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Wednesday, August 06, 2008


Imagining The Movie Cast of "August: Osage County"

Variety today confirms what Broadway has known for months...that Pulitzer, Tony, and Drama League Award winner August: Osage County will soon become a major feature film. Lemonade takes the excitement a step further, dreaming about the plethora of casting options. Let's play along, shall we?

First, credit where it's due: Lemonwade is absolutely right to suggest Meryl Streep as the leading candidate for matriarch Violet Weston. In fact, it's nearly ridiculous to think of any other Hollywood actress in the role...Streep is the only cinematic grande dame with selling power AND awards clout.

If she were to turn it down, though, Lemonwade's also-rans include Jessica Lange, Susan Sarandon, Glenn Close, Sally Field, Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave. I love them all, but I think only Sarandon really has the dexterity to play the pill-popping Violet, who flips between tenderness and viciousness in mere seconds. (Close and Fonda are too hard-edged, Lange and Field too soft...and Redgrave, though brilliant, is a bit too elegant.)

I'd also add four other names to the Violet Casting Pool. The first is Helen Mirren, who has astonishing range and superb timing. The other three might be a little young -- depending on how young the casting of the daughters ends up -- but I'll suggest them anyway: Patricia Clarkson, Joan Allen and Emma Thompson. If there's a common thread among that trio, it's that I think they're the most underrated actresses in the universe. (And I'll offer up my pre-emptive apology to Nathaniel at The Film Experience for skipping his three favorite ladies, The Bening, Miz Julianne and La Pfeiffer...none of whom seem right for this.)

And who shall play the daughters? Again, I have to swing pretty wide age-wise, because the Hollywood casting process might go older or (probably) younger than the stage characters.

For Barbara (the eldest), I'd love to see Laura Linney, Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton or someone like Jennifer Jason Leigh...brittle, emotional performers who could find the strength to go toe-to-toe with Mom. The middle daughter, Karen, needs to show us self-delusion turning into emotional chaos...and the actresses who can pull that off best are Kate Winslet, Samantha Morton, Marisa Tomei and Maggie Gyllenhaal, in my opinion.

Ivy, the youngest daughter, strikes me as the most deceptive casting challenge. Ivy has to be a believable innocent for her third-act twist to work. But she's culpable in her own lies as well. So do you go with someone like Amy Adams, who can swing styles very easily? Or a more mature voice, like The Diving Bell and the Butterfly's Josee Marie-Croze? If I were the casting agent, I'd split the difference and hope for the best: Kirsten Dunst.

So if I had to choose:

Violet: Meryl Streep or Helen Mirren
Barbara: Laura Linney
Karen: Kate Winslet
Ivy: Kirsten Dunst

Go ahead, I know you're dying to...in the comments, tell me where I'm going wrong, and (more importantly) tell me who you'd cast instead.

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Blogger Vance said...

Is Meryl that old? I actually pictured her in the Barbara role.

This is harder than it looks though!

But if I were to go with that line, then I would almost throw Helen Mirren as Violet, Meryl as Barbara.

If I could throw in a smaller TV name, I almost see Christina Hendricks from Mad Men as Karen though maybe it's because the look reminds me of the same.

Then Marissa Tomei as Ivy though she might be a bit too old for the part. I LOVE Amy but I'm not sure about her for this. Marie-Croze is a nice mention!

Still, there's quite the list of great actresses to choose from! Why ARE there not more projects for them?

8/6/08, 12:37 AM  
Blogger par3182 said...

well, laura linney, obviously

but who would you cast as mattie fae?

8/6/08, 2:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, you just KNOW it's going to be Julia Roberts, Reese Witherspoon, Gwynnie, and Hayden Planetarium. Or maybe one of the girls from The Hills.

Prepare for a great show to be dumbed down and ruined.

8/6/08, 9:58 AM  
Blogger ShoNuff said...

i very much disagree with streep. i don't think she could reign herself in. the bile is the easy part, but the collapse and daze just don't seem to be her specialty. although not as sure a big box office name, i'd go for ellen burstyn as violet. second, bolder choice would be julie walters. i'd love to throw emma thompson at this role, but i'm just not sure.

as for barbara, i don't think laura linney is the right age (though she could nail the role perfectly). i'd go with cate blanchett. though they'd never go race neutral, sanaa lathan & nia long could be monumentally destructive here.

for karen, i'd go with kate winslet or carla gugino.

for ivy, i'd aim for kirsten dunst or michelle williams.

and you left out a key role in mattie fae, who i'd cast with kathy bates. duh.

8/6/08, 10:26 AM  
Blogger Billy D said...

Just had to say that I'm loving the Ellen Burstyn--great choice.

8/6/08, 2:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sort of sad to see that nobody would consider Judy Davis for Violet. I mean, must Meryl Streep play every great middle-aged leading lady role. If they went a little younger, I would probably go with Joan Allen, but Judy Davis would be my first choice (also consider her resemblance to Deanna Dunagan). My cast list would be:

Violet: Judy Davis/Joan Allen
Barbara: Holly Hunter (she IS this role)/Laura Linney/Catherine Keener
Ivy: Jennifer Jason Leigh/Virginia Madsen
Fannie Mae: Kathy Bates
Charlie Sr.: William Hurt
Bill: Jeff Daniels
Karen: Toni Collette

8/6/08, 10:13 PM  
Blogger whip-smart said...

It will never happen, but if Grace Zabriskie gets the Dunagan role I will orgasm.

8/10/08, 10:24 PM  
Blogger MattieFae said...

Violet: Ellen Burstyn
Beverley: James Garner
Mattie Fae: Maggie Smith
Charlie: James Cromwell
Barbara: Emma Thompson
Ivy: Cate Blanchett
Karen: Kate Winslet

4/9/09, 12:10 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

I agree that Laura Linney as Barbara would be a perfect casting. But I also would like to throw a curve ball name out there for Bill Fordham: Michael Emerson. He may be a creepster on Lost, but the man can act. There is no denying that. And I think he would be a really appropriate casting for Bill.

4/14/09, 3:57 AM  
Blogger jimfye said...

I just saw the play 2 days ago and can't stop thinking about it. I'd say the best way to go would be an HBO or Showtime movie, and this would be my dream cast:

Shirley Maclaine
Frank Langella
Elizabeth Taylor
Ned Beatty
Alison Janney
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Dakota Fanning
Hope Davis
Hugh Dancy
Toni Collette
Edward Norton
Q’orinaka Kilcher
John C. Reilly

9/8/09, 12:34 PM  
Blogger The AndyGram said...

OMG this makes me furious, the folks who SHOULD be playing the parts are the folks who originated them.


9/8/09, 11:05 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

I threw a few surprises in the and loved some of the suggestions in other comments, so I used them. I would be happiest if Mary Lynn Rajskub is Ivy. The actresses I've seen in the play have both reminded me of her so she's stuck in my head forever. I also loved Estelle Parsons and John Cullem in the play and thingk they'd be perfect in the movie. I LOVED the Michael Emerson idea. Just Brilliant. He's a fantastic actor and has done a lot of great theatre so he'd get the style easily.

Violet Weston – Estelle Parsons
Barbara Fordham – Laura Linney
Beverly Weston – John Cullum
Mattie Fae Aiken – Kathleen Turner
Jean Fordham – Dakota Fanning
Charlie Aiken- John Goodman
Bill Fordham – Michael Emerson
Ivy Weston - Mary Lynn Rajskub
Karen Weston – Toni Collette

1/8/10, 4:09 PM  
Blogger redseagrass said...

for Violet:


6/10/10, 1:52 PM  

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