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May 10 2011

Cast This: Johnny Depp's "The Thin Man" Remake

Let's talk aboutJohnny Deppfor a moment.Is anyone busier?

Depp sneaking away from all original movie ideas.

He seems to be rivalling Michael Fassbender (rising star division) and Leonardo DiCaprio (first dibs 30something division) on "most films in the pipeline".Aside from signing on for endlessPirates of the Caribbeanfilms (we thought one was enough but oh how we loved it at the time),there's Tim Burton'sDark Shadowsadaptation (I almost typedDark Habitsthere are no druggy horny nuns in that one) andThe Lone Ranger(which Depp says will be significantly rework the Tonto/Ranger dynamic),he and Rob Marshall are prepping a remake of the 30s classicThe Thin Manfor 2013.

What is with Depp's weird insistence on only doing remakes and sequels?That such an original performer would give himself over so completely to repetition and revisions is eerily similar to the "no more original material!"edict that seems to have consumed his once very original favorite collaborator as well (That's right,Mr.Burton,we're talking to you!)

A remake ofThe Thin Man(1934),one of the first feature "franchises"is a pretty terrible idea for a number of reasons and not just for the totally norm reason that the original is just fine the way it is.

There are two enormous hurdles to surmount in relaunching that franchise and the unbeatable William Powell / Myrna Loy chemistry is numero uno.Depp is a wonderful actor but when has he ever had chemistry that fine with a co-star?Think hard.Yep,he's something of an island actor.Problem dos is that though the 1930s should technically have been more backwards in terms of gender equality,it's pretty tough to beat the leading ladies of the 1930s in terms of gender equality starpower.Loy wasa real luluand who the hell will ever be able to top her impressive juggling of loving wife,comic sparring partner and elegant diva?

You're going to need an actress who can keep Depp on his toes whilst staring him straight in the eyes and simultaneously never dropping the witticisms from her lips.As much as Hollywood will want to cast a 20something woman in the this role,Johnny Depp will be 50 when the movie comes out so the Nora to his Nick should at least be in her 30s,but hopefully early 40s.(To be anal about it,there was a 13 year age difference between the original Nick and Nora Charles so we'll allow for an actress as young as 35.We're generous that way.)Remember you're looking for an equal in every way.

The last woman to hold her own opposite Depp with enough force to suggest that sheabsolutelydid not believe she was billed below him was Anne Heche inDonnie Brasco(1997).But we all know that they're not going to cast Anne Heche.Who would you go with?

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Reader Comments (36)

Anne Hathaway?May be a bit young at 30 next year,but can you imagine how gross they could go (thoughts of this even possibly being Katie Jarvis' next project scare me.And I WANT her to work.) Otherwise,Gwyneth Paltrow or Charlize Theron would be their best bets.How expensive would it be to adapt The Thin Man,really?(I saw the original Thin Man.Really,the leads would be anywhere from 40-70% of the budget,depending on how big they go.)

May 10,2011 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

As much as I respect Johnny Depp as an actor,the first thing that comes to my mind after that announcement is NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!How CAN they do this?The original Thin Man is such a classic and the Powell-Loy pairing legendary.The wit and humour will not be able to work in the same way today as the original one did,as,of course,conventions and values at the time were so different from today.So many jokes and the entire chemistry between Depp and his leading lady will not work in the same way,and if they will do it differently to make it fit to our time - then why make a remake at all?Make another movie,for all I care,and call it and the main characters whatever you like,but NOT the Thin Man with Nick and Nora Charles.NO NO NO

May 10,2011 | Unregistered CommenterDea

There's an argument to be made for Ed Scissorhands with Winona,but that was a MUCH different sort of chemistry.The critical complaint on The Tourist was he had no chemistry with Jolie.And that haircut was ridiculous."If that thing sprouts tentacles it's Eldritch"ridiculous.

May 10,2011 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Volvagia -- i could see Gwyneth working as she can do banterish comedy but I wonder how well Charlize would work.She seems a bit "remote"but i haven't been a Charlize completist so maybe she has more comedy in her than I realize.

