Warner Brothers is seeking a director and star for its forthcoming film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera. Lloyd Webber's spokesman has confirmed that Antonio Banderas (Che in the film of Evita) is the front-runner to play the Phantom, and Banderas has told film magazines that he's the man. But Warner Brothers says no contract has yet been signed.
Playbill On-Line asked readers: Who do you think would be best to play the Phantom? Please send your proposed casting choice to Managing Editor Robert Viagas. You must include at least two sentences on why you think your candidate is best. E-mails with just a name will not be posted.
Owing to the huge response, we have created this tenth file of posts. Playbill On-Line thanks all those who took the time to write.
From Nat Fergusson:
I'm just one small snowflake in an avalanche saying MC should do it.. All I can add is when I saw Crawford, he WAS the Phantom. When I've seen anyone else, even the good ones, they were playing a part. Some reviewer said the Phantom was waiting for Crawford to make him come alive--I agree. And if the Phantom is to live on the movie screen, he needs Crawford again.
From Michael Deatz:
How about Julie Andrews? Warner Brothers owes her big-time from 1964. And she could do it, too!
Come on now, the choice is very clear, that Crawford should get the job.No one can do it like he can. MR B just does not have the feelings that the phantom produces.Mr B does not know this role. Film and stage are very different.You emotions need to be built up over weeks on stage.In the movies you only have a day at the most. Mr C knows this role, and most everybody has heard of him.Mr C is the reason I got interested in musical theatre when I was just 9. I think Crawford deserves it.
From Randolph Inskip:
I am an avid fan of Mr. Crawford, and I believe HE should play the role of "Phantom" in the new movie "The Phantom of the Opera". He has already performed in over 1300 performances on Broadway and Los Angeles, so why not cast someone who really KNOWS the role inside and out?!?!? Also, I don't think Antonio Banderas should get that role (he'd be a fine Raoul, though) simply for the fact that he doesn't have that "raspy, demanding, eerie aggressiveness" in his voice like Mr. Crawford...... In conclusion, I would like to cast my vote for Michael Crawford to play the role of "Phantom" in the new movie version of "The Phantom of the Opera".
From Char Fortenbery:
Casting for the Phantom Of The Opera: Here is an opinion from three generations - Grandmother Charlene 60, Daughter Kathleen 41, Granddaughter Caitlin 11 - all avidly in favor of casting " The Phantom (Michael Crawford) of the Opera". We have had the pleasure of following Michael's career in the Unites States - from the POTO at the Majestic Theater in N.Y. to the Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber in West Palm Beach FL. to EFX in Las Vegas to the PBS Taping of " The Music of the Night" in Cerritos Ca., and most recently, his concert at the MGM Grand Theater in Las Vegas. Why would one consider anyone but Michael? He brought the role to LIFE on stage. Banderas - young, dashing - SO--- not the phantom! If he must be cast in the movie, cast him as Raoul. We could go on and on but what is the point? Michael is and always will be our "Phantom of the Opera".
From Francine Hovis:
There should be no other choice but Michael Crawford. The role is and will always be his. The Phantom is cast as a "slightly older man". Crawford at age 56 fits the bill.
The only choice for the role of Phantom of the Opera is Michael Crawford. Why go with an imitation if you can have the original?????? No one can play the Phantom like Michael Crawford. He is, he was, and always will be the one and only Phantom of the Opera for now and always.
From Jami Maselli:
The man behind the mask should be Michael Crawford IF a movie version of Phantom of the Opera is EVER made. The Phantom (Eric) is not considered a TYPICAL romantic lead character just as Michael Crawford is not considered a TYPICAL romantic leading man in Hollywood. This beautiful, unique story needs a beautifully unique actor to bring out every facet and nuance of Eric's complex character. Michael Crawford has already proven he can do this - and has done it better than anyone else. And continues to do it to this day in every concert he performs (even without the makeup). Regardless of what, if anything, becomes of the movie, Michael Crawford will ALWAYS be THE Phantom of the Opera!!
From Susan Richter:
I think that Michael Crawford should be allowed to portray the role that he created. He has had extensive movie and stage experience and no one else can touch him in the portrayal of Erik.
