The Standard Rich and Famous Contract: Some Unconventional if Totally Appropriate Catching Fire Casting Suggestions

It seems like everyone is weighing in on casting suggestions for Catching Fire. The Girl on Fire site has been doing a “Finding Finnick” series; one of our recent posts presented a wonderful possible structure for the film, prompting a commenter to quail in terror at the thought of Harrison Ford as Plutarch Heavensbee. All of this prognosticating and wondering has led me to a very different possible direction for casting the Victors chosen to compete in the Quarter Quell. Why not cast actual celebrities, a la The Celebrity Apprentice and other horrible reality shows? Before you start throwing things at me, follow me after the jump to see my suggestions and to see why having actual athletes and movie and rock stars as the Victors would actually be completely in line with Collins’s story of entertainment as slavery for both its viewers and those it ostensibly glorifies.

Why, one might reasonably ask, should filmakers consider those who have already tasted (and in some cases overdosed on) fame and fortune? The answer is simple: these men and women already know what it means to be a Victor. They have fought to “pay their dues” and attain the highest accolades in their fields. In many cases, they have had their bodies altered beyond recognition to fit some pre-conceived notion of what beauty is supposed to be. Along the way, like Finnick, they have often become commodities to be bought and sold, their relationships regarded by the public by as just so much tabloid fodder. Seldom does anyone think about how celebrities really feel, or about the strain on their family and social life.

We even have our own versions of the Quarter Quell. Reunion movies and band performances, remakes, and all-star games allow fans to get another look at the once-glittering stars who are, sadly, often mere shadows of their former selves. There is something pitiful about watching the Beach Boys (none of whom has been a boy in a several decades) singing “Good Vibrations.” Every TV show from the 1970s and 1980s is getting a remake, and It looks like Dallas is rolling its stars out of mothballs and down to Southfork again, too. While many stars may, like Brutus, relish the chance to get out there and slug it out again, many others, like Cecila, want to move on, despite a culture that wants them to stay the same, the Victors we “love,” forever.

So here’s my list of the needed Victors so far. Since we don’t know much about some of them, we could basically throw in anyone who had a “one-hit wonder” song or who has been on Dancing with the Stars as space fillers for those spots. Though my friends at the Y and I all think we would make swell washed-up former Tributes, these folks would probably be a better fit. Here are my picks

Cashemere and Gloss: Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake. Beautiful, shiny people who have been traumatized by this world since childhood.

Enobaria: Grace Jones (tough, scary, already altered)

Brutus: Hulk Hogan

BeeTee: Brent Spiner–he’s been in fun sci-fi roles before (like Independence Day)

Wiress: Gillian Anderson. She can play smart, and she knows weird. Plus, I like having two sci-fi icons as the D3 team.

Finnick: Zac Ephron, or some other gorgeous creature who graced the cover of Teen Beat a few years ago, but who isn’t doing much now.

Mags: Betty White–she’d have to work at feeble, but she knows the feeling of being re-comissioned.

Morphlings from 6: Keith Richards and Linsey Lohan. They know re-hab, and the lack thereof.

Johanna: Pink. She’s actually who I have in my head when I read Johanna. There is something there of the combination of vulnerability and power, and I love the way she always seems a bit uncomfortable in glitzy glamour outfits, like Johanna pulling off that tree costume.

Celia: Jennifer Garner. She is mostly out of the limelight now and trying to have a family life while forgetting she and her husband Ben Affleck have been called “Benifer,” yuck.

Seeder: Queen Latifah. She has that maternal instinct, and she knows the cruelties of movies, music, commercials, and fashion.

Chaff: Morgan Freeman. He’s come a long way from VIncent the Vegetable Vampire on Seasame Street, and he’s seen it all.

What do you think? I hope folks will comment with other suggestions, maybe people I’ve missed. It is, of course, unfortunate that so many great choices (Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston, Heath Ledger) are no longer with us, due to the very pressures of a world that makes gods of our Victors/celebrities, and then, when their temples are tarnished, abandons them to obscurity, isolation, and death.

Comments

  1. Thank you for qualifying your choices; the explanations raised my eyebrows and kept me nodding my head throughout!!! (Not that I’m easily swayed by well-written text…oh wait, I am!) ๐Ÿ™‚

    In my various readings of the trilogy, I had somehow failed to attach advanced age to several of the Victor Tributes in the Quell except for BeeTee and Wiress. (I know, how lazy I’ve become in spite of following these posts.) Your choices make enough sense that I can’t think of alternatives. Then again, I don’t follow “celebridom” much.

    Hey all you HogPros!!!!!! Take up Professor’s assignment and give a shout-out for your favs!!!

  2. This is brilliant! I do think we need to make some room for some sports celebrities.

    My vote for Finnick would go to former NHL ‘enforcer’ Brantt Myhres, now sober after years of drug and alcohol addiction. He’s really good looking if a little middle-aged, but what really sold me was what he said in a NY Times article on recent hockey player deaths: โ€œItโ€™s one of the hardest jobs in sports. All people see is 20,000 people standing and cheering you on. They donโ€™t see the dark times. They donโ€™t see you curled up in a ball in a hotel room, scared to death for the next fight.โ€

    Plus we definitely have to have someone from the NFL as a career tribute. So many choices here, but Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones is a standout for Brutus, thanks to his multiple arrests, including one for a Las Vegas strip club shooting brawl.

    And we must have a talk show host for Plutarch — I’d say the best bet would be Jay Leno, who knows what it is to live and die by the ratings.

  3. Oh! I just realized that Hulk Hogan is that wrestling guy. He really would be awesome as Brutus. Too bad, Pacman! Suspended again!

