- Published on Friday, December 14 2012
- Written by Greg McIver
‘Tis the season for recasting! In this eggnog-laced edition of Recasting The Classics, I’m going after a holiday film that probably nobody has ever seen. It’s A Wonderful Life has become one of the most famous Christmas movies of all time, regardless of the fact that only 20% of it actually takes place during Christmas time. This is the story of George Bailey, a man who had dreams of traveling the world in order to see what life was like outside of his little town of Bedford Falls. But his obligations towards his friends and family constantly keep him from achieving that goal. When a tragic mistake threatens to ruin everything he has managed to build for himself and his loved ones, George makes the wish that he had never been born. Luckily, George’s guardian angel, a plucky little fellow named Clarence, was listening and shows George just what the world would have been like had he not been launched from his mother’s womb. You know the drill; below you will see which modern-day actors and actresses I think would best fit into these classic roles. I should point out that this film has quite an extensive list of supporting players, so I’m just going to focus on the main four.
George Bailey: WILL FERRELL
As I mentioned above, George Bailey is a man who put his dreams on hold in order to care for the people in his life. He’s a wonderful and caring individual, but also a slightly frustrated one as well. I decided to go with Will Ferrell because going out on a limb is one of my all-time favorite activities. Honestly, though, if you take the nuclear explosion that was Ferrell’s performance in Elf and dial it waaayyyy down, then stir in some of those dramatic chops that he showed he had in 2006’s Stranger Than Fiction, then I think you’ll find that I’ve come up with the perfect recipe for George Bailey. Oddly enough, I almost went with Mark Ruffalo for this part because many of his past performances have demonstrated the kindness and darkness that I believe the role of George Bailey requires. Ultimately, I went the other route because Ferrell has a different kind of energy that I think is better for the part, and because when you see whom I picked to play Clarence, you would have accused me of watching The Avengers right before writing this...
Mary Hatch: KELLY MACDONALD
The romance between Mary and George has always held a special place in my heart because schmaltz is a part of my daily nutritional requirements. I just love the utter frustration that George feels when he finally realizes that Mary is the person he wants to spend the rest of his life with. Finding the person you love and discovering that they love you in return is the dream of dozens of people, but George knows that by making Mary a part of his life, he will have to, once again, put his other dreams on hold. A lot of actresses could play this warm sweet and funny character, but I’ve chosen Kelly MacDonald because I felt really bad when she got shot in No Country for Old Men. Well, that and because, over the years, she has played many parts that have showcased just the right balance between sweetness and sadness that I think is absolutely necessary for the role of Mary.
Mr. Potter: JOHN LITHGOW
Mr. Potter is a rich, old, and very mean man who wouldn’t think twice about stealing candy from a kid and then trying to sell it to another kid at double the price. He is the richest man in Bedford Falls and the complete antithesis of George Bailey. When Clarence shows George what the world would have been like if George hadn’t been born, then you get to really see just what a force of greed and destruction that Mr. Potter actually is. That is why I have chosen the cooky dad from "3rd Rock From The Sun" to play him. Actually, John Lithgow has loads of experience playing shady and awful characters. For proof, check out his performances in such movies as All That Jazz, Raising Cain, Santa Clause: The Movie, and Shrek, not to mention his terrifying stint on "Dexter". Once you’ve completed that little homework assignment, then you’ll see why I like Lithgow for this role.
Clarence: TOM HIDDLESTON
Clarence is George’s bumbling guardian angel. He doesn’t have a lot of stock in the brains department, but he makes up for it with compassion and the drive to make people’s lives better. So, obviously, Loki, the trickster God from Thor and The Avengers, is the perfect choice for this role. Now, before you begin pelting your own computer screen with tomatoes, you should hear me out. I’ve decided to go young with this actor because I believe some youthful exuberance will serve the character very well. Also, Tom Hiddleston can do more than just shoot lasers at Chris Hemsworth. Check out his performance in Midnight In Paris. It’s not the biggest role in the movie, but Hiddleston’s portrayal of F. Scott Fitzgerald is quite excellent and it demonstrated the sweetness and good cheer that the character of Clarence needs to embody. I also think that Hiddleston would excel in some of the more darker scenes of It’s A Wonderful Life. When George sees what life would’ve been like if he had never been born, he sees that Beford Falls has been completely dominated by Mr. Potter and all of his friends and family are miserable. It’s tough for George to take this all in, and Clarence has no choice but to let him suffer a little bit so George can realize just how much he meant to everyone in the town and beyond. Take my word for it, Tom Hiddleston is the man to get the job done.
Greg McIver currently resides in New York City. Check out his other reviews and articles at www.nerdtopiacast.com, and be sure to tune in to his weekly podcast Filmtopiacast 3000 which is currently available on YouTube, iTunes, and Stitcher.
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