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 eighth file of posts. Playbill On-Line thanks all those who took the time to write.
Goodness gracious! What is it with all these Michael Crawford fans? Sure, he was great in the original version, but do you forget that that was over 10 years ago? And has the man been in ANYTHING besides concert tours since then? Think about it! I agree with those who say this material deserves a new face. However, Banderas would not be my first choice. How about Brian Stokes Mitchell, Michael Cerveris, Sam Harris, or even Alan Cumming! Come on people, theater is about imagination! Not Hollywood stardom!
I vote for Michael Crawford all the way. For me, he IS the Phantom, musically especially but also for his acting ability! Not all Broadway actors "translate" well on film, but MC has been on TV and in movies several times and therefore has proven himself in both media! And then there's that voice! Eerie, haunting, tragic, loving, vengeful! Whatever is needed! Yes! Michael Crawford gets MY vote! =>}
From Kathryn Vermeer:
Michael Crawford created a Phantom so passionate, so sensual, that the world embraced him and "Phantom of the Opera" for 10 years. Do you honestly think his legendary performance and voice should fade off into oblivion? What a betrayal to all current, and future Phantom lovers if Michael Crawford is not allowed to play this role. It is his destiny. Please don't rob the generations to come, of his incredible portrayal of Phantom. There is simply no other choice.
From Nani Santos:
Michael Crawford is synonymous with The Phantom of the Opera. All other Phantoms who played after him had to meet the high standards of perfection Michael set on stage. Now that the musical will be filmed, I cannot conceive why Hollywood moguls would settle for less when they can have the original (Michael Crawford) play the role on the big screen. When you can pick a flawless DeBeers diamond, why should you settle for a Russian diamond? Beats me. I share the sentiments of all the countless fans -- worldwide -- of Michael Crawford. Michael should definitely play the role he created, The Phantom of the Opera, which made him the brilliant star he is today! Banderas and Travolta do not hold a flicker of a candle beside Michael's talents. I pray the next news I hear is that Michael will be playing his role.
From Karen Elrod: The only person that could do the role justice is Michael Crawford!!! Many people that I know agree that the show was a MEGA-HIT because of the humanity and sensitivity that he brought to the role of Erik (The Phantom). It might have been successful with someone else in the role but there wouldn't have been people camping out for tickets and lining up around the block. Those of us who didn't get the chance to see him do the role in person want to have the chance to see what we missed. His performance was such a marvel that his comings and goings from productions of the show made the national news broadcasts! How many other theatre performers can say that? Warner Bros. need to remember that......
From Norma J. Fountain :
I want to vote on this vital issue. Here is my summation of the compelling reasons why Michael Crawford deserves to have this role: 1. Michael helped create the character of the Phantom, and he was the most publicized of all the Phantoms. A Tony Award, and a lot of National recognition followed closely on the heals of the Broadway opening of this show. He is the Phantom whose biography, and pictures, are used in the gorgeous book available for purchase at the Phantom venues. His is also the voice on the full length CD of Phantom of the Opera, as well as the CD of The Highlights of Phantom of the Opera. His is the voice most people would expect to hear when they go to see the movie. 2. Michael's voice is extraordinary with its unbelievable vocal range; it is so well suited for this particular role. Andrew Lloyd Webber's fantastic music was showcased to perfection by Michael, which Andrew also acknowledged. Also, Michael isn't just a fabulous singer, as so many of the succeeding Phantoms were, but he is an accomplished actor as well. He has had many years of acting experience. 3. Michael is also a totally dedicated performer. He isn't just a singer, or an actor, but he gives 110% of himself to whatever he undertakes to do. He seeks perfection, and won't settle for less. He deserves this part because he is a craftsman of the highest caliber...and it is his role. More than that, Michael wants to play the Phantom in the movie version with his whole heart and sole. He is even the right age to play this "older man" part (although he certainly doesn't look his age). 4. Finally, Hollywood has the unique capability of hyping someone so that even people who hadn't heard of him before, will be clambering to see him by the time the movie comes out. There isn't any need to use a box-office name, they can create a new name very easily. This is particularly true due to the fact that Michael already has a large following of devoted fans who are eager to help promote any movie he would be in, but most particularly, the Phantom of the Opera. If anyone doesn't wholly endorse what I've just said, they should watch the PBS filming of Michael Crawford in Concert, and see him, and hear him, become the Phantom right in front of your eyes. It's incredible!
