Playbill Poll: Who Should Star in the Phantom Movie? -- Part 23

News   Playbill Poll: Who Should Star in the Phantom Movie? -- Part 23 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.

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 twenty-third file of posts. Playbill On-Line thanks all those who took the time to write.

From Rebecca-Anne C Do Rozario:
Antonio Banderas as the Phantom would be an exciting casting choice (and I can hear the gasps of dismay reverberate even now!). He's passionate about musicals, brings intensity to the screen, and, frankly, I can think of no better reason to see the film and know that I'm not alone. Michael Crawford was a wonderful Phantom in his time, but we all know his Phantom. It's terrific that younger actors are beginning to break into the role. Michael Crawford has been the Phantom, let's, Heaven forbid!, see what someone else can do with the role!


From Tim Rauser:
I think that Michael Crawford is the best candidate for the role of Erik in the new Phantom film. I mean think about it, he is really the only candidate for the part. He has the perfect voice, and he would convey the Phantom as people would expect to see him. Think about this: Warner Brothers is probably counting on the "Phantom Fans" (of the broadway musical) to be the main profit of the film. Well, if the Phantom is casted by someone who would not be a good choice, I am almost positive that the Fans of the musical would boycott the film. I'm not saying that Antonio Banderas is a bad actor (he's really great!), but only that he is not the best one for the part. I hope that he will see this too, and will pass up the part for someone who could do the part better. Please....Don't disappoint us!!!!!


From Ken Watkins:
Michael Crawford is indeed the only performer to cast for the Phantom of the Opera. I truly believe that He would give an Oscar winning performance. No one else should even be considered.


From Violin:
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the person to play the man behind the mask is Michael Crawford. He has had previous film experience and is one of the top performers of Webber's live musical. I also firmly believe that, if Crawford is not right for the role, another past or present performer of the Webber on-stage musical should be chosen. Choosing someone who has not had the pleasure of performing the Phantom would not do the show justice. Michael All The Way!!!!!!


From Dale Brown:
Michael Crawford should play the role of the Phantom in the movie because he has the experience operating behind the mask and letting his vocal performance carry the magic. POTO has been a sellout without name performers, so the studios' alleged demand for a "movie" name star may be a bit off-target.


From Fantine102:
Michael Crawford is the obvious choice. He is the Phantom. He brought the Phantom to life. I also find him to be a handsome man who was made for movies.


From K. Ingels:
Nobody, absolutely nobody, could come close to doing this role justice other than Michael Crawford. I'm assuming that Warner Bros. is hoping to make a profit on this movie. . . . Do they honestly think that Antonio Banderas would be a bigger draw than Michael Crawford?? Or, if they really want Banderas, cast him as Raoul, and keep Michael as the Phantom.


From Stephanie Warner:
Even though Crawford is the best, it would be a big cliche to cast him as the Phantom. Not to mention, he's too old to play this role. A better choice would be Thomas James O'Leary or even Ted Keegan, someone younger and more powerful to play the Phantom.


From Jim Menke:
The poll on who should play the Phantom in the film is interesting, but seems that a lot of people who have never seen Michael Crawford and "stuffing the ballot box". For me, a question that is almost as important is who will play Christine. As important as the role of the Phantom is, the show can rise or fall on who is playing Christine. She has a bigger and part than Eric and if not well cast, can ruin the whole production. I have seen 5 different Christines and each changed the show significantly. That would also be an interesting poll.


From STODDARD99:
I'm not a huge Michael Crawford fan but I do think he did the role best of anyone, and would prefer him for the film. I'd also like to see films use the original stars of musicals when they're filmed.


From BKC8377:
Michael Crawford. Hands down. Why would you not want the man who quite frankly started it all? Yes, this is the brainchild of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Hal Prince, but without Mr. Crawford there is no real phantom. I have seen Phantom a total of eight times, seven on Broadway. I have seen him in the lead once. Once was enough. Without question Crawford is head and shoulders above the rest. Not only for his incredibly recognizable voice, but for his acting talent as well. He's been successful in film (Hello Dolly!) and needless to say he's done it on the stage. While I have nothing against Antonio Banderas, as he is a fine actor with a wonderful voice, I think Crawford is too hard of a choice to pass up, that is if he were willing to accept the role. If Crawford were to decline any such role, then perhaps I could understand Banderas as the choice. Please, let's not forget all that Crawford has done for this role and this character. He has made the role of the Phantom an icon. And who else knows the part any better. He would certainly have a tremendous amount of insight to add to the character. I am positive nobody could fill this role any better. Then again, I'm sure I'm not the only one who has said this either.


