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 seventeenth file of posts. Playbill On-Line thanks all those who took the time to write.
From Melinda Cartwright:
Anthony Warlow. I believe that Anthony Warlow is the ultimate Phantom. He has the intensity, the passion, the vulnerability and the VOICE. Anthony is a fabulous actor, he has showed on stage that he breathes life into this Phantom, that he can become the Phantom, imagine how privileged we would be to have a permanent reminder! The voice and the acting of Anthony combined make him the perfect choice for the role.
From Kyle Maurer:
I would like to vote for Michael Crawford to star in the upcoming Phantom movie. He is the best live performer, and I believe that his talents would also be good for the big screen.
From Lexi Schwartz:
How can Antonio play the Phantom....Part of the play is that she wonders if the Phantom is a dream version of her father...If Antonio plays that role, Christine would have to be 9 or 10!!! How many times will people go see Phantom with Antonio in the lead....one, maybe two times. Now if Michael is the Phantom, then the diehards and Phantom Fans will go a number of times and be clamoring for the video.
From Katherine Block:
Undoubtedly, the role of the Phantom belongs to Michael Crawford. He created the character and should be allowed this opportunity to record his heart-rending performance for those not fortunate enough to have seen him on stage. Furthermore, from what I understand, he was originally promised the role, and to not even offer him the chance is grossly unethical and unfair. Here's hoping....
From R W Walker:
Michael Crawford needs to be in the POTO movie. If not top billing, maybe a cameo spot. When everyone thinks of POTO, it's Michael. He becomes the Phantom. It's like he's another person. If you have seen his concerts, where he sings the Phantom's songs, you see the transformation. He's such a great actor. And his singing is perfect!
From Wayne Sorlie:
I have seen the stage version of the wonderful musical 9 times (including 3 trips from San Francisco to L.A. just to see it. I have seen the lead role played by at least 4 different actors. To my mind there is no question that the best was the original - MICHAEL CRAWFORD! Not only is his voice better suited to the intricacies of the writing (especially some of the emotional things like the final scenes of the first and the second act - some of the others have almost been ludicrous), but his movements and everything are far superior to any of the others. If Warner Brothers is worried about a drawing card, there are two points for them to consider - 1) The phantom is never scene other than in grotesque make up. It doesn't matter if the actor is a handsome sexy stud, or a totally deformed cretin. What matters is that he can sing like an angel of music.
2) Check with PBS to see the draw that Michael Crawford has. His concert drew record donations.
There is only one actor who could get me to pay the prices they are asking at movie houses these days (as well as buying the video when it came out) to see a movie of "Phantom of the Opera" - the original Phantom - Michael Crawford.
From Patrick Elkins:
I wrote once before, but I want to respond to other casts. First of all, people have been slamming Banderas because he has an accent. The show takes place in Paris, it is possible for the Phantom to be from another country. It's not as if the Phantom has to be French, if he did Crawford would also be out. Now that we're on the Crawford topic let me expand. First of all, if Hollywood were to choose a Broadway actor to play the Phantom, there is no doubt that Crawford would be chosen. I personally adore Colm Wilkinson's performance on the original Canadian cast album. However, it is Crawford whom the fans of the Broadway show really want. Now here is the problem. Fans of the show are going to see the movie, because they are fans of the show. Hollywood needs a name to draw those that would bring in those who are uninterested in seeing it. If more people were interested in seeing the show, there would be no reason to make a movie. A movie's purpose is to bring non-theatre people into the world of the Phantom. I think everyone who has responded saying that Michael Crawford or any other Broadway star should play the Phantom are being a little elitist and close-minded. The truth is, Crawford was a one in a million chance of playing the Phantom and he has the greatest chance of any Broadway star. Broadway has had the role of the Phantom for ten years now, I think it's time for Hollywood to take a try at it.
From Carrie Skiba:
It has to be Michael Crawford...there is no other choice for the role of Phantom but the original master, himself. Please use some common sense and don't go the marketing route by trying to lure audiences with a name like Banderas. After all, that Spanish accent will surely get in the way of the part of a French phantom!! And although Travolta did pull of the part of an angel in "Michael," he is definitely not suited for the role of the Angel of Music. Go with your instincts...go with Crawford!
From Brenda Pasterniak:
My vote is for Michael Crawford. He is the one and only PHANTOM. There is no one else that can match his voice and abilities. After all, he is a Tony Award Winner. That speaks for itself.
From Joan La Roche :
I definitely think Michael Crawford should play the Phantom. He seems to have a true passion for the role.
From CHERYL WISNACK:
I would like to know how I can vote for Michael Crawford to play his role in the movie Phantom. He is the one and only and nobody could play the role better than he.
From Diana Marshall:
Anyone who has experienced Michael Crawford's creation of the musical Phantom would have no trouble in voting him for the movie role. He has moved me and my daughter as no other entertainer ever has. He also has moved us to do good for the less fortunate through charities as the Sick Children's Trust in England.