Dea -- i hurts right?I am confused by this direction in Depp's career but ah well.It is what it is.

May 10,2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

The only one I can think of is Vera Farmiga.

May 10,2011 | Unregistered CommenterJulien

I suggested a Daily Poll Question for IMDb yesterday Who would you like to see cast as Nora to Depp's Nick.
My vote goes to Cate Blanchett.
Amy Adams might be brilliant for the part,but she's 10 years younger than Depp,which isn't a big gap for leading co-stars in a Hollywood movie,as we all know,but I would like to see someone closer to his age.(Rachel McAdams and Reese Witherspoon are even younger.) They'd never consider Parker Posey.Perhaps Julia Roberts?Sandra Bullock?Julianne Moore (she was in Benny & Joon)?Jodie Foster,Marisa Tomei,Rachel Weisz?

May 10,2011 | Unregistered CommenterYonatan

Amy Adams is the one.Perfection.

However,if not her,I would go with a Brit actress - Sally Hawkins,Andrea Riseborough,or Emily Blunt.

May 10,2011 | Unregistered CommenterSoSueMe

Johnny Depp seems to be challenging himself to sign on to as many projects as possible that I have zero interest in seeing.Really,I want everyone to think back to the last film Johnny Depp was in that they actually enjoyed.

May 10,2011 | Unregistered CommenterRJ

Cate Blanchett is too intimidating and theatrical for Depp...I think she would eat him alive.

May 10,2011 | Unregistered CommenterSoSueMe

Although,if they cast Sally Hawkins as SoSueMe suggests,I will see this.

May 10,2011 | Unregistered CommenterRJ

Nat,you are behind on your predictions (though,nothing really changes until The Tree of Life comes out and is appraised).But on Tintin potentially being ineligble: The Academy has consistently ruled that mocapimation is eligible.The Polar Express,Monster House (nominated) and Beowulf were ALL eligible.I fail to see how Tintin will be treated differently at this point.

May 10,2011 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

He had chemistry with Keira - they shared a kiss in one of the Pirates movies - and it was kinda hot.How about her?She fits the mold of what he likes in life too - waifish,delicate,beautiful,girlish,sexy,vulnerable,and edgy.

May 10,2011 | Unregistered CommenterSoSueMe

This saddens me more than I can say,but I do love playing casting director so...

Kristen Bell would be great,but she's too young.Sandra Bullock would be great but she's too slapsticky.Vera Farmiga might be able to pull it off - she had such effortless chemistry with Clooney in Up In The Air - really,the two of them would be better in The Thin Man than Johnny and anyone.Rachel Weisz would be an interesting choice - she's another one who has managed effotless chemistry with a variety of co-stars.I would LOVE to see Emily Blunt do this - how she didn't become a major comic star after The Devil Wears Prada is baffling to me.Rachel McAdams could also be good - but her performance in Sherlock Holmes was SO disappointing.What about Tina Fey?She plays a great straight man!

I keep going back and forth on Cate Blanchett.Even if it weren't for her Kate Hepburn performance in The Aviator,the woman simply reeks of '30s star.However,she does tend towards more mannered performances,and this requires someone fast and loose.If Depp and Marshall could loosen her up,though,she could be great.

And yes,they'd never cast Anne Heche,but she would be GREAT.

May 10,2011 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

I really don't see Depp as able to compare to William Powell,but alas,that never stopped Mark Wahlberg from trying to replace Cary Grant.And with Rob Marshall directing,the movie will lack any vibe of fun & frolick,but alas....
I'd cast Maya Rudolph.She was fantastic in Away We Go,she's funny as hell,& is age appropriate for Depp.
And I still don't get why filmmakers try to remake movies that we so much more than the sum of their parts.

May 10,2011 | Unregistered CommenterShonufflives

If you wanted to re-make the Thin Man series,I'd pick-up after the old series ended with Dame Judi Dench as Nora then cast the rest from there.Just think back to the scene in the James Bond-series with her and Bond sparring in the lurching limousine as they tear thru' London Traffic,all the while balancing her Scotch and not giving an inch in the banter.

