ACTUALLY Building a Better Barnabas

A Disclaimer.

I tried like heck to get this post up last night, only to find weird typos from the voice dictation I was using.  This was my first chance to try and fix it.  Now, sit back, relax, and enjoy your flight.

What is all of this at this site (and ones like it) other than an infantile regression into the most fannish recesses of the mind? Having said that, and having stared of these weird, ghoulish pictures of Johnny Depp in the role for the past few months, I can’t help and come back to that question I’ve bounced around in my mind over and over. I’m sure it’s one of the favorite sports of every fan of the franchise, “Who would I cast as Barnabas Collins?”

In attempting this, I think it’s crucial to factor in Frid’s age at the time he played the part.  Although just in his 40’s, he had accrued a magnificently craggy visage that allowed him to be alien, monstrous, and yet strangely handsome and deeply sympathetic.  Faces like that don’t come along that often, so I look to actors who are older than Frid when he was cast.  And with Hollywood’s obsession with youth, I see nothing wrong with, maybe not May/December, but perhaps July/October in the Barnabas/Josette relationship.  Let’s face it, they were an odd looking couple even as they were originally cast, and that dichotomy pays off in subtle ways throughout the dynmaic of those characters.

A few years ago, it struck me that Kyle McLachlan was an excellent choice for Barnabas. He has that wonderful intensity along with the sort of wounded sensitivity which is sorely needed for the part. While I enjoyed and admired Ben Cross, it was very hard to see him as sympathetically as I did Jonathan Frid. He was too strong and intimidating.  Frid managed to balance a sense of complete terror with being a complete terror. It’s a very difficult act to pull off, and he probably only achieved it because he really was terrified. And yet, when he needed to turn on the menace, there were few to rival him.

But I still think that Kyle McLachlan’s a pretty good choice.

A couple of days ago, I started to think about the facial structure of Frid, and another face occurred to me. As with all moments of great inspiration, it came upon me whilst I was watching the film, TALLADEGA NIGHTS, and I was struck by the unique geography of Gary Cole‘s face. I’ve admired his acting for about twenty years. He’s not only a magnificent comedian, but he pulls off drama extremely well. And, let’s face it, he was the best of the captains that Joe Straczynski ever cast.

(He was allegedly hard to get along with, mostly because he didn’t seem to want to go to conventions. And so what? His job was to play a part, and he played it. Have some respect for the man. He was only HARVEY BIRDMAN.  And it’s not like CRUSADE was allowed by TNT to be JMS’s finest hour.)

Anyway, in looking at the way that his face is developing and the way the bone structure is working, I swear to Godzilla the man is starting to look a little bit like Jonathan Frid.

Ultimately, I suspect that Maclachlan would be better able to pull off that sense of fear mixed with courtly optimism a little bit more than Cole. Cole has a slightly colder quality, and I think that might ultimately be to his detriment. But either of them would make excellent choices. Have any of you had thoughts on who should play the part? As with fans of the TV show THE PRISONER and with the role of Number Six, this has to be a favorite past time of other fans