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 eleventh file of posts. Playbill On-Line thanks all those who took the time to write.
I don't consider this a trivial decision. If THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA is the popular movie that it should become, then it may very well other musicals to be made into movies, other movie musicals to be made, and a new generation of people to attend musical theatre. THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA is such a well known musical that I think the movie will draw big audiences whoever is chosen to play the phantom. Regardless of who the movie phantom is, I will see the movie and later buy the video. That's a certainty. HOWEVER, if Michael Crawford plays the phantom this movie becomes an event, in my opinion, and I will see this movie many, many times. I have seen Michael Crawford in person in EFX in Las Vegas and as the featured performer in the concert "The Music of ALW". He is fabulous. I vote for Michael Crawford because I want this movie to be the best movie it can be. With Michael Crawford, I am totally convinced that this movie will become a classic.
From Robert D'Amico:
In my opinion, Michael Crawford is the only performer that should be considered for the title roll in the Phantom Movie. No other actor can provide this beautiful piece with the power and emotion it so richly deserves. Many theatre goers agree with me on this issue and to select anyone other than Michael Crawford as the Phantom would have a negative impact on both the quality of the piece as well as its financial success.
I think Michael Crawford should play the Phantom in the movie, since after all, he is the first and we know he can certainly sing the part. If a star vehicle is necessary to drive the feature film, cast a well-known actor or actress in the other principal roles of Christine and Raoul.
My vote for the starring role of ALW's movie is Michael Crawford. When you hear the music you automatically think of Michael Crawford. He created the role on stage and should be given the chance to do it on film too. He is the essence of the Phantom of the Opera.
From Mrs. Zelma Davis :
I am using my friend's computer for this. I have been going to the theater for a lot of years. I'm 76 years young. And I have seen The Phantom many times. Once with Michael Crawford. Look, there should not even be a discussion. Warner Brothers should go out and beg this man to do this role. He is superb actor and he created a wonderful, memorable character. My vote: MICHAEL CRAWFORD.
I believe the role should be offered to Michael Crawford; if not him then someone who has played him on stage of which there are many great people to choose from. Also I would like to know why no one is asking who will play the part of Christine Daae, who is in fact the central character in the story? There is no young actress in Hollywood who is a trained soprano and Sarah Brightman who I would like to see involved somehow, would probably be considered too old. Once again, the producers should look to the stage. Finally, I would like to suggest John Barrowman in the role of Raoul.
From Joshua Kluth:
Ok everyone let's get for real here. Crawford is the Phantom BUT he should not play it (God bless you Michael) true Rex and Yul were able to do and Robert Preston for Music Man (he is good........) but gosh folks give it the best of the time: ANTHONY WARLOW!!!!!!! Move over Broadway and get back to the "Musical gothic thriller" of Warlow's Jekyll & Hyde....he is awesome!!! ANd as long as Mandy Patinkin (whatever) doesn't do to high of a voice let him do it. He has handled parts on stage and on the set (watch him in THE PRINCESS BRIDE) he could handle it. Give it to Mandy or Anthony!!!!!!!!!!! MANDY OR ANTHONY..if you give it to DiCaprio I'll die!!! And Banderas... no...i'd see it but have no respect for ALW...well not totally...but I would have less respect. ANd God save the studio if Travolta gets it...God save us all. ANTHONY OR MANDY!!!
From Ingrid Bruskyn:
Who? You dare ask? Michael Crawford of course. I hear so many arguments why he shouldn't and they are unfounded. He's to old? If you read the book(either Leroux's or Susan Kay's) you'll find he is in his fifties, and guess what, so is Michael. He can't handle the role? He sure did in London and the US and he still performs the songs from the show. He is as good as ever and he should get the role.
Two words: Michael Crawford. He is the one who influenced (through the recording) a lot of people who didn't have access to Broadway to see touring companies or community productions of "The Phantom of the Opera." He originated the role, and no-one can play it better than its creator. All the other 'wanna bees' are just copying off of him. (No offence all PHANTOM followers out there, but it's the truth) In another light, I even feel that the movie should not be made. Many people will begin saying "Why should I spend $75 dollars to see the show live when I could see it in the movie theater for $8?" The production of the film may cause drastic losses in box-office takings, and cause the show to close. Why kill a legend like "Phantom." Anyway, since my say in the matter of production is meaningless, I will go back to my original point: MICHAEL CRAWFORD. He's the right guy for the job!!
From Beth LaClair:
I think that Michael Crawford should be the phantom in Andrew Lloyd Webber's screen version of the Phantom of the Opera. He created in on stage, and did a beautiful job. If his age is the problem, consider that some of the sexiest screen heros are older: Sean Connery, Patrick Stewart, Harrison Ford, Jack Nicholson, and Mel Gibson. Michael is a wonderful actor with a divine voice, who has already proved that he can act on the big screen, and his name alone would bring thousands to the theater.
