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 twelfth file of posts. Playbill On-Line thanks all those who took the time to write.
From Susan Inglett, Chugiak, AK:
I am a new fan of Michael Crawford. Because of his superb performances, and would like to see him play the part of the phantom in the movie version.
From Marga Alvarez:
No le voy a escribir en ingles ya que me es imposible explicar ni tan siquiera en espanol lo que siento ante el anuncio de que el Sr. Banderas sea el elegido para realizar el rol de Fantasma de la Opera en el film que por lo que se ve se va a realizar en Hollywood. No deseo quitar ningun merito al Sr. Banderas, sera todo lo guapo que Vds. quieran y podra tener un enorme "tiron" en taquilla, pero cantar, lo que se dice cantar, no es precisamente su fuerte. Yo le he oido cantar tanto en "Evita", como en otras peliculas espanolas, de Almodovar, p.e. y ¡Bueno! no lo hace mal del todo. Para hacerlo en el bano de su casa. ¿Pero... Puede alguien imaginar a una Chistine Daee enamorandose unicamente de la voz del Sr. Banderas? ¿Podra alguien suponer que esa "voz" arrastre y conmueva? La respuesta es NO.
Por lo que rogaria a quien correspondiese, que pensase en los oidos de los que amamos la musica, de quienes nos parece que "El Fantasma" es la quiza la mejor de las composiciones de Mr. Lloyd-Wever, a quienes durante muchos anos hemos escuchado con deleite a Michael Crawford cantando "Point of no Return", y "The Music of the Night" y nos permitan disfrutar con la pelicula tanto como lo hemos hecho con los discos de la representacion original, ya que en Espana no hemos tenido la suerte de poder disfrutar de la obra en escena.
From Jennifer Wainwright:
I'd like to cast my vote for Michael Crawford as the Hollywood Phantom. Truthfully, I'd rather not see Phantom be made into a movie, as Hollywood with it's stereotypical views on looks, weight, etc. is opposite of what Erik with his distorted features stood for. But, if they have it in their minds to make Phantom a movie, they'll do so. Since there's no stopping them-let's make it at least a worthwhile project and have Michael Crawford as our Phantom. His soft and seductive voice that is very hypnotic beats that of Banderas...
From RoseMary D'Aloisio, Las Vegas, NV:
Going to see a movie about the Phantom of the Opera without Michael Crawford is not within the realm of possibility. Michael the very talented and world class entertainer IS THE PHANTOM! ! ! ! ! Please DO NOT even consider anyone else for the role.
What is all this about?! There shouldn't be any discussion...the ONLY Phantom is Michael Crawford. It's inconceivable that anyone else could come within a fantom of his talent and ability. If Warner's is so hot to have a "name", get Banderas for Raoul and a Mariah Carey for Kristen (so the teeny boppers will come), but for those of us who want quality, class and top caliber talent, Michael Crawford is the only draw.
This may be from the same computer, but from another person)...
Who cares about how old the Phantom is? He's supposed to be a mature person anyway! After all, one side of his face is Valentino-ish and the other side is masked! If you're looking for sensuous moves Michael Crawford takes it, hands down! I realize Warner Bros. has been around for 75 years, however, if they keep casting people like Banderas as the Phantom, they won't be around for 75 more! Terry Semel, SHAME ON YOU!! S.A.S.
From Giovana de Moraes Marreco:
No doubts... the name is MICHAEL CRAWFORD. No one can do it better than him. My second choice would be Davis Gaines, his acting is overwhelming !!!
I vote for the one and only true "Man Behind the Mask". . . Michael Crawford!!!!!
Thanks, Robert for letting us fans have our say. We appreciate it and respect you for it.