The person that I think could make this movie a masterpiece is Michael Crawford. He has a commanding persona on stage, and I have never been so moved in my life by a performance as I was by his portrayal of the Phantom. I cannot imagine any other person taking this character to film. It certainly would not be as powerful. The film might be adequate without him, but I do not think that it would be as wonderful, or even as powerful. My vote is for Michael Crawford; in my mind there is no other Phantom.
From Carol Vincent:
I would say Brad Little since he has the most beautiful voice and is the best actor in the world. And he definitely makes you feel for Eric and his performance makes you wish Christine would choose Eric over Raoul. I cannot put into words how amazing he is!! But since he is occupied in the POTO tour now that is impossible. I will have to go with Davis Gaines because he will photograph well on screen and he has a good voice, not to mention a good actor. Michael Crawford is definitely too old for the part. Antonio Banderas is the worst choice there could be, as Eric is not Spanish. Who wants to hear a phantom with a heavy spanish accent? He is too dark for the role. He was fine for Che, very good at it in fact.
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Michael Crawford should play the Phantom in the upcoming movie. He originated the role, he brought Phantom much of its success with his strong, heart-breaking, and extremely convincing portrayal. He knows the character inside out and I believe he deserves the role. He has the acting and singing ability required for such a difficult role, which I believe that others up for the part just simply don't. He would bring much needed talent and understanding of the character into this production like no other could.
From Mary Ellen Tarman:
Michael Crawford has the strength, range, and charisma to deliver a spectacular character of Phantom. I urgently support and hope that he is selected to play this important role.
From Gary TruckerPig:
Robert, Is it true you are seriously considering anyone but Michael Crawford for the Phantom? I hope you don't make that mistake, as he is the Phantom in everyone's eyes.
From J. E. Mason:
I believe Franc D'Ambrosio -the current Phantom at the Curran theater in San Francisco. Franc is an amazing Phantom and has Film experience(!). He played Anthony Corleone in "The Godfather Part III" - In that role he was Al Pacino's opera singing son - scene with Franc singing in Cavalleria Rusticana can be seen in the film - they are the best parts.
From Brian McCrea:
In my mind, there is no question that Michael Crawford, the man who created the role, should play the Phantom. He has the correct training, the correct experience, AND we can't forget, HE WAS PROMISED THE PART. It would be an injustice to the play, the phans, and Mr. Crawford himself if anyone else, particularly someone with no classical training like Antonio Banderras played the part. One more thing, those who say we can't have MC because we need someone with screen presence obviously are forgetting Mr Crawford's many screen roles, some earning Oliver awards, the British equivalent of an Oscar. If there was a movie he was in that did not do well, and there were, it was not because of his performance, it was the movie itself.
From TODD BRISCOE:
Michael Crawford should DEFINITELY play the Phantom! Antonio B is Spanish and the Phantom is not!!! And if they cast John Travolta...no...John just DOESN'T fit that part! John has more of a 70s rock voice...Michael is the only one to fit the part! I also wish Sarah Brightam should play Christine.
From Virginia McKibben:
Michael Crawford is the Phantom! Anyone else is a poor substitute.Who said Michael was too old? The original phantom was no spring chicken, read the book. Ask anyone about The Phantom of The Opera and Michael Crawford is the name that is remembered.
From Jim Menke:
Michael Crawford IS the Phantom. I have seen 4 others try to do the role and NO ONE CAME CLOSE. The rumor is that Warner Bros. feels Michael is too old - wrong. With the mask and make up the Phantom has no age. No matter how well others could sing the role, no one else can become the Phantom as Michael can.He should be paired with Rebecca Caine who played Christine for some performances with him in London and was magnificent as the original Toronto Christine. She was also the original Cosette in the London "Les Miz".
From Kevin Ashman:
I think that if a movie is made of Phantom of the Opera, Brad Pitt would be an excellent choice for the lead.
MICHAEL CRAWFORD is THE man to do the movie! No one else! I have seen the show many times and no actor can do it like he can. The way he carries people with the songs and the way he puts his soul into it is just so fantastic! John Travolta, Antonio and anyone else is definitely not right!
From Rose Free:
I vote whole heartedly for Michael Crawford. I had the opportunity to see him one time in Los Angeles as the Phantom and I was blown away. He made the Phantom into a person and not a monster. I have seen many of the Phantom productions and while good have yet to find a Phantom that I want to run away with. I remember the Point of No Return, and I will remember it till I die. It was so sensual. Andrew Lloyd Weber and Hal Prince, etc of course helped, but there is no doubt who gives the Phantom life.
