Casting Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell: Part II
A little while ago, the news that the BBC would adapt Susannah Clarke’s enormous novel Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell got me thinking – the result was Let’s Cast, a wishful thinking exercise wherein I chose John Hurt and Shaun Evans as the eponymous magicians, and rounded the cast out with Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Clare Foy, Richard Armitage, and Benedict Cumberbatch.
Luckily, the BBC have a little more imagination (and casting directors) – this morning it was announced that Eddie Marsan and Bertie Carvel will be taking on the roles of Norrell and Strange respectively, with Marc Warren, Samuel West, Alice Englert, Charlotte Riley, Enzo Gilenti and Paul Kaye supporting. It’s an fantastic roster of British talent, and the mixture of well- and lesser-known names strikes the perfect balance in a story that has a Game-of-Thrones-esque cast.
Marsan is, perhaps, a little bit of a surprise for the elderly Norrell, but a pleasant one – he’s proven himself as both a dramatic and comedic actor, both of which are required here, and it’s exciting to see something a little outside of the box. Bertie Carvel fits perfectly with my reasons for suggesting Shaun Evans – with a big name (in this case Marsan’s) to anchor the series, having an opposing number who’s better known in theatre and musicals allows the story to tell itself, rather that weighing it down in the baggage that comes with two well-known faces. Carvel also captures the sometimes-strange handsomeness required of his character (well, when he’s not playing Miss Trunchbull).
No word yet on the roles that Samuel West or Marc Warren will take, and seemingly no casting for Stephen Black (so Ejiofor could still be in the frame – in my dreams), but the BBC and Cuba Pictures have taken a very encouraging first step. Filming starts next week in Yorkshire, Canada, and Croatia.