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 fifteenth file of posts. Playbill On-Line thanks all those who took the time to write.
From Irene L. Hatton:
I definitely feel that Michael Crawford should play the role of the Phantom. He created the role in the musical and would, in my opinion far surpass Mr. Banderas. Michael Crawford has a voice that can hypnotize you, just like the Phantom, and the way he uses his hands and body to create the Phantom's persona is amazing. I truly feel that it would be a grave mistake not to cast Michael in this role. Sometimes it is a good idea to experiment with actors and stories, but this time you must choose the veteran performer. I hold Michael Crawford in the highest regards and hope that you will do yourself a favor and cast a fantastic actor and person, as the Phantom. Michael Crawford is the only one who can make the music of the night and make my song take flight.
From Kathy Goodwin:
This is another vote for Michael Crawford. I have seen "Phantom" six times; it was wonderful, but I did not get to see Crawford. I have consoled myself over the past few years that he would be the star of the movie and that his incredible performance would be preserved for all time. His voice now is even more controlled and powerful than when he made the cast recording. His age does not matter - only his acting and singing ability.I will be forever disappointed in Sir Andrew if he is more concerned with big name profits than he is in preserving his masterpiece in the way it should be with the man whose name is synonymous with the role - Michael Crawford. I would pay $1,000 to see him; I wouldn't pay two cents to see Travolta or Banderas.
From a1typing :
I can't understand what all the fuss is about. From what I've read through the years, Michael Crawford, who originated the role, was promised the movie role many years ago. I'm told he ended his role in LA so that he could be available to do the movie. He gave that role life, and, you can understand him when he sings and speaks. He can do it backwards and forwards. He is the only one to play the role properly. Unless, of course, it doesn't matter how its done so long as there is a high dollar name attached to the movie.
From Betty Joe:
Michael for Phantom, PLEASE! There is no other choice. If he isn't going to do the movie, leave it alone! We don't need it, we'll go to the Theatre and see a class production, not a Hollywood fiasco.
When Michael Crawford was cast as the original Erik, he set a standard so high that no one will be able to outshine him. He has all of the talent, physical attractiveness, and charisma to play the part in the movie. He is the obvious choice, and the only choice. There is no other!
Pop superstar MICHAEL JACKSON should be the Phantom in the film. I believe this because like Madonna with Evita, Michael can strongly identify with the tortured and "feared" Phantom who makes his "music of the night." I feel that Michael's history both publicly and privately, matched with his fascinating talent would combine to make an amazing and startlingly surprising (to some) performance. Also, regardless of whether you like him or not, whether you believe the tabloid stories or not, or whatever you think of him, Michael Jackson is the most famous celebrity in the world and a major worldwide star. Whether Warner Bros. realizes this or not, MICHAEL JACKSON, teamed with an excellent director and supporting cast, headlining a Phantom movie would be a PHENOMENAL money maker. And it has the built in gimmick--the pop Madonna was Webber's Evita, now her counterpart, the King of Pop is Phantom.
From Len Szymanski:
I want to cast my vote for Michael Crawford. My wife and I saw him on Broadway in 1988 and he gave the most incredible performance that I have ever seen live on stage anywhere. No one else could bring the feeling and intensity to the role that he can. If the movie is made without him, it will be of no interest to me and I won't see it.
O.K. Now I personally haven't seen Michael Crawford portray the Phantom, but have heard him on c.d. and saw him perform on PBS.He has the most magical voice that I have ever had the privilege of hearing.I have heard many others trying to portray His voice but frankly it is simply impossible to do."Should these demands be ignored a huge disaster beyond Hollywood's imagination will occur!!!!!!!!" It would sink faster than the Titanic! Michael Crawford puts so much heart into his work that you begin to feel sorry for Erik and wish that Christine would have loved him and become his Angel of Music.If Michael Crawford wishes not to play the Phantom then they should choose someone else that has experience in playing the Phantom.The whole reason Hollywood wants these so called actors to play the Phantom is because of there looks and frankly the Phantom wore a mask.So they want Mr. Zorro to play the Phantom well who is going to play Christine?Jennifer Lopez (I think not!!!!!!!!!!).Please Hollywood don't put your crotch where your brain is. Cast Michael Crawford as THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
From M. M. Young:
Thank you for giving us fans the opportunity to voice our opinions. My vote for the Phantom? Unquestionably, Michael Crawford. Who else could really be considered for the role? He was the first to introduce the world to Erik; I honestly believe that "Phantom of the Opera" would not have been the phenomenal success it has been without his breathtaking portrayal of this intriguing, sad character. Crawford is an artist in every sense of the word - he has consistently throughout the years proved this, never hesitating to give his all to whatever endeavor he is involved in. And on top of it all, from the beginning he was very interested in playing Erik in the movie, and Lloyd Webber was going to have him in the part. But now, for some extremely odd reason, he has decided to go with a Hollywood heartthrob who is both too young to be believable as Erik and who does not have the powerful, angelic voice that is required for this part. Some have said Crawford was too old - I disagree. With his present concert tour, which as far as I know has garnered great reviews in every venue he's played, and with the release of his new album he has every bit proved that he's still got what it takes. If Lloyd Webber gives the part to anyone else I will be assured that he is the money-hungry cad I'm beginning to believe he is, not to mention that his word obviously means nothing to him (what happened to 'a man's word is his bond'?). Hopefully he will wise up before it's too late.
