With talk of a proposed live action film (and after THAT season finale), I take a stab at casting Archer. Wait, I had something for this…
If you’re unfamiliar with the fantastic animated show Archer, well, you are really missing out. The incredibly suave superspy Sterling Archer (voiced by Bob’s Burgers H. Jon Benjamin) works for International Secret Intelligence Service (the unfortunately acronymed ISIS), and between his drinking and womanizing he manages to go on some pretty exciting adventures. Lana Kane (Aisha Tyler) is his exasperated partner on most of these missions, with Archer’s mother Malory (Jessica Walters, cast after creator Adam Reed wanted someone like Lucille Bluth from Arrested Development, and someone suggested “Well, why don’t we get Lucille Bluth from Arrested Development?”) runs the ISIS office, along with a group of increasingly bizarre characters. The show is SO quotable, and has grown from a fun show into a truly remarkable one, with season long story arcs taking the gang into space, country music superstardom, and a surprising amount of cyborgs. The continuously nebulous timeline is just another comic touch.
Season 7 has just wrapped up in America. Unfortunately we won’t get to see it on this side of the pond for the best part of a year…
… but that was as good a reason as any for me to attempt a fan cast of a live action version. And then, as I was putting this together, news broke that according to one of the Archer executive producers, Jon Hamm is front runner to lead a cast in a proposed live action remake. I will admit that Jon Hamm is a fantastic choice, but here’s my opinion on who could bring Archer to the big screen.
Before we start, a few points to make:
- I’m happy to admit I’m pretty late to the party on this one. There are loads of fan casts out there already (this one and this one are particularly good), so much so that while I’ve made the decision to try and be as original as possible in my choices (so no Zoe Saldana as Lana, or Brett Gleman for Krieger, who were on my original shortlists), I am going to unintentional have the same picks as some other lists.
- I also decided to recast every character. Jessica Walter IS Malory and Aisha Tyler would be perfect as Lana, but it would be a cop out to just have them play the same role. I toyed with the idea of H. Jon Benjamin as Krieger (or perhaps as the bad guy…), but decided on a totally new cast. That also allowed me to replace one movie star playing them self with another.
- The live action film I’m making would be the beginning of a franchise, so we start out with the team in their (nominal) roles from the early seasons, before the insanity really set in – which comes in the sequels!
- I’m not convinced that a live-action Archer film would work. H. Jon Benjamin’s vocal performance and delivery is a huge chunk of the appeal of the show, and removing him would probably ruin the whole set-up. But I’m going to do it anyway!
On we go..
Dominic Cooper as Stirling Archer
A few years ago, there was a 4 part mini-series based on James Bond creator Ian Fleming’s military career called Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond. Anyone who saw Dominic Cooper play the lead role in that will know that he can do both the spy part of the Sterling Archer character with the requisite panache. Cooper is cool, good-looking, and has an air of arrogance that fit Archer perfectly. But there’s another part of the character: the almost deadpan delivery of lines, mixing important information with incredibly silly jokes – I reckon Cooper has enough comedy in his background to pull it off (“phrasing!”). His Howard Stark in various parts of the Marvel universe has enough straight faced quips as well.
Naomie Harris as Lana Kane
Fellow spy Lana Kane is Archer’s equal in everything, coming to his rescue many, many times, usually ending up in her underwear during the action sequences. Her and Archer’s sexual tension is remarked upon throughout the early episodes, much to the annoyance of he then boyfriend Cyril Figgis, and eventually Lana and Archer end up together with a child. The film would focus more on the early seasons Lana, and I can’t think of anyone better than Naomie Harris for the role. Her brief field agent role in Skyfall proved she can do the action, and her banter with Daniel Craig throught her time has Moneypenny has shown she knows her way around a one liner as well.
Ellie Kemper as Cheryl Tunt
The film would be based around the early version of the Archer charactrers, so we would see Cheryl as the incredibly incompetent “secretary” with various fetishes and addictions, with maybe hints at her family’s huge wealth. The country starlet Charlene would hopefully make an appearance in one of the many sequels:
Ellie Kemper seems like an absolute slam dunk for this role. Both her roles in The Office and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt have the right balance of simplistic charm and naivety, just add in a bit more blue humour and we have our Tunt!
Ruth Jones as Pam Povey
When Archer first starts, Pam is the wildly inappropriate Head of HR around the office. Later on she reveals her fight club, her street racing, and the barely held back psychosis. It’s that part of the character that made me think of Ruth Jones, because not only is she a talented comedy actress, but her Nessa from Gavin and Stacey is very similar to a latter series Pam (although a BBC1 sitcom doesn’t show everything that is alluded to in Nessa’s backstory).
Christine Baranski as Malory Archer
As I mentioned, it would be hard to see anyone other than Jessica Walter playing Malory Archer, the head of ISIS and Sterling’s domineering mother. Her constant drinking and belittling put downs as Lucille Bluth are the template for Malory, and someone stepping into her shoes would have to be an actress of similar stature. So I have chosen Christine Baranski, a Tony award winning actress with decades of experience on the stage as well as in film and TV. She also won an Emmy for the role that inspired me to make this pick, the hard drinking socialite Maryann in Cybill, and her turn as Leonard’s mother in The Big Bang Theory shows that she has the domineering mother bit down pat.