Wealthy,retired and way too-much time on their hands...

May 10,2011 | Unregistered CommenterTed B

Vera Farmiga is Nora.I sent that out on twitter yesterday.I think I will start a facebook campaign too!

May 10,2011 | Unregistered CommenterMurtada

She probably wouldn't make Hollywood's shortlist,but how about Tea Leoni?I remember consistently liking her in underwhelming movies ("Ghost Town"and "Spanglish",but don't yell at me) and I think she can sell humor that's based more in character than in a set-up/punchline formula.As much as I'd like a Renee Zellweger comeback,I feel like she might give too mannered a performance here.

Or: Toni Collette?

May 10,2011 | Unregistered CommenterD

Oh this is such a terrible idea on every level - I don't know where to begin...

May 10,2011 | Unregistered CommenterJanice

People should NOT be allowed to remake such classics.Just NO.I can´t believe they want to do this.WHY!?And why on "The Thin Man"?It´s such a delightful movie and no one can come close to the chemistry of WIlliam Powell/Myrna Loy,Bill´s charming and funny and so elegant way of solving those things,Myrna´s behaviour and everything (and just Myrna herself).Please just leave it.

I can´t really think of one actress who could play this.

May 10,2011 | Unregistered CommenterLea

Also,we may be kidding ourselves if we think Hollywood is going to respect the age gap when casting the female lead here.After they paired Jim Carrey and Zooey Deschanel (22 years!) and expected me not to be grossed out,I realized all bets are off.

May 10,2011 | Unregistered CommenterD

Maybe it's too obvious,but what about Cruz?She and Marshall seem to be having a director-actress love story,so if the chemistry works in Pirates 4.Or maybe they could go with a well known (tv) comedian.Amy Poehler?

I don't know if Depp began to pick up easy projects when he became a father,but it must be around that time.Anyway,I hate it when actors start choosing all audiences projects once they start having children,so that one day their kids can see their movies without being embarrassed.It's so condescending and patronizing with their own kids.Wouldn't you prefer to have/raise your kids watching movies that'll make them think/react and develop some kind of critical thinking instead of feeding them with franchises and mainstream brainless video games?Wouldn't you like your kids could enjoy watching movies like Metropolis some day?Or do you prefer giving up on them even before they're raised?Ugh

/end of unintended rant

(I heat up myslelf quite easily,sorry about that).

May 10,2011 | Unregistered Commenteriggy

I love the VERA FARMIGA suggestion and the EMILY BLUNT suggestion (though how old is she?) since neither of them are ever used in the ways they should be.

but yeah,the whole thing sounds like a disaster.


TED B -- brilliant idea actually.if you have to "remake"things than "reworks/ revisionist"things are much better ideas.Then at least you're not directly able to say "this sucks compared to the original"because you know it's going for something slighly different.

May 10,2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

volvagia -- i'm not sure why you brought it up in this post but the academy changed the rules in 2009.Mocap films are no longer eligible for animated film consideration.It was AVATAR that sunk that particular ship.

May 10,2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

KATE WINSLET!Winslet would be a classic Nora..
OR I'm all for a Renne Zeeee comeback.Rob Marshall directed her well in Chicago and she was and in my opinion is one of the funniest Actress' in Hollywood.
HOWEVER,they'll probably cast Jennifer Aniston.

May 10,2011 | Unregistered CommenterKeegan

Okay,I take back everything I said previously.There is but one person who could pull this off and actually make a movie worth seeing: MEGAN MULLALLY.But she would have to do the whole thing in character as Karen Walker.

Can you imagine?All of a sudden,this remake becomes a camp classic!Actually,she'd probably be just as great doing it as herself,but Karen was practically a 20th century version of Nora anyway,just more drunk!

May 10,2011 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

Kate Winslet was the one who instantly came to mind as well.I think they acquitted themselves well in Finding Neverland,though I wouldn't say they burned up the screen or anything.But chemistry is SO tricky.Who would have guessed he and Angelina were so limp?

