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 seventh file of posts. Playbill On-Line thanks all those who took the time to write.
From Gary Nelson:
Michael C is the clear choice as he IS the Phantom. After seeing him perform this part 6 times on Broadway, I can't imagine I'll watch anyone else attempt his role.
From Virginia L. Hoffman:
There should be no question as to who should play the Phantom in the movie version of the Phantom of the Opera... It should be the man who brought him to life, who made people all over the world fall in love with the Phantom. It should be the man who knows how to play the Phantom better than another person in this world: .. Michael Crawford.. It would be a travesty to put anyone other than the true Phantom in the movie.
From Renee Verrill:
MICHAEL CRAWFORD is the one and only true Phantom!!!He is the only one who can bring the sensuality to the roll.He has film experience and has a new [and very successful] album and tour .No one can fill the roll like this man--he created it --the rest are impostors!! Try this test listen to Michael singing 'The Money Kept Rolling In' on the MC Performs Andrew Lloyd Weber CD --then compare it to Banderas trying to sing on the Evita soundtrack-- There is no question!!! Michael has the voice --Banderas doesn't !! If AB can't sing the Evita songs -- how in the world could he even begin to bring the Phantom to life-- he can't-- It would be more like a slow agonizing death!!! MC is the Phantom!!
After being a HUGE fan of POTO for years and having seen it many times, I must say that Michael Crawford deserves his chance to have his performance preserved on film. I'm old enough to remember the thrill of seeing Yul Brynner and Rex Harrison and Barbra Streisand and Joel Grey reprise their famous Tony-winning roles (and win Oscars). I"m also old enough to remember the misery of sitting through Man of La Mancha with Peter O'Toole, Paint Your Wagon with Clint Eastwood and A Little Night Music with Elizabeth Taylor. Just about every time Hollywood has made a musical with inadequate Hollywood stars, the musical was ruined. I've long thought that Michael Crawford would make the Phantom film--whatever else its merits or demerits- authentic, moving, real, and well-sung. And having heard Banderas in Evita and in clips from the ALW concert, I think that Antonio Banderas (or, for that matter, any other Hollywood hunk who can carry a decent tune) will make it a travesty. My feelings were recently reinforced by seeing Crawford on PBS and in concert: he BECAME the Phantom though just wearing a tux. His Phantom transcends acting, and the camera would love it. I"m convinced he could even conquer the worst that Hollywood can do to the film.
From Mary Ann Szymanski:
The lead in the film version of The Phantom of the Opera should go to Michael Crawford. When plans to film this musical were first announced in 1990, Michael Crawford was slated to reprise his multi-award-winning role. A Warner Bros. executive is on record as having said that his casting would help to preserve the integrity of the show. This is as true today as it was then. No actor's name is more connected to this show in the minds of the public than is Crawford's. He opened the first three English-language productions of the show and spent more than 3 1/2 years in the title role. His is the voice heard on the original cast album which has sold more than 12 million copies worldwide. In addition to being an award-winning musical theater star, he has extensive film experience--a plus for any stage star being considered for a movie. The Phantom of the Opera is one of the most popular musicals in the history of theater. It is absurd to think that it needs a "Hollywood name" to carry the film. What it needs is an actor who can both sing with a beautiful, mellifluous voice and act with power, conviction, and passion. This does not describe Antonio Banderas; it does, however, describe Michael Crawford.
From C. DePasquale :
I don't think that either Michael Crawford or Antonio Banderas should be given the role. Evita was ruined by Madonna's weak voice. And Antonio B. proved to be raspy. Michael Crawford was not that great. He was a great actor but in regards to singing, compare him to other Phantoms like Davis Gaines and others, it can be noted that he is Not that great. I think it is ridiculous that an actor is idealized for role he has only played for a year.
From: LucianaX :
A Phantom role should be played by a Phantom, not an unexperienced Spanish singer with an obvious problem with his accent--If Antonio Banderas wants to portray the role of the Phantom of the Opera, he should have taken at least a year of voice lessons, and rid himself of that ridiculous Spanish accent (which most definitely will kill Phantom's *French* semblance). An experienced actor/singer would fit the role, and make the movie ten times as enjoyable. The whole idea of the movie was preposterous from the beginning, but since it could not be reversed, the best choice would be Michael Crawford (original phantom with enough emotion to bring the audience to tears by the final scene), Thomas James O'Leary (with the voice of the Angel of Music), or Grant Norman (who has the hands of a true Erik).
