James Laycock: Shoehorning his interests into a so-called movie blog since 2015.
As well as being a hopeless Netflix addict, a nerdy wrestling fan, and your TV Film Of The Week picker, I’m one heck of a terrible Fantasy Football player. Part of the reason for that is my consistent inability to predict the fantastic season Leicester City are having. If you aren’t a football fan (then this probably isn’t the column for you, but stick around, there’s bound to be something you like on our website) Leicester City are in middle of a title challenge of which even the most cheesy 80’s sports drama never dreamed. It makes The Mighty Ducks look like odds-on favourites, Rocky a thoroughbred champion, and Rudy a first team regular. A group of journeyman players have been joined by a couple of no-name foreigners, with a manager who previously had been a figure of ridicule, and are within striking distance of being only the second club outside the traditional “Big Four” to win the Premier League since its inception in 1993. It truly is a remarkable story. It is a story fit for Hollywood.
And since I don’t have the knowledge to do a fan cast for any potential comic book projects, I’ve decided to take this chance to make my debut in the fan cast arena with Leicester City: The Movie (or at least Leicester City: The Mini-Series)
Depending on whether Leicester go on to win the title or not, and whether my screenplay gets greenlit, I’ve got the Hollywood version, and the BBC1 mini-series version follows at the end. I’ve also taken some liberties with some characters (as will be explained later) to fit into my narrative. There are plenty of players and characters I’ve ignored, and remember, it’s just a bit of fun!
So, without further ado, here we go:
Idris Elba as Wes Morgan
There are some difficult choices. This wasn’t one of them. Wes Morgan is Leicester City’s inspirational, charismatic, tough as nails captain and leader. I’m thinking Nelson Mandela, Pacific Rim’s Stacker “we are cancelling the apocolypse!” Pentecost, John Luther. I’m thinking Idris Elba. The perfect leading man! Oscar nomination guaranteed. Simple!
Alexander Skarsgard as Kasper Schmeichel
(with Stellan Skarsgard as his father Peter Schmeichel, because meta.)
Kasper Schmeichel (and this is a recurring theme in this article) was a highly rated youngster who lost his way and never really played consistent first team football before moving to Leicester City – after Leeds United sold him against his wishes! True Blood star Alexander Skarsgard gets the nod from me for this role, being Swedish and all. Like Sylvester Stallone in Escape To Victory, Skarsgard would make some some heroic but totally unrealistic saves, with his real father in a cameo role as his character’s father. Hey, I would find it funny, and it’s my film!
Aaron Paul as Jamie Vardy
So, how about Leicester City’s leading goal scorer Jamie Vardy? The most unlikely of Premiership strikers has spent a huge chunk of his career outside of the football league, for long stretches of his time at Leicester playing out of position, sacrificing his own natural game for the good of his team mates. He scored the goals that got Leicester City promoted to the Premier League two seasons ago, but even then they decided they needed a “better” striker and signed Leonardo Ulloa, meaning Vardy was again playing out wide, for the greater good. Even before this season, he was in trouble after allegedly making racist remarks in a casino. So who could portray this journey from scruffy, scrappy scamp to… well the same, but a successful, record-setting version? Jesse Pinkman himself – Aaron Paul. “Chat ****, get banged” to “Goals, bitch!” Bryan Cranston would cameo in a phone call as his agent, trying to persuade him to make a move to a bigger club.
Jake Gyllenhall as Riyad Mahrez
Yes, I know, but how many French-Algerian actors can you name? And if Jake Gyllenhall can be the Prince of Persia, he can take on this central role. Mahrez was playing in the second division of French football before signing for Leicester. His friends and family thought the English game was too fast paced and physical for him, and first eighteen months had him pegged as a talented, but lightweight winger, on the periphery of most games. This season has seen Riyad Mahrez become one of the most prized assets in European football with Barcelona linked more and more strongly as the season has gone on, as he has moved into a more influential central role. His skill levels have been matched by an increased physicality, the flighty whisp becoming a premier athlete, giving Gyllenhall the chance to do one of those transformative roles that actors pretend they hate.
Djimon Hounsou as N’Golo Kante
N’Golo Kante was signed from the French footballing powerhouse of Caen. He is a true Moneyball signing, despite being only 5ft 6 has made more tackles and blocks than almost anyone in Europe, displaying a level of work-rate and defensive tactical awareness reminiscent of the great Claude Makelele or Mark Tinkler. Djimon Hounsou is a bit old for this role, but in my film Kante would be a silent assassin-type player (even now I don’t know much about him!), who at the end of the season breaks down and gives a really sensitive, emotional, eloquent speech, and I reckon Hounsou would be great.
