In the spirit of movies no one ever wanted to see like The Beverly Hillbillies, Leave it to Beaver, and George of the Jungle, I can’t help but think of the inevitability that the studio execs of tomorrow, no doubt at a loss for original material, will be more than happy to dig into the archives of 80s and 90s television for ideas.
The question: if you were a casting agent and were asked to put together the ensemble for a Cheers flick to be released in the near future, who would you pick?
Keep in mind the relative profile and importance of the project. Brad Pitt as Sam Malone? Jessica Alba as Rebecca? Not a chance in hell. Also, while physical resemblances to the original characters may be nice, they are by no means a necessity or a prerequisite.
Okay, enough foreplay. I present to you the cast of Cheers: The Movie. Note: since I’m a bigger fan of the later years and I can’t stand Shelley Long, we’ll be looking at the Woody/Rebecca years rather than the Coach/Diane years, though I have nothing against Coach. He was just as good as Woody, just in a different way.
Playboy. Former alcoholic. Former crappy pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. Witty. Prone to bantering with the “leading lady” of the day. Those are some tough shoes to fill, and while his American-accented roles haven’t been the best representation of his work, Colin Farrell sure does have a lot of traits in common with Malone. I found this the toughest role to cast, which is unfortunate since he’s the lead. It’s also unfortunate that Kevin Costner is 56, because he’d be the best choice. Hell, if you mash up some of his previous characters, he’s practically already played Sam.
Alternate: Nathan Fillion
Recall, if you will, a time long ago. A time when (shock!) Kirstie Alley was considered beautiful. Yes friends, it’s true – once upon a time, Alley played a sexy Vulcan in a Star Trek flick. Then in just a few years, she was cast as the romantic lead opposite Danson after Long’s departure. Rebecca was troubled, to say the least. Easily flustered, prone to crying bouts, but with a quick wit and a penchant for rich guys. Although maybe not as good of a sparring partner with Sam as Diane was, she made up for it with better chemistry. Christa Miller, vet of The Drew Carey Show and Scrubs has shown excellent versatility over her career, playing both the girl-next-door and the vampy bitch with equal aplomb.
Alternate: Selma Blair
See, the trouble with lovable fat guys is that they’re fat. As such, many of them die young. John Candy. Chris Farley. John Belushi. Well, my pick for resident stool man Norm just might die young, too. In fact, the odds for “Might” have been taken off the board in Vegas. If Artie Lange lives past 50, it just might be a sign that hell has frozen over. Still, since he’s still alive, he makes a pretty decent pick for Norm. Who doesn’t love Artie? Now if only he can remain sober enough to play a drunk…
Alternate: Horatio Sanz?
Who better to play Norm’s best friends than a guy that’s played Artie Lange’s best friend many a time (I believe the two are good friends in real life)? As a bonus/element of confusion, the guy playing Cliff could be named Norm! Aside from being a US postal worker, Claven was the in-house know-it-all (or perhaps, know nothing) at Cheers, and Norm McDonald can certainly pull of being a blowhard, as evidenced by nothing less than his ability to impersonate Larry King with precision.
Alternate: Stephen Root
I had some trouble with this role as well. No offense to Rhea Perlman, but I’m sure she knows she’s not a terribly attractive woman. And, believe it or not, Hollywood is generally not in the business of making stars of unattractive people (especially women). Thus, the pool of available “name” actresses available to play an Italian barmaid with a mouth like a sailor and a penchant for sleazy husbands isn’t all that deep. My first choice, Aida Turturro (The Sopranos) is more of a natural pick; the alternate is a wild card that I think just might be inspired.
Alternate: Wanda Sykes
Aside from a perhaps too-obvious choice of David Hyde Pierce here, I don’t think there’s a better choice to play the stuffy, snobby psychiatrist than Neil Patrick Harris.
Alternate: Thomas Haden Church
Woodrow Tiberius Boyd was a young hayseed that came to Cheers fresh from Hanover, Indiana, where he was voted the smartest student in school. As such, an actor that’s good looking that can play dumb (and hopefully can look it as well) is required. While I know you might be thinking Paul Walker right now (who wouldn’t), I just don’t think he has any comedic chops in him, whereas James Franco, fresh from comedic roles in Your Highness and Pineapple Express, looks to have it in him. He’s not a bad actor, either, which is more than Walker can say.
Alternate: Owen Wilson