From Jean Hofve DVM:
Michael Crawford is the only reasonable choice to play the Phantom. In the book, the original Phantom was an older man who had been through many trials and tribulations before settling under the Paris Opera House, and it is still well within Michael's reach to perform this role. If you listen to the original cast recording of Lloyd Webber's Phantom, you'll realize that Michael Crawford is the one man who can breath spectacular life into the character. The depth of emotional pain and passion in Michael's voice as the Phantom is truly unparalleled by any other singer or actor. It's quite amazing, too, considering that Michael Crawford on other recordings does not sound *anything* like the Phantom. Michael *becomes* the Phantom, and it's an uncanny transition. I noticed a comment earlier that said the Phantom should be played by an actor who comes across well in films. Perhaps that person did not know that Michael has been in many films, such as "Hello, Dolly," that amply demonstrate his on-camera charisma. Michael created the role, put his heart and soul into it, and was led for years to believe that he would take on the film role whenever it became a reality. ALW owes it to Michael, who made the original show such an incredible and lasting success. I've seen three other Phantoms on stage, and the patterns that Michael laid down for the role are still being followed today. Now, I love Antonio Banderas, and I'm sure he would make a good physical Phantom, but singing? With an accent? I don't think so! And will Antonio's female fans come to see him when they literally cannot see him because of the mask and makeup? Please, guys, put the box-office hunk in the role of Raoul, and let Michael shine once more in the fascinating role of Phantom of the Opera.
From Dawson A. Howard:
As an avid phan, I wish to express my opinion in the casting of the role for the Phantom. I have heard the musical several times and own the CDs. I have read the book by Gaston Leroux, and every time the Phantom speaks in the book, I can only imagine the voice of Michael Crawford behind the character. I say, if he is good enough to be the first Broadway Phantom, then he is MORE than qualified for this movie.
From: David Franklin:
If Madonna is EVITA it must be John Travolta who is the PHANTOM. Thus Broadway translates to the Silver Screen. Yeah, yeah- after all it was Barbra that played DOLLY. All seems logical to me.
I have to desperately agree with my fellow Playbill readers...Michael Crawford, most definitely. Michael Crawford carries the title of "the phantom" within every broadway goers heart. Even if the broadway fan hasn't actually seen Crawford as the phantom, Crawford is a trade-mark of Phantom of the Opera. His voice can carry all the phantoms emotions, from jealous rage to compassionate love with extreme passion...maybe that is why he is on the cd! Many fortunate Broadway fans have been blessed to her his magical voice...now movie goers should also have the blessing. After all many movie viewers who see this Phantom film will not have any association with Broadway before...do we want to show them Broadway's best?
From Jessica Waldman: I was told there was a poll on playbill as to who should play the Phantom in the movie version. I couldn't find the poll to vote, but wanted to vote, so I was told to email you. Michael Crawford is the only sane choice. He's the legend. He created the role. Anybody else is just some shmo with a mask on.
Without even having to think, the answer is Michael Crawford. Crawford, with his unique, dramatic, and emotion evoking voice, created the character that people remembered years after they saw the performance. He has the most experience due to many years of performing, and no one else can play the role the way he can. Antonio Banderas was great in Evita, but in a Spanish speaking country, a Spanish accent is a little more appropriate than in France.
Having seen the stage production 18 times in many different locations with many different "Phantoms", I personally feel that no one becomes the Phantom like Michael Crawford. On a bare stage, with just his voice and body, he becomes Erik. I think the powers that be are underestimating his star quality and his loyal audience. Besides, hasn't anyone noticed that all the leading men this year are "older" men getting the young girls? Why do they want some handsome young hunk who will be made hideous behind makeup and whose voice may have to be dubbed in when they can have the true article that made people want to see the play in the first place? I just don't get it!
