The Big O Fancast
In 1999, a new anime series hit the airwaves that combined science-fiction, noir, and the mecha genre. Its name: The Big O, produced by Sunrise Studios, which also happened to be a subcontractor for Warner Brothers when they were working on Batman: The Animated Series. Strangely, while it wasn't a hit in Japan, it was well-received in the US.
A fancast for a live-action adaptation of the hit anime.
(Most info here courtesy of Wikipedia. Pictures courtesy of paradigm-city.com)
"The story takes place forty years after a mysterious occurrence causes the residents of Paradigm City to lose their memories. The series follows Roger Smith, Paradigm City's top Negotiator, who provides this much needed service with the help of a Gynoid named R. Dorothy Wayneright and his butler Norman Burg. When the need arises, Roger calls upon Big O, a giant relic from the city's past.
Forty years prior to the events of the series, disaster struck. The world was turned into a vast desert wasteland and the survivors were left without memories. The story takes place in Paradigm City, a corporate police state run by the Paradigm Corporation. The town is recognized for its geodesic domes, giant structures that house the richer citizens and segregate the poor.
The Big O deals with the nature of memories. A memory is a record stored in the brain of an organism, but in Paradigm City memories can mean much more. "Memories" (メモリー Memorī?) embody the lost knowledge of its residents, and can take the form of records from before the Event, forgotten artifacts from the previous era or manifest themselves as recollection, hallucinations and recurring dreams."
This fancast came about in light of all the rumors and buzz surrounding adaptations of anime like Akira or Bleach. In a way, I thought this would be a great series to adapt, as movie-going audiences have had experiences with metaphysical/philosophical films before, like classics such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, or such recent fare as Inception. Just so this fancast counts, the series has had a manga:
I would have Darren Aronofsky or Chris Nolan direct--maybe even Martin Scorsese. This seems to be up their alley in terms of story. For a screenplay, I would combine bits of some of the bigger episodes, where it starts out with Roger solving a mystery beforehand, which leads him to later confront one of the main villains before going up against the remaining two, culminating in a climax that mirrors the series' finale.
For my casting picks, we've got the following actors (some info not mentioned so as to not spoil any details of the show):
Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Roger Smith
I chose JGL based on his role in Inception, and I believe that he'd be great playing Smith, a somewhat-similar character. And don't worry--he won't shout when he goes "BIG O: SHOWTIME!" into his wristwatch.
Roger (voiced by Steven Blum) is the main protagonist of the series (or film in this case). "He is the Negotiator, and his job entails finding a resolution for the troubles of Paradigm City, the 'City of Amnesia'. He'd negotiate anything for anyone, but he is a professional and expects the parties to behave professionally. Despite this, he displays a certain aversion to the Paradigm Corporation, and takes the jobs he gets from them only if they happen to involve a threat to the city itself or are of personal interest to him. When memories betray the people and force them to reawaken monstrosities of the city's past, Roger's only option is to fight back with a monstrosity of his own, the black megadeus Big O. The character, originally envisioned as a private eye, shows influences from Batman, James Bond and Giant Robo's Daisaku Kusama.
The Negotiator is portrayed as very methodical and strict. He has a number of rules and policies that dictate all aspects of his everyday life; from how people must behave in his house to the way he performs his job:
"I have a special house rule that only lovely young women can unconditionally enter this mansion." (Act:01)
"If you stay [in my house], then you wear black." (Act:02)
"It's not my style to carry a gun." (Act:03)
"I value women and the elderly. It's one of my policies." (Act:05)
"If someone lacks courtesy and sincerity, I ask them to leave." (Act:05)
"The most important rule of all is under no circumstances must anyone touch my desk!" (Act:08)
"The basic rule of negotiating is to consider and respect the other person's feelings." (Act:08)
"If you want to live a happy life in this city, leave memories alone when they pop up. That's Roger Smith's Rule No. 1." (Act:11)
"You have to use your pent-up energy to fight through the harshness of reality. That's Roger Smith's Rule No. 2." (Act:11)
"A Negotiator only uses force as a last resort." (Act:18)
"Something else that goes against my policies--using violence against women." (Act:25)".
Besides the Big O, he also uses a car called the Griffon (his answer to say, the Batmobile or Bond's Aston Martin) and numerous other gadgets.
