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Kristen ReCasts the Classics: Laura


As I reported last week, James Ellroy (author of L.A. Confidential) is penning a remake of the classic Otto Preminger tale, Laura. As much as it pains me to do this, I figured I’d throw out a few casting suggestions although it’s doubtful this’ll ever come to fruition. (Remember when they were talking about doing It’s a Wonderful Life 2?) As always, feel free to give your thoughts on a remake, what you think of my casting, and your own suggestions, in the comments below.

The Plot: Police detective Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews) investigates the disappearance, and possible murder, of the beautiful Laura Hunt (Gene Tierney). As he uncovers the motives for why the various men in her life would want to kill her, he slowly starts to fall in love with her by proxy.

There’s little a remake could do to improve on the original; it’s not like the film requires advanced technology or a less restrictive ratings system. You could say this with all remakes, but Laura is a movie where audiences who’ve seen it will always compare the new with the older performances.


Originally Played By: Gene Tierney

My Suggestion: Elizabeth Olsen

Honestly, no actress today will capture the sheer beauty of Gene Tierney. It’s as hard as casting Helen of Troy – and Hollywood’s tried to do that several times. With that being said, Olsen is a beauty and has proven her ability to work in serious dramas. Were this to be a period piece, possibly set in the original 1944 time period of the original, she’d certainly look good in the clothes.

Other Possibilities: I contemplated changing our Laura’s ethnicity and if so Freida Pinto would have that innocent luminosity Tierney possessed.

Detective Mark McPherson

Originally Played By: Dana Andrews

My Suggestion: Idris Elba

Mark is a determined character, slowly realizing he’s immersed in this case more than is healthy. His love for Laura borders on the fanatical, and theories abound that Laura’s return is really Mark’s hallucination! With that, Idris Elba can certainly pull off determined and obsessive.

Other Possibility: My original Mark appears later in this post. After that the only person I saw was Mark Ruffalo. He could certainly play Mark as an everyman in way over his head.

Waldo Lydecker

Originally Played By: Clifton Webb

My Suggestion: Victor Garber

I’m sorry, but when I think of acerbic, quick-witted, and sly I see Victor Garber; that could be because I loved Alias and Garber exhibited all those traits on a weekly basis. Like with Laura herself, no one can replace the acid-tongued Clifton Webb, but Garber’s certainly proven with roles like Legally Blonde that he can play slimy without being outright reprehensible.

Other Possibility: Michael Caine although the role might draw too many comparisons to Miss Congeniality.

Shelby Carpenter

Originally Played By: Vincent Price

My Suggestion: Colin Farrell

Vincent Price’s Shelby was manipulative and deceitful. Does he really love Laura or is he an opportunist? It really didn’t matter at the end of the day because Vincent Price suckered you in with his poise. Colin Farrell is the actor, for me at least, who could sell subpar ice to an Eskimo and you’d thank him for overcharging you. I originally envisioned him as Mark, but think he’d be a far better seducer in the role of Shelby.

Other Possibility: Insert any hot guy that can play a cad.

Ann Treadwell

Originally Played By: Judith Anderson

My Suggestion: Sarah Paulson

I know Paulson and Olsen have already starred in a film together, but they worked so well already that pairing them up in this would be great. Ann realizes she’s second-best to Laura, in every respect. Where Judith Anderson is meant to be less attractive, I thought it would be fun for a remake to have the two women be evenly matched in beauty, but play on the age-old stereotype of…well, age.

Other PossibilityCate Blanchett would be an interesting one, and she has similar sharp features to Anderson.

Kristen Lopez View All

A freelance film critic whose work fuels the Rotten Tomatoes meter. I've been published on The Hollywood Reporter, Remezcla, and The Daily Beast. I've been featured in the L.A. Times. I currently run two podcasts, Citizen Dame and Ticklish Business.

16 thoughts on “Kristen ReCasts the Classics: Laura Leave a comment

  1. Idris Elba would make anything more awesome. Obsessed was an awful movie, but he did his damndest as if he was on a one-man mission to save the movie.

  2. I agree with nasen75, you can’t go wrong with Idris. Let’s just put him in everything. I’d go to the movies more often if that happened.

  3. I’ve been out of the loop apparently, I had no idea this was happening. I guess Ellroy is as good as anybody could be for it, and with this casting, I would actually see this movie.

    • Ellroy certainly hasn’t proved his mettle screenwriting – Street Kings, ick – but maybe if he’s in his wheelhouse we’ll get something better. Hey, if Hollywood wants to give me a casting fee or something, I’ll take it!

  4. Um, “Ann Treadwell” was portrayed in the original 1944 movie by the gloriously malevolent Dame Judith Anderson, not Gloria Holden, whoever she was. Judith Anderson is also well-known as “Mrs. Danvers” in “Rebecca.”

    • Thanks for pointing that out Rich. I’ve gone back in and fixed it. Gloria Holden played Dracula’s daughter in the film of the same name, and I always confuse her with Judith Anderson. Both had sharp features, dark hair, and were best remembered for creepy female characters.

  5. Kristen… Please don’t confuse. My perspective is the artistic resumes of Dame Judith Anderson and Gloria Holden are miles apart in the quality and quantity of their listings. An early 1933 pre-code, BLOOD MONEY, gives an immediate indication of the potential future in Ms. Anderson. Though her academy award nominated role of Mrs. Danvers in REBECCA certainly rests with the top tier of her film accomplishments, so do LAURA, AND THEN THEIR WERE NONE, KING”S ROW, THE FURIES, PURSUED, and CAT ON A HOT TEN ROOF deserve recognition. If you add in her stage and TV credits you have an astounding number of memorable performances. Gloria Holden will always be DRACULA”S DAUGHTER, and that’s enough to easily guarantee her a position on the “unforgettable” character portrayal list. She owns that role just as Anderson owns Mrs. Danvers. Both left permanent marks in Hollywood, but Dame Judith easily stands out among the two.

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