The Casting Couch: January’s News

Written by Daniel Cohen & Justin Matchick

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The Casting Couch – Breaking Down the January Casting News

Scarlett Johansson as the female lead – Ghost in the Shell

Thumbs Up: Can’t say I know too much about this property, but it seems like a perfect fit for Johansson.  She’s proving she can carry a franchise with the best of them. (DC)

Thumbs Down: The whitewashing of anime and cartoon adaptations continues with Johansson being cast as Japanese law-enforcement cyborg Mokoto Kusanagi. I enjoy Johansson immensely as an actress, but her casting here continues the trend seen in Dragonball Evolution and The Last Airbender – white actors being cast in explicitly non-white roles. Rinko Kikuchi and Rila Fukushima are both actresses with major Hollywood experience that could have easily been cast in her stead. (JM)

Michael Keaton in an unspecified role – Kong: Skull Island

Thumbs Up: When this project first got announced, my care level was at .000002%.  With casting J.K. Simmons and now Keaton, I guess I’m starting to perk up a little bit.  Michael Keaton can do whatever he wants right now, although I hope to see him in more smaller films, but good for him. (DC)

Thumbs Up: I’m still ambivalent about the film as a whole, but Keaton would be joining J.K. Simmons and Tom Hiddleston, strengthening an already strong cast and giving him a nice, big budget role to help his career revival in the wake of his critical acclaim from Birdman. (JM)

Rodrigo Santoro as Jesus – Ben-Hur Remake

Thumbs in the Middle: Every time I read about this remake, it makes me want to puke.  I hope it bombs beyond belief.  As far as the casting goes though, I’m pretty ‘meh’ on it.  Santoro has popped up in a few decent roles for 300 and I Love You Phillip Morris, but he’s practically an unknown here. (DC)

Thumbs Up: Santoro is mostly known to American audiences as the powerful King Xerxes in the 300 movies, so he already has extensive experience with sword-and-sandal epics. His time spent as the ultimately useless character Paolo on Lost notwithstanding (I’ll chalk that up to bad writing), I’ve enjoyed Santoro’s performances, and he should be a fine fit for a role as big as Jesus himself. (JM)

Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonalds – The Founder

Thumbs WAY Up: Well, I said I wanted to see Keaton in smaller movies, and I guess I got my wish a few paragraphs later.  This is awesome, and the type of momentum and role I want Keaton to continue getting.  This movie has monster potential, and could be another Oscar written all over it. (DC)

Thumbs Up: As stated above for his Skull Island casting, after Birdman, Keaton’s career is going to see a huge resurgence and another Oscar-bait type role was to be expected. For that role to be a biopic of McDondald’s founder Ray Kroc was less expected though. Keaton will need to find a way to make people find some sort of connection to a billionaire whose company saw its fair share of controversy. However, the similarly themed The Social Network was able to make billionaire Mark Zuckerberg seem somewhat sympathetic, and I expect Keaton will make the same out of this role. (JM)

Scarlett Johansson returning as Black Widow – Captain America: Civil War

Thumbs I Don’t Care: Whatever. (DC)

Thumbs Up: I’m all in favor of the Marvel Universe seeing more returning characters and actors in the same role. While the connected Universe has already seen a successful replacement when Mark Ruffalo took over for Ed Norton’s Bruce Banner, Johansson has developed Black Widow into something special over the course of the series, and it will be nice to see her grow even more in the next Captain America. (JM)

 X-Men: Apocalypse Round Up

Tye Sheridan as Scott Summers/Cyclops

Sophie Turner as Jean Grey

Alexandra Shipp as Storm

Thumbs Up All Around: I’ve been waiting for these characters to take center stage again, particularly Cyclops.  As much as I love the X-Men franchise, Cyclops has completely gotten the shaft, and he really shouldn’t.  The fact they got a fantastic actor to play him tells me his character is finally going to have some real meat to it.  If you don’t believe Sheridan is a great actor, then you clearly haven’t seen Mud.  As far as the other choices go, they are complete newcomers to me, and I’m always in favor of relative unknowns in superhero movies.  I need to start watching Game of Thrones, because I feel like every Casting Couch pulls someone from the Game of Thrones pool, and I know nothing about them. (DC)

