Waiting for the Barbarians Question 2: What do you think about the casting choices?

Waiting for the Barbarians by ‎J.M. Coetzee

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Waiting for the Barbarians Question 2: What do you think about the casting choices?

Unread post by fireflydances » Thu Aug 29, 2019 7:53 pm

There are four main characters in this story: the Magistrate, Colonel Joll, Mandel and the girl. Most of the time when we read a novel we create sort of sketched-in images in our heads that are stand-ins for the characters that are described in the book. They can become very real, very present. And then sometimes you read a novel and then see a movie and you feel the director has gotten it all wrong.

If you’ve read the book, what do you think about the casting choices?

If you haven’t read the book, I would still like to know what you think about the actors. Even things like do you like Johnny being the bad guy again? Is it casting to type?

Side note: I am exploring these film related questions now rather than at the end of our discussion. It’s what Zone folks have on their mind, right?
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies

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Waiting for the Barbarians Question 2: What do you think about the casting choices?

Unread post by SnoopyDances » Fri Aug 30, 2019 7:44 pm

I think Rylance will be great as the Magistrate. While reading the book, I pictured him in every scene.

Johnny will be great as Joll. I only hope the role has been expanded to let him really shine.

I'm on the fence about Pattinson. I haven't seen him as an adult character. I've seen him as the teen-angst characters and nice guy. It will be interesting to see what he does here.

Not familiar with the girl. I'm sure she'll be Hollywood exotic. It will be interesting how they handle her role in the MeToo environment.

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Waiting for the Barbarians Question 2: What do you think about the casting choices?

Unread post by nebraska » Sat Aug 31, 2019 10:19 am

I rarely go to the cinema, and when I do go it is to see Johnny. I had to look up Pattinson's career to realize I have seen him in a Harry Potter movie, so obviously he didn't make a big impression on me. I am not familiar with Rylance at all. Johnny will be wonderful as Joll. He portrays evil characters really well, usually slipping in some redeeming quality we had not expected. I am glad he is not playing the Magistrate role. Maybe I "know" the Magistrate too well to like him very much since he gives us so much access to his inner self in the book.

Looking at pictures of Gana Bayarsaikhan who is cast as The Girl, I think Snoopy is right that she will be "Hollywood exotic". She has a native look that could portray a "barbarian" in whatever land we imagine ourselves; but The Girl is blind and crippled and described as being quite unattractive -- I imagined her as built more a cave woman with coarse features. Of course until we see Gana in the movie with make up and her character in place, we won't really know. I hadn't thought about the "Me Too" movement. If the story is changed to make modern women comfortable, an important part of the narrative will be twisted. I hope that doesn't happen. I would like to see the movie be true to the book.

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Waiting for the Barbarians Question 2: What do you think about the casting choices?

Unread post by fireflydances » Sat Aug 31, 2019 12:25 pm

Time for me to weigh in, I guess. I am very impressed by Sir Mark Rylance with his strong background in UK Shakespearean theater --some regard him as "the greatest stage actor of his generation" with one Oscar (best supporting actor -- Bridge of Spies) two BAFTA and three Tony Awards. He was the first actor on the Waiting for the Barbarians project going back into 2016. Yes, I should have written a tidbit on him. Robert Pattinson will always be tarred with the Twilight movies for me, but now his career is humming with three films opening in the next two months -- The King, The Lighthouse and Waiting for the Barbarians, and then Batman. So, two no-kidding career actors. Gana Bayarsaihkan has had two small roles in Wonder Woman and Ex Machina. I was very interested that Guerra talked about going to Mongolia with her to learn about the culture. I know Coetzee seriously researched Mongolia at one point when he was exploring the setting of the story, so I would not be at all surprised to learn that Gana was very deliberately picked.

I think the quality of the film's actors says something about Guerra and Coetzee's intentions. Coetzee carefully vetted other actors in other potential adaptations of Waiting for the Barbarians. And two strong English actors would seem indicative of a film with a strong arthouse vibe. And the growing number of international film festivals planning to screen the film is also good. I am feeling more than ever positive that I will be able to see the film in a local theater. (I am outside Washington DC and the area has at least 8-10 arthouse venues).

I hope the film doesn't have to worry about the "Me Two" movement. In part because I think it is likely that Gana will not be presented as a beautiful woman. Doesn't make sense with the story, although I don't see the need to make her look unattractive. I always assumed the Magistrate's take on the looks of the 'barbarian girl' were strongly influenced by his own narrow view of beauty.

No question that Johnny will do an excellent job as Colonel Joll. But I have to say that I feel he is now somewhat stereotyped as 'capable of an excellent baddie' and that doesn't thrill me. I would love to see him explore more options, more roles that run counter to who we think he should play. But my sense is that he is not that interested in acting at the moment and perhaps for the long run. Music is at the center of his attention, and how lucky for him to have been able to deeply explore this side of his self. I will always want more for this guy -- theater, challenging roles, etc. But, he should do only what he wishes to do and I will be content.
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies

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Waiting for the Barbarians Question 2: What do you think about the casting choices?

Unread post by nebraska » Sat Aug 31, 2019 4:51 pm

I am not worried about Johnny being cast as bad guys. His character in the Professor was comic and romantic and lovely. His character in City of Lies is a honest real-life hero. There is also Minamata on the horizon and his character in that story is wonderfully heroic also. I think he will continue to select a mixture of roles that please him.

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Waiting for the Barbarians Question 2: What do you think about the casting choices?

Unread post by SnoopyDances » Sat Aug 31, 2019 7:03 pm

nebraska wrote:I am not worried about Johnny being cast as bad guys. His character in the Professor was comic and romantic and lovely. His character in City of Lies is a honest real-life hero. There is also Minamata on the horizon and his character in that story is wonderfully heroic also. I think he will continue to select a mixture of roles that please him.
:highfive: He does have quite the range of characters. And Johnny said he never sees his bad guys or any of the characters as an outsider looking in, but he always tries to find some reason or logic as to why his characters behave the way they do, be it good or bad.
I like his approach and it will be interesting to see what he does with Joll and how he interacts with Rylance's Magistrate.