When watching William Wyler's The Heiress (1949), I kept thinking of myself how interesting it would be to see a modern-day version of this film with today's top actors portraying the characters. I really enjoyed the movie based on the 1880 novel, Washington Square, written by Henry James. To me, this movie would be a perfect choice for any producer wanting to remake an old classic movie.
The most important and most challenging character to cast in this movie would be Catherine Sloper, originally depicted by Olivia de Havilland. The actress who I felt was talented enough to play the role of Catherine is Renee Zellweger. I think that Zellweger is a lovely and immensely talented actress who would successfully revise and enhance Catherine's character. Zellweger is a very versatile actress and can play many different types of characters fat and thin, and this is why I believe she would be a perfect choice for this part. The audiences today would be able to identify with her character, and she would bring a sense of liveliness to this sometimes dull character. She would do a great job of illustrating Catherine's imperfections and then at the ending of the movie surprise the audience with her transformation into this exceptionally courageous woman.
I would give the role of James's complex character Dr. Sloper, acted in 1949 by Ralph Richardson, to Jack Nicholson. Jack Nicholson is one of the most talented and successful actors that there is the film industry today. He has done excellent work when starring in movies where he has played powerful and controlling character, such as his role as Col. Nathan R. Jessep in A Few Good Men (1992). In the novel and in the movie Dr. Sloper's character is viewed as a critical, intelligent man who wishes to sway his daughter's feelings for a man he finds unworthy. I feel that Nicholson would do an excellent job playing this role because he maintains a good balance as being a very serious, yet charming actor who is able to captivate his audiences no matter what role he is given.
For the role of Morris Townsend, originally depicted by Montgomery Clift, I would give the part to Hugh Jackman, an Australian actor whom I find very charming and attractive. I believe that Jackman would be a perfect choice for this role because, whenever he is on screen, he portrays a sense of sophistication and cleverness. Morris' character is a man who is very charming, affectionate, and respectful but on the other hand is a very selfish individual. Hugh Jackman would be able to play the role of the gentleman suitor who is sophisticated, charming, classy and affectionate but who also remains mysterious. Jackman has successfully played characters that are very similar to Morris Townsend in movies such as Kate and Leopold (2001).
The next character I would cast would be Aunt Penniman, portrayed in 1949 by Miriam Hopkins. I think that she is a very important yet complicated character. Aunt Penniman's character is someone who is inquisitive, persistent, sociable and hopelessly romantic. I think that overall Aunt Penniman's role is to be an individual with the best of intentions but at times be a little overdramatic and impractical. In my opinion, the best person for this role would be famous actress Helen Mirren. She is a brilliant actress with a lot of talent and has played many different types of roles such as Chris in the movie Calendar Girls (2003). The picture of a middle to older aged widowed woman who is somewhat overbearing and annoying, yet at times very eccentric is essential for the role of Aunt Lavinia Penniman. Helen Mirren would be the best choice for this role.
I truly believe that this amazing cast of characters would definitely be able to turn this novel into a modern-day film worth watching more than just once.