  4. Jay Leno as Plutarch — perfect.

  5. Elizabeth says

    Yes! And thanks, Hana, for the super sporting suggestions! (I don’t know enough about athletes!) I had considered Carl Edwards, my favorite NASCAR driver, as Finnick, but he’s pretty wholesome, at least for now.

    YES! Leno, with Dennis Miller or some other former SNL anchor as a back-up, though I’m excited about the current Plutarch casting rumor(Phillip Seymour Hoffman)!

  6. Nicholas says

    Somewhere recently I read talk of a genuine rumor (whatever that means) of Robert Pattinson for Finnick. While my initial reaction was to beg for mercy, I have to admit there’s a certain logic to it.

    And it would certainly be a bit interesting to have someone appear in a prominent role in all three of the book/film series which have occupied much of the discussion on HogPro for many years.

    (And at the risk of sounding too connected to popular culture, I think “bennifer” actually referred to Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, in their former status as a “super couple”.)

  7. Elizabeth says

    I think you are right, Nicolas. Like Mr. Affleck himself would probably like to, I had apparently forgotten all about his JLo phase.
    Pattison would be a fun choice (and painfully appropriate) but I doubt most viewers would see the irony. All the buzz about his supposed marriage to Kristen Stewart seemed profoundly similar to the public wedding horrors suffered by Katniss and Peeta (my favorite was the tabloid article describing their supposed nupitals which, in fact, was describing Bella and Edward’s wedding in Breaking Dawn). I had also heard rumors of Kellan Lutz, who plays Emmett. Honestly, he’d make a better Finnick than he has Emmett, at least in terms of appearance, as he is actually green-eyed and blond in real life (if one can call what actors live off-screen “real life”).

  8. Elizabeth says

    I have just discovered that Diana Rigg is still alive (for some reason I thought she was dead, and had thus eliminted her, my first choice, for Mags). Sorry Betty. Ms. Rigg would make a swell Wiress, too. I just love her grace and class (and the fact that she was once the hottest ticket around!)

  9. I am way too out of touch with pop culture for this thread, and can’t imagine that I could offer anything that could top Grace Jones as Enobaria, but I think I have got Cecelia nailed. She should be played by Aishwarya Rai. She is possibly the most famous performer in India, and therefore has lived with excruciating scrutiny, including some ridiculous criticism this past year about daring to look like someone who has had a baby. As an added bonus, she could throw in some kick-arse, and utterly convincing, fight moves before being taken out in the battle at the cornucopia.

    Which just made me think of something else: Gina Torres as Seeder could do the same. And now I’m wanting to cast the whole thing from the alumni of Firefly. Summer Glau as Johanna would be astonishing.

  10. Orlando, I’ll second your comments about Grace Jones as Enobaria. I checked out the web images and that lady doesn’t even need sharpened incisors to be scary!!!

    There’s another casting rumor that’s floating around — Cecily Tyson as Mags. I think she would be phenomenal. There is a scene from The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman in which Tyson (aged up to look over 100 years old) very deliberately takes a long walk up to the town’s ‘whites only’ drinking fountain. When I watched it I could totally imagine how she might handle the moment when Mags kisses Finnick and then turns to walk calmly toward death in the poison fog.

  11. Not, of course, that Cecily Tyson fits the rich and famous for the wrong reasons category — she’s the consummate professional and seems completely sane ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. I am so out of touch with celebrities and the horrors of their ‘real’ games and post-games lives that I can’t put forth any remarkable suggestions like Professor Hardy and many other have; I will say that I am strongly against Robert Pattinson or Kellan Lutz as Finnick. Either would really break my heart, actually. Finnick is one of the most complex, fragile, exquisite, and gut-wrenching characters of the series; and the actor who plays him MUST have the depth of experience (aka anguish) as well as the “perspective” Finnick has because he has clung so desperately onto what he knows and cherishes as *real* (Annie). I can understand and agree with other tributes being played by pop-culture’s infamous, forgive me, celebrity screw-ups (and that’s not meant to be a cruel or mocking insult to any of the people mentioned; after reading the Hunger Games I realized more than ever that I can’t hope to understand the depths of brutality that have made these precious men and women what they are; that I do not and cannot know them nor their stories; and that they merit my compassion just as much, if not more so in some ways, than the people in my life that I do actually know), and I can understand that Pattinson, Lutz, or even Ephron would bring the real-time experience of a tribute as well as youth and masculine appeal; but to be honest, I would so much rather an older, more experienced actor, one that hasn’t just been in the midst of the hellish chaos but has had time to attempt to realize and grapple with it, take on Finnick. He is beyond the abilities of the names suggested, in my opinion. Obviously Finnick can’t be played by someone truly “older” or whatever, but he definitely deserves more power than these guys have to offer.
    I do think Morgan Freeman would be fantastic; and indeed, I think the films need more heavy-weight actors like him. Robert Downey Jr. would be absolutely perfect for a tribute; he actually would be very interesting as Finnick with his poignant experiences as artist and celebrity, his type of humor and bearing, his understated performance which conveys that all of the above mask exceptional pain and confusion. Okay. Sorry for rambling! Just some thoughts. ๐Ÿ˜€

  13. Elizabeth says

    Thanks for joining in, everyone! Great suggestions! Thanks, Orlando, for giving us some global perspective, as well!

    I think Tyson would also be a splendid Seeder. I adore her class, as well, and she is also a sci-fi hero thanks to her wonderful role as Lily in Star Trek First Contact.

    Downey is so “on top of his game” right now that it’s easy to forget his substance abuse problems (which actually contribute to his super casting as Sherlock Holmes). He is the “Haymitch in my head” most of the time (sometimes it’s Hugh Laurie, never Woody Harrelson).

    The Finnick in my head is usually the actor who plays DiNozzo on NCIS. (Lovely eyes, and a ladies man whos is more than he seems)

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