Attend The Tale of Bad Casting

Ken AshfordPopular CultureLeave a Comment

Sweeney What?  Are you kidding me?  Such a stir of reactions!

First of all, they are making a movie of Sweeney Todd?  That is fantastic!!  Nobody will see it or like it (except for theater folk), but that is largely beside the point.

But . . . Russell Crowe as the title character?  Possibly, says Playbill:

Russell Crowe is in the running to star in the planned movie version of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, according to the Daily Mail newspaper.

The report says that Crowe is "mulling over" whether or not to accept the role. The movie is being made by Sam Mendes’ Scamp Films, although Mendes has not confirmed that he will direct it. As for the other main casting, there are reportedly several names in consideration for the role of Mrs. Lovett. Emma Thompson, Imelda Staunton and Toni Collette are all cited by The Mail as being "in the mix".

Staunton has built a reputation for musical theatre, having appeared in the Donmar Warehouse’s Divas cabaret series and Richard Eyre’s hugely successful production of Guys and Dolls at the National Theatre. Collette starred in the Broadway musical The Wild Party and also offered a musical turn in the film Connie and Carla. Thompson acted in musicals while at Cambridge University, and later starred in Me and My Girl in the West End.

John Logan is on board to write the screenplay. His screen resume includes The Aviator for Martin Scorsese and Gladiator for Ridley Scott.

The original Broadway production of Sweeney Todd featured Len Cariou and Angela Lansbury as Sweeney and Mrs. Lovett. A live performance of the Harold Prince production was filmed in Los Angeles, with Lansbury but with George Hearn rather than Cariou — and that performance is now available on DVD. Sweeney Todd will only be the third of Sondheim’s musicals for which he wrote both music and lyrics to be given the full-movie treatment. The others are the 1966 film of A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum, which starred Zero Mostel, and 1977’s A Little Night Music, which starred Cariou, Elizabeth Taylor and Diana Rigg.

If that happens, the movie will be DOA.