The Christmas Nativity: Ultimate Film Casting
Mary, Mother of Jesus
Picture the scene; it’s cold, it’s snowing (does it snow in Bethlehem? It does now. Think FESTIVE, people!) and Mary’s heavily pregnant. Every single inn is full and, when she reaches the final option, she’s turned away once again. Cue Carey Mulligan’s sorrowful eyes, the only way to melt the heart of a crusty old proprietor and force him to offer up his cozy hay-ridden stable.
Joseph, Step-Father of Jesus
Whaddaya mean, you don’t know who Thomas is? He’s the kid from Love Actually! And he’s twenty-one now, with similarly sad eyes to Mulligan and extremely good at being a tad awkward-looking. Imagine the scene; Carey comes to him, as he is carving a little wooden chair and, after much emotional anguish, tells him that she is carrying God’s child. His face crumples. Yup, he doesn’t believe her, but still protects her from social shame by wedding her and defending her from ridicule. It’s not until an angel comes and whispers in his ear that he finally accepts her implausible story…
Stephen Fry, Morgan Freeman and Hugh Laurie:
The Three Wise Men
Oh. My. God. It’s just brilliant, isn’t it? These guys are totally wise and totally awesome and, in my honest opinion, well suited to old-school robes of old. Caspar (Fry), Balthasar (Freeman) and Melchior (Laurie) would manage to juggle perfect comic timing with excellent acting. Just imagine the Magi-centric scenes:
Caspar: So you’re telling me that you want us all to up sticks and follow a star? You can’t follow a star. The Earth’s orbit simply doesn’t allow for it.
Balthasar: If I am correct, and I usually am, it will lead us to a great king…
Melchior: Oh, here we go again. Another ‘great king’, another bloody star.
But funnier. We’d get someone better than me to write the script. It’s bloody good so far though, you’ve got to admit that…
This guy is an absolute badass and so deserves to be played by the man who brought us Doctor Hannibal Lecter. He hears about a new king and he sees it as a threat to his rule. What does he do? He sends all of his guards to kill any child under 2 years old – or any expectant mothers. That bit generally gets skipped out of the nativity. We usually focus on Mary, Joseph and Jesus making their escape and sort of, I dunno, brush the mass infanticide under the carpet. But we here at BFF feel a dramatic montage, as well as a cool and calculating Hopkins, is crucial to the success of our movie. So it’s made the cut.
Gabriel is sometimes referred to as female or androgynous but, on the whole, tradition has him pegged as a man. A young and dazzling man, who says his lines with meaningful aplomb. Everybody loves Ryan Gosling for these very same reasons. He’d look good all in white with hazy lights around him, wouldn’t he? Yes, he would. Sorted.
John Cleese would help keep the tone of our nativity light which, thanks to Herod’s order of genocide, is something we’re very grateful for. And, let’s face it, he has an excellent background in hospitality acting. A little like Basil Fawlty, the Innkeeper is seen as someone mildly indignant, slightly pompous and overwhelmingly distracted.
Innkeeper: There’s no room. It’s not open for debate!
Joseph: But she is carrying the son of God…
Innkeeper: Oh, the son of God? Why didn’t you SAY so! Oh yes, there’s always room for those claiming to be pregnant with the divine child.
(directs lines at Mary’s stomach)
I’m so sorry to have kept you waiting, your lordship! I do apologize, please forgive me…
Genius. You can’t tell me that isn’t genius.
The Innkeeper’s Wife
Sure, she doesn’t make a huge appearance in the original tale, but he’s bound to have had one. And, to be honest, you need Kate Winslet about for this sort of thing. Firstly, she can persuade her husband to, at the very least, lend out the manger for the evening. Secondly, she probably knows how to deliver a baby and would be handy to have on hand with the hot towels and water. Thirdly, and most importantly, if the stable caught fire, she’d be first in to rescue our three main characters. Yup. We definitely need Winslet in on this.
Leonardo DiCaprio, Liam Neeson and a handful of bearded extras:
We need shepherds. Shepherds are crucial for the well-being of any performance of The Nativity. They’re chilling out on a hillside, watching over their flock, when Ryan Gosling arrives and tells them to head on over to a nearby stable and worship baby Jesus. With Leo and Liam to lead the way, and, more importantly, to lead the dialogue, we can rest assured that our humble shepherds will make it to the stable in one piece.
Daniel Radcliffe needs more roles to get him out of his Harry Potter phase. We’ve already got The Woman In Black lined up, but, in the meantime, how about letting him be a star? He just has to smile down benevolently once in a while and jerk his head in the direction of a stable. He can manage that, easy-peasy. And it’ll just be nice to see him in a Christmas blockbuster again, won’t it…
Samuel L Jackson:
Sometimes, and it’s nobody’s fault, there’s a lot of bits in the Nativity story which have to happen but are quite dull while they’re happening. Take for example the long journey from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, or Caeser Augustus laying down the census. One is just a long, long shot of two people on a donkey, crossing through deserts and cities. The other is a lot of political hoo-hah which most people don’t really understand. What could possibly make this more entertaining? Samuel L Jackson. Narrating. In badass rhyme form, a la those Barclays adverts he used to do.
We’d need Tarantino to rewrite the relevant bits into a crazy poem, but I think it’d be worth the extra cost. Something like that running over the top of those long, dull donkey shots is bound to get the audience buzzing.