From Galka, Christopher S.:
Michael Crawford---he's too old and outdated to play the role on film. So all you Crawford babies-get over it!! Warner Bros. should (AND WILL) cast someone more Hollywood-bred (in other words, a box office draw). My suggestion would not be Antonio Banderas--sure he's an okay singer, but "POTO" takes place in Paris, not Madrid. I would have to go with Alec Baldwin if he could handle it vocally! Wouldn't that be a casting coup--a sexy, younger Phantom! I know it won't happen, but wouldn't it be more fun to see and hear someone we've never seen or heard before? Admit it- you know he could act the role. (I'm not sure about the singing. My alternate choice would be- for pure singing perfection-Mandy Patinkin. He's a marvelous actor, an exquisite singer, but unfortunately not a box office draw. The saddest part is that Warners will most definitely cast Banderas because (1) he proved he can sing (more or less) in "Evita"; (2) his Spanish accent will be considered a mysterious benefit in the role of a French Opera Ghost; and (3) he's one of the hottest stud actors around in the system. (If DiCaprio could sing and was a little older, he'd get the part.)
From Peter and Jenny Cocks:
My casting vote can go to the one and only Phantom - MICHAEL CRAWFORD. A few quotes from the 'The Complete Phantom of the Opera" ...... "Lloyd Webber directed that the role should go to Michael Crawford. Lloyd Webber heard Crawford singing when collecting Sarah Brightman from a class held by their teacher Ian Adam, and was impressed by his vocal range." "It was a brilliant casting coup. He not only had the physical agility to express himself with his body when his face was shrouded by its mask and disfiguring makeup, but as a fearless stunt performer...."
"The critics were impressed. Any doubts to the suitability of Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman in the key roles were allayed. As a duo they worked perfectly together. Crawford's discipline and energy made him seem ubiquitous, a presence pervading the atmosphere even when not on stage. His tender and hypnotic singing voice, and the tortured body movements of a man constrained emotionally and physically, gripped the audience with as powerful a hold as that of Erik over Christine."
The quotes could go on and on but they are certainly very powerful and support every one's view, Michael Crawford is Erik. He is the only choice! I never was able to see Michael perform (mostly because I live in Australia) in Phantom and this would be (finally) my chance to see him perform as Erik. He is still a vastly popular entertainer/actor who has been highly recognized in the industry and is very worthy of the role.
There is only one choice for which I would pay extravagant ticket prices to see in this role... MICHAEL CRAWFORD. His interpretation of Erik leaves you stunned and weeping. His voice will lift you up to heaven then bring you down to the wretched depths of despair as you watch not an actor playing a role but the character himself come to life. I lived in L.A. when he was leaving the show and the tickets for his performances were advertised at upwards of $300.00 and people were buying. As if this isn't enough to convince the "people" in charge, just tell them to remember what happened when Carol Channing was passed over for the lead in 'Hello Dolly", even though Ms. Streisand is hugely talented and the supporting cast was excellent the movie was a box office failure and it was no secret that the casting choice caused many who would have seen it to stay away out of loyalty. Should they choose to cast anyone else I will not go to see Phantom!
From Marty Flogerzi:
Wanted to let you know that I can't imagine seeing the movie version of Phantom of the Opera without Michael Crawford. He IS the Phantom! Have a nice day!
I think you are all wrong. Michael Crawford would not bring in the audience to a movie version of Phantom. That is why Patti did not get Evita(besides the trouble with Andrew) you need a big name. I would love to see Michael Ball get the roll but he wouldn't bring them in either. Logically it has to be an Antonio, Travolta or Cruise(yes he has a good voice) Also my choice for Sunset the movie is Streisand and David Campbell
From Bracha Leib:
My vote is for MICHAEL CRAWFORD. There is only one Phantom and that is Michael Crawford.He created a brilliant Phantom in the Musical. If you give him a chance to play it in the film he will create a classic Phantom and a classic film.
From Pam Wawrzyniak:
I recommend that you offer MICHAEL CRAWFORD the role of Erik in "The Phantom of the Opera." I have seen TPotO on stage both with and without Michael. I have also seen him in concert. His joy in the music, both Phantom and other music, makes a real connection with the audience.
