The Casual Vacancy was J.K. Rowling’s first publication post-Potter, and it received mixed reviews. The story is set in an idyllic, English town that becomes entrenched in a squabble when a local councilman dies unexpectedly. With his seat open, the town splits on one issue, and friends and neighbors turn against each other in an effort to find the seat filled by the “right” person. Though slow-paced to me, I thought the book was an interesting dissection into the idea of inter-connectivity of people in a small town, and it features a wealth of fascinating characters. Rather like a recipe: take a small town and mix in a wide variety of characters slowly. Turn up the heat and watch what happens. Enjoy! When I heard the novel would be serialized by HBO and the BBC, I couldn’t contain my joy, namely because I think Rowling might be god, but also I think most things that HBO and the BBC produce are magical.
Several cast members have already been set; including Michael Gambon (Harry Potter), Julia McKenzie (Notes on a Scandal), Rufus Jones (W1A, Edge of Heaven), Keeley Hawes (Death at a Funeral, Upstairs Downstairs), and Rory Kinnear (Skyfall, Penny Dreadful), as well as several others. So far, the casting has been filled with very talented actors and actresses.
The characters Parminder, Vikram and Sukhvinder Jawanda, Mary Fairbrother, Maureen Lowe, Lexie and Libby Mollison, and Andrew and Paul Price have not been cast yet. Rather, I couldn’t find any such information online. There are also other characters not mentioned in the BBC article, such as Patricia Mollison, Stuart Wall, Gavin Hughes, Krystal’s little brother Robbie, or the other Jawanda children. It is curious to see which characters might be cut from the miniseries, or just haven’t been mentioned yet.
As a fan of the book, I couldn’t help but wonder what my dream cast would be if I was a casting agent. Of course I don’t care two wits about money or any of the dynamics of actual casting, so that’s why my casting is on the internet and not real life; also because I’m not a casting agent in real life.
I had pictured someone similar to Gambon as Howard, so I’m okay with keeping him. I would also have enjoyed Jim Broadbent (Harry Potter, Cloud Atlas) or Tom Wilkinson (Batman Begins, Michael Clayton). I pictured Julie Walters (Harry Potter, Mamma Mia) or Brenda Blethyn (Atonement, Pride & Prejudice) as his wife Shirley. Both seem like they’d be good at doing meddlesome and high and mighty. Since this is my dream, I would cast David Tennant (Doctor Who) as Miles Mollison and Olivia Williams (Dollhouse, An Education) as his wife Samantha. I think they would have a good time with some palpable chemistry betwixt them. Ewan McGregor (Trainspotting, Star Wars) would be my choice for Barry Fairbrother. I pictured someone who smiled a lot, and he has a fantastic smile.
As Terri Weedon, I pictured Christina Cole (Casino Royale, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day). I feel she would do well as the rough-around-the-edges heroin addict mother; she has a “grit” about her. I pictured Krystal Weedon a certain way, but can’t really find an actress that represents that, so I’d pick Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones). I’m sure she’d do the part justice. I pictured Helena Bonham Carter (Harry Potter, Fight Club) as Tess Wall. It seems kind of weird, but I bet she’d be adorable. I saw someone in my head similar to Simon McBurney (The Last King of Scotland, Body of Lies) for playing Colin Wall, so he can stay.
I pictured John Simm (Doctor Who, Mad Dogs) as Simon Price. He’s got the perfect crazy eyes, as anyone who has seen him as the Master knows. Ruth Price I saw as Kelly Macdonald (Brave, No Country for Old Men, and HBO’s own Boardwalk Empire) or Alex Kingston (Doctor Who, ER) – or somehow a combination of the two of them. I would be pleased with Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada, Looper) or Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey, Filth) as social worker Kay Bawden. I hadn’t pictured Gaia Bawden, but Sophie Turner (Game of Thrones) would be acceptable.
Now comes the really fun part: speculating who I would pick for characters not yet cast. There were two people that immediately came to mind. Indira Varma (Game of Thrones, Rome) for Parminder, and Sendhil Ramamurthy (Heroes, Covert Affairs) as Vikram Jawanda. Varma already has experience with HBO, and Ramamurthy is just incredibly handsome and would play the devastatingly good looking doctor quite well – seriously well *swoon.* For Gavin Hughes, Miles Mollison’s business partner, I would cast Allen Leech (Downton Abbey, The Tudors, Rome) or Jack Davenport (Coupling, Pirates of the Caribbean).
I think Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Love Actually, Game of Thrones) and Freddie Highmore (Finding Neverland, Bates Motel) would be good choices for Stuart Wall and Andrew Price, with Asa Butterfield (Ender’s Game, Hugo) as Paul Price. As for the remaining characters; I hadn’t put much thought into them, hadn’t pictured them a certain way, or couldn’t find someone to play the part the way I imagined it. I’m anxiously awaiting further casting news! Overall, I think the collaboration between the BBC and HBO will be brilliant and do a great service to Rowling’s gritty, small town novel.
Editor’s Note: No news has been found recently on this upcoming HBO Miniseries. HBOWatch will come forth with any news as it becomes available. In the meantime, check out the novel for yourself if interested.