Open Lymond Chronicles Casting Thread

Quite a few people I know are fans of Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles, centred upon a scapegrace Scots nobleman navigating the intrigues of the Tudor/Stewart/Suleiman era whose talents and flaws (and associated collateral damage body count) exceed those of Sherlock Holmes, Batman and Iron Man put together. I am currently 3/4 of the way through book number 4 of 6 and cannot wait to see how the story arc resolves.

Regina Thorne at Heroes and Heartbreakers thinks that Tom Hiddleston (in blond mode, obviously) is the best current casting choice for a putative screen adaptation of the adventures of Francis Crawford of Lymond, and I find it hard to argue against her choice.

Actor Tom Hiddleston poses for a PR shot for his stage performance in Shakespeare's Othello

Tom Hiddleston as Hamlet Cassio in Othello

It is rather essential to the casting that Lymond be utterly convincing with blue eyes, pale skin and blond curls, bearing an overt athletic grace, overweening charm and charismatically arrogant in his gifts (yet also able to disguise himself with clownish or loutish ease in pursuance of his intrigues).  Does anybody have a better current contender?

If you have casting suggestions for any of the other characters who interact with Lymond in his many adventures, please do suggest them while being moderately spoiler aware. New readers beware – you think George R.R. Martin is ruthless in killing off the readers’ darlings? Pfft. What an amateur.

Please feel free to just generally discuss the books if you are coming up blank on the casting suggestions.



Categories: arts & entertainment

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34 replies

  1. Book 4, what, ‘Pawn in Frankincense’. Halfway through, eh? Heh.
    Not curls, I don’t think, but definitely very blond, almost Danaerys-like. This (very mild spoiler alert) has some importance for the plot.
    Tigtog, you do know, don’t you, that after you’ve finished the Lymond books you’ll have to read the Niccolo books. And if you think the Lymond plot is intricate…

  2. The perennial problem of casting Francis is (spoiler). I don’t have a solution. The only casting I’ve thought of so far are these:
    Philippa: Kristen Stewart
    Sybilla: Helen Mirren
    Richard Crawford: Chris Noth
    Mariotta Crawford: Tatiana Maslany
    Graham Reid Mallet: Chris Hemsworth (somewhat against type, but I think he has the range)
    Margaret Douglas: Charlize Theron
    Will Scott: Charlie Hunnam (with a red rinse on his hair)
    Phelim O’Liam Roe: Alan Cumming
    Oonagh O’Dwyer: Julianna Margulies

  3. much as I love the idea of casting Tom in anything where he keeps his natural red-gold curls, that’s not him as Hamlet, a role he’s never played. That’s him as Cassio in a famous Donmar production of Othello, where Chiwetel Ejofor played Othello and Ewan McGregor was Iago, back in 2007/8.

    • Thanks for the factcheck, eandh. The site I found the image on had it tagged as Hamlet and I took them at their word, dangnabbit. Will update the post with a correction.

      • And now the link to the description-page I found it on is 404ing, even though the pic is still sitting on tinypic’s archives. Hmph.
        Anyway, I find Kai’s suggestions interesting. I don’t see Helen Mirren as quite birdlike enough for Sybilla, it should be someone more like Annette Crosbie or Felicity Kendall, except both are actually pushing it more towards being the right age for Lymond’s grandmother rather than his mother – maybe Kristin Scott Thomas? Or Emma Thompson? Or Helena Bonham Carter? Kristen Stewart as Phillippa would work though.
        I think more Alexander Skarsgard for Graham Reid Mallett. I’d like Henry Cavill for Jerott Blyth. Finding some deliciously haughty French thesps to play the De Guises and others at the Franco-Scottish courts should be fun.
        There must be something for Michael Sheen, surely. And James McAvoy. And Keeley Hawes.

