in Frost/Nixon. For fans of non-thinking entertainment, he also had major roles in the two Underworld films. Coll is a simple farmer with a hidden heroic past who serves as a more hands-on mentor to Taran. Only thing is, Coll is bald as a cue ball, so Sheen is going to have to break out the razor!
Catherine Zeta-Jones as Achren: one of the two main female roles in the series, Achren is a former queen of Prydain, now deposed and with a serious mean streak. Maybe no other character goes through as radical a change in their persona during the course of the saga as she seeks revenge against the traitor who overthrew her. The first book describes her as a raven-haired beauty and not too many 40-something actresses fit the bill quite like her.

Rhys Ifans as Fflewddur Fflam: the bard, one of Taran's two chief companions during his adventures, is long and lanky with wild golden hair, a good-hearted goofball of sorts. With slightly yellower hair and better hygeine than his character in Notting Hill, I can definitely see Ifans in this role.

Now, it's far easier looking for accomplished Welsh adult actors for these and other critical roles than it is for the lead positions of Taran and Eilonwy. With the five above and others I've pictured in some of the other slots, it's simple enough watching them in other big roles and know that they've got the chops to pull it off. But as this is a coming-of-age tale in some regards, the two lead characters are probably in the 15 year old range as I see it. Not being Welsh, I probably wouldn't consider Cayden Boyd (Taran) or Adair Tishler (Eilonwy), but they do have the general look that I'm searching for to fill those two critical roles.

Tomorrow: part 4, the final installment of the impossible dream.


Blogger PHSChemGuy said...

Don't know the books...don't know welsh...would watch anything with Catherine Zeta-Jones...

I'm in.

And, wow, you are amazingly thorough when the muse strikes.

6:49 PM  

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