Don't forget that Erik is a middle-aged character in love (from afar) with a much-younger Christine. Michael has all the attributes to endear movie-goers to the story, the character and the music as he has live-stage goers.
It must be Michael Crawford.
I am a great fan of Michael Crawford. I am touched every time I listen to his performance in Phantom. I have seen the musical many times and others just don't match up. I cannot imagine anyone else in the role than Michael Crawford, on stage or film.
From Bobby Soxer :
If you want an incredibly sexy guy with a great voice and a ton of charisma you would have to go with Robert Cuccioli. Go see Jekyll and Hyde and listen to the ladies howling their approval in the audience. And he's still going strong.
From Vic Faughnan:
If Warner Brothers in all their Wisdom finally casts Michael Crawford as the lead in "The Phantom of the Opera" movie, they would very soon find they have a "Best Picture" nomination for an Oscar. And most likely a "Best Actor" nomination for Michael Crawford because his heart and soul would be in the part. For the sake of the studios financial backers Warner Brother's could cast Antonio Banderas in the roll of "Raoul" with, if necessary, top billing, Michael, not being a "Bitter-Man" would likely graciously accept second billing. Michael is 56, but a very well kept 56, Claud Raines was middle aged in his role as The Phantom. The role calls for an older individual. If the powers to be think they must have a youngster cast in the role, they will simply end up with another "Evita", the fans of a younger Antonio Banderas likely wouldn't buy tickets to an "Opera" type production anyway, to them that would be "grown-ups" music, not for them. Another bonus for Warner Brothers casting of Michael Crawford as the Phantom, fewer if any, costly, time consuming retakes, less preparation time for the role, he already is the "Role". The World is watching Warner Brothers, will they make the right decision, if money is their only driving force than by all means cast Michael Crawford, and gentlemen, just sit back and watch the money roll in, not to mention the prestige from all the Awards that will certainly be lavished upon your Star and the Production. Michael Crawford was, as sure as God made the Universe, created for this motion picture, he has been in rehearsal for the part for many years,he will make the venture be a financial success, a moving experience and a "World Happening", not just another Movie, Gentlemen, you have your Star, now cast your 'Director" with the same intelligence and Gusto and begin Production.
From Bonnie Allbright:
Michael Crawford should star in the Phantom of the Opera movie. He has proven that he can perform the role as no other actor can. His voice is already perfected for the role of Erik and he knows the necessary movements to give audiences the true feel of the character. Putting a different actor in his place would mean starting over and perhaps losing the essence that Phantom fans have come to appreciate because of all that Michael Crawford has put into Erik's role.
From Sharon Zarrow:
Since I was the one who wrote Michael's agent to start a Fan Club , and then the Michael International Fan Club was born, I was one of the first charter members. I love Michael, saw him in Phantom in New York at the Majestic, he is the only one for the movie Antonio cannot sing and Evita was awful. Michael is the Phantom, he captures your attention right when he enters the stage. He is talented, graceful as the Phantom and his voice is beautiful and those eyes even under the mask, I had the chance to see him close up. Why do you think he won the Tony. Anyway that is the way it was suppose to be Michael was signed for the part years ago, till the director back out. And so was Sarah she was signed too. Then Michael went to Vegas, for EFX , only to break his hip, he has had a replacement since then. I think he can do the part now. Anyone else playing the Phantom would not do the film justice. It would be a waste of time for Warner Bros. and Andrew Lloyd Webber , and better sign Sarah Brightman for Christine too.
Michael Crawford, who created the Phantom, is the only choice to immortalize the Phantom on film. His fabulous voice and his passion in the role of the Phantom are proven, unparalleled and legendary. It would be unconscionable to consider any other human being in his role!
My vote is to have a screen test and invite Michael Crawford, Antonio Banderas, and whoever else might be a contender for the role to take part. Then the producers would have a chance to see how the potential phantom comes across on the screen. Stage actors sometimes do not transfer well to the screen. If Michael Crawford tests well, then I believe the part should be his.
Hi, my vote for the Phantom movie is most definitely the only qualified person and that is, Michael Crawford. I agree with all of the other people on the Net that is talking about his credibility to play this role. He has proven his ability 1300 times that he is right for this part. My vote is for Michael Crawford!!!
From Lynda Essman:
I have seen others play the role of the Phantom, and although they have also been very good, they simply cannot compare to Michael Crawford. He is the one who created the musical Phantom as a true romantic, while others have only looked at him with horror. Those who say Mr. Crawford is too old for the part have not seen him lately. He has more energy and power than many a younger man. Also, the Phantom is not supposed to be a young man, but a mature one who has endured great pain. If Antonio Banderas wants to be in the movie, I think he would make a great Raoul - isn't he the one who gets the girl at the end? Mr. Crawford may not be a well-known movie star, but he is a well-known singer and actor who has given great joy to a great many people. Michael Crawford is the quintessential Phantom!
From Marilyn Duncan:
Michael Crawford, because females from * to 50 (myself being 12) find him irresistible, with an enchanting voice. He also originated the role, and is the most well known Phantom to the general public.
