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 fourth file of posts. Playbill On-Line thanks all those who took the time to write.
From Joshua Kluth:
Hey I'm stepping out on a limb here and I agree when people say that Mister Phantom himself: Mister Crawford, should play the phantom. After all he invented the part. But I really respect one actor who is awesome--that would be ANTHONY WARLOW!!! The guy is outstanding and I say give it to him...his voice and acting is incredible!!!!! Mandy (Inigo from The Princess Bride(awesome flick)) would also be cool. But give it to Anthony Warlow!!! He could do it!
Peter Karrie should be the Phantom in the movie. He is one of the best if not the best actor to ever perform the role. (BTW he is currently playing it in Toronto.) Peter has a great voice perfect for Phantom and of course he can act.
From Cathy Groelinger:
There is no question as to who should play the phantom. It should be Michael Crawford. He is the logical choice, he was the first and best. There isn't a voice out there that can top his passion and quality.
Michael Crawford deserves the part of the Phantom in the movie.He earned it by being the original and definitive creator of the role, giving a performance- of-a-lifetime portrayal of the Phantom's character that won over the hearts of the audiences ( and the critics, as well ) that were fortunate to have seen him. His portrayal was so indelible that he will always remain associated with the Phantom in the hearts and minds of people ( in a similar way that Yul Brynner was with The King and I ). He won every award possible for his performances in London, New York, and Los Angeles ( Olivier, Tony, Drama Desk, Critics Circle, etc.). People got on airplanes and booked hotel rooms and paid large sums of money to purchase tickets to his performances of the Phantom, ( and they are still doing that now to see him on his current concert tour ). As much as I liked Antonio Banderas as the "Che" character in the movie "Evita" I just don't want to see him or anyone else, other than Michael Crawford, portray the Phantom in the movie.
From Michael W. Rowe:
I just wanted to cast my vote and give my two cents worth concerning who should play the Phantom in the movie version of the hit musical. When I think of the Phantom I immediately think of Michael Crawford. There is no one else. I live in the deep south so I did not get to see Mr. Crawfords performance in the role, I only got to hear it on the cast recording album. (I cannot remember who I saw in the national tour.) It would be an injustice to cast a Hollywood name in the hopes of selling a few more tickets and risk having someone ruin the songs. In response to another letter I read concerning this I think Alan Campbell would be great for the role of Raoul.
From Barbara B.:
Although I am open to who will portray the role of the Phantom in the movie, I *strongly* feel that it should go to an actor who has portrayed Erik on stage. These are all actors who know the role inside out, have become the character, researched the character, have very strong voices and great acting ability. If I were to choose just one, I'd have to go with Michael Crawford. Alone for the fact that he was offered the role should allow him to decide whether he still wants it. He originated the Phantom on stage, and it is him that we need to thank for starting a success with this great musical. I realize that this is Hollywood (which is all about money), but Michael crawford also has film experience, and if Warner Brothers really thinks they need to cast a big movie name, why not some popular actor for the handsome role of Raoul? That way a movie actor would still be cast and attract audiences, but the Phantom himself will not be an insult to anyone involved with theatre, as well as theatre fans themselves.
From Mary Tiritilli:
Although I would prefer a video release of the stage version, if the movie is to ever become reality, I feel by rights, the title role belongs to Michael Crawford. Why? If you have ever been there when Michael Crawford has spoken about what he put into the character of the Phantom, how he felt about the man (Erik), you would know why. That was a very special role in his life. He would play it with so much love and respect, I don't think anyone would care that Warner Bros may think his name is not as big a draw as a Travolta or a Banderas. The people would come to see it.
I also feel Michael Crawford is the best choice. I am sure many actors have brought something unique and valuable to this role, but can't imagine anyone coming close to Michael's brilliance and sensitivity. The powers that be should consider WHY the musical was so initially successful. The answer is MICHAEL! I do not have any interest in seeing this movie without him( unless he is offered and turns down the role).
From Donna Jahn:
Thank you for the opportunity to express my opinion on the casting of the lead for Phantom. In my opinion, the nod should go to Michael Crawford. He is the Tony-award-winning actor/singer who created the role, and he is the Phantom to the millions who own the OCR. He is in large part responsible for the enormous popularity of the musical because of his interpretation. He has an emotional connection to the character and an ability to communicate emotion which is unparalleled. Rarely has an actor been so identified with a role. For parallels, I can think only of Yul Brynner in The King and I and Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady. Both of them translated their performances in those roles to film with great success. I am sure that Mr. Crawford would be equally successful since he is an experienced film actor. His performance in this role is legendary, a part of theatrical history both in America and in Europe and Australia. The role should be his to do or to turn down, but it should be offered to him first. Anything else would be a travesty and a sad loss for those who will never otherwise be able to see his magnificent creation.
