A Fisti Recast-athon: The Devil Wears Prada, Gravity, and Michael Clayton

FistiRecastathon

Now THIS is a blogathon I can’t wait to take part! Andrew over at A Fistful of Films blog just had a brilliant idea for a recast-athon, similar to what I did here but this time with a slight twist. I’ll let him explain in his own words…

Here is my issue with Hollywood. It seems like these talented women (the men have it much easier) are either relegated to minority-necessary casting (like, we NEED a black actress in this movie because the character is a slave) or they get shoved onto television, where they flourish in short-lived TV shows that the average cinephile has probably never heard of.  It is very rare that a top rate director is going to use an actress of color in a role that doesn’t call for one. Obviously, there are a lot of biopic nominations going on all over the place, but taking those out…look at some of these roles and tell me if they couldn’t have been filled by an actress of color.

  • Nina Sayers (Black Swan)
  • Nic (The Kids are All Right)
  • Cindy (Blue Valentine)
  • Megan (Bridesmaids)
  • Tiffany (Silver Linings Playbook)
  • Cheryl (The Sessions)
  • Dolores (Silver Linings Playbook)
  • Jasmine (Blue Jasmine)
  • Ryan Stone (Gravity)
  • Ginger (Blue Jasmine)

So here are the RULES:

1)  Pick an OSCAR NOMINATED performance given by a white actress that didn’t require a white actress (no biopics here, even though Todd Haynes taught us that you don’t need to be the same race or gender to play a real life person).  This performance can come from ANY film year.

2)  Pick an actress of color who could have been a great fit for the role instead of the one cast.  Keep in mind the time of release and chose actresses who were working at that time. So, in other words, don’t select the role of Calla Mackie in 1968’s Rachel, Rachel (played by Estelle Parsons) and suggest it be a great fit for Naomie Harris, because, well, she wasn’t born for another eight years.

3)  Explain WHY that actress would have made a great fit.  Plead her case.  Let’s tell those Hollywood casting directors what they’re missing.


I LOVE this idea! I often think the same thing too that a lot of these roles could’ve easily been done by so many non-white actresses. I love that Drew focuses on actresses as non-white MALE actors certainly do get it easier than the female counterparts. It’s a shame really as there are SO many talented & beautiful actress of color out there who remain so underutilized. So here are three actresses who I think could’ve given an equally good performance in these Oscar-nominated roles:

FistiRecastathon_Angela

Angela Bassett as Miranda Priestly (The Devil Wears Prada)

BassettMirandaPriestlyI have always been a big fan of miss Bassett. In fact, I have sort of a girl crush on her from Waiting To Exhale. She obviously epitomizes a strong, perceptive, no-nonsense woman but she has a certain vulnerability as well that make me think she’d be great as Miranda. Bassett is nine years younger than Meryl Streep, but I don’t think age is an issue here. In an era where Lucky Fashion Magazine’s editor in chief and Banana Republic’s creative director are of Taiwanese and Korean descent respectively, why not have a Black woman play a Fashion Mag editor in the movies?

I think Bassett would rock the role with her dramatic chops, and she also has a playful side and a rockin’ body that’d look phenomenal in high fashion. As Meryl portrays Miranda less as a sadistic monster of a boss but more of a fierce/demanding figure, I think Bassett can do the same given her naturally-likable persona.

Bonus: It’d be cool to see gorgeous British actress Naomie Harris in the role of Andy Sachs, the naive college grad who moved to NYC and lands a job as Miranda’s co-assistant.

NaomieHarrisAndySachs

I’ve been impressed by Naomie in 28 Days Later, Skyfall and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, and I’d LOVE to see her in more prominent roles. She’s even more beautiful than Anne Hathaway but I think she could be made up to look more like the girl-next-door.

FistiRecastathon_Michelle

Michelle Yeoh as Ryan Stone (Gravity)

YeohRyanStoneWhen I first saw the trailer of Gravity, I was a bit surprised to see Sandra Bullock as Biomedical engineer Ryan Stone on her first space shuttle mission. She just wasn’t the actress I had in mind in the role, though she did a great job in the end and I think her Oscar nomination was well deserved. Now, I read that Natalie Portman was originally the first choice for the role, but heh, if only Hollywood would think outside the box once in a while. I think an actress who’d suit the role nicely is Michelle Yeoh. It’d somewhat coincide nicely the fact that in June 2012, Chinese space pilot Liu Yang became the first Chinese woman in space.

Yeoh is actually two years older than Bullock at 52, though both look at least 10 years younger than their age. I always think of the former Miss Malaysia is hugely underrated, despite having churned out great performances in Crouching Tiger, Sunshine, Hidden Dragon, Tomorrow Never Dies and recently, The Lady.

I think her martial-art training and dance background would help with the rigorous physicality required for the role. She also has the dramatic chops to pull off the quieter moments of desperation that Stone encounters when she was all alone in space. I really think Yeoh would’ve done a wonderful job in the role and the film would’ve had an ever bigger International appeal given her popularity in Asia.