I hate to say it,but would Cameron Diaz be a good match?She might be too wacky,but maybe she can rein it in.And of course,if they can afford it,they'd love to try out Julia Roberts.Duh.

May 10,2011 | Unregistered CommenterDave in Alamitos Beach

I thought Johnny Depp had good chemistry with Mary Stuart Masterson in Benny & Joon.

May 10,2011 | Unregistered CommenterMeghan

I like Ted B's idea too!Do they just want to remake this so that it can be a series again?No no no.And yet,my casting ideas would be Ashley Judd (tough,elegant,age appropriate),Reese Witherspoon (no shrinking violet),Natascha McElhone (good in dealing with idiosyncratic actors).If you'd like to go European,since that might be more Depp's type,how about Julie Delpy or Sophie Marceau?And then there's the wonderful Melanie Lynskey,who can work with any actor and keep it real.

May 10,2011 | Unregistered Commenteradri

Claire Danes for she is truly a lady or maybe Eva Green for her coolness.
O,and I would switch Jonny Depp for Robert Downey Jr.!

May 11,2011 | Unregistered CommenterTaci

The only name that elicits any excitement from me is Vera Farmiga.She could maybe pull off the difficult task of being effortlessly charming and witty,intelligent with a good heart but not overtly naive,a lady through and through yet without an ounce of haughty elitism in the air.
No to Kate Winslet who's not effortless in the wit department (sorry),no to Julia Roberts who would made Nora the epicentre of the universe (and I love Julia),Emily Blunt is too young and please somebody shoot me if they ever cast Cameron Diaz as Nora!

But as hard as it is to get Nora right I think it's even harder to cast the perfect Nick Charles and in no way,shape or form will Johnny Depp be able to pull this off.
William Powell's Nick not only got along with everybody,from the bad boys to the police to the social circles Nora comes from,but he actually had the respect from all these different people.He could charm the pants off any woman but we completely believed him that he has only eyes for Nora.Laid back,seemingly wanting nothing else but just another scotch,you could still see an inkling of him wanting to solve just this one murder mystery and all this without being "in your face"or any weird mannerisms.
It ultimately all stands or falls with the chemistry Depp and his co-star will have,and since he really has such a bad track record in that department how about his real life partner,Vanessa Paradis?

May 11,2011 | Unregistered CommenterLara

Keegan -- unfortunately i think Zeéeeee's effortless comic days are over.Something is so pinched now.But I get where you're coming from.

Lara -- the more i think about it the more that sounds right.Depp might be the whole problem here.He's so fun to watch in the right roles and when he cares but relaxed charm and chemistry with co-stars have just never been his strengths.

May 11,2011 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

At first glance,I read this as "The Third Man."I was really nervous for a second.Not that I shouldn't be nervous with a remake of "The Thin Man,"but I don't know the movie so I can't fret.Ignorance is bliss.

Can you imagine Johnny in the Orson Welles pic?

May 11,2011 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Depp is a mediocre actor

May 11,2011 | Unregistered CommenterRory

Anything based on a book loses it's claim to One and Only Forever status.That's my personal outlook,be it Thin Man,Gone with the Wind,or Wizard of Oz.I've never understood Thin Man's place in cinema.It's a solid mystery-comedy done well,but I hardly think it's untouchable.

Agree on Depp not being right for the role,though.Steve Martin or Alec Baldwin or Hugh Jackman I could see.

May 11,2011 | Unregistered CommenterWalter

Walter -- i don't think of it as an unassailable masterpiece myself either but it is VERY charming.And the chemistry is of the unassailable variety so it seems foolish to attempt.

May 12,2011 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

The only thing that came close to Powell/Loy as Nick and Nora Charles was David Niven and Maggie Smith as Dick and Dora Charleston inMurder by Death.

I have to agree with those that said the casting of Depp is the biggest problem with this remake.Ifthey have to do a remake - I'd prefer they didn't.

May 12,2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlison Flynn
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