After making his well-received indie debut with Rocket in bottle and prove he wasn’t a one-ride pony with the coming-of-age gem Rushmore, master of oddity Wes Anderson crossed out The Royal Tenenbaums. The tragicomic saga of a deeply dysfunctional family of child prodigies simultaneously suffering from midlife crises, The Royal Tenenbaums is often referred to as Anderson’s magnum opus (although it faces stiff competition from The Grand Hotel Budapest).
While Gene Hackman and Anjelica Huston directed a perfect cast in Anderson’s 2001 masterpiece, The Royal Tenenbaums would have played very different actors if it had been done today.
8 Robert De Niro as Royal Tenenbaum
After proving his dramatic qualities in iconic films like The conversation and unforgiven, Gene Hackman showed his acting skills with the role of Royal Tenenbaum. Robert De Niro is a similar film legend with both dramatic and comedic talent who debuted somewhat later than Hackman.
He’s been doing more comedy lately with movies like Dirty grandpa and War with grandfather, but he needs one that’s actually well written like his previous classics Midnight race and Meet the parents. Royal would have been a fantastic comedic role for a contemporary De Niro.
7 Tilda Swinton as Etheline Tenenbaum
The fiercely funny turn of Anjelica Huston as the matriarch of Tenenbaum in The Royal Tenenbaums has established a long-standing working relationship with Anderson. She then played Steve Zissou’s ex-wife in Aquatic life and the distant mother of the Whitman brothers in Darjeeling Limited.
Yes The Royal Tenenbaums was made today, the role of Etheline could be played by a more recent Anderson regular, Tilda Swinton. Much like Huston, Swinton would nail down Etheline’s combination of motherly love, tongue-in-cheek humor, and humble intellectualism.
6 Kevin Hart as Eli Cash
Originally played by co-writer Owen Wilson, Eli Cash is a childhood friend of the Tenenbaums who grew up to be a popular author. His western novel with an alternative history Old Custer made him a “literary celebrity” and he has an affair with Margot.
Wilson played Eli as warm, sympathetic, and relatively flawed. Today, the role could be filled by an equally endearing and much-loved comedy star: Kevin Hart. Hart is one of the few prominent men who remain in franchise-dominated Hollywood, and he must take on subversive roles like Eli Cash to prove his abilities as a dramatic actor.
5 Emma Stone as Margot Tenenbaum
Played to perfection by Gwyneth Paltrow, Margot is perhaps the Tenenbaum child who feels the least connected to Royal. As he always took the opportunity to point out that she had been adopted, she grew up feeling indifferent towards her father.
Not only does Emma Stone look the part; she played the estranged daughter of an imperfect father brilliantly opposite Michael Keaton in Best Picture winner Bird man. She also demonstrated in The favourite that it can adapt to a filmmaker’s distinctly quirky sense of humor.
4 Michael Stuhlbarg as Raleigh St. Clair
The role of Margot’s deeply unhappy husband Raleigh St. Clair was originally played by Bill Murray, who has been in all of Anderson’s films since. Rushmore. But Raleigh isn’t a Murray-type role at all. Murray gave perhaps his most low-key performance to date as a character.
Today the role could be brilliantly played by Michael Stuhlbarg. Thanks to A serious man, The shape of water, and Call me by your name, Stuhlbarg is Hollywood’s go-to man for shy and insecure intellectuals.
3 Ryan Gosling as Richie Tenenbaum
The main characteristic of Richie Tenenbaum, originally played by Luke Wilson, Anderson’s regular collaborator, is his love for his adopted sister Margot. So, whoever takes on this role has to share some palpable romantic chemistry with the actor playing Margot.
Ryan Gosling co-starred with Emma Stone as love interests in La La Land, Stupid mad love, and Gangster squad. He’s also proven in movies like The nice guys that he has the dry comedic chops to pull off a part of Anderson.
2 Denzel Washington as Henry Sherman
Henry Sherman is Etheline’s accountant and later fiance, played by Deadly weaponit’s Danny Glover. Henry is one of the film’s most sane characters. He’s got to be played by an actor who, like Glover, can handle the dramatic undertone of playing a widower trying to move on, but also master comic book deliveries in his interactions with Royal.
Denzel Washington is one of the world’s most famous dramatic actors and made audiences laugh with perfect line deliveries like Training day‘s “King Kong has nothing on me!”
1 Jonah Hill as Chas Tenenbaum
Chas Tenenbaum, originally played by Ben Stiller, is a prodigious entrepreneurial spirit who has had an impressive financial portfolio since he was little. But his character is defined by the crisis he faces following the death of his wife. He becomes too concerned about his safety after his death in a plane crash, moving his sons Ari and Uzi to his mother’s house and forcing them to train 16 times a week.
Stiller nailed the comedic absurdity of Chas’s overprotective parenthood, but also brought a heartfelt undertone to the complicated emotions behind it. Jonah Hill made her debut in steamy hard-R comedies like Super bad and 21, rue du saut, but he proved in Cyrus that he is just as good at quirky and ironic tragicomedy.
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