When recent news revealed that Neil Gaiman was set to adapt Good Omens, the novel he co-authored with the late Terry Pratchett, as a limited series for Amazon Prime and the BBC, fan were overjoyed. Many, like myself, have been waiting for this since we first read the hilariously apocalyptic novel back in the 90s. Now that our moment has come, buzz immediately turns to who will bring these characters to life onscreen?
For those unfamiliar, the book begins with Adam and Eve being evicted from the Garden of Eden by an angel named Aziraphale. Feeling sorry for them, he hands them his fiery sword to keep them warm and watches them run away. Crawly, the serpent who tempted Eve into committing original sin, slithers up and they chat about the possibility of Aziraphale being in trouble with the higher ups.
Flash forward a few thousand years…the Anti-Christ has been born, but due to a mix up at the hospital, he’s sent to the wrong home to grow up. Years are spent prepping the wrong boy to begin Armageddon. Meanwhile, the actual Anti-Christ has grown up in a small village in England. His name is Adam and he and his friends hang out and play and do all of the things that kids do.
As the final battle approaches, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse appear, Aziraphale and Crawly (now known as Crowley) decide they don’t want the world to end, and the Lords of Heaven and Hell get involved to push the Armageddon agenda. The book is hilarious, frightening, and easily one of the most enjoyable books I’ve ever read.
Now let’s get back to the question of casting! I’ve assembled a team of British actors and actresses that would fill the roles perfectly, at least in my mind! Some of these would probably be damned near impossible to get, but never forget that the BBC is a massive entity, and some of the biggest stars in world have returned time and again to appear in movies and series for the network.
Also, this list does not cover every character. For instance, I really think that the roles of Adam and his friends should be relatively unknown. They would be in the 11 year old range and it’s the perfect opportunity to find some new faces. The same is true with Warlock, the young boy who is mistakenly taken as the Anti-Christ.
Stephen Fry as The Footnote Narrator
Although not an actual character in the book, this could be a role on the level of the Criminologist in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Pratchett wrote some of the most hilarious footnotes throughout the novel. They explained plot points, poked fun at the action, and upon occasion, even argued with themselves. They were essential to the novel and Gaiman would do well to find a way to work them into the adaptation.
Fry has the requisite wit and perfect comic timing to make this a realized character that could explain the Satanic nuns of the Chattering Order of St. Beryl with a twinkle in his eye that would captivate the audience.
Tom HIddleston as Crawly aka Crowley
I just heard some you groan and I’m taking down names. I know he’s been in everything lately, but listen to this description of the serpent turned humanoid demon:
“Nothing about him looked particularly demonic, at least by classical standards. No horns, no wings…Crowley had dark hair, and good cheekbones, and he was wearing snakeskin shoes, or at least presumably he was wearing shoes, and he could do really weird things with his tongue. And, whenever he forgot himself, he had a tendency to hiss.”
If that slithery demon doesn’t sound like HIddleston, I’ll eat my hat. Aside from the description, Hiddleston has had countless experience playing a powerful being whose alliances are always in question as Loki in the Thor and The Avengers. The English actor has both the swagger and the talent to bring our favorite demon to life.
Martin Freeman as Aziraphale
Whoever plays Aziraphale has to be intelligent, slightly uptight, at home in a dusty bookshop surrounded by tomes the world has forgotten, and just a wee bit prissy and fussy with his appearance. This is an Angel that has made the best of being stuck on Earth for thousands of years by carving out a cozy hole in it and making it a home.
I don’t think anyone who has seen The Hobbit or his portrayal of Dr. John Watson on the BBC’s “Sherlock” could doubt his ability to slip into this role and wear it like a comfortable robe.
Hugh Laurie and Michael Caine as Hastur and Ligur
Two Dukes of Hell with a taste for the ancient, meaning they really don’t get the modern world much. These two are truly evil, but it almost comes across as a comical caricature of evil. They are sent to collect Crowley when it is discovered that the wrong kid has been labeled as the Anti-Christ. It was suspected that Crowley intentionally misled the leadership of Hell in an attempt to save the world.
