Hello, and welcome back to Casting Couch! Today in our column we’ll be taking a look at “The Wicked + The Divine,” the latest series from Gillen, McKelvie and Wilson. With the final issue of the first arc in stores today coupled with our NYCC interview with the team, it seemed about time to finally tackle this one. After all, it was a lot of fun to do a Casting Couch for “Phonogram” and Multiveristy’s EiC is basically obsessed with their books, so it was only a matter of time before this found its perfect day for scheduling.
As a note: while I know that the “The Wicked + The Divine” stars a lot of younger characters, late teens and early twenties, our cast here is a bit more varied in terms of age. In some cases we’re casting older actors to play younger than they are, and in others we’re just fudging the line for the ages since it’s not always clearly defined (and if it is, then I need to read James’ column more closely).
So once again, we return to this.
Laura – Nathalie Emmanuel
Most readers will recognize Nathalie from her role as Missandei from Game of Thrones as she’s not done too much else (she was on a soap opera I didn’t watch called Hollyoaks for some time and had a bit part in an episode of Misfits), but honestly, between Game of Thrones and Misfits we learned a lot about her. She can be a bit raw and unencumbered, and she can be reserved and quiet and almost stoic. Laura is a complicated character, someone that straddles the line between wanting to be a professional member of the group and [internally screaming], and Emmanuel has certainly showed enough range, heart, sweetness and character work to bring even the most minor parts to life in memorable ways. I’d love to see what she could do in the lead.
Lucifer – Natalie Dormer
Casting Lucifer is tough. Hell, casting the Devil in anything is tough; the character is so complex that you need an incredibly nuanced actor to charm the audience just as much as they need to charm the characters in story. When discussing the character of Luci, though, it came up in conversation that we “probably want someone like Natalie Dormer” — and once you bring someone as incredibly talented as Natalie Dormer into the conversation, it’s really hard to replace her. (Go on. Try it.)
But honestly, while Dormer is older than the general age of characters assembled, she’s a perfect fit for Luci. Dormer smiles like she knows exactly when the world is going to end (Google it) and that’s a perfect fit for the character of Luci, who seems to embody the same wry secret knowledge of incoming doom and decay that is just inches away from us at all time. Dormer is charming and smart, just like Luci, and she’s the type of seductive where you know you should stay away but still find yourself drawn to her, just like Luci. Why find someone like Natalie Dormer when we can just pick Natalie Dormer herself?
(Especially because, well, this is a fictional casting and we can do whatever we want, of course. My house, my rules.)
Amaterasu – Zoe Kazan
Amaterasu is an interesting character to me. She’s very sweet, very innocent on the surface and someone that you can sort of see as the doe-eyed member of the Pantheon — yet I’ve always felt like she was hiding something, in the same way generally virginal or holy characters find themselves in tropes of actually being fairly wicked (what’s this book’s title again?). So when casting Amaterasu, it seems important that we cast something that can embody that wonderful naiveté while hiding a lot underneath, and Zoe Kazan has been great at that. Whether we see her in more straight forward roles (The F Word) or complex and heartbreaking ones (Ruby Sparks), Kazan is a wonderfully talented young actress that could bring a lot of subtle nuance to the otherwise sunny (pun intended) character of Amaterasu.
Cassandra – Vicky McClure
More than Laura, I sometimes feel like Cassandra is the heart of the book. If we can take the title of the series literally and understand that there needs to be two sides to every coin, then Laura can’t be alone in her adoration of the Pantheon; we need the cynic. As such, Cassandra is an incredibly important role, and while issue #5 throws an interesting little addendum to Cassandra’s identity that I was not initially aware of, I feel like Vicky McClure would be an amazing choice for the role. A bit older, certainly able to seem a good deal wiser, McClure is most known to me for her role in This Is England; however, if you’ve ever seen the TV series that spun out of the film, you’ll recognize McClure as one of the most powerful and talented actresses currently working — in ’86 she brought me to tears, and in ’88 she broke my heart just the same. And Broadchurch? Don’t get me started. Just put McClure in everything.
Baal – John Boyega
John Boyega is perfect for Baal. Out of every casting here, it’s probably the one that needs the least justification. Baal is easily described as the book’s Kanye West, someone who is self-obsessed only because he knows he’s the best and worthy of his own adoration. While I imagine Boyega doesn’t have the same ego, his performances have repeatedly shown that he can perfectly embody the dark, powerful and self-absorbed character that Baal is. Just look at Attack the Block and his role as the lead character Moses; it’s easy to transpose that role with perhaps more lines into something close to what Baal is in the book, and if his role as Chris Tanner in that 24 reboot didn’t show that just he’s capable of being the opposite of Moses then I don’t know what will. Maybe his role in Star Wars. Either way, John Boyega is perfect for Baal.
The Morrigan, Badb and Gentle Annie – Juno Temple
The Morrigan is a multi-faceted character, one who quite literally assumes multiple personas for different moods, and as such represents quite a challenge for whoever were to portray her. However, I’ve gotta say that in everything I’ve ever seen Juno Temple in, I’m extremely confident that she can play crazy very well. Temple’s career is just kicking off, but she’s been a lot of films with both big and small roles, all that justify to me the various facets of the Morrigan; we’ve seen her fire and her passion in films like Afternoon Delight, we’ve seen her sweet disposition in Horns, we’ve seen her sheer insanity in Maleficent. If anyone can handle the complexities of the Morrigan’s mood swings, it’s certainly Juno Temple.
Baphomet – Sam Claflin
Baphomet was an interesting character to try and cast, only because I feel like his character is so specifically defined. He’s basically almost a hot guy archetype, dark and broody and punk and the guy you don’t want to bring home to meet your parents but you definitely show off to all your friends. As such, it actually felt right to put Sam Claflin in his (probably steel-toed) shoes as while Claiflin hasn’t done too much beyond stereotypical “hot guy” roles, his role as Finnick Odair in the Hunger Games films shows off what he can do quite well. Afterall, Finnick sort of feels like a character you could compare similarly to Baphomet in the way that he portrays himself as a hunky bad-ass killer but can still be taken down by a much stronger woman. It certainly fits.
Sakhmet – Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Sakhmet was the single hardest character to cast here, if only because we know Sakhmet the least. She’s present in the first issue, she’s present in the fifth, but we never get to know her on the intimate level that we know other characters. We know she likes sex, we know she’s strong, we know she takes her role as a feline very literally, but beyond that? Not too much. So for Sakhmet, I want to cast someone that can fit into the weird and otherwise stoic role of the character, but also have someone who I know is talented enough that whenever we meet Sakhmet’s personality we have someone that can play the role well, and anyone who has seen the highly acclaimed Belle will know that Gugu Mbatha-Raw is an actress you can adamantly count on. Mbatha-Raw has played some varied characters over the years, such as Tish Jones on Doctor Who and Samantha Bloom on Undercovers, but as a classically trained actress and an incredibly talented one at that, I’ll happily double down on her abilities to bring Sakhmet to life — any iteration of her.Continued below
Ananke – Vanessa Redgrave
Vanessa Redgrave is one of the two most confident casting choices I have this week (the other being John Boyega, who is perfect for Baal). Redgrave is an incredibly talented and well known actress, having been in film and TV since the 1960s in such incredibly varied roles that I’m not sure I even need to charry pick any to show why she’s right for Ananke. Ananke is a mysterious character, one we don’t trust even as we come to know her more, and Redgrave can bring that level of uneasy darkness into the role in spades (even if we picked a picture in which she’s smiling here).