Atlas Shrugged: Casting

Heretical Ideas had a segment on the perfect Atlas Shrugged movie. I agree, it would have to be a trilogy to do it right. I thought I'd try my hand at casting:

Leo DiCaprio would be my pick for d'Anconia. He has that manic streak, but also the penetrating good looks and intelligence. Jude Law or Robert Downey Jr. might also pull it off. If you need to go lower budget, Owen Wilson might be your man. Daniel Day Lewis would be my Hank Rearden - he played Sinclair's version of the magnate so well in There Will Be Blood - I think he captured the goodness very well before he turned evil in that movie. Donnie Wahlberg would be good if you wanted to go young. Russell Crowe could do this role also, but not as well as Lewis. Dagny Taggart- Kate Blanchett is perfect, as would be Kate Winslet. I can also see Scarlett Johannson, Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore, Claire Danes, Gwyneth Paltrow, Rachel McAdams, and a number of other actresses pulling the role off. The role is basically the classical strong women with a soft side... she has to balance a strong personality with the ability to get hurt, and to top it all off she has to convincingly fall in love with three men. Word on the street is that it is Angelina Jolie - she's a little soft; I think she'd be better as Lily Rearden. Hugh Akston - Morgan Freeman is the obvious choice from the philosopher perspective. George Takei could do the philosopher part, although he may be too old to realistically run a diner. Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart could do it too. I think these choices overplay the philosopher and maybe underplay the diner cook; Robert Redford and Clint Eastwood would be up there with Freeman, but Freeman takes it by a nose. You could also go way out there with this one and cameo Tarantino or something; it's really wide open. Jim Taggart - Crowe is not sleezy and desperate enough. He would play it too "cool" - As I mentioned earlier, I could actually see him as Hank Rearden before I could see him as Jim Taggart. It's a challenging role - he has to have a boastfulness when things are going his way, and a whiny blamefulness when things are not. Maybe Obama could fit it in his schedule? But I digress. I think Ben Affleck could pull this off, or maybe even Keanu Reeves (!) - lots of style, little substance, and a short memory. Jim Carrey could probably do it too - he's shown the ability to play dark comedy - but my thought is he would be too intelligent for the role. This is a tough one. I'll have to come back to it.

UPDATE: I think the Jim Taggart role would suit Joaquin Phoenix. He basically played it in Gladiator. My friend just suggested Alan Rickman - I like that even better.

Cherryl Brooks - Christina Ricci or Kirsten Dunst have the ability to play the helpless but good-hearted girl next door, although the role might be too small for them. Joey Lauren Adams could work.

Cuffy Meigs - the brutish military officer, the Gestapo enforcer who bides his time until he is the only one who can "save" the government. Can't just be a Luco Brazzi type guy - he also has a head on his shoulders. Christopher Walken? Cillian Murphy? Benicio del Toro (too small a role)? Forest Whitaker was great as Idi Amin, and having a facial scar or a bum eye helps the role significantly. Dennis Quaid might work. But I would go with one of the Platoon sargents - Tom Berenger or Willem Dafoe. I don't remember the character from the book very well, so I'm going on archetype here.
Dan Conway - the cowboy businessman; a genius who dresses and talks like an everyman. He should be a well-built man, but soft-spoken. It's a small role, so it might not even be in the movie - but it's an important conversation because it shows one alternative to the organized strike. Tommy Lee Jones would be great in this cameo. Tom Sizemore too. If I could choose one person though, it would have to be Chris Cooper.

Eddie Willers - where do you find an actor who will play an unexceptional intellect? That's tough. You don't want to go with an unexceptional actor for such a pivotal role, so humility is the number one trait you're looking for. Don Cheadle is a guy who can play humility, as could Tom Hanks. I think Liam Neeson could do it, also Tom Sizemore. Philip Seymour Hoffman could do it for sure. Tough one. I've also always thought Willers should be a funny guy, and although it's not really there in the book I could imagine a guy like Bill Murray, Will Ferrell, or Ricky Gervais playing a truly memorable Eddie Willers.

John Galt - I don't see the problem with this casting. Most actors seem to think of themselves as Galt - the Great Man in every way. A lot of older guys from the Golden Age had the swagger to pull it off - Eastwood, Redford, Beatty, Brando, pre-collapse Mel Gibson, and DeNiro come to mind. I think they are too old for the role though. I agree Denzel Washington would be a great choice for the role. Brad Pitt, Leo DiCaprio (better as d'Anconia, but he could do Galt too), Matt Damon, Jamie Foxx, Will Smith, and Tom Cruise are viable choices. I could see Christian Bale in a pinch, but not really.

Lillian Rearden - frigid, cheating, emasculating, uses sex as a bargaining tool. All the negative traits of woman in an outwardly beautiful package. The linked post says Lucy Liu, and I have no objections. Angelina Jolie could do it with a hand tied behind her back, but it's too small a role to pay for her. Keira Knightley would do it to death, and I mean that in a bad way. Jessica Alba is that person in real life, but she's not all that great an actor for what you pay for. Nicole Kidman obviously, Halle Berry, Mila Kunis, Ziyi Zhang, Michele Pfeiffer, Mena Suvari, Marisa Tomei... this one's too easy.

Midas Mulligan - I always pictured him as portly and bald. Drew Carey would be great for this role. John Goodman might pull it off too.

Wesley Mouch - Kevin Spacey could play the sleezy spineless lobbyist, but I think he's too intelligent. Jason Schwartzman has that overwhelmed look to him. The problem is that you need to find a guy who can be dark, but also not terribly intelligent. Ed Norton could do this one too, and I think Jeremy Piven would be a worthy backup.

Orren Boyle - David Huddleston or Gene Hackman

Robert Stadler - the linked site suggest Robert Duvall. I could see him being apolitical, and I can see him acting blinded to what is going on. So I'm for that one. Let me also put Philip Seymour Hoffman's name in the running on this one.

Philip Rearden - Seth Green or Simon Pegg.

Rearden's Mother - She does charity work, and comes across as holier-than-thou. I can see Meryl Streep in this role. If you want to take it more holier, Goldie Hawn would work; more sarcastic and vicious, Christina Rose could do it.

Ragnar Danneskjold - Djimon Hounsou, Colin Farrell, Jude Law, Robert Downey Jr. And hey, he's a pirate, so why not Johnny Depp?

The looters circle would have to work well. Let's say we already have Joaquin Phoenix as Jim Taggart, and Ed Norton as Mouch. Tom Berenger is Meigs, kind of on the outer edges of the circle. Simon Pritchett is the hack academic sophist philosopher, a sort of Trotsky type whom everyone gets sick of listening to. Alec Baldwin works in that role, few can look serious ripping off a ridiculous monologue like he can, but Patrick Stewart could be good if he could tone down the intellect. Dr. Floyd Ferris, the cunning underling who manipulates Stadler and takes credit for Project X, could be played by Giovanni Ribisi (hard to beat for evil looks), Zachary Quinto, or Steve Buscemi? And for the headless president Mr. Thompson, the master of backroom deals and politics, Jack Nicholson or Sam Jackson would work. Balph Eubanks is the pompous writer; I picture someone slightly flamboyant like maybe a highly restrained Nathan Lane or Christopher Lee or James Woods.

Ken Dannager - Mickey Rourke or Edward James Olmos or Kurt Russell

Ben Nealy - Orlando Bloom, Ben Affleck, James Spader

Well, there you go. Let's see if I hit any of them as information comes out.

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