Michael Crawford is a genuine hardworking actor who has a voice like no other. He works harder them most actors in Hollywood and has more appeal then directors in Hollywood obviously realize since they casted Antonio. Uh DUH???? WHATEVER
From Gregg Talewsky :
I would like to see Davis Gains in the role of Phantom. His voice is extremely captivating, and he holds the record for most performances in the title role; however, I don't think he will get it. Warner Bros. will want to make money on the film and frankly, I don't think any theater personality really stands a chance. This is similar to the issue as to why someone like LuPone was not cast as Evita in the movie. Yes she deserved the part, but probably 90% of the people that saw the movie saw it because of Madonna and not because it was an ALW musical. The same will probably be the rational for placing Banderas in the lead.
I think Michael Crawford would be a great film Phantom. He's got tons of experience playing the role, and despite when some people may think, he's not to old to play the role of the Phantom again. I don't believe that Antonio, or anyone else not related to the theatre, should play this part. Michael is a wonderful Phantom and he's familiar with the character and the musical.
From TOM HEIN:
I cannot imagine Antonio Banderas in the role that Mr. Crawford created and performed with such passion. Mr. Banderas may be a big box-office draw by name, but Mr. Crawford cannot be equaled, much less surpassed in this role.
From Doris Thompson:
Michael Crawford should absolutely play the Phantom, he IS the Phantom. He originated the roll and is unquestionably the personification of the character. Many years ago when he was offered the role, he was also promised that if a screen version were ever to be made, it would be his. I think at the very least he should be given first refusal, and then if he turned it down (as if) the search could begin for a replacement. I also feel that to even suggest Antonio Banderas and John Travolta is absurd, neither could do justice to the part and if fact could do serious damage to their careers. Age is not a factor, who can tell behind the mask anyway? It is the rich voice and expressive body language that counts, and Michael has that and more. If the film company wants to make money (their bottom line) then they should listen to us, the fans who will see this movie countless times.
From Joyce Newby:
Having travelled twice to Toronto to see this gentleman, and he is a gentleman - having come down off the platform to sign an autograph for a lady who had to be on crutches - and then graciously at the stage door before the concert at the Okeefe Center - and he is the one and only one I'd ever travel to Las Vegas for his EFX was outstanding, my vote, although I was never privileged to see him in the part of Phantom, is definitely Michael Crawford.
I feel Michael Crawford should play the phantom in the movie. I read in the Parade magazine in our Sunday paper they feel that Michael is too old and doesn't have enough star power to play the phantom. I was upset when I read that. These people don't seem to realize that the phantom was an older man, not that 56 is old. From what I got from the book I thought he was the perfect age to play the part. And the star power he has. How many people have listened to the sound track from the show? They must know who he is. I did like Antonio in Evita, he did a fine job, but I can't see him as the phantom. He might be good as Raoul though, to get the "star power" in there. I also thought that Robin Williams and Billy Crystal would be hilarious as the two theatre managers.
I was extremely privileged to see Michael Crawford twice in Los Angeles as the Phantom. That meant a round-trip flight and not-so-cheap hotels near the theatre (not to mention the harrowing ride downtown from LAX) or the drive from where I live to a major airport. But the reward was worth 100 times what it may have cost to get there. No one who has seen him or heard him in the original cast recording or watched his PBS special can deny that HE is the choice to play the Phantom. Andrew Lloyd Weber can just get off his high horse and check his ego for a while and think about the choices being made. Excuse me, but a Phantom with a Spanish accent? And just how well can Travolta sing such a demanding role? For my money no one can bring the voice and the sensuous quality of Eric to the screen like Michael Crawford.
I feel very strongly that Michael Crawford should play the Phantom in the movie, and everyone I've talked to, young and old, agrees with me. I am an equally big fan of Antonio Banderas and John Travolta, but for the Phantom, it has to be Crawford because of his voice (which has won him several Platinum selling albums), his acting ability (which won him a Tony, an Olivier, and every other award under the sun), and for justice to the wonderful character, which belongs to him.
From Amanda Warford:
Michael Crawford, Michael Crawford, Michael Crawford!!! I would prefer a movie not be made at all because I don't think it can fully capture the elements that live theatre can, but if one must be made, Michael Crawford must be cast as Erik. He IS the Phantom. His voice, gestures, etc. are unparalleled. If Banderas or Travolta (heaven forbid) is cast as Phantom, I will NOT go see the movie, and neither will my many friends who are phans. Thank you for taking this poll, and I seriously hope the results will be passed on to Andrew Lloyd Webber.
I believe that Michael Crawford should play the part of Phantom. He's so above and beyond the other phantoms that there shouldn't even be the question of whether or not he should play Erik. He's got the emotion and compassion, necessary to pull off an accurate portrayal of the Phantom. His voice, his expressions, he is THE phantom. We've always known that and he should be continued to be know as THE phantom. I believe that for the movie to be a success, it will need Michael to pull it off.