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Fantasy Film Casting: The Temeraire Series

by Josh | Categories: books, entertainment, movies, print

Fantasy Film Casting puts us in the casting director’s chair for some of our favorite upcoming films. Who would you pick?

The Temeraire Series

It’s been a while since we’ve heard anything from Peter Jackson on the Temeraire series. Jackson optioned the novels from writer Naomi Novik in 2006 with plans of producing an epic 9-part miniseries. In an interview with Ain’t It Cool News in early 2010, Jackson said that the Temeraire script was underway and some designs have been done by Weta — but this was before he took over directing The Hobbit from Guillermo Del Toro. Now that Jackson will likely be occupied until 2013, we have a while to wait before find out who will be cast in the key roles.

Synopsis: The Temeraire series provides an alternate history of the Napoleonic wars with an air force — an air force of intelligent dragons harnessed by crews of aviators. When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes its precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Capt. Will Laurence from his seafaring life into an uncertain future — and an unexpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature. Thrust into the rarified world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, he faces the daring tactics of airborne battle, the full threat of Napoleon’s own aerial forces, and a series of adventures that only serve to bond captain and dragon together for life…or death.


Captain William Laurence is an honorable captain with a promising career in the King’s Navy and the third son to Lord Allendale. Due to circumstances beyond his control, Laurence is assigned to the dragon Temeraire and transferred to the Aerial Corps. As his bond with his dragon deepens, Laurence’s ideas about dragons and his beloved England are challenged.

Josh’s pick: Matthew MacFadyen MacFadyen is a veteran British actor who will star in the upcoming Three Musketeers alongside Christoph Waltz (Inglorious Basterds), Orlando Bloom, and Logan Lerman (Percy Jackson). MacFadyen’s adeptness at playing stuffy British characters who give into their emotions will come in handy, as Laurence is a man whose world has been turned upside down by a profound relationship with a dragon.

Jeff’s pick: Paul Bettany — I’ve loved every character I’ve watched Bettany play. You may remember him from The Da Vinci Code, Master and Commander, A Beautiful Mind, and most recently The Tourist. He’s brilliant at portraying characters that are emotionally conflicted, intelligent and graceful, strong and courageous, and intensely curious (all qualities of Laurence). He’s fun to watch and would be a very likable hero.

Temeraire is a young, rare, and highly intelligent Chinese-bred dragon who chooses Laurence as his companion. Temeraire is curious about the world and highly protective of Laurence. He also happens to be a deadly weapon.

Josh’s pick: Chow Yun Fat Temeraire’s voice must project a complex combination of emotions with an other-worldly sound. He must sound dangerous and serpent-like, but also very human: friendly, curious, compassionate, jealous, indignant, and naive. Temeraire also speaks a variety of languages, most notably his dual native tongues of English and Chinese. Chow Yun Fat has the ability to hit all these notes.

Jeff’s pick: Russell Crowe — The series could use a little star power…but not too much. With Crowe behind the mic, he would bring some serious acting talent without stealing the show. He’s got a voice that’s simultaneously gruff and silky, and seems capable of a wide range of expressiveness. Perhaps a little Ben Burtt magic could make Crowe’s voice even more otherworldly.

Lt. John Granby is the 1st lieutenant assigned to Temeraire who initially is resentful of Laurence but eventually comes to respect and admire his superior officer.

Josh’s pick: Tom Hardy As a contrast to Laurence’s pedigree and good manners, the actor who plays Granby must project a rough exterior, as Officers of Aerial Corps are viewed as ill-mannered by their counterparts in the Navy. Tom Hardy (Inception) has a gravelly voice and rugged looks to contrast well with MacFadyen’s more polished persona.

Jeff’s pick: Matt Smith — The current Doctor Who is one of the fans’ favorites, and seems like he’d be a natural fit aboard either a ship or a dragon. He’s got a unique look—broad jaw and chin, flat nose, narrow eyes—that’s full of character and mystery. I prefer watching characters who aren’t cookie cutters, and Smith definitely breaks the mold.

Jane Roland is the female captain of an acid-spitting longwing named Exidium. Jane is a strong, confident woman and an experienced aviator. She has a distinctive scar across her face and chooses to wear mens clothes. Laurence and Jane begin an intimate relationship while stationed together in Dover.

Josh’s pick: Cate Blanchett Cate may be hard to sign for the series, but she would be the perfect Roland. She’s tough, experienced, and could hold her own amongst men and dragons.

Jeff’s pick: Rachel Weisz — I think Weisz could be cast in any role and make it extremely watchable. She can play a strong female role with the best of them. Also, she’s smoking hot.

Berkley is captain of England’s largest dragon Maximus, a Regal Copper. Berkley is a large man with a gruff personality, but he cares deeply for his dragon. Berkley and Maximus serve in the same formation as Laurence and Temeraire.

Josh’s pick: Mark Addy If you haven’t seen the trailer for HBO’s upcoming series Game Of Thrones, you should. Mark Addy stars in the new series alongside Sean Bean (Fellowship of the Ring). Addy fits Berkley’s physical description, as well as his booming voice.

Jeff’s pick: Lee Arenberg — If you’ve seen him play the comedic scalawag in Pirates of the Carribean, you know he’d make a fascinating Berkley. He looks born for the role of a dragon captain, and he’d bring some much-needed gruff, swagger, and humor to the series.

Catherine Harcourt is young, slender, redhaired captain of Lily, a longwing and the lead dragon in Temeraire’s formation.

Josh’s pick: Emily Blunt As a formation leader, Harcourt is tough and capable, but she’s also young and naive. Emily Blunt played a Young Queen Victoria with a similar struggle.

Jeff’s pick: Rachel Hurd-Wood — If you’re going to cast a redhead, you should cast a real one. Harcourt is young (20) in the book, so the character needs to be young, too. The British Hurd-Wood has the perfect look, as well as plenty of acting chops for a young actress.

Tom Riley was Laurence’s former 1st lieutenant aboard the Reliant and becomes the captain of the Allegiance, an aircraft carrier for dragons. He wears his emotions on his face, but is generally of easy-going humor.

Josh’s pick: Rupert Friend Friend is a young, talented British actor who is known for playing supporting roles in period films. He played Prince Albert alongside Emily Blunt in Young Victoria — an experience which might play out well as the Temeraire series progresses.

Jeff’s pick: Luke Arnold — I’ve always thought films like this need fresh faces, and Arnold is just getting started in his acting career. He has the right look for a romantic yet commanding character, and this could be a great opportunity for the young actor to become the next Orlando Bloom.


2 Responses to “Fantasy Film Casting: The Temeraire Series”

  1. Mark Arsenault says:

    Just a slight correction to your description on Temeraire. His first two language were English and French. He did not learn Chinese until he returned to China in I believe it was the second book. I’m seriously hoping to see more books in the series. After all,Australia is a large expanse for a dragon to play in.

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