You might have read about the plans to remake Alfred Hitchcock’s 1951 film, Strangers on a Train. If you missed the details you can read it about it in my latest News From the Lake column. In a nutshell, the movie is set to be retitled Strangers, and follows a movie star (Ben Affleck playing the Farley Granger role) “in the middle of a campaign for an Oscar during awards season whose private plane breaks down and is given a ride to LA on another plane by a wealthy stranger.” From there I’m assuming we’ll get the same trajectory as Hitchcock’s movie where the two offer to pull off dueling murders for each other. Now, considering this has Affleck, director David Fincher, and screenwriter Gillian Flynn attached the odds are good it’ll get made. Below are my casting suggestions – I’ll offer up an alternative to Ben Affleck – for who should be considered. Feel free to leave your own thoughts and casting comments in the comments section below.
The Plot: IMDB does a better job of elaborating than I can – “Bruno Anthony thinks he has the perfect plot to rid himself of his hated father and when he meets tennis player Guy Haines on a train, he thinks he’s found the partner he needs to pull it off. His plan is relatively simple. Two strangers each agree to kill someone the other person wants disposed of. For example, Guy could kill his father and he could get rid of Guy’s wife Miriam, freeing him to marry Anne Morton, the beautiful daughter of a U.S. Senator. Guy dismisses it all out of hand but but Bruno goes ahead with his half of the ‘bargain’ and disposes of Miriam. When Guy balks, Bruno makes it quite clear that he will plant evidence to implicate Guy in her murder if he doesn’t get rid of his father.”
Originally Played By: Farley Granger
My Suggestion: Matt Damon
Affleck may be leading this remake, but I’m going to argue that his collaborator/best friend, Matt Damon, would be a better fit. Personally, it seems like Affleck is on this because of the character he played in Gone Girl, that of an emotionally distant man who could be a murderer but probably isn’t. I always saw the character of Guy as a dreamer, a man unhappy with his lot in life, but unwilling to do anything to change it. Damon has that everyman quality, and he’s played a similar character in The Talented Mr. Ripley.
Other Possibilities: I was given a few alternatives by readers and my little brother including Hugh Jackman, George Clooney, Channing Tatum, and Christian Bale.
Originally Played By: Robert Walker
My Suggestion: Dan Stevens
Robert Walker’s Bruno was approachable, unassuming; the perfect guy you’d want to plot a murder with. After recently watching former Downton Abbey star Stevens in darker roles like The Guest and A Walk Among the Tombstones he immediately came to mind for Bruno. He could certainly play against Affleck (or Damon above), and he’s still unknown enough that audiences wouldn’t know his end-game right away. At the same time, he’s cheaper than Affleck and you know the studio won’t want to smother Affleck with a lot of heavy-hitters.
Other Possibilities: Neil Patrick Harris would be good but, again, don’t want to have too many Gone Girl alumni. Eddie Redmayne would also be a great, unassuming actor.
Originally Played By: Ruth Roman
My Suggestion: Margot Robbie
Guy originally plots the murder of his wife in order to secure the love of Anne Morton. Can you think of another woman worth killing for? I hope that any remake, especially one being written by Flynn, would beef up Anne’s role to be more than the prize for Guy. Maybe do something more to put her in the middle of any scheme? Her role in Focus should show her to be worth ingratiating into a con film, if the movie were to inject her into the scheme, and she’s a rising star that audiences would want to see work with someone like Fincher.
Other Possibilities: Because of the Gone Girl connections Rosamund Pike came to mind. I also thought of Belle star Gugu Mbatha-Raw, but who knows if she’d be suited for a remake later down the road (try not to reuse actors if I can help it).
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.