Thumbs In the Middle: I have mixed feeling for these choices overall. I’m a big fan of the work Turner has done on Game of Thrones, and I feel her role as the troubled teen Sansa Stark will translate well into playing the troubled teenage version of Jean Grey. Sheridan’s most acclaimed role so far seems to be Mud, a movie I haven’t seen yet but have heard many good things about. I’ll reserve judgment on his casting for now, but I’ll remain cautiously optimistic. Shipp is the choice I have an issue with, as her biggest role of late was the woefully terrible performance as the late R&B star Aaliyah in the critically lambasted TV movie Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B. Though one might be able to chalk her performance up to miscasting, it’s hard to ignore such a lifeless performance when her next role will be as powerful a character as Storm. (JM)

Emma Watson as Belle – Live Action Beauty and the Beast Remake

Thumbs Up: This role fits Watson like a glove. (DC)

Thumbs Up: Watson has had a steady line of work since the Harry Potter series ended with movies like The Bling Ring and Noah, but this will be her first go as the main lead in a big budget movie. Watson is arguably the best out of any of the young actors from the Potter series, so to finally see her get the roles she deserves is welcoming. (JM)

Ghostbusters Reboot Round Up

Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon as the new Ghostbusters

Thumbs WAY WAY WAY WAY WAY Down: Okay, everybody relax.  Take a breath.  First of all, this has nothing to do with casting an all female Ghostbusters.  I am absolutely 100% for that idea.  My problem lies in these specific choices, and who the director is (Paul Feig).  I hate Bridesmaids.  There, I said it.  I hate BridesmaidsBridesmaids is one of the most obnoxious, detestable comedies I can remember in a long time.  I hate those characters, in particular Kristen Wiig’s performance.  The only reason people loved it is because it was a gross out comedy with women.  If you took the same script, called it Groomsmen, and it starred Adam Sandler and Kevin James, that movie would have been ripped to shreds, but I digress.  I’m not here to get into a Bridesmaids war.

Back to Ghostbusters – with the casting of Wiig and McCarthy, and the fact that Paul Feig is directing, I’m preparing myself for Bridesmaids level humor – unlikable characters.  Pratfalls.  Gross out jokes.  The whole nine yards of everything I hate about comedy.  I can’t say I know too much about McKinnon and Jones, but the fact they are being pulled from the SNL pool tells me they are probably similar in comedy style to Wiig, which doesn’t excite me.  I can’t believe these are the Ghostbusters replacing Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson.

Again, I want to reiterate – I’m all for a female Ghostbusters, but they should have gotten actresses like Emma Stone and Emily Blunt.  Aubrey Plaza also would have been perfect for this.  If you get actresses like that, and pair them with a Melissa McCarthy, that could potentially work, but not this.  I hope I’m dead wrong.  I really do.  But as of now, the Ghostbusters franchise is dead to me.  I have the original, and that will have to do. (DC)

Thumbs In the Middle: I’m at least in part excited at these choices, with Wiig, McKinnon, and Jones all being current or former members of the Saturday Night Live Crew. McKinnon and Jones are young but have shown promise in front of the camera on SNL. Wiig is an SNL alum and one of the top women in comedy right now, and her inclusion gives the cast a veteran anchor. McCarthy is the only choice I’m down on. Despite garnering an Academy Award nomination for Bridesmaids years ago, almost all of her roles since then have been rehashes of her obnoxious role in that film. Identity Thief, The Heat, and Tammy have all failed to make McCarthy the star she seemed she would become after Bridesmaids, and I don’t think Ghostbusters will give her much of a different role. (JM)

Christine Taylor returning as Matilda – Zoolander 2

Thumbs Up: I’ve always liked Christine Taylor, and feel she’s gone underutilized in comedies, so I’m glad to see her back for this.  Zoolander is a great comedy, but we are getting to the point of too much time elapsing.  If this sequel is going to happen, it has to happen now. (DC)

Thumbs Up: Zoolander is one of the most quotable movies of the past 15 years, and it’s nice to see characters who will be returning.  Although Taylor’s character wasn’t as big a source of comedy as Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, and Will Ferrell’s were, her presence as a “straight” character in the face of the over-the-top comedy of the rest of the movie offered some much needed grounding. (JM)
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