  4. I was going to say, Tom was Hamlet and I DIDN’T KNOW???
    After I finish writing my kids’ journals, I might have a look at the Lymond chronicles. Apparently, I have been exacerbating my insomnia by using my iPad at night- it is suggested reading paper books would be less stimulating.
    ‘After I finish writing my kids’ journals’ could mean the unforeseeable future. My powers of procrastination have been mightily embiggened these holidays and I am woefully unfinished.

  5. Oh no, please not Kristen Stewart as Philippa! I’m sorry, I think Kristen Stewart is awful, and Philippa is one of my favourite characters.
    But I love the idea of Julianna Margulies as Oona O’Dwyer, except maybe she’s a bit too lush and ripe? Most of these characters are physically delicate. Except Richard and Chris Noth is a really interesting suggestion but he is probably too huge. He is Lymond’s brother, after all.
    Sybilla ages from 60 to 70 in the course of the story; that is made explicit somewhere. She is very fair, and beautiful, and tiny. I can’t think of anyone who fits.
    Kai, does your perennial problem of casting Francis begin with an M?

    • Kristen Stewart was badly served by Twilight, but I’ve liked her in some other performances. However, now that I think of it, Emma Watson would undoubtedly be better.
      Felicity Kendal at 67 fits pretty well for Sybilla then. She is certainly tiny, and she and Hiddleston share a similar chin. She’d have to wear blue contacts though.
      Maybe Kevin McKidd for Richard? He’s got the brawn, the height, the colouring, the accent – the lot, really.
      Is Brian Blessed for Wat Buccleuch too obvious?

      • Oh, what about Maria Doyle Kennedy for Oonagh O’Dwyer? She was marvellous in the Tudors despite having entirely the wrong colouring for Katharine of Aragon, but her colouring is perfect for Oonagh.

  6. I still like Hemsworth for the role, he doesn’t have to look like Thor, he can do accents, and he’s done period roles already. There’s a persistant gawkiness to Skarsgard.

  7. I used to be very Paul Bettany for Lymond – but now – I think Freddie Fox maybe growing into it as Paul has grown out of it.
    Speaking of Bettanies, Jennifer Connolly would be a wonderful Oonagh.

  8. That’s so odd. I have been watching this thread even though I don’t know the books, because they sound intriguing and I like Tom Hiddleston. Didn’t see much point in commenting when I don’t know who you’re trying to capture, but when I saw what you were saying about Sybilla I almost popped up to suggest Angela Thorne. She is actually much more of a chameleon actor that you might think – completely transforms herself into a role.
    As for Lymond, perhaps you need that young chap who’s been working with Sport for Jove lately. Let me just look up his name… Here we are: Christopher Stalley.

  9. Pavlov’s Cat: of course “M.” I actually wonder if Cillian Murphy could play Lymond given the M problem. But filming would be complicated to say the least. He does have the bones for it! But look, Francis is only about 20 in the first book and all these actors are in their 30s or 40s. Who do we have coming up that’s young enough with this much talent?
    Chris Hemsworth has the lion-like quality described for Graham.
    I defend Kristen Stewart by suggesting you see her in the film “Speak.” I don’t think Emma Watson has the gravitas: Philippa is a serious young thing and Emma Watson seems flightily frivolous a lot of the time. Emma Stone, maybe.
    I’ve always imagined Sybilla around 60. Maybe Meryl Streep? She can play fragile and strong at need; it’s just that I adore Helen Mirren in “Red” where she is quite the chameleon.
    Judi Dench for the Dame de Doubtance!
    I have thoughts about books after 4 but am saving them. 🙂