From George Ballard :
My vote is for Michael Crawford. Even my friends who are not into musical theater know who he is and would go to the movie. The other roles can be filled by big name revenue producing stars since that is so important. But there is only one Phantom and that is Michael Crawford. Personally I would also be delighted if they would tape him performing this on stage.
From Kimberly Clark:
The only choice for the Phantom is Michael Crawford. He was Andrew Lloyd Webber's choice for the play. He created the role that I believe was the basis of how other men have played Erik. He created a romantic and tragic figure that audiences felt empathy for. He brings more into the role than the music. His body language and physical presence is intense and compelling. Please cast Michael in the role that might have been created for him.
From Robert Diamond:
Michael Crawford is the one and the only Phantom of the Opera. His portrayal of the Phantom is the stuff legends are made of and he deserves the right to bring it to film. No movie actor with a sub-par voice can come even close. One only needs to read a few of the reviews that Crawford got for his stage portrayal or his shelf-full of awards to know that not only can he pull it off, but the movie would be a masterpiece.
From Barbra Heimbach:
There is only one choice. Michael Crawford. He originated the role. He won the Olivier. He won the Tony. He won every award there is for playing this role. His heart and soul went into Erik. Let him show the world how this role should be portrayed. Banderas??? Give me a break.
From Kristin Vinkemeier: Miachael Crawford is the only choice for the Phantom because he has played the part and has the voice that fits the part. Thank You for your time.
From Tom Vitello, Jr:
I was reading your article about whom people believe should be cast as the Phantom in the movie version of Phantom of the Opera. My suggestion is Colm Wilkinson. I saw Colm play the role several times in Toronto and he was ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS!!!!! I think many people would probably change their minds about Michael Crawford playing the role if they heard and have seen Colm do it. He makes people believe in the Phantom and feel compassionate toward him, something I didn't get from Mr. Crawford's performance. I don't mean to be anti- Crawford because I think he is a tremendous actor, singer, person and like him very much, but I truly recommend that people, especially the directing staff for the movie to pick up the Canadian Cast Recording of Phantom of the Opera and take a good listen to the Master Phantom!
From Krista Sigler:
Michael Crawford is the best choice for the Phantom movie. In the history of motion pictures (celebrated recently by the American Film Institute's Top 100), we can see a legacy of great performances to which, it is undoubted, Michael Crawford has the ability to add. The performance of this former film and television actor as the Phantom of the Opera on the stages of New York, London, and Los Angeles, was one for the ages, in comparison with the likely fleeting, pale portraits to be offered by the megastars of Hollywood considered for the role in lieu of the man who gave the parts its soul. Warner Brothers, and Andrew Lloyd Webber, have a chance to select a performance that will no doubt turn up in the next Film Institute's Top 100, over a quick buck with a more well-publicized name.
From HoTxxTeeN :
I think that Davis Gaines should play the Phantom in the movie. His performance is the most compelling that I have seen in my life. Having played the part for over five years, I feel that he best understands the character and can DEFINITELY pull it off on film. If Davis is not cast (which he unfortunately won't be), there are MANY other men who have played the role on stage who deserve the part. Anthony Warlow (without a doubt the best musical theatre singer of our time), Mark Jacoby, Grant Norman, Chris Groenendaal, and of course, Michael Crawford. Regardless, the role needs to go to somebody who has played the role on stage, not a popular actor. If a movie version came out of the musical LES MISERABLES, I highly doubt that they would cast a movie star as Valjean. The studio needs to look past that factor and rely upon the fact that the popularity of PHANTOM alone will be enough to ensure its success. And if Andrew Lloyd Webber lets Banderas film this role, what a shame it will be.
From Dori Bruns:
It would be wonderful if Warner Bros. made a high quality musical of "Phantom Of The Opera" such as "The King And I" or "South Pacific". Such a film would call for an actor/singer of such a high level of artistry that only Michael Crawford could fill the bill. His voice has range and power and the emotional quality to mesmerize the audience. The part of the Phantom does not call for good looks or matinee idol sex appeal and yet there is a personality in Erik that enchants and seduces in spite of his ugliness. Michael Crawford created the role and thousands of his fans have waited ten years to see him in the film. His recent PBS concert and current tour show that his voice is as wonderful as ever. If the WB feel that a "movie star" is called for, why choose Antonio Banderas? If they are absolutely set on having him in the film, why can't he play Raoul? After all, he's the one who gets the girl. And he gets to sing a very beautiful ballad, "All I Ask Of You".
From CowlesAM :
Michael Crawford in my opinion and in the opinion of most of my friends in the man for the part. He probably has a greater following now than ever before and that has to say something for a man who created the role in 1986. I think those who missed him first time round would be clamoring to see him now judging by the effect his video/audio recordings of the phantom have had on people. The depth of his sincerity and commitment to the part and the fact that his voice has never been so good make him my number one choice.
