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The BBC Casts Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell‘s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
by Rebecca Pahle | 11:00 am, October 15th, 2013
*breathes into a paper bag for a few minutes* OK, I’m good, I’m good.
It was about a year ago when we heard the news that the BBC is adapting Susanna Clarke‘s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell—aka magicians during the Napoleonic Wars, aka my second favorite book of all time—into a miniseries. Well now the miniseries has come forth from the fairy realm like the Raven King, and we finally know who’ll play the fuddy-duddy old magician Norrell and his protégé Strange.
The former will be Eddie Marsan, whose credits include The World’s End, Guy Ritchie‘s Sherlock Holmes movies, V for Vendetta, the Red Riding trilogy… a bunch of stuff. Even if you don’t recognize his name you almost definitely know his face, basically. And Jonathan Strange will be Bertie Carvel, who’s mostly done theater work (he was Miss Trunchbull in the Broadway version of Matilda! Joy!) but has appeared in Sherlock (as Sherlock’s sleazy banker classmate in The Blind Banker), The Crimson Petal and the White, and Les Misérables in addition to various TV shows.
My face did this when I read Marsan’s name, as he’s several decades younger than I envision Norrell, who starts out the book as an elderly old curmudgeon and only gets more elderly and more curmudgeonly as you wind your way through the 800-some pages. But hey, Marsan’s a good actor, and that’s what makeup for. I can definitely see him playing an ornery magical scholar at turns frustrated with and frightened by his pupil Strange.
And speaking of Strange: My headcanon is still James McAvoy, and that’s a tough one to dislodge, so I’m going to have to wait and see what Carvel does with the role before I form any sort of opinion. The same fate will meet whoever ends up playing the Man with the Thistle-Down Hair. He’s an amalgamation of Cate Blanchett and Tilda Swinton in my head, and you’ll have to pull that fancasting out of my cold, dead hands.
But best of luck to everyone who’s actually involved. I can’t wait for this show to air (whenever it does—no release date has been set yet). Please don’t suck, please don’t suck, please don’t suck…