From J. C. Hodge:
I would like to cast my vote for Michael Crawford to play the Phantom once again. How could anyone else even be considered? Mr. Crawford created the role. Besides, this part requires, first and foremost. a SINGER. Banderas? Travolta? PLEASE! In Michael Crawford, we have the complete package, we have "THE PHANTOM".
SHOULD THIS QUESTION EVEN BE ASKED?!?!?!?
Uh, Can we say MICHAEL CRAWFORD?????!!!!!
He is by far the most logical choice!!! He made the part what it is known for!!!!
Warner Bros. beware!!! Antonio didn't do squat for EVITA!! What makes them think he'd be a draw for Phantom!!! If they want to make $$$ off of this - CAST MICHAEL!!!!
Then the REAL question should be - WHO WILL BE PLAYING CHRISTINE? - HOPEFULLY NOT SARAH BRIGHTMAN!!! SHE WAS ANNOYING TO WATCH & LISTEN TO!! Her voice is VERY tinny - like she sings from the inside of a can (sorry to all of you who like her! Dare I say I don't like Betty Buckley either!)
From Melanie Wilson:
I think Anthony Warlow should be cast as the Phantom in the new movie. Every fan has already heard Michael Crawford's wonderful portrayal, but not many of us have had the opportunity to hear Anthony sing it. I personally would give my right arm to see him do it.
From Cristine Frazier-Cromer:
Phantom is a very important thing to it's fans,and the movie should be the best possible. Therefore, I think a stage phantom- preferably Michael Crawford-should play the role. Michael is a wonderful performer, and more than that,he has a lot of film experience. He may not be a star, but many people recognize him as the first phantom, and think he deserves the role.
From Susan Jordan:
Every actor has a role that they were BORN to play. The Phantom is Michael Crawford's. There have been other actors who have followed him into the role on stage. Many have been good, some very good and some dreadful. But, anyone who ever had the experience of seeing Michael Crawford live that role will NEVER forget it. I really hope the movie people come to their senses before they create another, God help us, "Hello Dolly". Please cast the only person who should portray the Phantom of the Opera, Michael Crawford.
From Dianna K. Eaton:
In my opinion there is only one Phantom and that is Michael Crawford. His performance captures at once the extremes of villainy and vulnerability in one poor, pitiful persona. Add to this a voice that takes one to the heights and depths of emotions not felt before and you have the one and only Phantom... Michael Crawford.
For any show to begin a successful run, the actors' who originate the roles must carry the show with their powerful performances. This was done to the result of multiple awards for the original "Phantom" productions. Fortunately, for ALW, the choice should be simple for his movie Phantom. Michael Crawford has an international following for a role in one of the biggest and most successful musicals of all time. He is KNOWN for this part more than any other actor in the world. In all honesty , Michael Crawford IS the Phantom.
If Mr. Crawford is not ALW's choice for the part then he should return to the actors of musical theater to help bring his musical to life. Actors such as Davis Gaines have brought powerful interpretations to the part and I would love to see one of them perform it in the movie if Mr. Crawford is not cast.
Who else COULD play the Phantom except Michael Crawford?? He IS the Phantom...Anthony Banderas is ok as Madonna's conscience, but not as the Angel of Music.
From Dave Hutchinson:
I've seen "nine" musical Phantoms so far on stage...Michael Crawford, Davis Gaines, Robert Guilliaume, Colm Wilkinson, David Willets and Mark Jacoby, to name a few- let's not forget the many "Phantoms" of that other version (Maury Kopit's fantastic take!). And (I SWEAR I'd never say this...), Michael Crawford is the choice...NOT because he was the first OR the best (in my opinion, he wasn't...). But Michael has the extra something really needed to push the film to its potential- he has SCREEN EXPERIENCE. Without a doubt, he's very passionate about his creation, and having worked in the Screen Musical genre (where his saving grace WAS his acting skills, NOT his voice), he knows how to emote for the camera, a VERY different form of acting than stage performing. J. Travolta just does NOT have the voice for the project, and the other suggestions (with the exception of Mandy Patinkin), lack the before-the-camera time. Crawford was ten times stronger vocally at his last U.S. stage performance (in L.A.) then he was on the original recording- I say let the man have his due!