From Marilyn Frey:
This is a no brainer -- Michael Crawford! The man who created the role in the first place. Why fool with a good thing. This man is brilliant and I can picture no other as the Phantom. If he doesn't do this movie I think I will boycott Warner Bros forever!


From Shael Russell:
I think Anthony Warlow would suit the part much better than Antonio Banderas. Afterall, Anthony is, in my opinion, the best male singer I have heard sing the role and as an actor he is brilliant as well. You can't go wrong.
Anthony all the way!!!


From ACMERMAID:
First, I'd like to thank you for proving just how essential Michael Crawford is to the role of the Phantom. It's encouraging to know that he has so much support. If I hadn't been on vacation, I would've certainly voted for him. What you have witnessed, in this overwhelming reaction to you poll is just a fraction of the Crawford fans out there who are fortunate enough to have been in the right place at the right time. There are hundreds and thousands who aren't linked to the Internet in favor of Crawford, so in this e-mail I'd like to represent them as well as all of those latecomers who will discover Crawford's hypnotic voice in years to come.


From Jessica Whitlock:
I feel that Michael Crawford should be the phantom. No one else can do it the way he does. He is part of the reason why the Phantom is the Phantom...and I know that there are a lot of people that can be chosen, but personally very few I think that could do a wonderful job, so much so that the movie does well. This is my opinion. I think Michael Crawford is one of the few people that can do it, because he crawls into the character and it crawls into him...the only other alternative I could think of that would work...and I know that this sounds a bit strange...Barry Manilow. He crawls into things makes them his own, he could do that really well. Either of those directions is the only way I think, personally, you will get anywhere.


From Mark Iddings:
There is no doubt in my mind that Michael Crawford is by far the best choice to play the role of the Phantom in the movie. His voice is synonymous with the role; it is PERFECT for the role. The sort of strange, eerie sadness that his voice can convey can simply not be touched by any other singer I've heard. So many hundreds and thousands of people associate Crawford with the Phantom of the Opera, it is quite farfetched to believe that the movie would not have mass appeal simply because he is not a big-name screen star. It will be a TRAGIC shame should Warner Brothers decide against him. Please count one vote for me and another for my girlfriend.


From anna lutz:
I believe that Michael Crawford is the only respectable candidate for the role of the Phantom. Any consideration otherwise shows a lack of intelligence on the part of the casting committee. Michael has talent and has expressed his understanding of the role countless times as the Phantom on Broadway.
THE WORLD WANTS MICHAEL CRAWFORD!!!!!!!


From Luisa13hb:
I think Colm Wilkinson is the greatest guy singer on earth and I like his Phantom over Michael Crawford. He sounds very mystical and mysterious and has that Phantom aura in his voice. Michael Crawford sounds nasal and high pitched and if you read the book you'd know that Erik has to have a magical voice that can hypnotize you, and Colm Wilkinson has that. He'd be the best Phantom for the movie!!


From Pam Oertly:
PLEASE! MICHAEL CRAWFORD is the ONLY choice for the Phantom movie. His voice is as strong and pure as it was when he played Eric on stage. His body language is hypnotizing and cannot be duplicated by anyone else. His charisma is wonderful and his energy is contagious.
With anyone else in the movie as the phantom, you will have just a movie (and one I would have no desire to see). With Michael Crawford you would have a CLASSIC that would live for many, many years.
If you MUST have a well known name, cast that person as Raoul!


From Tim Rauser:
I think that Michael Crawford is the best candidate for the role of Erik in the new Phantom film. I mean think about it, he is really the only candidate for the part. He has the perfect voice, and he would convey the Phantom as people would expect to see him. Think about this: Warner Brothers is probably counting on the "Phantom Fans" (of the broadway musical) to be the main profit of the film. Well, if the Phantom is casted by someone who would not be a good choice, I am almost positive that the Fans of the musical would boycott the film. I'm not saying that Antonio Banderas is a bad actor (he's really great!), but only that he is not the best one for the part. I hope that he will see this too, and will pass up the part for someone who could do the part better. Please....Don't disappoint us!!!!!