From Matt Sponsler:
There are countless tangible reasons for Michael Crawford to be cast in the movie role (Not the least of these is the fact that he was promised the role before his run ended). Antonio has an accent no amount of "training" can take away. Antonio's NEVER played the role before (Crawford has performed the role over 1,000 times). Michael Crawford has an extensive list of movie credits including "Hello Dolly", "Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum", "The Knack", and "Condorman". In other words, he has more Hollywood experience than Banderas. I will admit that Antonio is more easily recognized by the public than Crawford, but, quite frankly, A movie about Phantom (if it's faithful) will not be a huge blockbuster. There's way too much substance for it to be a huge hit. If Warner films the movie with Banderas, they risk alienating the Phantom Phans. And these people go see the stage show several times a week (some of them). So they will be the audience that will sink or float the movie. Not "Popular Culture". But all of these things are (by comparison) minor arguments in Crawford's favor. If you've ever seen him live, then you'll know what the decisive factor is. The Man has PRESENCE. Even when he's not on stage, you can feel him in the building. And this quality carries over to film. If you've seen his PBS special, then you know what I mean. Have you ever seen that much emotion on anyone's face at all, least of all Antonio Banderas? Antonio is a good actor, but he simply isn't right for the part. Very few are. There is a debate as to who the best Phantom of all is, but Crawford wins the general consensus. He has the most name recognition of all stage actors. He was the first to don the mask. He CREATED the Phantom. The character would be nothing without Michael. There really isn't a question about Michael being qualified. And neither Warner nor Lloyd-Webber can afford a box office flop (Hello, Bankruptcy!). The Phans made Phantom the best (and highest profile) musical of all time. The people want Michael Crawford under the Mask. And it's not always a wise idea to bite the hands that feed you.
From Phantom Phriend:
I hate to repeat what so many people have said, but Crawford is the one. I've seem some other good Eriks and a lot of mediocre ones, but Crawford's got the experience in movies, he's got the voice, he's got the Tony, he's got the fame. Not as much fame as Banderas I admit, but enough if the producers are smart about how they advertise. Some Phantom maven said Crawford had Erik's soul and Peter Carrie had his power, but it's the soul that the movie needs, and Crawford found Erik's soul for all time and passed it on to later actors. Phantom is hollow unless Erik gets to your heart, and Crawford was a genius at doing just that. And he's not too old--the role really works best when the Phantom is a lot older than Christine
From Andre LaPointe:
The Best Phantom, will be ROBERT MARIEN, because he have a beautiful voice, he's a great actor, and he speak french!!!and in my second choice, Michael Crawford.
I truly believe that there is only one Phantom, Michael Crawford. He is extremely dedicated to his craft and gives his all to his legion of admirers EVERY time he takes the stage. There's every reason to believe that he could handle the film version of Phantom and that it would be a triumph! All of the players should resolve their issues and look into casting the REST of the film. Crawford's a stand out performer and deserves a stand out supporting cast and so do we.
From Daryn Jackson:
Thank you for doing this Poll, a lot of us would like to see Michael Crawford in this movie!!!! I personally would like to as I did not have the opportunity to see him in person, and I enjoy his music very much. Here's mine!
From Burns Home:
Michael Crawford IS the Phantom.....millions of people have listened to the cast recording for years hoping to someday see him on screen performing the role! His ability to make you Feel through his singing is Very Special .
We all need to get over Michael Crawford and Antonio Banderas and think about some other choices. What about Mandy Patinkin? He's a proven strong performer of stage and screen and has the intellectual and artistic depth to take on this challenging role. He can act, sing, and bring in audiences - good for us fans, and good for the studio! Anyone think about Anthony Warlow or Colm Wilkinson, or even Craig Schulman? All extraordinarily charismatic and talented men who could bring the role to life on screen as easily as they do on stage. They have big names in the theatre world, and I think they would prove very successful in the film world as well. There are many men capable of playing this role, and I just hope that the studio attempts to pick someone capable of bringing the role to life visually, vocally, and emotionally... not just someone to bring in the money. We must all hope this situation ends with a tasteful film adaptation of a powerful stage show, with appropriately cast actors who can deliver stunning well-rounded performances. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed. Thank you for your time.
From Marisa Johnson: There is no other choice than to cast Michael Crawford in the role of Phantom. I cannot believe that anyone is even considering Antonio Banderas! I have seen POTO all over the world, but I am still entranced with Crawford's portrayal. I think that those who are thinking of Banderas underestimate the theater going population in this country, we are a very loyal group. There has not been a decent musical made in decades, and this is the chance to do it right. I know that if anyone but Crawford, or even Davis Gaines, were to play the Phantom, I would be most disappointed. We can only hope that someone listens to us. Thank you for letting me view my opinion.
Well, for Phantom I believe that there is only one true man for the role... Michael Crawford! Not only does he have an absolutely mesmerizing voice, but he also has experience on stage as well as in movies. He originated the role and truly knows how to portray the character of the Phantom.
