The Shining has never been remade as a movie, which has led to speculation about what a recasting of every major character in 2020 would look like.
The Shining is an iconic movie that has never been remade on the big screen, which has led to speculation about what a recasting of every major character in 2020 would look like. Stanley Kubrick’s movie is the first screen adaptation of the Stephen King novel of the same name, and is arguably more responsible for the story’s popularity than the book. The Shining television miniseries, although preferred by some fans and written by King himself, cannot make any such claim. Despite the fact that King is not a big fan of Kubrick’s film version of his book, any recasting of The Shining in 2020 simply has to start with Kubrick’s adaptation. King said to IndieWire that the movie was like a “beautiful Cadillac with no engine“, noting that Jack’s dramatic arc goes from crazy to crazier, which he argues mutes the tragedy of the character.
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When the movie came out in 1980, Nicholson’s Jack set the standard for crazy that modern audiences now expect from the character. As such, any 2020 casting of Jack would have to put out that same “something is off with this guy” vibe immediately. However, King’s criticism of Nicholson’s portrayal under the direction of Kubrick does have some merit: 2020’s Jack could start out a bit less crazy than Nicholson’s Jack, though this would ultimately be worked out between the director and their actor, rather than in casting.
Similarly, 2020 casting for the Wendy and Danny roles should take major cues from Shelley Duvall’s and Danny Lloyd’s portrayals. According to IndieWire, King said Duvall’s Wendy was “one of the most misogynistic characters ever put on film“. Duvall’s Wendy was a fragile mess, but she was also a strong mother in spite of that. Her fragility works in the sense that she remains in an abusive relationship with a ghost-plagued, psychotic alcoholic. Her ability to overcome this despite her fragility is the perfect contrast to Jack’s failed struggle with addiction. Lloyd’s portrayal of Danny, the Torrance’s curious but withdrawn son, should also be taken as the impetus for a 2020 recasting. Simply put: his subtle, innocent demeanor defines the role on film. However, the 2020 cast of The Shining should also be innovative, not derivative. The following recasting choices attempt to do exactly that.
Ethan Embry as Jack Torrance
2020’s recasting of Jack Torrance is a difficult choice. It would require a star actor with great ability, but not a superstar that would consume the entire movie (and budget). Ethan Embry is an extremely good choice for the role of Jack. Not only does he have the skill to play Jack at his worst moments, he also has the ability to demonstrate a dire inner struggle, as he did in his portrayal of Jesse in The Devil’s Candy. Jack Torrance is known for some funny-but-dark moments, and Embry is more than capable of bringing dark humor to the role. He is a serious actor who also has comedy chops, having acted in the teen comedy Can’t Hardly Wait and more relevantly, the dark comedy Cheap Thrills.
Imogen Poots as Wendy Torrance
Wendy Torrance in 2020 should be portrayed by Imogen Poots. One of the 21st century’s most versatile actresses, Poots has the ability to exude extreme fragility, utter confidence, and broken mental states. Her portrayal of Riley in Black Christmas shows that she can take a fragile character and turn her into a hero in the space of 92 minutes. Her portrayal of Amber, a faltering neo-Nazi in Green Room, is a testament to the fact that she can play the role of a conflicted woman in an abusive relationship. Her role in Vivarium shows that she can act confidently as a mother, even when her child might be strange and, at times, frightening.
Amelie Bea Smith as Danny Torrance
Hardly any other recent face comes to mind as being more withdrawn and innocent than that of Amelie Bea Smith in her portrayal of Flora in television’s The Haunting of Bly Manor. Not only is Smith the perfect age to play Danny Torrance, but she also knows her way around a good ghost story. In The Haunting of Bly Manor, Bea Smith skillfully goes back and forth between being possessed by the ghost of Rebecca and being Flora again. Based on her performance in the show, especially the scenes where she is found talking to herself at the lake, she also clearly has the ability to embody the creepiness of Danny’s reactions to the ghostly occurrences that he witnesses at the Overlook Hotel.
Courtney B. Vance as Dick Hallorann
Casting Dick Hallorann is no easy task, as the character requires an actor that can play old and wise, but one that also emanates a vitality and perseverance that belies their years. Courtney B. Vance has a wealth of experience in both movies and TV shows; he’s also no stranger to genre films. His recent work in HBO’s Lovecraft Country is a testament to that, but more importantly, his filmography is filled with strong supporting roles, as in his recent movie Uncorked. In Kubrick’s movie, Dick might seem like a one-dimensional character, but his importance to the story and the world therein cannot be understated. His own ability to shine shows how Danny’s talents are not as uncommon as they seem, and this commonality lends to the story’s suspension of disbelief.
Michael Shannon as Delbert Grady
Delbert Grady may be considered as a minor character in the movie, but his own story foreshadows what happens to Jack. A role like this is important, but not essential, and adds richness to a story. It requires an actor who is colorful and bold, one who can steal scenes, but not the whole movie. Michael Shannon fits this definition; his portrayals of characters who are either losing their minds or who have lost them completely is well-documented. With roles under his belt like John Givings in Revolutionary Road, Brad Macallam in My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done, and Richard Kuklinski in The Iceman, portraying the ghost of an axe murderer should be a breeze for him. Michael Shannon could also show potential as a modern Jack Torrance, though it might seem too obvious of a choice.
Thomas Jane as Lloyd the Bartender
Another possibly minor, but relatively important, role is that of Lloyd the Bartender. He occupies a place in the movie that is indicative of Jack’s relapse into alcoholism, as well as his succumbing to the evil influences of the Overlook Hotel. Thomas Jane, who is known as a character actor in many films – including several Stephen King adaptations (Dream Catcher, The Mist, 1922) – would be perfect as the 2020 version of Lloyd. His understated, yet sharp features and ability to give a wry smile and knowing tilt of the head are a great match for Lloyd’s unending service at the Overlook’s bar.
Given the iconic nature of Kubrick’s The Shining, a remake is probably a long way away, and not only because of its potential to be disappointing. It would likely be an extremely difficult movie to remake even if it had Stephen King’s blessing. Simply put, recasting an iconic horror movie like The Shining would probably give nightmares to even the most seasoned casting directors and producers. That said, with the right casting choices made for the right reasons, those nightmares would only come alive on screen, and not behind the scenes.
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