Natalie Dormer as Vivien Leigh
Natalie Dormer is getting ready to paint Hollywood scarlet. The British actress announced on Friday that she is producing and developing a series (alongside Fremantle Media and Mainstreet Pictures) in which she’ll portray and explore the life story of British actress Vivien Leigh. There’s been no shortage of films and TV shows that delve into the films and history of Golden Age Hollywood, but this project, which is aiming to focus on different projects in Leigh’s career in each episode, will boast a lot of famous faces — from Leigh’s husband of 20 years, Laurence Olivier, to co-stars ranging from Marlon Brando to Clark Gable to Warren Beatty. Frankly, my dear, we do give a damn about getting this right — so, here’s our dream cast envisioning who we’d like to see bring these luminaries to life.
Tom Hiddleston as Laurence Olivier
A middle-aged Olivier has been portrayed previously by Kenneth Branagh, but the renowned Shakespearean actor was still a young leading man when he and Leigh fell in love starring opposite each other in 1937’s Fire Over England. Who better to take on the patron saint of the British theater than another matinee idol leading man with classical theater chops of his own? Tom Hiddleston believably has the gravitas and acting background to portray a man of Olivier’s ilk. Both men are also known for their mellifluous voices. As an extra bonus, he’s skilled as a romantic hero and easy enough on the eyes to bring all the torrid passion of Olivier and Leigh’s affair to vivid life. To be or not to be? Definitely to be.
Jack Huston as Clark Gable
When Gable starred opposite Leigh in Gone With the Wind, he was at the top of his game as a consummate movie star. As the grandson of director John Huston, Jack Huston has the Hollywood pedigree to play one of the biggest movie stars in history in his most famous role. He also boasts the rugged masculinity which made Gable a star, while showcasing the acting range to capture Rhett Butler’s softer, sensitive side. Frankly, my dear, this is the perfect choice.
Sebastian Stan as Marlon Brando
Leigh won her second Oscar for her work opposite Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire. It was only the beloved method actor’s second film, after originating the role of Stanley Kowalski on Broadway. Who can ooze sensuality, aggression, and raw sexual attraction like Brando? Sebastian Stan whose wounded portrayal of Marvel killing machine turned reformed hero the Winter Soldier belies deeper talents that he just started to showcase in last year’s I, Tonya.
Bradley Whitford as David O. Selznick
Selznick was a force of nature in the Golden Age of Hollywood — buying Gone With the Wind to adapt and spearheading a brilliant publicity stunt with a nationwide hunt for Scarlett O’Hara. And though multiple screenwriters and directors worked on the film, the result was largely Selnick’s vision. Bradley Whitford has proven he can excel at playing megalomaniacal men in charge in projects like The Post and All the Way. It’s time for him to try his hand at some moonlight and magnolias.
Ginnifer Goodwin as Olivia de Havilland
Dormer and associates may want to lawyer up before attempting to portray de Havilland onscreen following the screen legend’s legal ire at Ryan Murphy’s depiction of her on Feud. But if she does make it into the series, we can’t imagine a better fit than Ginnifer Goodwin, whose grace and sweet demeanor combined with an inner strength mirror the qualities that made de Havilland a star in roles like the steely, yet unfailingly kind Melanie Wilkes.
Eddie Redmayne as Leslie Howard
Leslie Howard brought an air of remove and a stiff upper lip to Gone With the Wind’s Ashley Wilkes, and no one but a true Brit could replicate that sensibility. Not only does Redmayne resemble his fellow countryman, but the two tend to portray similarly soft-spoken individuals with almost frustratingly upright natures. We’re confident Redmayne would deliver a pitch-perfect Leslie Howard.
Abbie Cornish as Kim Hunter
Cornish has excelled in both period pieces (Bright Star) and gritty, contemporary dramas (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) making her the perfect fit for capturing Kim Hunter’s earthy sensuality. Hunter was among those who transferred from the Broadway cast to the film adaptation of Streetcar and her performance earned her an Academy Award alongside Leigh. Cornish always brings a raw, vulnerability to her roles that could allow her to shine in this part.
Alfred Molina as Claude Rains
While Elizabeth Taylor is arguably the most famous onscreen Cleopatra, Vivien Leigh portrayed the Egyptian queen as well in 1945’s Caesar and Cleopatra opposite Claude Rains. Molina bears a resemblance to the Hollywood great in both appearance and vocal cadence, and he’s also an old hat at bringing classic Hollywood figures to life having portrayed director Robert Aldrich on Feud.
Oliver Platt as Karl Malden
Karl Malden played Leigh’s other leading man in A Streetcar Named Desire, parlaying his transfer from the Broadway production to Oscar gold. Platt not only resembles Malden, but has made a career out of similar every-man roles on both film and television.
Ansel Elgort as Warren Beatty
All due respect to Ansel Elgort, but there is not an actor alive that could exude the same raw power Warren Beatty did when he first began acting in early roles like 1961’s The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone opposite Leigh. Still, Elgort bears a slight physical resemblance to the notorious lothario and his roles thus far have combined the same hunky good looks with underlying vulnerability that made Beatty a star. Not to mention, the two both have an undeniable cool factor.