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 second file of posts. Playbill On-Line thanks all those who took the time to write.
From Caroline Coburn:
Thank you for providing this opportunity! As a 21 year-old avid Phantom fan, my vote is definitely for the man who created this role and who made ALW's musical what it is today--Michael Crawford!! I've just seen him for the first time in concert recently and you want to talk about incredible appeal! Not only does he have the talent, charisma, and energy to meet the demands of such a demanding role on stage or on film, he also has the sex appeal! Let's face it folks! If a young woman would pay $27,500 to see his last performance in Los Angeles, why wouldn't flocks of fans pay $8 to see him in their local theatre? The man is an incredible sex symbol and has one of the hugest fan followings of any star alive today! He's the perfect age to do Phantom and besides that, if you've seen his incredibly successful PBS concert and his concert tour recently, he's in better shape and looks better than most Hollywood stars do in their prime! No one can bring the depth of emotion to Erik's voice or body but Michael Crawford! Thanks once again!
From Nancy Pettengill (Holderness, NH):
I would like to give you my choice for the title role in the planned film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom Of The Opera.
The Phantom of the Opera, the way Andrew Lloyd Webber saw it, is a breathtaking story with an extremely complex character at its center. Full of passion, beauty and the pain of love and loss, it demands an actor of incredible passion, power and sensitivity in the title role. Michael Crawford has proven himself in that same role in three of the world's major theater markets, consistently packing the house and bringing his audiences to tears. He was a key player in the initial development of the character we see on the stage today in one of the most successful shows ever created. Every actor to play the Phantom since then has followed his basic blueprint for portraying one of theater's most coveted roles.
Michael Crawford is a veteran of the stage, screen, television and radio. He has worked extensively in feature films in both leading and supporting roles. This prior experience, when added to his phenomenally popular portrayal of the Phantom on stage, makes him the one actor most qualified to give the Phantom an eternal life on film, as he did on the stage. He has earned the right to have his unforgettable work recognized and immortalized on film. And finally, Mr. Crawford will guard the essence and the integrity of the character whom many fans of the story have come to love. This movie made with someone else could be good. With Michael Crawford in the title role it would be magnificent.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment.
Who cares. Even if the perfect person was cast, excellent shows have difficulty translating from the stage to film. I think they had excellent casting, writing, direction, and performances for the movie version of "Evita", but the movie wasn't half as exciting to watch as the stage production. No matter how hard they try, they'll probably end up with another "A Chorus Line" type movie which will be half as entertaining as the old Lon Chaney "Phantom."
From Magdalena Johansson:
The only one that can play the Phantom is Michael Crawford. he is The Phantom and always will be The Phantom.
From Paula Van Houten:
I definitely think that neither Antonio Banderas nor Michael Crawford should play the role. Let all fans of the musical hope that Warner Brothers doesn't cast Leo DiCaprio as the Masked One. I think we can take a lesson from the recent film version of "The Man in the Iron Mask" that a French classic deserves a fine actor who looks the part. I don't think that a Broadway star would lend himself credibly to a film. I vote for someone NEW who will use the film to rocket to stardom much as Michael Crawford did here in the States.
From Angela Cappiello, NY:
The only person to truly fill the shoes of Erik is Michael Crawford. I realize that many other actors have played the part on stage, but they all based their characterizations on the original presentation.
From Maria in Orange County:
It has to be MICHAEL CRAWFORD. He is the original, and no other great actor can take that away from him. There is no Phantom without Michael - and his voice and artistic abilities qualify him as the best choice always. I hope Hollywood listens to the voice of the people!
From Chris Minx (email@example.com):
Without a doubt: Michael Crawford should be the one cast in the film version! He won a Tony and many other theatre awards for the role, sounds as good today as on the original soundtrack album and is the only performer who should be associated with the role for all time, which is what happens when a show is filmed. He's the best and, I feel, only choice!
From Jacqueline Kerlyn:
All we Phantom fans can ask is that Mr. Webber think back to how it all started, when he first heard Michael Crawford's voice, how talented Michael really is and how in his heart Andrew knows Michael is the only man for the part of Phantom. If there are differences between Andrew and Michael, let them be mended now. If there are scheduling conflicts I am sure between such two professionals things can be worked out. Sir Webber will only get one chance to do this movie right...give Michael the spotlight he has earned and deserves. He won't let anyone down. Michael could surely save the need for doing 'retakes' since he already knows the full storyline AND the music. He IS the story and the music. He will be able to bring out the best in his Christine, whomever she may be. I would predict many repeat attendances. Are Andrew and Warner Bros are looking to create a glamorous 'Hollywood' Phantom? If so that is not the way the story was meant to be. I'm surprised if he would choose to do this since the way Phantom (far from being glamorous) is portrayed on stage has been such a huge success. Use Antonio in another musical, Andrew, and leave Phantom to Michael.
From Thomas Johansson:
Michael Crawford is the only one that can play the role as the Phantom!!!!!! He has the voice and everything!!!!! He is the ONE!!!!!!
From Leatha A. Betts:
Michael Crawford is the only Phantom with the grace and poise to do the He created the role.....he can still sing like an angel.....no one can give the depth of performance.....the pain and pathos. It is like Yul Brynner and Rex Harrison.....Michael Crawford must play the role.