Michael Crawford should definitely play the part of the phantom in the movie version of "The Phantom of the Opera." He originated the part, and the gentleness and emotion brought out in his glorious tenor voice cannot be done as well by anyone else. I just personally cannot see or hear Antonio Banderas as the phantom, just as I could not see or hear Michael Crawford as Che in Evita. Let's hope that the people in charge come to realize this.
Crawford is really the only choice. He has proven his singing and acting abilities on the stage AND the screen. Banderas and Travolta are only proven on screen and both have limited singing talents. If they must be in the movie, maybe they could be Fermin and Andre. Or Banderas could be Raoul. He does have the good looks needed for the role. Now if he could only sing better. Well there's always vocal lessons.
From Mary Ellen:
I heard about your poll and thought I'd drop by with a vote. It is ridiculous to imagine anyone else playing the Phantom in the movie besides Michael Crawford. The movie has no hope without him in the leading role. Hollywood does not have a clue! Money, money money. Thanks.
Michael Crawford of course , saw him in New York . He is the only one that can portray the character with grace and has a beautiful voice! Any one else would not do it justice, and Andrew Lloyd Webber would be wasting his time and money. Better sign Sarah Brightman for the role of Christine also. That is the way it was supposed to be at the first mention of the movie. I hope they get the parts.
From Deborah Stevenson:
I would love to see Michael Crawford in the film version of Phantom. He is a wonderful actor with a magnificent singing voice. It would be a shame not to have his performance immortalized on film. (And my vote for Raoul: Tony nominated Douglas Sills, aka the Scarlet Pimpernel.)
From Jim Carr:
Just heard Michael Crawford in concert. Absolutely as powerful if not more powerful and with more emotion than ever. He's far and away the only one for the movie roll of Erik. The phantom is a disfigured man in a mask so why would it require a handsome faced or younger actor to play the roll. "Big names" usually only make a difference in box-office take when the production is weak in the first place so if they don't use the best voice they'll need the big names.
From Ray Lane in L.A.: Thanks for a chance to cast my vote for the lead in "Phantom of the Opera" I think like many others that Michael Crawford should be cast ... the original and the best. Second choice: Davis Gaines, who has a magnificent voice and played the role for many months in Los Angeles. Lloyd Webber, as you probably know, gave Davis the lead in the try-out for "Whistle Down The Wind." I definitely do not think Antonio Banderas should get the part! And certainly not John Travolta.
Thank you for the opportunity to cast my vote for the movie role in Phantom. There are lots of good actors who could play this role but there is only ONE Phantom and that person is Michael Crawford. Having just returned from his concert in Kansas City and heard him sing the Music of the Night with more heart and soul and emotion than anyone ever could I wonder at the sanity of the producers and especially Lord Andrew in thinking that anyone but Michael could play the role. The thought that he is TOO OLD and not a BIG ENOUGH DRAW would seem a mute point after seeing a sold out house and several standing ovations in KC. Please Lord Andrew and the powers that be...let the Phantom be Michael Crawford!!!!!!!!!
From Gail Mc Leod:
I vote goes to the original Phantom star,Michael Crawford, He is the only one capable of expressing to the audience the intensely complex emotional conflict this character is going through. In though he was encased in heavy makeup and the mask. Through the use of his voice and incredibly hand and body movement,his portrayal of this man overwhelmed the audience, No since then has come close. He deserve the right to have the performance put down on film for all the world to see. Why not use Antonio as the handsome Raoul ,it would be a great counter balance to Michael.
From Margaret J. Hutchison:
There is only one person to play the Phantom:Michael Crawford. The range of emotions, the nuances in his interpretations, and yes, his age all work to the development of Erik as a sympathetic character. Michael Crawford shows Erik in that light, not just as a wooden caricature of some early Phantom opera.
From Brendan Best:
I was given an e-mail about this and decided to write. Michael Crawford is the original poto and should stay that way. His voice, height, age, acting ability, and everything else make him perfectly suited for anything to do with the phantom. If anyone else plays the role, that movie will be taboo for me, and for a lot of other people as well.
From Allison Miller:
I should think that it is fairly obvious by now that Phantom fans are very dedicated to the show and it's characters. I, also being a fan, cast my vote for Michael Crawford being in the movie. He's the only one that would really make the movie a true success. He has had more than enough experience in acting, knows the role well, and has a superb singing voice that would make movie-goers forget any doubts they might have of the movie. If he just can't be fit into the role, I would suggest other Broadway stars, especially ones that have played the Phantom before.
From Leah Harris: In support of Michael Crawford, my choice for the cinematic role of The Phantom of the Opera, I believe he immortality of the actor's portrayal in a motion picture far outlasts the fond, theatrical aftertaste of an un- recordable live-production--this honor should go to the founder of the present-day Phantom's character, Michael Crawford. He is the Phantom.
From Nona Rogero:
I believe that the majority of people who will go to see the movie "The Phantom of the Opera" will be baby boomers. As one of those many, many people, I believe that Michael Crawford is the best choice to play the role. I have been wanting to let those in the know to know how I feel, so I thank you for this chance to let it be known that Michael Crawford is the one, the best one to play this role. He has a huge following here in America and around the world. I think he will make the most money for this picture.