Having seen TPotO on stage, there is really no reason for me to see the movie if Michael isn't in it. The movie would be a pale copy of the real thing. Please do it right and have MICHAEL CRAWFORD remembered as the real phantom forever.
From Steven Doggett:
Well I have read all the responses so far and have to disagree with most of them. Michael Crawford is the worst Phantom I have heard. Luckily I was never unfortunate enough to see him on stage (him and Brightman together for 2.5 hours would have driven me mad.) His voice is nothing special & he really strains to reach the high notes. Michael Crawford is also way too old now to play the part. Christine has to fall in love with him & she would need to be in her 30's to make that relationship convincing!
My suggestion would have to be Anthony Warlow (if they were to use someone who had played the role on stage.) He is awesome. He has the perfect voice for the Phantom & is a fantastic actor too.
I saw Antonio Banderas at the ALW Birthday Concert and he was also very good (despite being handicapped by Brightman's wailing and lack of acting!) I am sure with a bit of work he could loose most of his accent. He has already proved he is an awesome actor.
I think the bigger problem with casting this film is "who will play Christine?" She needs to be a classically trained dancer with a great soprano voice as well. I can't think of any Hollywood stars that fit into that category!
From Margaret Hutchison:
There is no other imaginable Phantom. Michael's gestures, shading, awareness of Erik as a person all are incomparable.
From Robert D'Amico Boston, Mass.:
I cast my vote for Michael Crawford. He is the only one that can deliver the power and elegance the roll deserves. The choice is clear, have Michael as the Phantom and create a classic piece of work or have someone else perform in the title roll and create another second rate musical.
From Anne M. Albertson:
Please cast my vote for Michael Crawford to play Erik in the POTO movie. I've seen other actors in the role and there's NO question of anyone else in the role. His performance onstage was the stuff of which legends are made - think Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady, Yul Brynner in The Kind and I. It would be criminal not to allow Mr. Crawford the opportunity to recreate that magic on film for the many who were unable to see his portrayal in person.
From Gail McLeod, Canada:
There is only one Phantom who could every bring justice to this role and that is the original star Michael Crawford. Anyone who says he is too old for the part is just crazy. His maturity only increases his ability to bring the necessary emotional elements to this role which the young are lacking. Even though he was handicapped with heavy makeup and the mask, he alone was able to bring his emotional conflicts to the audience by his brilliant use of voice, hand and body movements which no one has duplicated. His performance deserves to be recorded for history.
Only once in a lifetime does someone come along that can play a certain type of character as if they really were him. This happened when Michael was the Phantom. If anyone can bring people to the screen he could. He played the role in LA NY and London.
Think about the Phantom. He is suppose to be the angel of music, and lets face it no ones voice is as soft or more like an angels then Crawford's. Travolta does not have the right build and sorry but the Phantom was not Mexican so Banderas would never do.
Think even more about the Phantom..... He is suppose to have a hypnotic voice.... Michael has this as proven by his role in EFX... in Vegas. This show made excellent use of that hypnotic tone and he gathered large crowds every night. He has also done radio, which means that his voice must be special....radio takes a certain quality of voice that you can not get anywhere else.... Michael has this quality.
Just think.. "Phantom of the Opera" the movie starring the original Phantom of the Opera..... Think of the number of people he alone would draw to movie screens just in Europe and the US. For he is extremely popular in the Us as well, as can be told by his number of sell out performances......
Please Vote Michael as THE PHANTOM......
From Karen R. Schief:
There is only one logical choice for this role in a big screen production. Mr. Crawford is a multi talented man who has the voice, the acting ability and the sheer presence to bring this role to life. When he sings Music of the Night, I feel he's singing to me and I am Christine. I recently saw a concert he gave in California broadcast over PBS, he never disappoints me with any of his performances. Sheer magic.