From Herjan Hakkers:
Hoping that you are the person who can stop Mr. Lloyd Webber to cast Antonio Banderas as phantom, I send you my comments about this. I'm from the Netherlands, so I hope you'll understand that even people at the other side of the earth care about this movie. Please, cast the man who created the role on stage, Michael Crawford, as phantom in the movie. He's by far the most popular phantom actor on the planet. With his hypnotizing voice he will win a enormous amount of people watching the movie. If the producers of the movie want a big star as phantom, try to cast Leonardo diCaprio as Raoul. Also I've heard that Mel Gibson is a very good singer. Maybe worth to check? Conclusion: Antonio is a bad choice. He can't sing good enough. Can't act good enough. Is not popular by the real Phantom fans. And is Spanish... Michael Crawford is probably the best choice you can make!
From Jeff Campbell:
Antonio was great in Evita, but as the Phantom of The Opera, no way. John Travolta can act, but singing the role, sorry again. This part must go to Michael Crawford, no doubt about it.
In my personal opinion, Michael Crawford should be the Phantom in the movie. He is the ultimate and has the perfect voice!!! My second choice, if Michael throws one of his little temper fits, I hear he is a big baby! Get Robert Cucciolli, "Jekyll and Hyde", he would be the next best choice!!!! I am sorry but, Antonio is not, nor could he be the Phantom, He can hardly speak English, I doubt very much he could sing any of the Music of the Night........ Anyway, the Phantom is not supposed to be Sexy!!! He was a figment of Christine Daae's imagination and to all of those who say the Phantom is real, just remember how the Phantom appeared to her? The next Poll should be who should play Raoul in the Movie? Pick someone really sexy to play Raoul, that would be a fantastic poll, maybe Michael Damian from "The Young and the Restless." or Doug Sills from "The Scarlet Pimpernel"
I think that Michael Crawford would be the best choice for the upcoming Phantom of the Opera movie!!!!!!!! He did such a wonderful job in the Broadway production!!!!! Antonio Banderas does good as Zorro, but as the Phantom? Aw, come on!!! Not that I have anything against Antonio, 'cause I don't, but I just think that Michael Crawford would be the BEST pick... So, I cast my vote for Michael!!!!!!
There is no question in my mind who should play the role of the Phantom in the movie: MICHAEL CRAWFORD!! He originated the role and brought this wonderful character to life. He is the only logical choice. If WB is worried about him not being a big box office draw, I think they would be pleasantly surprised as how well the movie would do if he was singing and acting in the role of Phantom. I know many, many people (including myself) that did not get to see him perform the role live and would see the movie numerous times. (What is an $8 movie ticket compared to a $80 musical theater ticket. You could see the movie 10 times for the same price!!)
From Jennifer Lee:
Michael Crawford must play the phantom! Noone else is appropriate for the film. He is the originator of the film, and many people will boycott the movie if he is not cast for the lead role. His voice, along with the very title of the show, will attract people to see the movie. When people go to a movie, they don't necessarily check who's acting in it first. If the movie sounds good by the advertisements and the title, people will go see it. The fact that Michael is not as well known to the public or Hollywood as Antonio Banderas or other Hollywood actor is completely irrelevant. It would be a terrible mistake to deprive Phantom fans of a quality movie with Michael Crawford on the basis of his popularity in movies.
From CAREY BROWN:
Michael Crawford is the only one who should play the Phantom in the Phantom Movie. He is the one who brought heart to the role. His voice and the way he devotes himself to anything he is doing is the reason. The way he can bring some sensitivity to an otherwise tragic character. Michael Crawford is the only person I would want to see in this role.
From Nick Mee:
Regarding who should play the man in the white mask: As a personal favorite, I would say Gary Oldman. This may surprise many people that a die hard fan should favor an actor, but having seen him play tortured genius (Immortal Beloved) and sensual (Dracula) I would say he of all the popular actors should play this part.A close second, or 1st equal, would be Anthony Warlow. He has the voice, physique and charisma to play the part. Indeed, has played the part.Yours, Michaela de Bruce PS, as a personal inquiry, has any talk got around about possible Christines? Just out of curiosity, as there is equal degree of necessity in finding the right person.
I think Michael Crawford should play the phantom in the new Phantom, he of course brought the role to life. I am only 14, but it would be sooooooo cool to see Mr. Crawford in the Phantom . I have seen Michael Crawford in concert this past May, and I have to tell you it was a dream come true. There is no doubt in my mind that Michael Crawford is the one and only Phantom of the Opera.