If you haven't read the book, you're okay with just reading the cast list, but
go no furtrher. Beyond that, prepare for SPOILERS.
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|Chief Inspector Frederick Abberline||Bob Hoskins|
|Mr. Robert Lees||Cary Elwes|
|Miss Annie Crook||Julia Sawalha|
|Prince Albert Victor||Dominic Monaghan|
|Mr. Walter Sickert||Robert Sean Leonard|
|Mr. John Netley||Timothy Spall|
|Mrs. Mary Kelly Barnett||Minnie Driver|
|Sir William Witney Gull||Anthony Hopkins|
|Dr. James Hinton||Jason Flemyng|
|Queen Victoria||Judi Dench|
|Mr. John Merrick||Jude Law|
|Mrs. Elizabeth Stride||Emilia Fox|
|Miss Annie Chapman||Sarah Badel|
|Miss Polly Nicholls||Stefania Rocca|
|Detective Sergeant George Godley||Jim Broadbent|
|Sergeant Thick||Hugh Laurie|
|Miss Catherine Eddowes||Kate Ashfield|
|Mr. Monty Druitt||Alan Cumming|
|Directed by||David Fincher|
This DreamCast forged by Cosette and Widge.
Why From Hell? Well, first and foremost, they're doing it. In fact, it comes out tomorrow. And I know that I should wait before passing judgement, but I can't help it. It looks like they've taken the guts out of the film (what an interesting choice of imagery) and just turned it into a slick "Jack the Ripper" flick. That's my problem. The book isn't about Jack the Ripper, or rather, the fact that it traces the Jack the Ripper phenomenon is incidental. It is instead about what I call the "smallest of apocalypses." It's about that time and that place and the people that were there, on the brink of the 20th Century--and the madman that thought he had given birth to it. And to see what they've done to that--just in the trailers--scares the living hell out of me. I honestly don't know if there's a way to do this as a feature and get all the characters and such in. I think this would be good as a mini-series on a cable network, but with kickass production value, much like Sci-Fi Channel's Dune.
What's the scoop? There's a problem. You see, this guy Eddy has gone and found a nice little girl and settled down. They've even gotten pregnant and there's a child. Trouble is...he's Prince Albert Victor and she's... nobody. The woman is disposed of and PAV returned to his proper sphere. Further trouble is...people know. And when four prostitutes figure out they have information that could be worth something to the Crown, they try to collect. Huge mistake.
Directed by David Fincher: Fincher was the first name I came up with for the job. And no matter how many other names I paraded in front of my mind, I kept coming back to him. I was trying to figure out who could not only give us that grimy, low look of Whitechapel and yet not get completely tied in to the slasher element of the film. Someone who could key into that "tiny apocalypse" I was talking about earlier, and yet--not throw himself into it so that he was pounding it over our heads. Given this fine gentleman's usage of Kevin Spacey in Seven, I think he could be the one to pull it off.
Bob Hoskins as Fred Abberline: Well, this was a no-brainer. Not only can Hoskins look a damn sort like the Abberline in the graphic novel, but we all know he can act his ass off. What sealed it for me were the situations where Abberline, after his East End "Emma" runs out on him, exacted his rage upon prostitutes. He has the range to pull off the younger Abberline and the older one in the bookends of the story. No question.
Cary Elwes as Robert Lees: This is another one that just fell into place. The convulsions, the play acting, and the very strange admission that he made it all up...but it came true anyway. He doesn't play a particularly large part in the story, but he's important. And Elwes has a long history of playing characters who are full of themselves. Lees is no exception.
Julia Sawalha as Annie Crook: This is an interesting choice, I admit. Let me take a moment to discuss the Four Whores of the Apocalypse, as it were, along with the other young ladies chosen for our version of the film. Something that's obvious from reading the novel, is that the women involved were not starstruck beautiful. That's not to say that the women in this cast are not beautiful. They are and quite so. But they're not starlet beautiful, if you catch my meaning. They're not Liz Hurley, in other words. These were just women, attractive and beautiful in their own way. I hope that makes some semblance of sense. Sawalha has been a Needcoffee fave for some time. She's known in the States primarily for her work in Absolutely Fabulous and also for her vocal work in Chicken Run. But we really got endeared to her after seeing her in the undervalued Midwinter's Tale. This isn't an easy role. She falls in love, she loses her child, she loses her thyroid and then goes mad. She takes a whiz in the road. But I think she's got it in her and I'd love to see her give it a shot.