From Matt Walkenbach:
I can't help but think I am wasting my time doing this but I feel that it is my duty to show my support for the man who created this role and to this day shows us why he is one of the greatest voices around. I was just lucky enough to see him in concert and I will cherish it the rest of my life.
We all know that Michael will not get the part but I am furious with the people that say he is too old. He is just the right age to play the father figure to Christine. And by the way, have you seen him. He doesn't look a day over forty. And why would we want Banderas. No one can justify that choice. He might be a decent Raoul but he will disgrace Phantom.
I wish we lived in a world where people that deserve things, get them. Michael has thrilled audiences for years and this was his chance to finally get the real fame he deserves. Oh well, I guess the millions that support him will just have to go on listening to his incomparable music and revelling in the man himself.


From ShanJames:
Michael Crawford should absolutely recapture the role of the Phantom in the upcoming movie. Antonio, beautiful as he is, is much more of a Zorro than an Erik. Michael possesses the magic that moves hearts.


From P2A3M4:
I've seen Phantom of the Opera in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. I've seen 5-6 different people in the role. Michael Crawford offers something--some magic to the role that is almost tangible. I would hate to see the role offered to someone else. I don't think age is a factor--the role is a type of mentor which makes the role appropriate for an older man--and he is both sexy and sensitive in the role. If you think he was too old to be sexy to younger women you should have been in the theater when he appeared in the role. All women were mesmerized.


From Jo Johnson:
Michael Crawford should be The Phantom. Here in Australia we were lucky enough to have Anthony Warlow as our first Phantom and he was stunning, but having seen Michael in London a couple of years before I still feel he is THE Phantom. He made the part his own and should certainly be the first choice. Anthony Warlow would be my second pick as he is gorgeous and has a great voice.


From Mesha V.:
Antonio Banderas???? You have got to be kidding. You can hardly understand him when he talks. His accent is too thick. I want to enjoy a movie, not keep saying "What did he say"!!! Michael Crawford is the only choice. Age is not a factor; just listen to Crawford's voice. That is the most important criteria.


From LadyDaae:
I have already cast my vote for Michael Crawford to play the title role not only due to his amazing voice and passion for the role, but also because if any Broadway actor will get the part. . .he will be it. However, the only other actors that I would ever want to see in the role are Brad Little, and possibly, Davis Gaines. Brad Little especially would be a wonderful choice. I saw him only recently perform the role and was thoroughly impressed by his ability. I am a dedicated POTO phan and would see the movie numerous times...if, that is, the right actor is chosen to play Erik.


From Diane Chortanoff:
Who are you kidding? There is no one else for the role than the original Phantom of the Opera. His personification, singing style, and overall stage presence would place the movie into a memorable one. Just like Judy Garland and the Wizard of OZ, Yul Brenner and The King and I. Why would you ever want to re-invent the role - when you already have a marvelous actor who places his whole self into what ever he does - and comes out very successful.


From cmd:
After seeing Michael Crawford in concert last month in Las Vegas, its obvious that he's still got the voice and the sex appeal necessary to play the "Phantom" in a movie interpretation. Those concerned about the star's "age" should realize that the "phantom" is under heavy makeup and a mask so age is really irrelevant. I resent Hollywood's attempt to commercialize such a classic by being more concerned with "box office" than integrity. The only one suited for the role of the "Phantom" is the man with the voice that sold 12 million albums of the "Phantom"-Michael Crawford!


From D.L. Folks:
Michael Crawford is my choice. Banderas' portrayal of Che in Evita was adequate; however, the role allowed an individual with very little range or strength of voice to assume it. The role of the Phantom, however, requires both of those elements plus the ability to invoke sympathy from the audience. When Madonna took the role of Evita, at least we knew she could sing. Banderas is another story. Crawford's portrayal gave the audience that plus more. I remember well how his pain came through, especially in the rooftop scene where he has just witnessed the woman he loves swearing her love to another man.