Michael C. Hall as Marc Albrighton
Another controversial casting choice! Marc Albrighton isn’t even red-haired! But in my film, I want him to be the typical anonymous character who becomes a hero (there are quite a few in this film), and I think Dexter star Michael C. Hall will be a brilliant supporting character who finally overcomes his fear of rejection and steps up. Albrighton’s story is great, he was released by his hometown club Aston Villa and is on the verge of winning the biggest honour in the English game. Just one remarkable story… and another one follows.
Wentworth Miller as Danny Drinkwater
A promising youngster at Manchester United who never made the grade at Old Trafford, Danny Drinkwater has become an integral part of Leicester’s midfield. Wentworth Miller always has a philosophical look on his face, and I’ve always thought (a bit like England cricketer James Anderson) that Drinkwater has the look of a man wrestling with huge philosophical dilemmas rather than a simple game of football. Since he was born in England, I can only assume that Miller could manage a perfect Mancunian accent as well!
Jason Statham as Robert Huth
Another player who has had the season of his life. A perfectly decent player who has been around the English game for about 15 years, Robert Huth struggled to play first team football regularly at Chelsea, Middlesbrough, and Stoke due to injuries. Now he has formed a great defensive partnership with Morgan, which has become the backbone of the second half of Leicester’s remarkable season. He’s strong, he’s tough, he takes no prisoners… and he’s my excuse to cast Jason Statham in my film. Cue plenty of five-a-side shirts v skins training montages with The Stath and Idris Elba topless… sorry, I got a bit distracted…
Jim Broadbent as Claudio Ranieri
“The Tinkerman” Claudio Ranieri had become a figure of ridicule for his time in charge of Chelsea. When the Italian was appointed in the summer, replacing the popular Nigel Pearson (see below), it was greeted with bemusement, and many thought it would end in disaster. Match of the Day presenter and proud Leicester City fan Gary Lineker (naturally he’s in the film as himself) wrote on Twitter:
Claudio Ranieri? Really?—
Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) July 13, 2015
And most of the responses agreed with him! But everyone – EVERYONE – has been proved wrong. Ranieri has formed a great team, starting the season playing open, free-scoring football, before becoming a well-oiled counter attacking machine in the middle of the campaign, and then winning games based on grit and determination as teams deliberately tried to stop them playing. Jim Broadbent would play Ranieri, starting out with a full on comedy performance – think his ridiculously O.T.T. Spanish accent in Blackadder – before becoming a great, respected leader, like Al Pacino in Any Given Sunday or Gene Hackman in The Replacements.
Sean Bean as Nigel Pearson
Nigel Pearson deserves a huge amount of credit for his work at Leicester. Keeping them in the league last season was due to a remarkable run of form that belongs in this fairytale story. He would be in the first part of the film, before leaving too early. So who better than Sean Bean to play him? The man who dies early in all his movies would actually be perfect – although it would result Pearson being a Yorkshireman!
And that is my Leicester City: The Movie fan cast. It’s just a bit of fun, but please let me know just how badly wrong I’ve got it!
Until next time, stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold. See you soonish.
PS As a special treat for reading all the way to the end, here’s my fan cast for Leicester City: The Mini-Series, on the off chance that Hollywood studio politics stops my film getting made and BBC1 picks up the script for a 8 part prestige drama!
Paterson Joseph as Wes Morgan
Johnson from Peep Show has a career in America with roles in big series like The Leftoversand You, Me And The Apolocypse, but he would be my lead actor here as Morgan
Bradley James as Kasper Schmeichel
King Arthur in Merlin has the look to play Schmeichel
Taron Egerton as Jamie Vardy
This was a pretty close call to the main cast (along with Jack O’Connell) – hopefully he could be persuaded to work on television again: basically, copy and past his perormance from Kingsmen!
Riz Ahmed as Riyad Mahrez
Riz Ahmed is great. I really want him in my film! He’s great in Four Lions, Nightcrawler, and Charlie Booker’s Dead Set. Did I mention he’s great?
John Boyega as N’Golo Kante
Casting a star of the biggest franchise in the world would bring in the ratings! I know he’s a Londoner, but maybe he’s got a favourite uncle who is a Leicester fan.
Tom Goodman-Hill as Marc Albrighton
Keeping up my casting of Albrighton as a red head, Goodman-Hill was most recently in Channel 4’s Humans
Tobey Kebbel as Danny Drinkwater
In the mini-series version of this story, each character gets a prolonged back story, so the great Kebbel gets more time to shine. He would be fantastic!
Nathan Jones as Robert Huth
The son of Immortan Joe in Mad Max: Fury Road would replace the Stath as the muscular German defender. Less backstory for him as well.
Paul Whitehouse as Claudio Ranieri
Again, starts out as a figure of fun, before Whitehouse (who does have some decent acting chops, his recent series Nurse showed that) turns more serious
Robson Green as Nigel Pearson
The perfect fit!
OK, that’s the end. Feel free to slaughter me in the comments!
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