From Diane Friis:
Michael Crawford should be cast in the title role of Phantom of the Opera. He has given the Phantom a soul. I have seen the play several times with different actors, but no one else has been able to pull of the pathos and loneliness of a tragic figure. The others, while attempting to duplicate Crawford's portrayal, have only been able to show the Phantom as an evil, domineering madman.
From Linda Frey:
I am a big fan of Phantom of the Opera and especially Michael Crawford. There have been numerous reports that the movie would be made soon and that Antonio Banderas would be playing the lead. I feel this would be a horrible miscast. I have nothing against Antonio Banderas but feel that he would not be able to play this role as it is met to be played. Michael Crawford helped created the role, is featured on the cast CD and won numerous awards, including the TONY for his performance. I feel that the people who read Playbill would agree.
A very dedicated group has been formed to make the public more aware of this and to let them know that this is not a "done deal". If there is any way that you can help us to publicize this we would be very grateful. Here is the address of this site: http://www.av.qnet.com/~smf/phantom.htm.
From Patti O'Brien (EObrien404@aol.com):
I just wanted to write and cast my vote for Michael Crawford. He should be the one to play the role of Phantom in the movie for Warner Brothers. I am a big fan of phantom and of Michael Crawford. Please give him my vote. Thank you, sir.
From Jane Woodside:
Michael Crawford should play the phantom. I deeply resent Hollywood trying to wreck this show the way it has so many others by not casting the person who has created the role and made it famous. Michael Crawford's performance in the role of the Phantom has become theater legend and to deny future Phantom fans the opportunity to see that performance preserved would be a crime.
From David M. March:
I know that this question has generated a lot of controversy among Phantom fans (of which I am one), but I am probably one of the few who thinks that Antonio Banderas SHOULD be the front-runner to play the title role. Let me first say that I have seen most of the popular stage Phantoms, including Michael Crawford, and think that many of them would be better choices than Banderas. However, the simple fact of the matter is that there is no way in hell that any Hollywood studio is going to cast an unknown stage actor in any big budget film (get over it, Phantom fans!), especially a musical. Crawford might have had a chance five years ago, but he's obviously over the hill now (anyone see the recent concert on PBS?).
Going back to Andrew Lloyd Webber's most recent screen musical,Evita, it is my opinion that Madonna is a horrible actress, and yet I accepted her presence because the film wouldn't have been made without her (at least she was able to carry the role vocally). Let's face it: Antonio Banderas did a fine job in Evita. His gritty voice may not be ideal for the Phantom, but he's got the talent and star power to make the film work--after Evita, I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt (besides, I heard that he sounded great performing the Phantom tunes in the Lloyd Webber concert).
In any event, who else in Hollywood can play the Phantom? I know of no other major stars (John Travolta? Give me a break.); in fact, I am more concerned with the casting choice of Christine than I am with the Phantom, as the actress who plays the role cannot simply belt or straight-tone--she must be classically trained vocally. As long as there is a qualified star, someone like Banderas, there might be a better chance of getting talented unknowns in the other roles. But this is just one person's opinion, of course!
From Mavis Rose:
I truly feel that the only actor who could ever do justice to this demanding vocal and acting role is the man who has already demonstrated his award winning capabilities in the role. The need to portray the tortured soul of Erik as someone other than a malevolent and bitter character, showing that no-one should be judged merely on outward appearances, can only be done by an actor who has already demonstrated this ability. The critical acclaim he achieved in the role was justly rewarded both in London and on Broadway with the Olivier and Tony Awards. Known Box Office drawing power in the film role is no compensation if the public who have grown to love the character as portrayed in the original theatre production find that the people who have decided to cast someone other than MICHAEL CRAWFORD have sold out their idea of the Phantom in a vain bid for Dollars. Past mistakes in casting betrayals of this nature have rarely been justified in the resultant earnings of the films.
From Philip Touchette:
I believe that in this case of a casting, the choice should have some artistic integrity. Michael Crawford is a prime choice for the role. So what if he is not as well-known as Travolta or Banderas. I would rather see a lesser known talent play the role to its fullest than see a "hollywood heartthrob" play it. It would be a travesty to the whole musical.
Whoa, whoa! Easy there, Michael Crawford fanatics! He played the role on Broadway for only one year, and a half dozen others have played it since then -- more in London and elsewhere -- and all to thrilled, rapt crowds! Obviously others can play it. Crawford would be an elderly Phantom, straining to reach the notes -- perhaps even asking the ridiculously younger Christine for help paddling the gondola! There's no doubt that Banderas would be horrible. But, please! Don't say there's "no question" about who should play the role. Obviously there IS a question, or we wouldn't all be here today! My vote: Brian Stokes Mitchell! So there! Put that in your chandelier and crash it!
From Linda A.:
For me, Michael Crawford is the only choice to be the Phantom in any format that has the capability of capturing the overwhelming emotion that we all love and long to feel again. Michael Crawford, for many of us, is the heart and soul of the Phantom and the thought of someone else 'playing' the role is disappointing to say the least. Thanks for the opportunity to state my opinion!