FistiRecastathon_Viola

Viola Davis as Karen Crowder (Michael Clayton)

ViolaDavisKarenChowderI had put down miss Davis in this role before I saw her in The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them where she played a tough but compassionate NYU professor. But now I’m more convinced she’d have been awesome in the role. As she is now playing yet another sharp-witted character, a tough-talking, shrewd defense attorney/law professor in ABC’s How to Get Away With Murder, you know she would be perfect as the general counsel of an agricultural conglomerate.

I think Hollywood might be reluctant to cast an actor of color in such an unsympathetic role, but I think it’d be a challenging and fun role for someone of Davis’ talent. Chowder is ruthless and even callous, willing to take a life when her cause demands it. But she’s also suffering from a mental breakdown and tough she appears tough and in control in the outside, on the inside she is crippled with anxiety and fear. Though I LOVE Tilda Swinton’s Oscar-winning performance, I can totally see Davis pulling off such an inner conflict with aplomb. Davis’ adept use of subtle body language as well as her magnetic screen presence would also work wonder for such a role.


What do you think of my recast-athon picks? If you were to do your own recasting, who would YOU pick?

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47 thoughts on “A Fisti Recast-athon: The Devil Wears Prada, Gravity, and Michael Clayton

  1. I haven’t seen Michael Clayton, but the other two re-casts: LOVE them! Especially Angela Bassett as Miranda Priestly. I actually had an experience just two months ago that would prove this. I worked a temporary job for a week at Bon-Ton Stores, the conglomeration of stores like Carson’s and Boston Store and Hershberger’s. It was an editing role, but since it was in the fashion industry, everyone dressed to the nines. The editor-in-chief was this GORGEOUS African-American woman, and she instantly made me think of Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada, because she was impossible to get a hold of, hard to please, gorgeous, and just all around fit the persona of Miranda Priestly. Great idea, Ruth!

    Also, I could totally see Michelle Yeoh in Gravity; maybe even more so than Sandra Bullock!

    BTW, do you have to be nominated to take part in this blogathon?

    1. Hey there Kris! Oh Michael Clayton is a great film, I saw it mostly because I like Tilda Swinton, not Clooney. Oooh what a great story about the editor in chief at Bon-Ton! I think there are lots of women of color in such a position but of course Hollywood is always so myopic about such things.

      Yep, Michelle Yeoh rocks. I really think she’d be incredible in Gravity!

      As I mentioned on Twitter, no invite needed, so do take part!

  2. The only thing about casting someone else as Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada is the character was loosely based on Anna Wintour at Vogue in the book. It could be done but seeing as it’s based on somebody it would be hard for me to see someone of color in the role. Just my opinion. On the other hand Naomie Harris would be a great pick for Andy Sachs. Someone else I’d like to see in the role is Keke Palmer. She’s doing great work on Master’s of Sex and is showing great promise.

    Michele Yeoh has a track record with Sci-Fi starring in Danny Boyle’s Sunshine so she’d be an easy fit as Ryan Stone. In the same vein as Michelle, Maggie Q would be good too.

    Hmmm… the Karen Crowder is a tough one. Ruthlessness mixed with insecurity. Viola would be good. Taraji P. Henson maybe. Jada Pinkett Smith would be my pick.

    1. Hi Dave! Yeah I know Miranda was loosely based on Anna Wintour, but if they wanted to make it about a Black fashion magazine the story would’ve still hold up I think. Or they can stay w/ Runway magazine (which is similar to Vogue or ELLE I’d imagine), it wouldn’t be so strange to have a Black woman as editor. That’s why I use the real life examples of Lucky magazine editor and Banana Republic creative director who are both Asian descent.

      I still prefer Michelle Yeoh in Gravity as opposed to Maggie Q who is half Caucasian. Nothing against that per se, I just think Yeoh is a far better actress in general and she’s of the right age to play the role.

      Oh Jada Pinkett would be good as Karen Chowder, too. I like her in Collateral, I think she plays a high ranking exec there. She’s good in Gotham, too!

  3. Ted S.

    It’s unfortunate that a lot of talented minority actresses aren’t getting enough roles but Hollywood is still runs by mostly Caucasians and so they’re not going to cast a person of color in a major role. And also the majority of the movie going audiences are still Caucasians.

    I like your choices, I’ve never seen The Devils Wear Prada so I don’t have an opinion about that casting. But I think Yeoh would’ve been good in Gravity but Davis would’ve been quite menacing in Michael Clayton. I believe she guess starred on one of the Law & Order episodes and she played the “evil” defense lawyer quite well.

    1. Yep, exactly Ted. I know lots of Black people complain there aren’t enough Black actors in Hollywood. Well Asians are even more rare! Hollywood tend to use the same ones over and over, for the same types of roles! Case in point: Ken Watanabe who essentially always plays the same character in Hollywood films.

      I think Yeoh could easily do a whole bunch of roles that white actress her age keep getting. She looks about 35 anyway, so I think she is quite versatile if given the chance, as she can do both action AND drama.

    1. Hello Chris! Yep, no reason at all if Hollywood had the guts to cast a non-white actor. Yeoh excels at both action and drama so she seems tailor-made for such a role I think.