Have Laurie and Caine in these two roles would be pure comic gold. They both possess an incredible sense of comic timing and both have an equally strong screen presence. They were made to play these roles!
Idris Elba as Death
Death is the most badass of the Four Horeseman (actually, they’re bikers now) of the Apocalypse. In the novel, he speaks entirely in caps with no quotation marks. His booming voice and ominous presence needs an actor with power and an equally formidable stature.
Idris Elba has both. He has both many times over, actually. Death never removes his helmet and Elba’s deep, sonorous voice would almost give Death a Darth Vader quality that could be epic!
Kate Winslet as War
The only female among the Four Horsemen, War is a force to be reckoned with. Her mere presence causes conflict and her beauty is unrivaled. She is a sexy red head with a killer smile and legs for days. With a day job as a journalist/war correspondent, she can keep her fingers on the pulse of conflict around the world.
Some might not see Winslet in the role, but she has the presence, talent, and beauty to make this role her own and I’d love to see her wielding a sword as she rides her big red motorcycle across the countryside.
Jude Law as Famine aka Dr. Raven Sable
Famine aka Dr. Raven Sable has adjusted to modern living more stylishly and successfully than any of his counterparts. A powerful businessman, Sable has made his fortune from a host of fad diets, designer meals (“one string bean, one pea, and a sliver of chicken breast on a square plate”), and a host of foods designed so that no matter how much you ate, you’d lose weight whether you needed to or not. He’s a smarmy guy with a quick smile that never quite reaches his eyes.
Jude Law would fit into Famine’s tailor made suits beautifully and has the presence to embrace the Horseman’s darker side when the time comes.
Tom Felton as Pollution
Once upon a time, the fourth horseman was Pestilence, but he retired shortly after the advent of penicillin. Since that time, a new Horseman has risen to take his place. That Horseman is Pollution and I think we can all agree that he has done an exceptional job. Wherever there have been oil spills or nuclear plant meltdowns, Pollution has been near. He is tall and thin with long white blond hair and pale skin and is thoroughly unobtrusive. People never notice him unless he lingers, and even then it’s mainly a subconscious feeling rather than seeing.
Tom Felton has the requisite presence and features for the role and if he could really bring his performance down to a subtle level, I think he’d be quite good.
David Oyelowo and Emma Thompson as Brother Francis and Nanny Ashtoreth
Brother Francis is an agent of Aziraphale who regularly visits young Warlock to insure that he is taught kindness and respect for his fellow men. Nanny Ashtoreth is an agent of Crowley who teaches Warlock that other people are bugs to be crushed under his feet. They each do their best to influence the boy to their side, Francis through kindness and Ashtoreth through cheeky lessons and snide comments.
Oyelowo and Thompson would balance each other nicely here and bring depth to roles that might really only seem minor to others.
Evanna Lynch and Nicholas Hoult as Anathema Device and Newton Pulsifer
Anathema Device is the last living descendant of the famed witch prophetess, Agnes Nutter. She’s a beautiful young witch with her head in the clouds and a her eyes on stopping the Apocalypse. Newton Pulsifer is a young witchfinder who bumbles more than he fixes and who gets swept up in the hurricane that is Anathema.
Evanna’s previous work as Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter franchise makes her a ideal match for Anathema and Nicholas oozes boyish charm despite his age. The two together could be great onscreen!
Patrick Stewart as Witchfinder Shadwell
The highest ranking, of two, witchfinders left on the planet, Shadwell is a surly, sexist, misogynist older man with a mean streak a mile wide. Anyone who’s seen Stewart’s portrayal of Ebenezer Scrooge knows he could easily make the jump to Shadwell!
So that’s it! This is the cast I would assemble with an endless budget. Who would YOU pick?