Carey Mulligan as R. Dorothy Wayneright
I chose Carey based on her acting ability, AND she's got the right face for Dorothy--now just imagine her with that hairstyle. I really think she could pull off playing an android trying to be more human. Mulligan would also be playing Dorothy's 'evil twin' Red Destiny:
Dorothy (voiced by Lia Sargent) is Roger's assistant. Introduced in Act:01 as Dorothy Soldano, daughter of rich scientist Miguel Soldano, she is later revealed to be an android constructed by him. Her actual "father" would be Timothy Wayneright, the man who commissioned her construction and father of the real and presumably deceased Dorothy Wayneright. To show her gratitude, and as a form of payment for Roger's help, she decides to move in with him and help out Norman with the chores. In occasional episodes, Dorothy accompanies Roger in his work as a negotiator. Dorothy stands just under 5 feet (150 cm) tall, has red hair, chalk-white skin and much more body weight than her slender appearance reveals. Her forehead houses an illuminated CD ROM drive, which is loaded from a drawer made to resemble a hair ribbon. While capable of normal human facial expression, in film-noir tradition she typically maintains a pouty contour and a mildly sarcastic personality, described by Angel as being "perpetually foul-tempered". Her dry wit is best reflected by her catchphrase "You're a louse, Roger Smith," her teasing response to Roger's sometimes unreasonable demands. She and Roger maintain playful retorts throughout the series, with Dorothy often going out of her way to irritate Roger or otherwise rattle his cage. Regardless, she has shown hints of romantic feelings towards Smith. Offsetting her straightforward attitude is her general likability; she gets along rather well with virtually everyone, even those with whom she harbors suspicion. From her conversation and behaviour, it is evident that Dorothy has the capacity for human emotions. She has shown genuine fear on a number of occasions, and reveals jealousy toward Angel's relationship with Roger and satisfaction from its failure to become romantic. Dorothy is quite durable and much stronger than any human, able to punch down a brick wall with one blow or leap several dozen feet into the air. She has amazing balance, as seen during her moments of contemplation while standing precariously on the edge of Roger's balcony. R. Dorothy can run or bicycle at superhuman speed and does not require oxygen to operate. She shows superhuman coordination, performing effortless gymnastics and, is able to steer a car with her foot while riding on its hood. That she takes regular meals with Roger indicates she can consume food and beverages, although she admits in episode 11 "Daemonseed" not being able to taste. Dorothy also seems to have an unexplained connection to Big O itself.
Christopher Plummer as Norman Burg
Yes, I picked the guy who just won an Oscar this year, but he's a great actor, and would absolutely nail Roger's answer to Alfred Pennyworth.
Norman (voiced by Milton James and later Alan Oppenheimer) is Rogers often-resourceful butler. "Forty years ago he, along with all of Paradigm, lost all memories, but he wouldn't think twice before going once more unto the breach for his master. Resourceful and talented, he is also caretaker of the Big O robot. Aside from duties befitting a butler of a house, Norman is also a fine chef who makes it a point to keep hot food available for Roger no matter what time his employer's arrival home. Norman is older than Roger, and has apparently lost an eye, which he keeps covered with a patch. The butler is a fatherly influence for both Smith and Dorothy, and the first defense of the Smith mansion, capable of using a number of firearms in case of attack, ranging from small handguns to high calibur machine guns. In the opening credits of the show he's shown effectivily handling a chain gun. Norman also displays a tendency to get involved in the relationship between Roger and Dorothy, "pushing" the two together for sake of the emotional good each does the other. Where Roger drives his limo, Dorothy makes use of a bicycle occasionally, Norman's form of transportation is a motorcycle outfitted with a sidecar, ridden while the butler comically wears a "storm trooper" (Stahlhelm) style helmet. Norman is grateful to Roger Smith for providing him a purpose and in return Roger considers Norman his most trusted and infallible aide de camp. In the Manga, he has a running gag where he will inquire Roger on paying him, but Roger always manages to avoid it."
Liev Schreiber as Colonel Dan Dastun
I picked Schreiber because he's a very capable actor--you should've seen him in this modern version of Hamlet with Ethan Hawke. He'd be great playing Roger's Jim Gordon, and just imagine that facial hair!
