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Who to cast as Margot?

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From today's links comes the news of a planned film based on Meredith Daneman's biography of Margot Fonteyn. Apparently they might use digital animation to reproduce her dancing, so you could in reality cast a non-dancer. Who to cast then?

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IF she had a ballerina's build I'd cast Catherine Zeta Jones as the adult Margot.

The supporting cast:

The child Margot - Dakota Fanning (with hair colored black, and brown contacts).

Margot, the early years - Natalie Portman, or Alyssa Milano of "Charmed."

BQ, Margot's mother - Diana Rigg

Ninette de Valois - Helen Mirren

Constant Lambert - Colin Firth

Robert Helpmann - if he were still alive, Jeremy Brett

Sir Frederick Ashton - Kenneth Branagh

Michael Somes - Ralph Fiennes

Moira Shearer - Julianne Moore

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Oooo, Cygnet, you have some of my favorite actors and actresses on your list....

P.S. Hugh Laurie (Mr. Palmer in "Sense and Sensibility") would be good as Robert Helpman...I could see Alan Rickman as Ashton...

Edited by Gina Ness

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I definitely don't think digital animation is going to do the trick. I'm a firm believer in casting dancers as dancers even if they're not going to win any acting awards.

It's very difficult to cast anyone as a great star -- it applies to actors as well as dancers. If you cast a lesser performer to type, then you miss the charisma that a star would have. If you cast another great star, it tends not to work because each one has unique qualities.

Firth would be absolutely perfect as Lambert, Cygnet.

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Wasn't there a discussion about a dancer that looks very much like Dame Margot?

I can't find the topic, but if this dancer is the right age and speaks english why not cast her?

Does anyone remember her name?

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Apparently they might use digital animation to reproduce her dancing, so you could in reality cast a non-dancer.

I don't understand... are they going to map someone else's face & features over old films of her dancing? Frankly, I'm not convinced digital animators could reproduce her dancing... probably less likely than an actual dancer.

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I don't understand... are they going to map someone else's face & features over old films of her dancing?  Frankly, I'm not convinced digital animators could reproduce her dancing... probably less likely than an actual dancer.

In the recent Lord of the Rings movies, an actual actor (Andy Serkis) played the part of Gollum. A computer animated image of Gollum was then superimposed on top of the actor's image. Although expensive, it is possible to take the film of a real dancer dancing and overlay it with the image of an actress. In other words, any actress could be cast as Margot Fonteyn and then shown dancing.

Meryl Streep could play the part.

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Although expensive, it is possible to take the film of a real dancer dancing and overlay it with the image of an actress. In other words, any actress could be cast as Margot Fonteyn and then shown dancing.

Perhaps they could just map the face of the actress... that wouldn't be so bad, perhaps... but still, what was famous about Fonteyn's dancing was very very subtle... I'm not sure, is there a dancer out there today that could do justice to Fonteyn's quality? It's not a technique/physique thing... it's a different kind of grace... but then again, perhaps that's not what the directors really care about here... the biography isn't about the quality of her dancing so much as her emotional life, right?

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Another option is to have a "dancing double" like they had in Center Stage for "Eva"--the actress was Zoe Saldana, and her dancing double was Aesha Ash. As with Center Stage, all the close-ups would be of the actress' face (in identical makeup), while the longer shots of the performances or choreography would be of the actual dancer. This still doesn't answer who the "dancing Margot" would be.

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Although expensive, it is possible to take the film of a real dancer dancing and overlay it with the image of an actress.  In other words, any actress could be cast as Margot Fonteyn and then shown dancing.

But the films we have of Fonteyn are old, and the cinematic quality is far below that of present day standards. If they tried to do that, the dancing sequences would have an awkwardly "pasted-in" look. And wouldn't the filmmakers have to get permission from Fonteyn's estate to use this footage? To say nothing of permissions from the original filmmakers, other dancers, etc.

It might be best for them to leave out any dancing scenes entirely and concentrate on her life. Although that brings up a whole other can of worms. The news story announcing this movie referred to Fonteyn as a "tormented ballet diva" -- a characterization that anyone who's read the Daneman biography, on which the screenplay is supposed to be based, can only wonder at. Biographies of artists are always a dicey proposition, and there's a lingering Romantic tendency to show them as Suffering For Their Art. There is a truly interesting story in how an artist reconciles the pressures and lures of a private life with devotion to his or her art, but that's difficult to show. Willa Cather did it in The Song of the Lark, but offhand I can't think of another example.