Dominic Monaghan as Prince Albert Victor: Okay, here's one that took a while. Casting youngish actors always does--because they're, in a lot of cases, unproven talent. Sure, some people might be familiar with Mr. Dominic's work--I, unfortunately, am not. But of the scores of actors that I looked through, he had the look that we needed. And the fact that he passed inspection to join the cast of The Lord of the Rings speaks volumes to me. Anyone with more information is encouraged to set me straight or back me up.
Robert Sean Leonard as Walter Sickert: The unfortunate artist who introduces Price Eddy to Annie and kicks off this entire series of events needed somebody who could be weak enough to not stop the wheels, and to get blackmailed for it later on. Leonard sprang to mind because of his work in Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing. I actually had him in mind for the prince, but then realized he was a bit too old these days, though his looks haven't changed drastically. The prince was about twenty when this kicked off, and Sickert was a bit older than that.
Timothy Spall as Netley: Another hard one to pick. Actually, most of the roles in this (apart from the leads) were agonized over for a few months. Granted, Spall doesn't necessarily fit the way Netley is presented in the novel, but we think he'll be able to pull off the part of a very simple man who gets in way over his head. We're talking way over his head.
Minnie Driver as Mary Kelly: Our female lead. Again, this took some deliberation. I knew I wanted Driver in here, but for the longest time she was in as Annie Crook. Still, after re-reading the book one last time before committing to our cast list here, I wanted to make Mary Kelly definitely strong. Those who understand the end know what I mean. So she had to come out the other end changed--this takes range. Driver has got range.
Anthony Hopkins as Sir William Gull: Okay. Again, Hopkins was my one and only choice for the role--but I fought myself over it. After all, Hopkins has played his share of madmen. One, you know, in particular comes to mind. But I realized that comparing Dr. Lecter to Gull is kind of like comparing Lecter to Titus Andronicus. Similar in some respects, but on the whole, utterly different. And indeed, whereas Lecter knows exactly what he's doing and just keeps right on going--Gull has a definite end, he's not a super-serial killer, he eventually comes round full circle and then some. I can't see anyone else doing the role--and believe me, I tried. But still, Sir Tony is the man.
Jason Flemyng as Dr. Hinton: Honesty time again. Not sure why I figured that Flemyng would be the doctor who spends as much time as a hallucination of Gull's as he does in the flesh and blood. But of the many actors I went through--here's a guy who turns in a good performance and yet changes his appearance each time. Compare Lock Stock to Snatch and so forth. Gut instinct comes into play here.
Judi Dench as Queen Victoria: Again, you'd think that she'd be sick of playing the role of monarch--but dammit, she does it so well. Again, she was my first choice for the role and simply would not let go.
Jude Law as John Merrick: Well, John Hurt is the man who's best known for playing this role--but we'd never ask him to put on that makeup again. However, we figure get an actor who's just as good, but younger, and have HIM put on the makeup instead. Merrick is important, since he is the Ganesh that Gull uses at the start of his venture.
Emilia Fox as Liz Stride, Sarah Badel as Annie Chapman, Stefania Rocca as Polly Nicholls, and Kate Ashfield as Catherine Eddowes
The reasons for choosing the actresses above are twofold. One I have already mentioned in the entry for Julia Sawalha. The other is this--recognize any names? No? Well, I wanted to bring some relatively unknown actresses into play as these women--so it gives the brutality just a touch of added realism.
Jim Broadbent as George Godley: Broadbent is one of those actors who you've seen, you just might not know who it was you were seeing. He's been in just about everything. For this role, the gentleman in the novel looks a helluva lot like John Cleese, and Cleese would be perfect but he's a bit on the old side. Shame, that. Regardless, Godley gives us somebody for Abberline to bounce things off of during the Whitechapel investigations--Broadbent would be quite good in that regard.
Hugh Laurie as Sgt. Thick: Thick is an buffoon. He's got this great theory about "Leather Apron," and basically needs to get smacked down, which Abberline does. This is a guy who today would read...and buy into...tabloids. Laurie has played a range of characters, including buffoons, so he'll do well in this small role.
Alan Cumming as Monty Druitt: Ostensibly an extended cameo, Druitt is a patsy for the crimes, set up by the Masons to take the fall. It's not a large role, but perhaps it'll get Cumming on our good side for when we figure out that Willy Wonka stage musical.
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