Dastun (voiced by Peter Lurie) "is the middle-aged Chief of the Military Police, introduced in Act:01. In 'Winter Night Phantom', Roger describes him as 'a hard-nosed cop [...] completely devoted to the force, and he has more pride in the Military Police than anything else.' He continues, 'Paradigm City needs him as much as it needs [The Negotiator].' He is Roger's former commander, but they still maintain contact. Dastun resents having the force called the 'watchdogs' of the Paradigm Corporation, and has expressed his disdain for its executives. Dastun himself gets a burst of memory in 'Winter Night Phantom', of a movie he saw as a child. In the movie, a police officer is arguing with a woman holding a balloon on a dock, ending with him shooting her. Her dying words are 'Vous-êtes si gentil'('You are so kind'). In the present, Dastun began seeing a woman that looked exactly like the actress from the movie, Sybil Rowan, but not aged a day, roaming Paradigm City setting off explosions as a means of political assassination. This culminated in Dastun shooting her on a pier while she was holding a balloon, living out the scene from the movie. Towards the end of season 2, Dastun sees two children entering a theater to see the movie, the poster of which bills him as appearing, and when he follows to investigate, he finds they are child versions of himself and Sybil Rowan. Dastun's pride as a member of the military police puts him somewhat at odds with Roger after he resigns from the force, and he expresses an extreme amount of irritation every time Big O appears. At first this irritation is passed off as disliking the vigilante nature of the megadeus. However, as the series progresses, he reveals to Roger that his irritation stems from the fact that the military police do not have the ability to protect the city adequetly due to frequent megadeus attacks. This requires Big O to step in fairly often to counter these attacks, which Dastun feels robs the military police of purpose. However, he comes to accept this during season two. He is also one of the few characters who know of Roger's affiliation with Big O, and the only such character within the police department. He was revealed to have obtained this knowledge at some point before season two, but is only seen directly discussing it with Roger once.
Jennifer Lawrence as Angel
I thought Lawrence absolutely delivered in X-Men: First Class, and let's not forget her turn in Winter's Bone (an Oscar-nominated film). She'd do great as a character like Angel, when you get to know said character.
Angel (voiced by Wendee Lee) "is the beautiful woman Roger encounters throughout the series. Introduced in Act:03 as Casey Jenkins (according to the business card she gave to Roger), investigator for Paradigm Power Management, then again in Act:04 as Patricia Lovejoy, secretary for the publisher of Paradigm Press. In Act:07, it is revealed that she bears two long scars on her back, giving the impression that she once had wings; hence her name. Originally a recurring character, Angel was given top billing in Season Two. Her role is that of a femme fatale, the woman who deceptively misleads and ensnares the hero or other males in order to gain some end they would not freely help her achieve. Her interactions with Roger eventually force her into a somewhat different role. As the series progresses, she becomes more and more involved with Roger, even forsaking her duties to the Union in order to feed him information, betraying them for Roger's sake. However, her relationship with Roger ultimately does not become romantic, as she believes him to be in love with Dorothy and, though he protests it, the opinion is further reinforced by Alan Gabriel's insistence that Roger "cares for [Dorothy] more than anyone". At the end of the series, she is shown to have some sort of special connection to whatever power controls their world, possibly even being that power herself (though this role is not adequately explained). She is also identified as one Gordon Rosewater's daughter, and is identified as "Angel Rosewater". One reviewer calls Angel a 'Fujiko clone' with a 'body-hugging suit [that] would give Emma Peel a run for her money.'"
Christian Slater as Alex Rosewater
I picked Slater (third time's the charm!) because he can easily play someone so pompous, so arrogant that he's bound to have delusions of grandeur and an enormous lust for power--leading him to develop a messianic complex. That is something the character of Alex Rosewater emodies GREATLY.
Rosewater (voiced by Michael Forest) "is the chairman of the Paradigm Group and the son of Paradigm City's founder. He shows great contempt for the poor of Paradigm and the foreigners living in the city; going so far as to appreciate some of the catastrophes that befall the city as they 'clean up some of that abominable mess' (referring to the people outside the domes). For Alex, Paradigm's true citizens are those within the domes. Alex always wears a white suit in direct contrast to Roger Smith's black one.