Let the powers that be know that the middle aged folks that are movie goers are tired of having 20 and 30 something actors shoved at them. There is plenty of room for older talented actors like Mr. Crawford and if they choose anyone else to play this role--they will have, once again, missed the boat--and quite a few tickets sales!
Thanks for listening
From Arlene Strauss:
I cannot see anyone as the Phantom except MICHAEL CRAWFORD. MICHAEL is the only true Phantom. I know that I will never go see the movie if MICHAEL is not in it. I have spoken to other people who feel the same way. They will not go see it without MICHAEL being the Phantom.
From LINDA TROMBINO, Brooklyn, NY:
Dear Mr.Viagas, I must say my vote for the role as the "Phantom" would have to be "Michael Crawford" after all he is the only man who could do the role justice-both singing & acting. Michael created the role for the West End and Broadway,without him it never would be the hit it is. ALW should thank his lucky stars for Michael and if he has the smarts we think he has he will cast Michael as the "Phantom" in the movie.
From Lur Orube Alvarez:
After mulling it over I've decided to write this letter after such a long silence. I'm writing this letter to ask of you for the role of the Phantom. I think that Michael Crawford could be a Phantom better than another one. He's the Phantom, the one Phantom. Sings like and angel. Antonio Banderas is a good actor and has great merit for his path into Hollywood. He can have a commercial success in U.S.A and Europe but Michael too. Michael is well known actor and also good singer. I'm eighteen years old and I love his voice, no one can give to Phantom the emotion who Michael gives. I'm sure that no one could do this role like Michael Crawford. Please think of it.
From Norene McCormick, Las Vegas, NV:
No question in my mind, Michael Crawford MUST play the role of "PHANTOM" in Andrew Lloyd Webber's new movie - anyone else would be a travesty ! ! ! ! ! ! ! Would NOT consider seeing the movie otherwise.
I think there is no doubt who is the really phantom , Michael Crawford is the one and only Phantom, plus he made the role come out of a book, to life. He put his heart and soul in to the role. And if they say he can't do the role because he is too old, or cause he is not well know , well MICHAEL CRAWFORD when the phantom opened and when he left Broadway he was on the news and not for anything bad too. I was lucky to see him in concert this past May 24. It was a dream come true . Also if they think that only older people like him , your hearing this from a 14 , from Phoenix. I think this is enough said to push the point that Michael Crawford is the one and only PHANTOM OF THE OPERA!!!!!!!
Let's see- --the phantom----wouldn't that be MICHAEL CRAWFORD???!!!! The idea of casting any voice except that one (heaven-blessed) belonging to Mr. Crawford is outrageous!! His voice is so idyllic. Anyone who has seen him perform, even if it's just the songs as in his current concert tour (doing VERY well and receiving RAVE reviews, as is his recently released album) can feel the power and energy he exudes as he BECOMES the phantom. (I can admit, I'd like to WATCH Antonio B. as the Phantom, but listen?, come on) Besides, isn't the point of Phantom, listening to the beautiful story that Lloyd Webber tells through his characters and their songs, all about music and voice? So let's voice our OUTRAGE at the thought of NOT casting MICHAEL CRAWFORD in the role he CREATED!!!!!
From Lore Venable, Chicago:
Thank you for the opportunity to show our support.
My vote is definitely for Michael Crawford. I have seen two phantoms to date and have an ALW Video showing Michael and Sarah Brightman performing the "Music of the Night". While both phantoms I saw were excellent, I still yearn to see Michael Crawford in the role.
From what I could see in the video, he does the best yet in showing the feelings of passion and deep love that Erik has for Christine. Who better to play the part in the film than the person the role was made for. Each time I listen to the CD the feeling pouring out of his voice goes through me like no other music I've heard.
I hope that Warner Brothers will take this showing of support seriously and not destroy the feeling of the show by looking for who will bring in the most money at the box office. I can guarantee that if Michael Crawford played the Phantom, Warner Brothers would have us going back, again and again to see the movie. This could be their "Titanic" (Leonardo got them coming back again and again -- Michael could do better).