From LAndes1661:
I never saw the Phantom of the Opera on stage with Michael Crawford. I've seen it several times with other musically trained actors in the title role. None, but none, as come close to capturing the soul of the character that Michael Crawford found and displays in his recordings. If Crawford can do this with only his voice imagine what he can do with his acting experience!
I have seen Banderas sing on film. I was not impressed. Any film of the ALW Phantom without Crawford will not be seen by me. Neither will any associated merchandise be bought.


From Michelle Young:
The DEFINITIVE Phantom is Peter Karrie (Toronto)! They should cast him in the movie. He is the only Phantom who broke my heart, who convinced me of every aspect of the PHantom's character from his deep anguish to his great genius to his power and his danger and threat. Karrie excels in the singing and the acting, surpassing every other actor who has attempted the role. He IS the Phantom when he is on stage. He is mesmerizing and captivating. His charisma cannot be matched let alone beaten. He can outsing Crawford any day too. I've never heard anyone demonstrate such fantastic breath control!
Crawford isn't the only Phantom, he's just the most famous Phantom. Karrie is the choice of the real Phans!


From Diane Terrusa:
Michael Crawford is the only person right to play the Phantom! Anyone who has read the novel knows that he is not to old, but is actually the right age. If they want Antonio in the movie give him Raoul, although I think Michael Ball or Douglas SIlls are better suited. After reading all these post, ALW would have be crazy not to cast Mr. Crawford in the role!


From C. Arlen:
What on earth is Warner Bros. thinking? There can only be one choice for the part of the Phantom and that is Michael Crawford. WB has the opportunity to make an enduring movie classic but would rather make a short term dollar. They seem to have overlooked the most basic premise of the story - the power of Erik's voice. Michael Crawford has the proven vocal and dramatic abilities to carry off this part (as evidenced by his TONY AWARD) If anyone from WB is paying attention please note that I am in the lucrative 18-34 age group and last weekend I drove 300+ miles round trip and dropped about $200 to see Michael in concert - and it was without a doubt the best concert I have ever seen!


From Kay Daly:
It makes sense to have Michael Crawford do the film version of Phantom because he is the original star. He is an outstanding talent. Hollywood should learn their lesson. The original stars are the best for the movie versions in most cases. Age has nothing to do with this role. Talent should count 100%.


From Sarah Meagher:
In my opinion, casting Antonio Banderas would be a HUGE mistake!!! My choices would have to be either Michael Crawford or Anthony Warlow. I'd have to go with MC first because to many people, myself included, he IS the Phantom of the Opera! His voice, acting, and portrayal of the role are all fabulous. But if Crawford could not be hired for the movie, my other vote would go to Warlow. He also played a wonderful Phantom in Australia, and has the best voice on earth! I'm sure he wold do the role wonderfully on film, and it would introduce some of the rest of the world to his excellent voice.


From peggyklein:
It's obvious from reading the previous e-mails sent to you who the loyal Phantom fans (and those who would be repeated paying moviegoers!) want to see in the role -- Michael Crawford. I suspect the motion picture version wouldn't even be considered if it hadn't been for the success of the stage version -- read any review to see who made that successful and again you'll see Michael Crawford's name everywhere! Give Michael the chance like those before did -- if you find in filming he isn't up to the challenge then make the call. Unless the movie makes a major overhaul of the character AND his accent, Antonio isn't the right fit. The public wants Michael!


From SDolginoff:
Although, in Hollywood terms, Crawford is too old and not enough of a box- office draw, they may be able to get a lot of publicity by tossing away tradition and casting him anyway. Then they could pepper the movie with larger stars in supporting roles maybe Bette Midler as Carlotta? Mandy Patinkin as Andre? Matt Damon as Raoul? Winnona Ryder as Meg? Angelica Houston as Mdme. Giry? Then there could be a world wide search a la Gone with the Wind for an unknown to play Christine. That said, however, I think John Travolta could make an effective Phantom. He has the charisma, and is a proven movie musical star.