Alex possesses an unquenchable thirst for power, and an 'ends justify the means' philosophy. Despite being more or less the absolute ruler of Paradigm City, Alex harbors dreams of even greater power and will stop at nothing to achieve them. The power that he desires is the power of the megadei, specifically the 'Big' type megadei, as he believes that their pilots are 'agents of the power of God'. Alex sees himself as privileged as being the son of Gordon Rosewater, and at times acts as a 'spoiled child', as observed by Vera Ronstadt. Although he appreciates the power of Big Fau, he treats it as his toy, even going so far as to crafting a miniature version of Big Fau to play with as seen in Act 22."
Richard Armitage as Alan Gabriel
I was inspired by when he played Heiz Kruger in Captain America: The First Avenger. I've seen his filmography, and it boasts impressive (for the most part)--I think he's well qualified to play Roger's answer to the Joker.
Alan (voiced by Crispin Freeman) "is an eccentric psychopath, a cyborg who takes Angel's place as Rosewater's assistant and the Union's liaison in season two. Gabriel's real agenda is somewhat nebulous, though it would appear that he is straddling the fence between the Union and Rosewater, depending on who will give him the opportunity to kill the most people. He seems to have a particularly gruesome hobby of dismantling androids while they still function, as he claims to despise androids, despite being half-mechanical by choice. After attempting to kill Dorothy and sebsequently being foiled by Roger, Alan seems to make killing Roger his top priority."
Bo Derek as Vera Rondstadt
Derek has played some devious people in her career (the most recent being that one episode of Chuck), and I think she's got the look for Vera--now just imagine her with those curls.
Vera (voiced by Carolyn Hennesey) "leads the Union's agents within Paradigm. Vera made a deal with Alex Rosewater in which the Union would deliver the parts to construct Big Fau for Alex, but he then reneged on the deal and hunted down all of the Union members. Towards the end of season 2 Vera claimed to be Angel's mother, although given that Angel's memories of her mother appear to have been fabricated, Vera may not have been speaking literally."
Steve Buscemi as Schwarzwald
Buscemi is great in a lot of serious roles, some creepy, some sinister. Schwarzwald would be perfect for him.
Schwarzwald (voiced by Michael McConnohie) "first appears in Act:04, 'Underground Terror'. His real name is Michael Seebach, and was a reporter for Paradigm Press. As a reporter, Seebach was obsessed with bringing the truth to the people of Paradigm City, but became frustrated as the Paradigm Corporation continually censored his work. Eventually his search for the truth would become an obsession, and Seebach began living a double life. In time he became even more obsessed with his work and cut himself off from human contact, including his wife and children. But Seebach's obsession also resulted with an attempt on his life by Paradigm which disfigured his face. Seebach eventually decided to journey into the underground of Paradigm City, where he encounters a megadeus Archetype, with him running off after Big O's fight with the Archetype. He reappears in Act:12, as the pilot of Big Duo."
Neil Patrick Harris as Jason Beck aka Beck Gold
Picking Harris was inspired by his character on How I Met Your Mother and some of the villain roles he's lent his voice to (such as Replay on Static Shock, The Music Meister, and Dr. Blowhole on The Penguins of Madagascar). He could absolutely do Beck justice--and rock that beard.
Beck (voiced by Robert Bucholz)"is introduced as Dorothy's kidnapper in the series premiere. After 'being humiliated' by Roger during the kidnapping case, Beck's further appearances on the show consist of his trying to humiliate Roger back. However, his plans continually degrade from sinister and dangerous to almost comical in nature. He also seems to have numerous memories relating to the operations and abilities of the Megadeus, including one pertaining specifically to Roger's identity as the pilot of Big O. Beck becomes Alex Rosewater's agent after Alan Gabriel threatens him with an order of execution, but is unhappy with this situation despite both a successful attack on Roger and a considerable compensation. He is apparently is a satire of manga/anime character Arsene Lupin III."
Mel Brooks as Gordon Rosewater
I picked Brooks as a nod to a similar role he played in 2005's "Robots", and he's done a semi-serious picture before ("Life Stinks"). I think he could do great with this particular role. Just look at the character.
Gordon (voiced by William Knight) "is often credited as the man responsible for the construction of Paradigm City. Gordon's son, Alex Rosewater, took over his father's duties when he retired. Gordon spends much of his time in a private dome of his own, growing tomatoes. Gordon appears to be perfectly content with the uncertainties of the past, much to the dismay of those who come to him for memories, including his own son. While many look to him for answers, Gordon typically appears to be rather senile, or at least very apathetic. However, his odd speeches about his tomatoes appear to actually be a cryptic euphemism to answer the question."