There is no question it should be John Travolta... Perfect venue for him to return to the musical ... he would be spectacular and would help it be a commercial success. Unfortunately not enough people know who Michael Crawford is, or he would also make a great choice. But Antonio Banderas does not belong in the film. Not even as an extra. Although he was great in Evita, he does not reach Phantom caliber.
From Susan Jordan:
There is only one Phantom........ There really IS only one Phantom..... Michael Crawford. Anyone else would just seem an imposter.......
I think that Michael Crawford should play the phantom in the movie. He has made the play what it is today! His role on Broadway earned him a Tony! What else can I say? I doubt Antonio Banderas would ever have the kind of effect that Michael Crawford has as the phantom.
From Dorothy Hughes:
I vote for Michael Crawford. I saw him in concert and without props, or a mask he sang those songs even better than when he was on Broadway! Also, he is best qualified having won a Tony and performing the show in London, New York and LA. I like Michael Crawford so much that I rushed to my friend's office to vote because I don't have a computer at home.
My name is Kellie, and I just wanted to cast my vote for the one and only Phantom--MICHAEL CRAWFORD!!!!!! Even considering someone else for the role is enough to make me not even want to see the movie. The only way I will see it, is if Michael is cast in the role that only he can do. Know one has brought me to tears like he did and I only heard the soundtrack. I've seen POTO in Louisville and Nashville and those Phantoms were o.k. but only Michael Crawford deserves that role in the movie.
From Anne Schepeler:
I would like to cast my vote for Phantom: Michael Crawford. I believe he has the talent to move the musical from the stage to the big screen without losing the electricity, vibrancy, and magic which is integral to the show. Dropping a chandelier? Throwing fireballs in the cemetery? Those tricks can be done by anyone with the right computer program. But empathy, gut-wrenching pathos and the ability to move a viewer's emotions with the turn of the hand and a few words: that takes talent. Suppose the role goes to someone else: no matter who it is or how big their name, they will always be compared to Mr. Crawford. Why settle for second best?
From Allison Hourcle:
My vote is for Michael Crawford. He's the best!
Michael Crawford originated the role in London, won the Tony on Broadway and would be a shoe-in for an Oscar if he plays the role of the Phantom in the movie. He was promised the role many years ago, no one can play the part as he can and I do not understand how can there be any debate on this matter.
From Wendy Reader:
There is no one who can play the Phantom role better than Michael Crawford. I've never seen him in the actually role only bits that I've seen on video from the shows.Have seen the show 4 times and though good none have played the role with the same emotion that I feel from Michael in concert. Have seen him 3 times including EFX and have tickets to his concert in Tampa for July. Please...no one but Michael.....will not go see and many fans won't if anyone is picked other than Michael.
From Caleb Hammons: Michael Crawford is a wonderful singer and actor, and has had the praise he deserves for creating the roll. It's time to give someone else a chance; therefore, I am hoping to see Antonio Banderas wearing the mask.
From Mike Ruckles:
I really couldn't care who plays the Phantom AS LONG AS IT'S NOT ANTONIO BANDERAS!! Che is as FAR as he should go, vocally. If anything, Erik should have either a French or British accent. What is Lloyd Webber thinking? The two men who could handle the job of Phantom are either Michael Crawford or Anthony Warlow. Webber has even been heard to say that Warlow's was one of the finest voices to ever sing Erik. I say Anthony would be my first choice as the world is already well aware of Crawford's Phantom. A movie SHOULD add something new. It's time for the world to fall in love with Warlow, whose voice is very like the voice of God, as I imagine it. As anyone who's heard Warlow's "Music of the Night" on his "Center Stage" album will tell you, it is perfection!! If we must have Banderas, make him Raoul then! That's a role he is far better suited for than Erik. Anyway, that's my two cents.
Okay, I don't really like the idea of a Phantom movie, but since the monstrosity seems determined to be created, Michael Crawford really should have the role. What's needed here isn't a dancer like Mr. Travolta (I've heard him sing recently, he sucks), or good looks like Banderas. The role of the phantom requires a good singing voice and an understanding of the part, who better than the original phantom?