From Karen Schief: Quite frankly, I am tired of Hollywood trying to ram these 20 and 30 something actors at us. Phantom appeals, I believe, to an older audience and speaking as a women of 48, Michael Crawford definitely appeals to me and my friends more than Antonio Banderas. Not to say Mr.Banderas isn't talented but I strongly agree that Michael Crawford IS the Phantom. He is a multi talented actor and when he sings Music of the Night, I feel like I am Christine! It's about time that the middle aged generation started getting a leading man that they can identify with--that's Michael, give him the part, he'll make Mr. Lloyd Webber plenty of money at the box office!
From Carol Ann Beistle: The "Angel of Music" (heart, mind, soul and voice) can ONLY be portrayed by the original London star, Michael Crawford. He is the right age, he has charisma "plus" and knows Erik's innermost feelings. He understands the man.
From Laurie Arendas: It is hard to believe that there is any question or need for a poll as to whom would be the best for playing the role of the Phantom. Michael Crawford is without a doubt the only one to consider asking to play the role. In fact, I think most people take it for granted that if and when this movie is ever made that of course Michael Crawford would play the Phantom. If you have had the pleasure of watching his PBS concert this year you can literally see him take on the character as he sings both Phantom of the Opera and Music of the Night. He won the Tony! He is the Phantom!!!
From BreeAnna Jatzo:
My opinion is, and always has been, that Michael Crawford should play the Phantom in the movie. There are many reasons I believe this, although I'm only listing a few. 1.) He is the original Phantom. This does not necessarily make him the best person for the job (even though I believe that he is the best person for the part) but this golden opportunity should be offered to him first because he originated the role. 2.) He is NOT too old. In both the Susan Kay and the original Gaston Leroux versions of the story Erik was 50+, which was a good deal older than Christine. 3.) He still has the voice of an "angel" that is powerful, sensuous, and soothing to listen to. He is a superb actor (he gets his point across clearly even though he's limited by the mask) and many, many phans are enthralled with him. Which brings me to my last point. 4.) There are, by now, so many diehard phans that are against the making of the movie with anyone else but Michael (much less Antonio Banderas, as good as he was in Evita) that I hardly think it would be profitable for ALW to make the movie casting anyone other than Michael. You have to admit that the majority of people who would be seeing this film would be people who are totally in love with the musical because they've seen it on stage or have the CDs or whatever else. If you're going to do anything, do it right, as my mother has pounded into me. It's the principle of the thing, really, and I know that there are many others out there who believe the same as me.
Michael Crawford MUST play the Phantom in the upcoming movie. First of all, he IS the "Phantom", just like Yul Brynner IS the "King". He is the overwhelming fan favourite, and to not give him this role, a role that Andrew Lloyd Webber has said was his for the asking, would be an enormous tragedy. Can anyone imagine Antonio Banderas hitting the high note in "Music of the Night?" Please! The man could not even keep up with Madonna in "Evita" where he talked more of the songs than he sang! I frankly cannot even fathom anyone else playing this role. To respond to the lady who said Michael was an unknown, he has been in theatre and movies for over 40 years now, and if that is unknown, than who is actually known? Millions have paid $75 or more to see Michael in this role, so would it be hard to assume they would pay $8 to see him larger than life? To put Michael's impact into perspective, a woman paid over $25,000 to see him in his last show as the Phantom. If this is not proof of his star power, than what is? Finally, Michael looks better now than he has in years, as his recent PBS concert and upcoming tour prove. Also, if he can manage to sell out huge venues across the country, doesn't that also prove his attraction to the masses? His PBS concert also proves that he has not lost his voice, not one iota. Frankly, Michael has a far superior voice, is much sexier, and created the role of the Phantom. For those who say Antonio should play it because of his looks, that is completely invalid, because the audience will never see his face through his make-up. So in all categories, Michael Crawford is the clear winner! And he has the Tony Award to prove it!
From Janet McGraw:
Hello - I would definitely go to see the movie if Michael Crawford starred in it. Otherwise I have no interest. The first time I heard Michael sing Music of the Night at George Bush's inauguration I was so excited I went out the next day and bought the two tapes for Phantom of the Opera. I recently went to see his performance in Las Vegas and he was terrific.
From Sonya Lee:
Michael Crawford is the one and only Phantom!!! Surely Warner Brothers has enough sense to know that ONLY Michael Crawford can do justice to the role of the Phantom. It is ridiculous to think of anyone else.
From Kristen Corderman:
There is only one person that could play the phantom in the Phantom movie. That person is Michael Crawford. He played the phantom in London, New York, and Los Angeles in over 1300 performances. Who could have better qualifications than that I'd like to know. He has the most powerful voice and the unbelievable emotion that is required for that role. I know that he is not some big hollywood hunk and is not..well..young, but who cares! He IS the phantom and everyone knows it. There are going to be some real angry people if he doesn't get the part, and I'll be one of them!!
From C. LeBoeuf:
As a devoted fan of Phantom, please cast Michael Crawford in the title role. I am a fan of his too.