    • Very few people know that Francis is only in his early 20s in the first book though. Most people who don’t know his family closely simply assume that he’s at least 10 years older, due to a combination of bone structure and his astonishing collection of skills. An actor in their late twenties to early thirties is actually the only actor who could pull that off, don’t you think? Athough of course a project like this would take a few years to put together, so some of the contenders we’re discussing now are likely to age out of eligibility fairly rapidly – Hiddleston is almost certainly booked up for the next few years already, and he might no longer have a fresh enough complexion to pull it off in a few more years. Perhaps some of the young scions of British thespian dynasties are the place to look – Jack Fox, Freddie Fox, Max Irons? (Freddie Fox and Tamsin Merchant might even come close to solving that casting problem, although Jack and Max are more the proper height.)
      re Emma Watson: you don’t think the young woman who was so convincing as the very serious, disciplined, and highly ethical Hermione Granger has the gravitas to play Philippa? Hm. She is however aging out of eligibility rapidly for a character who is meant to be 10 when we first see her and less than 20 by the end, even were movie magic of the Captain America variety employed. At several years older than Watson, Emma Stone is definitely way too old. Perhaps Maisie Williams who is currently playing Arya Stark in GoT is more in the correct ball park.
      Again, Sybilla is a tiny and physically delicate beauty. Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep, wonderful as they be, are simply too tall and majestic.

      • BTW, I’m now up to Chapter 3 of The Ringed Castle, and Dunnett has already broken my heart twice in this book alone and I suspect she’s about to do it again.

  10. I’m going to have to spend some serious $$ in the Kobo bookshop this evening so I can start to catch up on this conversation.

    • one of us, one of us, one of us…
      Just be aware that Dunnett will often suspend the thread of the action/intrigue to devote several pages to recounting in exquisite detail a court function including the subtler touches of the costumes, or the connoisseur’s details of military training techniques, or of a game of chess. These segues are essential to the worldbuilding and thus part of what fans love about the immersion Dunnett provides in the world of 1547-1558, but some philistines have been known to find them seriously offputting.
      I realised last night that Lois McMaster Bujold must have read Lymond in order to create Miles Vorkosigan, she just took away the physical and athletic perfection so that Miles was working only with the brilliance of his mind, and gave him a rather different set of family problems to complicate his adventures.

      • Also, the first book is meant to be a mystery for the reader as to the motivations and goals of Lymond. As the series goes on he becomes gradually more comprehensible. Just hang on for the ride.

  11. It’s the little things that make all the difference. I love this blog.

  12. On tumblr we call ourselves the tinyfandom. 🙂

  13. Just finished book one. She doesn’t muck around does she. Why has GOT been made into a tv series but not this?

  14. Yes LF, that is true. She should be as well known as Agatha Christie but perhaps GoT has paved the way for the good stuff?

  15. I clearly must revisit Lymond. I came to Niccolo first and have read that series many, many times.

  16. I finished the Lymond series last week. I’m giving myself a break from the Dunnett emotional rollercoaster before I launch into the Niccolo books. I haven’t reread Pride and Prejudice for a while, so am enjoying the quietness of Regency England again. Might reread a Heyer romp next, then I hope to be ready for Niccolo.

  17. I just handed my ancient and yellowing copies of books 1 and 2, with the most appalling cover art, to a friend this afternoon. I am ridiculously excited by the prospect of her joining the tinyfandom.
    Tigtog, I’m just about ready to plunge into Niccolo again.
    PS Hello, I seem to have fallen off the face of the blog for a while and missed that Lymond was being discussed!

  18. I am in book three, but finding that I have to dip into other books to have a rest for a bit then back into them. They are a bit epic. Unfortunately I dipped into the first of the Mocklore Chronicles so I had to finish those first. Then I checked out a new YA book but once I finish that I’m right back into fighting the English on Will’s wedding day I promise.

  19. Is there a support group for first time readers? I’ve only just finished book 3.

    • Mindy, I feel for you. Suggest that a therapeutic P&P break with the Darcy lake-diving scene might be in order before taking on the next one?

  20. Oh yeah. Right in the feels hey? *says nothing about what’s yet to come*

  21. Ahh too late. I think I am going to spend the next 500 pages desperately wishing I am wrong in what I suspect might occur.

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