I have never seen POTO. I don't have or listen to the OCR. However, I feel that the person who originates a role on stage and makes a play successful should be cast in a movie version of the play. Why gamble with another actor when a sure thing already exists?
I have to agree with David M. March's response. Antonio Banderas should be cast as The Phantom. He is famous enough to get the public's attention and once Warner Brothers has him, they can focus on getting a good singer for the role of Christine. If WB were to cast Michael Crawford as The Phantom, and another stage actor as Christine, the movie would never make it. It just wouldn't have appeal to the general public without a star most people have heard of. Those of you who want to see a real singer perform in The Phantom of the Opera, you know it is still playing on B'way.
From Astrid Ostheimer:
I must admit that the casting for the Phantom is a hard decision for any studio. The Phantom must be played by an artist who is not only a good actor and singer, but must also have a voice that makes it convincing that he is "an angel of music". Plus, he must have some charisma. Not to mention that he should be able to bring audiences to the movie. Considering all this, there are only two choice in my humble opinion: ANTHONY WARLOW, for the greatest voice in the world, incredible acting and that special something that one cannot describe, and MICHAEL CRAWFORD, who made the Phantom part it's own and who still can sing it. Now, since Warlow is more or less a stranger to American movie audiences, it appears to be clear, that the part should be given to Michael Crawford. His name is so much linked to "Phantom of the Opera" (and vice versa) that I cannot imagine how anyone could think the part could be played/sung/performed by another actor. Plus, he already had a signed contract for the movie back in the eighties. And if the studios really need a more popular name: Why not cast Leonardo Di Caprio as Raoul (and let Michael Ball sing for him)?
From Lorraine Krofchok:
Michael Crawford is the only true Phantom!! I will not go, buy, see even a movie that does not have Michael Crawford playing Phantom. Remember, who the "King" was in The King and I, and also who won the academy award when My Fair Lady came out without the true "Lady"!! Michael Crawford--the ONLY Phantom.
From Susan Hoxie:
In all fairness, and who said Hollywood is fair, the role of the Phantom should go to Michael Crawford. He helped give birth to that role when the Andrew Lloyd Webber version was taking form. He gave that character the heart, soul, depth, and feeling that all subsequent actors playing this role have had to emulate. There are many arguments against using Mr. Crawford in the film version. How about some arguments FOR using him. Too old? Well, unless the script calls for the Phantom to leap the Paris Opera House in a single bound, run faster than a speeding bullet, be more powerful than a locomotive, or do a lot of swinging from the chandelier, I do not see what this has to do with anything. Besides, with the make-up and mask, no one is going to know how old the actor playing the Phantom is by looking at him. As for not being a "box office name?" Correct me if I'm wrong, but there are two other roles in which "box office names" can be used. Am I the only one on the planet who feels Antonio Banderas would be better suited as Raoul? Why hide that gorgeous face behind makeup and a mask? At least with his looks and charm, one can better understand why Christine ran off with Raoul in the end rather than the Phantom. As for Christine, find a well-known actress and dub her voice. It has been done before. Mr. Crawford is a "stage" actor not a "film" actor? Puleeeeese! Give me a break! This man has a rather impressive array of films and television programs listed on his rather extensive resume. The camera is not a foreign object to him. He can play to the camera as well as he can play to a live audience. As for my initial fairness comment, it is my understanding Mr. Crawford has been promised this role for a number of years. He has arranged his career around doing the film, making sure he would be available. How many more hoops does this man have to jump through to prove he would really like to do this role? If nothing else, one would be stabbing this wonderful man in the back by giving the role of the Phantom to someone else. Let me put it in another way so there will be no confusion. MICHAEL CRAWFORD IS THE PHANTOM! The fact I'm even having to answer this question goes beyond all reasoning.
From Joanne Kardis:
There is no doubt the only actor who can bring the Phantom to life on the screen is MICHAEL CRAWFORD. There are some extraordinary moments in the theatre which are shared by both the performer and the audience. The emotional and physical experience of watching and hearing Michael Crawford perform, even without the cape and mask, is one of those moments. Both Lord Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Warner Brothers need to +ACI-rethink+ACI- their proposed choice(s) and hear the music and the man, Michael Crawford, who continues to bring Erik to life every time he performs songs from The Phantom of the Opera.