From Julie Camp:
I think that Michael Crawford in the on choice that should even be considered to play the phantom in Webber's Phantom of the Opera. He is the best performer I have ever seen in the role and I have seen a great number. How can anyone think of anyone but the wonderful voice of Michael Crawford on a movie that you can play anytime you like and experience his wonderful way of bringing the phantom alive?
From Pamela Miller:
Actually, Colm Wilkinson originated the role in Lloyd Webber's summer festival which featured a tentative first production of the work as is Lloyd Webber's customary practice. Michael Crawford, however, was the original star of the London-Broadway-Los Angeles productions as we all know now. I vote for him as well--the same arguments were offered against him for the stage role--unknown, age, not as vocally trained as others...... Gee, you mean they were....WRONG??!! This is a film, he has the stamina, the look, the passion and the voice--and maybe the viewing public would like to see someone "unknown" in the role. He did it in the 1970s; why not now?! As far as age, uh, doesn't the phantom wear a mask? He's in great shape. As far as Antonio Banderas, when are people going to learn--the guy fizzles, not sizzles. Travolta would be fine if you have to have a "name". And any of the stage Phantoms would probably do well--if not Crawford--then Groenendaal (sp?) or Gaines. But please, Andrew, consider MICHAEL and DALE and STEVE and JUDY!
I cast my vote for Michael Crawford to star in the Phantom movie. I've seen half a dozen different actors in the role on stage. No other actor could match the passion or voice that Michael Crawford brought to the role. It would be terrible not to capture that on film.
I have seen many a phantoms in my viewing of Phantom of the opera...from Grant Norman to Michael Crawford. I think Michael Crawford would be a wonderful choice! You have to remember that in the original Gaston L. Novel the phantom was a older man..more of a fatherly figure. I don't think Antonio B. although good in Evita...I just can't see a french phantom with a spanish accent! There are many more phantom's more worthy of this title role:) Remember, Grant Norman, Michael Crawford, Davis Gaines, Brad Little, Thomas James O'leary......and the list goes on. We need a phantom like Michael that can make the audience feel the phantom's pain, to bring us into the story....there can be only one attempt at this movie..let's not make the worst mistake of our theatrical lives!!!
I have to cast my vote for Michael Crawford. I recently saw him in concert and his rendition of Music of the Night left me spellbound. Even without his mask or cape, he could still evoke the presence of the Phantom. The one phrase that pops into mind every time I hear the man sing is,"My power over you...grows stronger yet." Yes, it does Mr. Crawford, yes it does!!
We were captured by Phantom when it opened in NY. Those images of Crawford serenading the girl have not been matched. We've seen him up close and felt the heat of his Phantom and heard the agony in his voice. We know he died for Christine. This is what we want to see re-created in the movie.
1ST OF ALL....what is this obsession with Antonio Banderas? He can't do musical theatre....he sounds like a cat in heat when he sings.....he sure can act, but his voice is terrible! Also, this will never happen b/c PHANTOM is an ALW show, but why not put a nobody in the title role, give someone who has talent a chance!
I just want to say I am so sick of this debate. I personally think that Michael Crawford had merit in his day as The Phantom but he has been out done by a lot of other Phantoms. Personally I'd say that the role should go to Anthony Warlow of Australia, but that couldn't happen for quite sometime since his throat is still recovering from cancer. Henk Poort who played the part FaBuLoUsLy in the Netherlands and London should be considered. Davis Gaines, who has played the part more than any other actor, should be in the running for the film role. And how about Alexander Goebel of Vienna, anyone who has ever heard the Vienna Cast recording would say this is one of the best Phantoms EVER!!! The real question shouldn't be who The Phantom should be...The real star is Christine she sings almost nonstop in the 2.5 hour performance where as The Phantom sings about 40 minutes of material. I think Dale Kristien or Marina Prior should be up for the role of Christine.
From Elise Hedglen:
Might as well add my 2 cents...I don't really have a particular actor in mind, but I do know there are many stage actors out there who deserve a shot, as does Michael Crawford, simply out of respect for his many talented performances. I believe the role's single most important requirement is the singing voice, and this should determine above all else who gets the part. As someone else said, Erik's voice is the voice of an angel, the Angel of Music, skillful and magical. That fact is key to the original novel and even more so in ALW's musical, where the magic comes to life. If this film is to do justice to the musical, and I don't see how ALW could allow it not to, then serious effort must be taken to find the right actor. I don't think Antonio, who btw makes a great Zorro, has quite enough vocally to pull it off as Erik. Perhaps there is another film star out there who can pull it off, and if so, find him! But at least give consideration to the stage performers who already know the role so well, and do have the voice of an angel.