If You Could Cast Anyone . . .
You’ve been handed the chance of a lifetime. A movie production company has come to you. They have access to a time machine and they are now allowing you the chance to cast any actor, from any moment in history, in the cinematic adaptation of any children’s book you can name. You can do anything you want.
Who do you cast?
Some suggestions to get you started:
Jodie Foster Is . . . . Harriet the Spy
Credit my husband for coming up with this one. Slap a pair of glasses on that girl and hand her a notebook. We all recall that Foster knocked it out of the park with another middle grade novel to film adaptation by the name of Freaky Friday. In that film she’s skateboarding, wearing pants, and generally laying the groundwork for this other iconic character. Had they made a film out of the book it would have been . . . well, terrible. You can’t film Harriet the Spy. Not well, anyway. But if you HAD to do it, do it with the best. Get yourself a Jodie Foster.
Priah Ferguson is . . . Delphine in One Crazy Summer
When Priah started appearing on Stranger Things as Lucas’s little sister Erica, she immediately ran away with the part. There’s a reason they started making her a regular on the series. The kid was a complete natural. She also showed an incredible range, nailing the funny lines and also getting some serious acting in as well. That’s precisely the kind of person you’d need for Delphine. The humor is imperative, since the whole story is told in her voice, but you also need someone capable of standing up to Vonetta and Fern when they align against her. Would YOU want to second guess Priah Ferguson if you were her younger sibling? I didn’t think so.
Dante Basco is . . . Peter Pan
Kind of a cheat, I know. And to be clear, I do NOT like the original story of Peter Pan. There are a lot of weird adult issues wrapped up in that tale that are insufficiently explored in each new adaptation. But since I don’t think we’ll ever see the true end of the adaptations in my own lifetime, we might as well get creative. And yes, obviously when we talk about Dante Basco we’re actually talking about Rufio from Hook. So, in a sense, he’s already played the part. But the truth of the matter is that by all rights Dante should have played Pan proper. Particularly if the adaptation was a really weird version, unafraid to muck around a bit with the source material.
Christina Ricci and Haley Joel Osmond are . . . Claudia and Jamie Kincaid in From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
At this point I’m just gonna start putting together different actors from different eras. An adaptation of this E.L. Konigsburg classic apparently did happen in 1973 as a film called The Hideaways and had the, admittedly, brilliant casting decision of making Ingrid Bergman Mrs. Frankweiler herself. Then there was the 1995 adaptation and that time they cast, I kid you not, Lauren Bacall as Mrs. Frankweiler. That said, both films are utterly forgotten today. One could make an argument that the Wes Anderson film The Royal Tenenbaums contains a sequence that is more authentic in tone than any strict adaptation to date, so with this in mind I propose that Anderson direct and Ricci and Osment, at the times when they were the appropriate ages, star. The great sin of our time is that Ricci has never even been in a Wes Anderson film (yet). As for who should be cast as Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, if I were to pluck from today’s choices I think I’d go with Maggie Smith. That and the fact that I’d give my right eyetooth to see Smith in an Anderson production.
That’s just for starters. Any ideas you have of your own?
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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