How to cast The Da Vinci Code without pissing me off.

Once my wife Jen was finished devouring The Da Vinci Code, she frequently regaled me with disserations on how this movie oughta be cast. And though nobody loves a good Jen rant more than me, it was pretty much wasted because I haven't actually, you know, read the book. So I threw her my blogging hat and told her that she might as well expand from her audience-o-one and preach her sermon to the choir of people who've read the book and/or are interested in the upcoming flick. So, without further adieu, heeeeere's Jen:

Like many, I am lamenting the casting of the movie version of the most beloved, super-hit book of the past year--The Da Vinci Code. The thing is, those of us who love this book, are likely going to whine every step of the way until (and after) this thing hits the big screen, and yet who will be more excited than me when those long-awaited teaser trailers hit theatres? It's a love it/hate it roller coaster ride for me any time a book I love goes to film. But let's face it--this book was born to have a movie version--murder in the Louvre, a handsome scholar turned detective, and chase after suspenseful chase through Paris and London--not to mention its fair share of controversy, which never hurts. The truth is that the cast of this film could be made up of total unknowns, and it would still make money because this is such a widely read--loved and hated--book which has become more of a phenomenon, spawning many knock-offs and "non-fiction" rebuffs and praises alike.

Of course there has been much speculation all over the internet on who should play the characters in the movie which is set to be directed by Ron Howard and released in 2005. After reading Peter Howell's article "Da Vinci Code: Don't Blow It!", I have to admit for the most part I agree with his choices; however, I have a few ideas of my own... So here are my opinions on the "Big 6":

Robert Langdon:

First of all, I'm tired of people bitching about the possibility of Russell Crowe in this part. Don't you people remember that Crowe is a chameleon? I mean did you see The Insider? Think he's too rough to play a scholar? Hello? What about A Beautiful Mind? Putting aside my bad feelings about the man himself (I have had a huge crush on Dennis Quaid since elementary school--yes, I admit I was one of the three fans of the early 80's HBO fave The Night the Lights Went out in Georgia--where have you gone Kristy McNichol? You've got to love a movie based on a Vickie Lawrence song!) Russell Crowe can act, and that's just a fact. So, I would have no problem with him as Langdon. Besides, as has been said by countless others, Harrison Ford is just too damned old! Langdon is 40, not 60! Anyway, other names that are being tossed about that I could live with are George Clooney, Aaron Eckhart, and maybe (just maybe) Hugh Jackman (he's never really had a chance in a true dramatic role, and he sure doesn't do so well as leading man, but hey, I'm willing to give him a chance). As much as I love Edward Norton, he seems kind of wrong physically for the part, but I could never complain about Norton being cast. The worst name being tossed of all is Tom Hanks! Even though I have made my peace with him over winning two Oscars in a row when Pacino only has one. I cannot let this idea stand, man! Hanks is best when director's allow him to be his charming, adorable self as in this summer's The Terminal. Yes he can do things like Cast Away well, but he is just not meant to play a scholar. I just can't get the inherent comedy out of his face, and I keep expecting him to break into "Zippety Do Dah" all Splash style or to spit out his beluga caviar. Hanks by far would be the worst choice of the big names being thrown about.

Sophie Neveu:

I really only have one choice here, and that is Rachel Weisz. I disagree with Howell who says that the actress must be French. I mean, isn't the point of good acting just that? Acting? Weisz could work on her French accent and she'd be absolutely perfect. I can buy her as smart, strong, and no one can deny her beauty--she's totally gorgeous! A few other good choices I think would be the amazing Cate Blanchett--who can do anything--and Kate Winslet who I'm sure can do a great French accent. Those "Kates" I can handle, but not the Kate being talked about for this role--Beckinsale. Though she can be beautiful, has she shown us any great acting ability (think: horrible accent in Van Helsing and just being in the horrid Pearl Harbor). She's not special enough to be Sophie, whose role is crucial to the center of Da Vinci Code.

Captain Bezu Fache:

I have to agree with Internet junkies and Howell alike who say that Jean Reno is the one to cast here. I can think of no one better, and he already has the French accent!

Leigh Teabing:

Connery is being talked about for this role. Can we say "hideosh cashting"? Teabing is supposed to be brilliant, but unassuming. He will have to walk with braces and have a "portly" build. He has to come across as physically frail, and I don't think Connery will do for that. Not to mention the whole "brilliant" thing. Connery may be able to pull of "cunning," but not "brilliant." They'll probably cast him if they can though, and I'll have to live with it--but I don't have to do so without bitching! I agree with the consensus that Jim Broadbent is perfect. I can think of no one better.


Obviously, there will have to be some great makeup artistry done with this character--I mean, how many "hulking" albinos are acting today? Bettany is a good choice. I could see him playing evil. And hey, he's practically an albino anyway. Or how about William Fichtner? He can play creepy, for sure. This time he gets to be the "Albo gator"--cinematic karma! Jackman is too conventionally handsome to play this role. Really it's going to be all in the makeup, especially since Silas is a man of action, not words. It's this role where they could cast a complete unknown and it wouldn’t make a bit of difference. Since Adrien Brody loves to play weird--and he does it so well--he might be a good scenery chewin' choice.

Jacques Sauniere:

This role has not been as talked about as much as the other five, but I feel it is one of the most important to cast well. This character must be played by a big name actor who will do what is essentially an unforgettable cameo. In my opinion, here's where they need to spend some bucks to get a big name. Even as I read, I saw this character as Anthony Hopkins. They may want to use Connery here, where I actually think he works better, but still my heart is with Hopkins on this one. The biggest mistake they could make with Sauniere is to cast a lesser known actor. This one has just got to be BIG.

More than the casting, I'm most afraid that the filmmakers will screw with the whole point of the book--that which makes it better than your run of the mill airport novel--and that is to cheat us out of Dan Brown's exhaustive research and historical detail. It would be very easy to focus only on the suspense part of this story when translating it into film, and that would be a huge mistake. It's going to be a hard screenplay to write--I wouldn't want to decide what to leave out--but they will be doing such a huge disservice to this book if they gloss over the important historical, religious, and gender issues it brings to the table. I mean, hell, that's the whole point!

Related tune: Mary by Tori Amos (mp3 via

posted by drew on 8/12/2004

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Obviously, I'm not trying to re-invent the movie blog wheel here. I'm just never lacking in opinions about movies, pop culture, news, and other assorted hoohah. And my mailman has put a restraining order on me, so here's my place to vent.

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