Michael Crawford should be the only one portraying the role of the Phantom in the movie. He has a sensual voice and attractive features that allows him to portray the role of Erik as a seductive and passionate man. I have nothing against Antonio - he is a fabulous actor but it would be nice to see an actor that has portrayed the role already on stage and is well known among theatre fans.
From Maria Morse:
No one, but no should play the phantom but Michael Crawford. I have seen the play many times, with many different production companies. He knows the soul of the phantom and becomes him. There is no other choice if you want a "Titanic" of a movie. His is the voice heard by many millions of people around the world on the album.
From Rachel Nesser:
I said it before and I'll say it again: Michael Crawford IS the Phantom!!! He defined the role in Webber's musical, he played the Phantom for 3 and a half years on stage, and he won a Tony award for the role! He has the voice, the presence, the acting ability, and the sex appeal for the role of the Phantom, and that's why Webber and Warner Bros. should without a doubt cast him as the Phantom in the movie. To all of Michael's fans(of which there are thousands all over the world), he is and always will be the Phantom! He is the most qualified, and the most deserving actor for this role, and his fans(like myself) who did not have the opportunity to see him in the role on stage, would LOVE to see him perform as the Phantom one last time on the big screen! It would be a dream come true for this loyal fan! As far as I'm concerned, Antonio Banderas can't hold a candle to the musical genius of Michael Crawford!!!
From Kateri Splittgerber :
Michael Crawford should play the Phantom in the Phantom of the Opera movie because he is the Phantom, he created the role and still gives me chills up my spine when I see him in character. Also, Michael Crawford's voice is still strong for the part of the Phantom and he is more of an age that the Phantom would have been in the original story.
I keep trying to understand why They still haven't admitted that CRAWFORD is the best option, and pretty much the only one, if they want to make this Phantom movie as unforgettable as the musical. And why not a Hollywood Star? To start with, WB and whoever else holds the rights to this movie, has a very precious thing in hands: the story of The Phantom of the Opera is a rare case of a both touching and thrilling plot, absolutely rich and entertaining, leaded by a complex character (The Phantom) who is capable of deeply moving an audience, IF PLAYED BY THE RIGHT PERSON. To have all this potential, not to mention thousand of already captivated fans all over the world, and transform it in an ordinary movie that people won't remember after a week (and least of all go back to watch or suggest to someone else) is really a waste, not only of the story, but a great waste of money! There are just too many people all around the world that either saw Michael Crawford in this role and simply became in love with Phantom for the past 10 years, or dream of having the opportunity of seeing him in the role for their first time. Both groups would fill the cinemas with Crawford as the Phantom on the screens. Antonio Banderas, or someone else? Well, there are so many movies out there, kind of good, kind of fun....Phantom would unfortunately blend together with these, then.
From Richard Buckley:
The role should go to Richard White. Oh that voice! What a range! If you don't believe me come to the Papermill Playhouse this November to see Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. Previously played in the Yeston/Kopit Phantom, and is a favorite with the NYC Opera.
From Lydia Walsh:
Casting Antonio Banderas is like casting Madonna as Evita. There will be an early response based on youth/popular draw but it will not sustain this production. To create a classic, and thus a true financial success, requires the talents of Michael Crawford.
From Sheila Balmer :
Without a doubt, Michael Crawford should be starring in the role of Phantom in ALW's "Phantom of the Opera" movie. He is fantastic not only as a singer, but as an actor. He created the role of Phantom in London and it has carried through all these years. Others have tried to imitate him, but fall short of the mark. His stage presence is phenomenal. I have seen him several times, not only in Phantom, but EFX in Las Vegas and concerts as well. He, by far, is The Phantom of the Opera. I will not spend my money or waste my time seeing it with anyone else.
While I really liked Antonio Banderas in "Evita" I'm not sure he's the right choice for "Phantom." Word once was that John Travolta was seriously being considered. Big mistake!!!Of course, everyone seems to think it should go to the original. I agree, if you realize that A.L. Webber's original choice for the Phantom was Colm Wilkinson! He never played the part in London or NYC only because he was committed to "Les Miz." I saw him twice in Toronto as the Phantom and he is my idea of what this tortured, vulnerable, yet frightening man should be like. (I really can't even stand Michael Crawford's Mickey Mouse voice on the album and prefer Colm's Toronto CD). Perhaps the best solution is to find a total unknown - maybe someone in a touring production - who will blow everyone away! (Remember F. Murray Abraham in "Amadeus"?)