Jason Bateman as Cyril Figgis
Cyril Figgis is the put-upon accountant of the crew. He gets constantly stressed out at the bizarre antics of Archer, especially his outrageous flirting with Lana, who Figgis is dating at the start of the show. Jason Bateman is perfect for this role. The latter series of Archer have Figgis descend into sex addiction and some very dark moments, but Bateman would start bright and breezy in this film. Plus, I’m losing one Arrested Development star in Jessica Walter, so why not add another! The fourth season of Arrested Development had Michael Bluth get pretty low, and that Jason Bateman would be the one I want for this role.
Jason Sudekis as Doctor Krieger
Doctor Krieger was the head of the Applied Research Department at ISIS in the early seasons of Archer, and has joined the gang on the field operations when he (or his van with its wicked Rush paint job) is needed. His research gets darker and darker as the series goes on, we find out that his father was a Nazi scientist who fled to Brazil, and his pet dobermans killed his father when he was 15. My film would use him mostly for his cyborg building skills, but he would be like Q in the Bond films, only with a few more truly bizarre interactions thrown in. The second season of The Last Man On Earth (an excellent show by the way) had Jason Sudekis in a small role, and that is why he is in my mind for this role. Sudekis almost made it as Figgis, but I wanted to see Bateman have the brief outbreaks of anger, and let Sudekis go all out with the crazy, like his Horrible Bosses character pushed to the extreme. Krieger is a dark, dark character, and I think Sudekis is a good enough actor to be able to balance it.
No word on who will play Pigley just yet though.
Simon Baker as Ray Gillette
Ray Gilette is at first an analyst, and later a field agent, for ISIS. He is the most cheerful of the group, and seems to be the match of Archer in the field. However after being paralysed (after pretending to be paralysed), he becomes bitter and sarcastic, before being fitted with bionic legs by Krieger. Would we get to this part in my film? I’ve not decided, but I think Simon Baker could do this (although I’ve never seen him play camp) role quite well. His Land Of The Dead performance shows that he can do the action that would be needed in the many, many sequels, although to be honest, this is a purely cosmetic one, I just think he looks really right for the part – with the addition of a spiffy small mustache.
Jonathan Pyrce as Woodhouse
It was literally the most recent episode of Game Of Thrones that I watched that made this decision for me. There’s a scene where the normally robust and sure footed Head Sparrow sits down and explains a part of his character’s story, with a world weariness that fits Archer’s long-time butler / surrogate father figure perfectly. It shouldn’t be a surprise that such a talented actor manages such a change of pace so well. He would be aged up with make-up, so we can still have lots of fun with a younger Woodhouse in flash back scenes.
Charlize Theron as Katya Kazanova
Katya Kazanova is a Russian model who becomes the love of Archer’s life before being killed by Barry, and then resurrected as a cyborg by Krieger and becoming head of the KGB. In the first film of my billion dollar Archer franchise, Charlize Theron would play the sultry Katya who wins Archer’s heart, before meeting her demise in a tragic fashion. The sequel would be based on her being rebuilt as a cyborg – and then Theron would get to kick ass!
Dan Stevens as Barry Dylan
Barry Dylan is a spy working for a rival (and far more successful) intelligence agency called ODIN. A series of “accidents” (all caused by Archer) resulted in him breaking both his femurs, then losing a leg, then turning into a cyborg, then losing the skin covering his cyborg exoskeleton! The guy really can’t catch a break. My Archer film would open with an introductory prologue lifted from Goldeneye (although with more swear words and put downs) as two young agents go on a mission that becomes the beginning of the rivalry between Archer and Dylan, played by Dan Stevens. This choice is choice is based entirely on The Guest, where Stevens plays a soldier who visits the family of a fallen comrade and has been through some form of… let’s call it “special training programme” to not reveal too many spoilers. Over the course of my film we would see Barry as an ISIS agent at first, then as an ODIN agent begrudgingly working alongside Archer, before being resurrected as a cyborg and going full “Other Barry” in the third act. A team up with Katya would happen at the very end to set up a sequel!
With Nic Cage as Cage (it’s a mononym!)
In the middle of season 5 (the awesome Archer Vice), Slater is a cocaine and weapons dealing CIA agent, And yes, he IS Christian Slater. So, my policy of recasting every role means I get an excuse to cast The Snooty Ushers’ 5th Favourite Actor, the one and only Nic Cage! He almost made it in as Dr Krieger, but that would only allow manic Cage. I want the Cage from Kick Ass, with that air of detached bemusement as he watches the insanity that goes on around him. He would probably only have a small role here, maybe overseeing the operation that has ODIN and ISIS working together. Casting Nic Cage also means that I know I will get multiple viewings from a certain Snooty Usher, and at least one blu ray purchase, and I’ve got to think of the box office revenue!
And that is my fan cast for a live action version of Archer, the first film in a huge franchise I’m sure you will agree. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Until next time, stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold. See you soonish.
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