I'm familiar with some of Ronald Harwood's work -- his best-known play is The Dresser, about a star actor, which was made into a movie with Albert Finney. The producer of the proposed Fonteyn film, Mark Milln, was executive producer of Being Julia (Harwood wrote the screenplay), another film about a performer (actress) and one I quite enjoyed, but which, like The Dresser, definitely played up the image of the star as a self-dramatizing queen, something that Fonteyn most assuredly was not.

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Jenifer Ringer could play Fonteyn...she'd need to cook up a British accent. Ringer doesn't really "look like" Margot " but she's attractive, sexy in a rather vulnerable way (yet I can sense a steeliness underneath) and she's shown herself to be a good actress, as ballerinas go.

Antonio Banderas as Arias???

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Today's Observer (thanks, Mme. Hermine!) has a further story on the film that can only cause further alarm. According to the article, the film will focus on the alleged affair (never verified) between Fonteyn and Nureyev. Moreover, the author's account of the book on which the film is supposedly based is flat wrong:

Daneman's book set out to chronicle Fonteyn's 'dysfunctional' life and upset many fans and former colleagues in the ballet world. She argued that Fonteyn . . . had an appetite for sex and for the wrong men, eventually leading her into the arms of Nureyev.

Sorry, but this isn't what's in the book. Daneman never uses the word "dysfunctional" to characterize Fonteyn's life; on the contrary, her conclusion is that the ballerina had, overall, a satisfying, happy life, albeit one that contained the usual heartaches, disappointments, and tragedies that we all experience. She never argued that Fonteyn repeatedly went after the wrong men, and took a benevolent view of her possible affair with Nureyev. And as for sex, is having an appetite for it something scandalous?

Of course, it's hard to tell whether this mischaracterization of the book is the fault of the author of the article or the people behind the movie.

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I'll be very happy with Ringer and Bardem as Margot and Tito. :)

Who's to play Rudolf??? :ermm:

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Ian McShane for Tito

Vladimir Malakhov for Rudy

And if they cast a non-dancer for Margot, how bout Kate Beckinsale.

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Sorry, but this isn't what's in the book.

I'll say. The Observer piece is astonishing -- a spectacular misrepresentation of the book and Fonteyn.

Well, these film projects often come to nothing for one reason or another. It would be nice to see a major movie built around ballet, but this is too high a price to pay. Appalling.

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What about Keira Knightly as Margot? Brown hair and eyes and with the help of makeup and lighting could be believable. She's also quite thin and she's British. Emilia Fox would make an excellent Pamela May. Stephen Fry has an astounding physical resemblance to Lambert. Judi Dench as De Valois, certainly. Ralph Fiennes would be perfect as John Cranko, has anyone noticed how alike they look?

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Stephen Fry has an astounding physical resemblance to Lambert.

That's an inspirational choice.

I think that Knightley is too modern and sparkly for Fonteyn. I think she'd make a better Moira Shearer. If we're going to darken someone's hair, I'd go with Cate Blanchett.

Maybe Glenda Jackson as deValois, or am I reading her wrong?

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Stephen Fry has an astounding physical resemblance to Lambert.

He hadn't crossed my mind, but I agree -- he would be quite something.

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Margot - i'd like to see a ballerina play her. Maybe Leanne Benjamin? I have both Margot's and Leanne's Firebird and was struck by the similarity of both appearance and style between these two dancers.

Tito - Antonio Banderas, ask him to gain like 15 pounds.

Constant Lambert - Anthony Hopkins

BQ - Dame Maggie Smith

Madam Ninette - Meryl Streep. Theyve even got the same nose. If Meryl's not available, Laura Linney.

Rudi - Definitely Malakhov! They've got the nostrils, they flamboyance, the talent. Oh I can't wait.

Bobby Helpmann - Rupert Everett

Frederick Ashton - Ian McKellan

Kiera Knightley I'd think would be better as Antoinette Sibley, being young and blond and capturing Dame Ninette's heart. (I mean, after Margot and Rudi, from all accounts it was Sibley that Madam was crazy about.)

With some makeup, Emma Thompson might be a good Tamara Karsavina. Little cameo role. Emma Thompson's so good at portraying goodness.

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