  4. Okay, I’ll go classic. How about Lena Horne? From the 1960s she could easily have been Mrs. Robinson in ‘The Graduate’ or from the 1950s, the character Judy playing opposite James Dean in ‘Rebel without a Cause.’ 🙂

    1. Hi Cindy! I knew you’d go w/ a classic and Lena Horne is a great pick even though sadly I haven’t seen any of her work yet. But she is gorgeous AND talented so yeah, I’d think she’d fit the role of Mrs Robinson. Oooh, I have Rebel without a Cause on my Blindspot, so now I’m more curious about that one.

      Speaking of blindspot, hope you’ll stop by later for my review of a classic noir I’m sure you have seen 😉

  5. What a cool concept and great picks! I love them all and they are all smart choices. I am a big fan right now of Viola. I am slightly obsessed with the movie the Help, so that may be why. 🙂 Hmmmm gosh… if it was possible to recast the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and take Rooney Mara away and replace her with Lupita Nyong’o, for some reason I think that would be a cool and edgy role for her. I know she did win an Oscar but she came to my mind and I am basically thinking out loud right now. I could see Halle Barry in Sandra Bullock’s role in Gravity too. I also want to include Kerry Washington in something, maybe in American Hustle, she could have rocked one of those roles. Ohh now you got my mind whirling. Thanks Ruth!

    1. Hello again Mel! Yeah it’s a cool concept indeed, I just had to take part! Viola is just so cool! I’ve seen her in quite a number of things and she’s always so watchable even if the roles aren’t worthy of her, y’know? I’m not a fan of Rooney Mara and tho I haven’t seen Dragon Tattoo, I bet Lupita could do it!

      Sorry m’dear, but I’m actually not too fond of Halle Berry as an actress. I mean she is gorgeous but I don’t see her in the same league as Viola or Bassett, she just doesn’t come across as a strong woman for some reason. Oh but Kerry Washington in J-Law’s role would rock! I’d say they could recast the entire American Hustle w/ Black actors I think. Say, maybe Naomie Harris could play Amy Adams’ role, and Idris Elba & David Oyelowo could be in Cooper and Bale’s roles respectively. What do you think?

      1. Hello Hello… Another actress I thought of was Octavia Spencer, she is always good in anything she does. You know what I didn’t care for Mara before seeing the Tattoo flick, in that she is really good. You should check it out, I think you would like it, plus Daniel Craig is really good as Blomkvist. I am kind of seriously attached to those books, so I was really happy with how he presented that character. Back to the question at hand… I can always ramble and digress on your blog, yes Lupita could make that role phenomenal.

        OMG YES! American Hustle with black actors even Latin ones, could be a really cool movie idea. What about Denzel as DeNiro’s character, even thought it was a small cameo, that would be cool. And Jamie Foxx as the politician character. Hmmm… so many ideas!!

        1. Oh yeah, Octavia is great, love her & Viola in The Help. That is cool that the Dragon Tattoo films live up to the books, that’s a testament of how good Fincher is as director. It might be too dark/violent for moi though.

          Oooh yes American Hustle w/ latin actors would actually be awesome. We could have Andy Garcia & Salma Hayek in the Bale/Adams role, and Oscar Isaac [who’s Guatemalan] and maybe Elsa Pataky (Chris Hemsworth’s wife) in J-Law’s role? Now YOU got my mind whirling, ha..ha..

  6. What an interesting post. I absolutely agree with everything you wrote about Michelle Yeoh. I wouldn’t mind her playing in Gravity (but of course I also love Sandra there)

    1. Hi Nov! I wish miss Yeoh would get more roles, she is such a beautiful and talented actress. I like Bullock too but it’d be nice to see an Asian woman lead such a film.

  7. Just saw Michael Clayton few weeks ago. The last act was suspenseful, however I felt the story overall was a bit too confusing, or should I say messy, especially the first half of the film. I can definitely imagine Viola Davis as Karen Crowder in Michael Clayton, good choice!

    1. Yeah there’s definitely lots going on in Michael Clayton. I do think Davis would fit the role perfectly, and I think she could go toe to toe w/ Clooney too!

  8. Oh these are great! I’d love to see Bassett as Miranda – that would add a bit to the whole Devil bit since this woman seriously doesn’t age.

    1. Hi Sati! I was hoping you’d take part in this recasting too. Ha..ha.. yeah Bassett looks incredible for her age doesn’t she? And her body is amazing, better than most 20-year-olds in Hollywood!

      1. Oh I don’t have the time for that. I barely make it on time with Fisti’s Twice a Best Actress nowadays :/ She looks completely ageless on AHS which is funny because last year she played an immortal character.

        1. I hear ya Sati. Boy seems like your work schedule is really nuts! I hope you get your well-deserved break soon, girl!

          Angela Bassett played an immortal character? Wow talk about spot on casting!! I have such a girl crush on her for ages.

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  10. Pingback: Recast-athon: Up in the Air, Black Swan, and Silver Linings Playbook | All Eyes On Screen

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