From Christian Vermeer:
I have never been to a Broadway show. Frankly I couldn't understand my mother's obsession with this play. A couple of weeks ago, I went to Michael Crawford's concert in Las Vegas. He was awesome. The Phantom part was something I've never seen before. I'm 23 yrs old, and a collage student. I can't afford to go to Broadway, but I know I sure would go see Mr. Michael Crawford play the Phantom in a movie. What a voice. What's the big deal? Pick the best man for the job. Michael Crawford.
From Sharon Arkin:
I have seen phantom 10 times, portrayed by 5 different actors. I try to be fair in ranking everyone's performance, but by far & wide, Michael is the best. The others play Phantom, Michael actually becomes the Phantom. It would be better not to make the movie if Michael is not the phantom. Michael's voice has only gotten better - (hard to believe - but true), add in his hand gestures, facial expressions (1/2 face shown, no less), No other name can be seriously considered!!
From Lynette Messina:
I would like to vote for Michael Crawford to star in the film version of Phantom. If anyone can make the transition from stage to film with this musical it would have to be Michael Crawford. He is the Phantom, and I know that he will give 110% to this role as he has with everything else he does!! He is the one and only.
From Maria Lew-Ong:
My vote is for Michael Crawford. He originated the role of the Phantom and I feel he should be cast in the movie. I've never seen him perform the phantom, but I grew to love the musical, because of listening to the cd. His voice transcended through my stereo, and made me feel as though I was watching the show. By the time the cd was over, I was in tears. I desperately wanted to see Michael perform the Phantom, but found out that he hasn't played the role on stage for several years. I was so disappointed to hear that, but was elated to find out that he was promised the movie role by Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber. However, my joy was short-lived, since hearing that John Travolta was to star in the movie. My sadness turned into anger, when I heard that Antonio Banderas was given the role. Please don't turn this great play into a disaster film. Only Michael Crawford can do justice to this role!! He's won awards, for his portrayal and there was always a full house when he performed the Phantom .Please don't forget that!!! Michael Crawford is the Phantom!!
WHO SHOULD STAR IN THE PHANTOM MOVIE? --- PART 6 My vote is for MICHAEL CRAWFORD. There is only one Phantom and that is Michael Crawford. He Created a brilliant Phantom in the broadway musical.If you give him a chance to play it in the film he will create a classic Phantom and a classic film.
Michael Crawford made that role what it is today. No one else could bring such sincerity, talent, and mystery to this capsizing role. It would not be "The Phantom of the Opera" without the genuine Phantom.
From Amy Chmielewski:
The question of who should play the lead in a film version of "Phantom" is a difficult one because the fans of the show want an actor cast who will do the part justice just as the stage actors who play the role do, and obviously the Hollywood casting directors want a big name because of a celebrity's ability to bring large crowds to the theater. I personally have nothing against Antonio Banderas other than the fact that I do not believe he has the adequate singing ability to portray a man known as the "Angel of Music." He is certainly a very talented actor, but the role of the Phantom is much more demanding than his role in "Evita." Michael Crawford is likewise very talented, but unlike Banderas, undoubtedly has the ability to sing the role. However, Crawford is not at the top of my list of favorite stage Phantoms, and I believe that there are many actors who are currently playing or formerly played the role of the Phantom who are of the highest quality and would be wonderful in the role. It is not always easy for an actor who has done strictly stage work to make the transition to film; film and theater are two very different mediums. Yet, Davis Gaines was recently seen in episodes of "Chicago Hope" and "Veronica's Closet" and current San Francisco Phantom Franc D'Ambrosio was in the film "Godfather III." These are only two examples out of a large batch of performers of the highest caliber, able to perform the lead role in a Phantom movie as well as, if not better than, Michael Crawford himself. But as I said earlier, it is very apparent that Hollywood casting directors want a big celebrity name, such as John Travolta (who now appears to be out of the running) or Banderas. Even Crawford does not seem to be famous enough for them. But big name film stars are not born overnight; not every movie features a famous celebrity. So I ask, is it not possible that this role could indeed go to one of the very talented stage Phantoms who deserve it? Who knows, if this were actually to happen, and the movie was a success, another star could be born.