From Janet Emanuelson:
I never had the opportunity to see Michael Crawford as the Phantom and always hoped I would at least see his performance on film. I have seen bits and pieces of the role on different commercial videos and T.V. shows so I know what a powerful phantom he was so it amazes me as to why we even have to have a poll such as this. There is only one man who can play this part with the feeling and sensuality that it needs...that man being Michael Crawford. Every actor now playing the part knows that he is the master and all look to his nuances and emotions to bring that same quality to their interpretation. If he were to revive his role on stage, I dare say that the powers that be would soon find out how very "unknown" he is. Wake up Hollywood, he is the only bankable actor for the part.
From Julie Schmude:
My choice for the movie Phantom would be Michael Crawford. Although Banderas was a pleasant surprise in Evita -- he's not top on my list as a big name or a heart throb. I feel Mr. Crawford was made for this role.
From: Mary McCuin:
Please register my vote for Michael Crawford in the role of Erik in the Phantom of the Opera movie. Antonio Banderas can certainly play Raoul. He'd be great in that role, I think. But, no one should play the Phantom except the original Phantom, Michael Crawford. Sir Andrew, prepare to lose a lot of money if you cast someone other than Michael Crawford.
From bobbi Pabst:
~Fondest Greetings to you all.... a few instructions just before rehearsals start.... Considering the FACT that Michael Crawford created the role of Erik as we now know and love it, the only reasonable choice for the movie is of course, TA DA.....MICHAEL CRAWFORD! if you will watch old interviews with Michael, he discusses how he used memories of HIS Grandfather's short pants and ankle boots to inspire him to simulate that look which Erik uses at the end of MOTN. when he lifts his foot to toe at the end of the song, it is Michael's movement. when he sweeps his hair back, it was originally his movement. Not just because Gillian instructed it, but because he was thoughtful enough to do it because removing the hat had mussed his hair. There are a few gifted actors who portray Erik, but Michael Crawford becomes Erik on stage. my vote is Michael Crawford, now and always. Thank You Michael, for giving us 11 years of wonder, joy, tears and love.....as The Phantom of the Opera. and to all the powers that be...... ~~~You will curse the day you did not do, all that the Phantom asks of you! ~~~
From Lynnda & Mike:
Thank you for having this survey. I believe that there is only ONE Phantom, can only be ONE Phantom, and no one else will do. Of course I'm referring to Michael Crawford, who else!! Just look what happened when they tried to re-make Evita!! The story was changed so you really didn't get the full effect of the play. And the two "stars" caterwauling was the icing on the cake. If they don't cast Michael Crawford as "THE PHANTOM" I believe that this is going to be one of the worst box-office flops of all times. If Michael isn't cast as The Phantom, it would be like listening to a recording of my wife and myself doing "Phantom". (And we can't sing at all.)
My name is Scott Page, And I think the perfect phantom would be Donny Osmond, he has a great voice, and is familiar with Lloyd Webber from Joseph..., I think he would do and excellent job, he has a powerful voice, much more enjoyable than Mr. Crawford. Plus Financially the Osmond name would sell tickets in itself, but he would really do a great job.
From Elektra43 :
I believe that Michael Crawford should be given the role of the Phantom in the movie. It is his voice which is heard on the original cast recording and one which people would identify most readily, especially if they'd never had the opportunity of seeing him in person.
From Wim Dewijngaert:
I heard Antonio singing during ALW's concert in London, and he has a terrible accent. The producers should pick someone who KNOWS how the Phantom feels like, someone who has been playing the role for a long time in the musical. Therefore, I think Michael Crawford is the best choice.
From Jamie Hall:
MICHAEL CRAWFORD???????!!!!!!!!!! Okay, yeah, he may have originated the part, but that was years ago!! Having heard him sing "Music of the Night" recently, I highly doubt that he could carry this role!! I know that many people will be upset by my answer, possibly thinking that I have no idea what I am talking about. On the contrary, I am someone who has grown up with and studied music intensely, and I know talent when I see it! Keep in mind that I'm not saying that Michael Crawford doesn't have talent, he just isn't the best choice. I am seriously suggesting Franc D'Ambrosio of the San Francisco production of Phantom. Whoa!! Does this guy have talent!!!! He doesn't just play the part, he becomes it. Not to mention he has a wonderful voice! If anyone deserves the part it's him!
I believe that Michael Crawford should play the Phantom in the movie. I saw him in EFX and in concert recently and I thought he was really super.
Hopefully when a Movie of the Phantom of the Opera is made, Michael Crawford will be chosen to play the lead. He is worthy. and has won many awards for the role. Michael is the one and only person for the role.
From Sheila H.: There is no question. Michael Crawford should play the role of Erik in the film version of "Phantom of the Opera." Crawford originated the role, knows the interworkings of the character, has previous film experience, and has proven time and time again that he can sing the role. No dubbing necessary. Crawford has charisma and an expressive voice to effectively play a man hidden behind a mask. He also brings a vulnerability to the role that is necessary if an audience is to have any sympathy for the Phantom.