Will Ferrell as Big Ear
I chose Ferrell because of how good at playing all sorts of people he is--he's a comedic chameleon, but I thought his performances in "Stranger than Fiction", "The Good Guys" and "Zoolander" were also a little serious in their delivery. I thought he'd be good as this particular fellow.
Big Ear (voiced by Jameson Price) is Roger's prime informant. "Though not claiming to be a gypsy, and far from being human himself, the android known as Big Ear is influential to Roger Smith in many ways. The spectacled Big Ear always has an eye on news and an ear on the streets. Complete with glasses and an earpiece, Big Ear takes on the appearance of a private investigator. However he may appear on the surface, Big Ear does not hide his true purpose or identity: He is what he is, plain and simple, a resource of information. For a fee, of course, Big Ear is more than happy to help Roger solve his confusing cases by supplying the expert negotiator with mysterious riddle-filled information of his own. Hanging out in his favorite establishment, The Speakeasy, Big Ear is Roger's word on the street that contains a plethora of clues to the mystery that is Paradigm City."
Martin Landau as Timothy Wayneright I
Landau is an actor of great experience--I'm sure he'd have no trouble with this character.
Wayneright "is introduced in Act:02 as R. Dorothy's grandfather, but turns out to be the man who commissioned its construction using his daughter Dorothy's memories. In "Negotiations with the Dead", it is revealed Wayneright's work was being funded and supported by the Union."
Hector Elizondo as Miguel Soldano
Elizondo, like Landau and Plummer, is also a veteran actor of many genres, making him reliable for most roles.
Soldano (voiced by Simon Prescott) "is the eccentric creator behind the Dorothy androids. Funded by Timothy Wayneright, Soldano was instructed to create as close to an exact replica of Wayneright's deceased daughter, Dorothy. As reclusive as he is brilliant, Soldano contacts Roger Smith to help negotiate the safe return of his beloved creations, Dorothy 1 and Dorothy 2, from a group of criminals who kidnapped them in hopes of a ransom. Passionate about his work, Soldano's whole focus in life was to create androids that related to humans as closely as possible. A master of technology and innovation in light of the consequences of 'The Event', Soldano was steps beyond even the most knowledgable scientists and researchers in Paradigm City."
David Hyde Pierce as R. Instro
Pierce, like fellow Fraiser alum Kelsey Grammer, is one of those great intellectual actors--which fits greatly for this character.
R. Instro (voiced by Kirk Thornton) " is an android introduced in Act:06. He is a very gifted concert pianist who gives Dorothy lessons. Instro was constructed by Amadeus, a scientist whose work was bankrolled by Paradigm until he was murdered by his research partner, Gieseng. R. Instro reappears in Act:17, now expressing his skills as an organ player in one of Paradigm City's churches. In the manga, he was arrested as a serial killer, due to the fact his hands match what an eye witness saw. It later turns out he was innocent and the crimes were being perpetrated by a cyborg who regained his memories."
Doug Jones as R. Frederick O'Reilley
For picking Jones, I was inspired by his role as Abe Sapien--he'd be great as a robot detective.
O'Reilly is an inspector from the Paradigm home office who appears in Act:19 ("Eyewitness"), and is the first android inspector "in these past 40 years at least." He joins Dastun's investigation into a mysterious "android crusher" stalking the robotic denizens of the city. He later begins to question his sole function.
Kat Dennings as Sybil Rowan
Dennings has been really making a name for herself lately, and I think adding a femme fatale to her acting resume would be great.
"The name of Sybil Rowan (voiced by Mona Marshall) applies to two different characters in Act:10. The first is an actress and anti-government activist expelled from the city thirty years before. She starred in Winter Night Phantom, a movie Dastun saw as a child and now remembers as a recurring dream. The second character is the bomber featured in the episode. She identifies herself as 'Phantom', after Rowan's film. Her death, at the hands of Dastun, parallels that film's ending."
And that is a wrap! Whaddaya think? Would you want to see a film that combines Raymond Chandler mystery with Blade Runner and 2001 with giant robots in the mix?
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