Who Would You Cast Today?: “The Magnificent Seven”

I’d like to start a new little portion of this blog called “Who Would You Cast Today? This new segment will take classic films and attempt to recast them with today’s pool of Hollywood actors. This should be fun!

To kick it off right, I will start with my favorite western of all time, “The Magnificent Seven”(1960). For those of you who are unaware of this film, please see it at your earliest convenience. The picture is an American adaptation of a famous Japanese film with seven samurai. The American version stars an all-star cast of box office busters portraying cowboys for hire to protect this small Mexican village from pillaging Mexican cowboys that frequent the village to steal their crops and means of survival. I’d hate to give away the storybook Hollywood ending, so please see the film immediately.

The group of seven cowboys is led by the one and only Yul Brynner and thus poses a serious issue with recasting in today’s Hollywood. No one has the toughness and male bravado that Yul had. They don’t make them like him anymore. With that said, this casting most certainly would make or break the film. We have to pick someone who can play the man’s man without overpowering it into as sort of “ass” of a character. I am going to go with Brad Pitt for this one. I know, I know. Some are going to jump all over this casting and that it what this is all about, but hear me out. He has the tough guy, man’s man thing down with his long list of action and drama films from Troy to Mr. & Mrs. Smith to Legends of the Fall to that Jesse James film. He can pull that off. With that being said, it will be a different adaptation for sure. But, I think that this selection will make more sense with my other casts.

Now that we have our protagonist, we need our antagonist – the Mexican cowboys’ leader, a role played by the great Eli Wallach (See him still making films, The Holiday and the latest Wall Street film). I am going with Javier Bardem for this role. He will bring a completely different flavor to the character, but I think that it will only serve to give the film that much more dimension.

Next is Brad/Yul’s right hand man, played by Steve McQueen in the 1960 version. I am going with Leo DiCaprio in this role. Some might say that he doesn’t bring enough manliness to the role in comparison with McQueen, but I think that Pitt and DiCaprio playing in such close proximity might serve for some great performances by both. I feel like these two castings might be able to flip-flop, but Brad’s age and past work puts it over the top for me.

Now we need to cast a role played by the great Charles Bronson. This character is a reluctant addition to the seven and one who puts this facade of toughness on the outside, put proves to have a soft spot for these local kids he befriends. I am going with Christian Bale for this one. I think he can pull off the reluctant and begrudged solo act of a cowboy, who comes to care about the mission at hand. Alternative option: Mark Wahlberg. Mark has a toughness and  attitude about him that could lend itself quite well to this character as well.

Robert Vaughn plays a character named “Lee” who is the coward of the film. He is mysterious and appears out of nowhere with an odd familiarity with Brad/Yul’s character. We can tell he has quite a bit of skills that would be useful, but he is mostly a gun-for-hire sort of guy. This is a tough one to cast, but I am leaning towards Robert Downy Jr. I think he has the shadiness and ability to carry this character well. Alternative Option: Johnny Depp. Depp has a great knack for character acting and he might have a field day with this one. But, he could also possibly go too far. Caution.

James Coburn plays a great knife-man. he is this lanky and quiet guy who just happens to be faster on the draw with a knife than a guy on his revolver. Our current James Bond, Mr. Daniel Craig, would play a great quiet knife-man of a good guy. Not only will he bring a great portrayal, but I think each of these casts bring a certain energy to the film with their reputation and fan-base.

A guy named Horst Buchholz plays an overly eager, overly confident, overly annoying young kid who wants to be just like the older hardened cowboys. I would like to see what Joseph Gordon-Levitt would bring to this character. For those of you who don’t know him right off the top of your head, he has starred in “500 Days of Summer,” “Inception,” and my favorite childhood flick “Angels In The Outfield.” He has enough range and youth to potentially hit this out of the park. Alternative Option: Robert Pattinson. I toyed with Pattinson because of his recent stardom and demonstration of heightened acting ability in “Remember Me” and some coming films.

Lastly, Brad Dexter plays a character that is just kind of a friend who is in it with Brad/Yul’s character for whatever comes their way. I have kind of had Josh Brolin in my mind for the film since the beginning, but once I get through casting the roles, I am left with this one. I think he would do well with it and it might help him break the kind of villain/non-good guy kick he is on of late.

That makes up our Magnificent Seven 2011 version casting-wise. Everyone of these choices brings thoughts, sentiments, and opinions. Please do share. I think that the sky is the limit. I think that a remake of this movie could be like a blockbuster/instant-classic sort of “Expendables,” but obviously better.  There were a few other names thrown around, such as Adrien Brody, Sam Worthington, Viggo Mortensen, Chris Pine, Jamie Foxx, among many others. Some of my castings are pretty set in stone for me, but quite a few are just kind of off the top of my head. Any suggestions or changes are more than welcome. I am interested to see what you all think.

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