From Gracie Newmar:
I'm sorry, but I do not believe that Antonio B. Should play my Angel of music!!!!!!
I have seen the Phantom of the Opera many times, and I have been very critical of all the phantoms. But some of my faves were Brad little of the national touring cast. I had the pleasure of watching him portray my angel last June 26 in Sacramento CA.
He is my favorite. But it would make so much more sense that Michel Crawford should play the Phantom. He originated the role and made it what it was. So why should you let some in-experienced, but cute guy butcher the role!!??!! Sure Antonio did an Okay job in Evita, but those are not the credits needed for the role of Eric. I also think that the role of Christine should be played by Sara Brightman. The person who not only originated the role, but the person whose voice molded the role!
P.S. I've also heard a rumor that John Travolta was also being considered. BAD IDEA!!!!!!! No "Grease" monkey should play my angel either!!!!!!!!


From GKINGSLEY:
Antonio Banderas as the phantom?! I don't think so. He was outstanding as Che in Evita, but he's not fit to play the phantom. My choice would be either Michael Crawford or Davis Gaines. But since Michael is the original phantom, I'd have to go with him. Both performers were excellent, but it only seems right to give the role to Michael Crawford. If he's not possible, then go with Davis. Antonio Banderas????!!!! HAH is what I say to that.


From Edna Mason:
Michael Crawford gets my vote, hands down. He is so identified with the role that anyone else would have to seem miscast. As for his age, Erik was not young, and Crawford is full of the energy, vitality, and sensuality needed to bring the role to life.


From Sandy & Bob Rathwell:
Antonio Banderas does not have the vocal range for Phantom. Please cast Michael Crawford! I have seen several wonderful Phantoms in both Toronto and DC but Michael is the Phantom. By the way, how would you deal with the accent of Banderas?


From Teresita K. Kolenchak:
Michael Crawford should play the role of the Phantom in the movie. I have seen other actors play this role, but, in my mind, Crawford is the definitive Phantom.


From Chip:
Colm Wilkinson. The man is amazing. The first Phantom via the Sydmonton Workshop and Webber's first choice for the role period. Colm was already signed for Les Mis so couldn't do the role until the famed Toronto production where he starred for four and a half years.
Colm Wilkinson brings both the power and strength as well as the gentleness and tenderness the role requires. His stage presence is awesome as he conveys both the madness and anguish of this tortured (and torturing) soul. His voice has been called the greatest in musical theatre by better experts than I but I certainly concur with this assessment and his acting is the equal of his singing.
It is time that Hollywood remembers how silly it looked passing over a "mere" musical theatre person (Julie Andrews) for a "name" (Audrey Hepburn) when "My Fair Lady" was made and what a disaster "Man of La Mancha" turned out to be. Andrews "made" "The Sound of Music" and Ron Moody was no Hollywood name when he starred in "Oliver!". If it wasn't for the strong insistence of the film's director we would have ended up with Dean Martin instead of Robert Preston in "The Music Man" (gag). Time for Hollywood to grow up and join the rest of us in tastes. Time for Colm Wilkinson!


From cindy.kurilla:
How could anyone NOT pick Michael Crawford for the role of Phantom. He not only originated the part, but plays it the best! I just saw Michael in concert last night (June 21) and he still sounds as good today as he did when he originated the role -- there is no other choice!


From Martha mullen:
Michael Crawford is the Phantom......
Yul Brenner is the King of Siam.........
Rex Harrison is Professor Henry Higgins.....
These Legends of Musical Theatre created their characters - gave birth to them - grew with them, and their roles - immortally will be. No other way would I see the Movie or buy the video.


From Heather Lampman:
I think Michael Crawford should play the role of the Phantom of the Opera in the movie because he originated the role in London and brought it to both coasts of the United States. He is one of the few stage actors who can truly do justice to the challenging aspects of the role in terms of both the singing and having to act from behind a mask and also bring that off the stage to the screen. Although his name may not be immediately recognizable to some moviegoers, he is popular with music lovers of all ages and could be a bigger" box office draw" than some in the movie industry might think.


From MLZiener:
Hello...am I the only theatergoer in the world who DIDN't like Michael Crawford as the Phantom? That tinny/whiny voice........oh so affected......That over enunciated delivery of bad lyrics.....Whatever.....just an opinion, don't mean to offend fans....


From Scott Scooter Andrew:
P.S. If Sarah Brightman gets anywhere near this film, it would have to be as Carlotta. She was looking a little, shall we say, "worn"? , even eleven years ago.

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