The Changeling, or, to be more precise, a rather strange and post-modern production if it that I saw last autumn, was, as I mentioned in my first post in this feature, was the thing that sparked the idea of recasting classics texts.
Now, for those who don’t know, The Changeling is an old, Elizabethan revenge tragedy, although it also has within it a subplot, much more comic one about a madhouse and the idea of ‘performing’ madness. And, as interesting as that idea is, in this version of The Changeling, I’d likely remove the comic subplot and focus on the dramatic one, for the best escalation of dramatic tension and so on throughout the film.
And so, here are how I would cast the three principle characters in the dramatic storyline of The Changeling.
Patrick Wilson as Alsemero
Alsemero is very much a typical romantic lead, and something of a crux of sanity throughout the film, until it’s final moments where he, for want of better phrasing – snaps, and in his delivery of a passage on how, and this is my interpretation of the passage, on how living can overcome grief (perhaps best illustrated in the line “your only smiles have power to cause relief”) stands at odds with this message.
Wilson looks like he could be a romantic lead, and he can very much play the ‘normal’ one (just look at him compared to Roy or Harper in Angels in America) exceptionally well, and of course, we’ve all seen him at the end of his tether in Hard Candy. Watching Patrick Wilson slowly, and finally fall apart would be fascinating to watch.
Peter Dinklage as De Flores
Now, the thing with De Flores is that Beatrice is not meant to find him attractive. Which isn’t by any way a slight against Dinklage in terms of his appearance or his height, but considering the modern standards of what is considered attractive, Dinklage could work as casting (it’s tough to explain his casting here without it sounding exploitative, but it really isn’t. And here’s why)
Dinklage would be incredible in this role. De Flores is something of a wordsmith I suppose, not quite in the manipulative way that Tyrion Lannister (the role Dinklage is most known for playing in HBO’s Game of Thrones), but his language, his sickening and venomous tongue, conjuring images of “a woman dipped in blood”, and slowly seducing the increasingly frantic Beatrice. De Flores is also attracted to Beatrice in a masochistic way, he revels in her disgust at him, and watching Dinklage play a character that is perhaps, a little less sympathetic than he is The Station Agent and Game of Thrones (at least compared to most of the other characters, especially as the series progresses) would be very interesting.
Carey Mulligan as Beatrice
Beatrice is of course the centre of The Changeling and perhaps the first tragic heroine (in a genre largely focused on men in power), who is eventually brought down by her lust, as puritanical as it sounds.
Now, Beatrice is a woman who is practically made of conflicting dualities. She is at once romantic and shy in her arranged married, something that comes into direct conflict with her verbal sadism aimed at De Flores as well as, eventually, her lust. Beatrice’s character development is very much based around becoming more haphazard after having De Flores kill the man she is betrothed to, and her more furious side comes to the centre, and Carey Mulligan, who we’ve all seen wearing her heart on her sleeve in Shame, would be able to show Beatrice unravel in spectacular fashion.