By Tevin Murphy and J’Neia Stewart
C.S. Lewis created one of the most iconic high fantasy series of all time: The Chronicles of Narnia. This series follows the tales of various ordinary humans who find themselves in the magical land of Narnia where animals can talk and witches exist. While the series is certainly inspired by themes and premises present in Christianity, its characters and messages remain timeless and fascinatingly unique. We chose this to fancast because of the potential for diversity not only in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe but the other parts of the series as well.
Viola Davis as Aslan
Aslan is introduced in the first book of the Chronicles of Narnia series The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe. The audience’s first understanding of Aslan comes when Mr. Beaver explains to the Pevensie children that Aslan is the true and rightful king of Narnia. However Aslan makes his first physical appearance in the series when Mr. Beaver leads the children to Aslan at the stone table for a large gathering of Narnians. In the series, Aslan takes the form of a lion and C. S. Lewis wrote Aslan as an allegory for Jesus Christ and believed that Aslan is the form that Jesus would take in a mystical world. Aslan is shown to be wise, fair, understanding, kind, and dangerous when the need arises. I instantly thought of Viola Davis for Aslan because her voice is soothing, majestic, and quite simply divine.
Marsai Martin as Lucy Pevensie
Lucy is the youngest of the Pevensie children and the very first of the four to travel to Narnia through the wardrobe in The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe. Lucy is the most sensitive and steadfast in her faith of not just Aslan but of Narnia in general. Lucy is brave and noble while innocent and loyal to those she loves. She is dedicated to saving Narnia and freeing them from the White Witches control. Despite being mocked and dismissed by her siblings initially when she told them about her traveling to Narnia she is still very much loves them and wants nothing but the best for them. Marsai Martin is perfect at portraying innocence and intelligence and would be the perfect Lucy.
Caleb McLaughlin as Edmund Pevensie
Edmund is the second of the Pevensie children to find their way into the magical world of Narnia through the wardrobe. Initially Edmund just like the rest of his siblings didn’t believe Lucy about her claims of having traveled to Narnia. Edmund makes mean and hurtful comments to his sister in regard to her belief in Narnia and what she’s seen. However during a game of hide and go seek in the Professor’s home Edmund finds himself inside the wardrobe and unintentionally stumbles into the world of Narnia. Unbeknownst to him upon entering Narnia Edmund encounters the White Witch that has been terrorizing Narnia. In the beginning Edmund is characterized as quite mean, selfish, spiteful and mean spirited during the course of the series which changes as time goes on and he begins to see the error of this ways. Caleb McLaughlin would make the perfect Edmund because he’s perfect at portraying a young boy trying to find himself as he grows older.
Laura Harrier as Susan Pevensie
Susan is the eldest Pevensie sister and the second eldest of the Pevensie children. She is quite mature, stern, and logical in her resolve. Susan and her brother Edmund are the last to enter Narnia through the wardrobe. When Susan and Peter enter Narnia for the first time it is by accident when the four Pevensie children were hiding from Miss MaCready in the Professor’s estate. When the children enter Narnia and encounter Father Christmas, Susan is gifted with a bow and arrows that never miss their target as well as a horn that sends for help when blown. Susan is determined and motherly to her brothers and sisters wanting nothing but the best of them as well as their safety. Despite her bow and arrows being magical, she still practices with them frequently, and this is a testament to her desire to be ready, prepared, and mature. Laura Harrier would make the perfect Susan because she gives off the vibe of maturity….potentially because she is actually mature.
Ray Fisher as Peter Pevensie
Peter is the eldest and most mature of the Pevensie children. His maturity comes from supporting his siblings through his father being called into war. Peter is extremely noble, honest, and just, and for the most part just wants to protect and guide his siblings in the best way he knows how. Peter, like the rest of his siblings, didn’t believe his sister Lucy when she said she’d traveled to Narnia through the magic wardrobe in Professor Digory’s home. However Peter apologized and felt terrible for not believing Lucy when she initially told them about where she’d traveled to. Peter was also angry with Edmund for lying about having not been to Narnia despite having actually traveled there. Ray Fisher is the perfect choice for Peter because he gives off an air of maturity while still remaining youthful.
Marianne Jean Baptiste as The Professor
The Professor, also known in the book series as Digory Kirke, houses the Pevensies when they are forced to flee into the countryside during the German Blitz during World War II. The Magician’s Nephew, the first book in the chronology of the story of Narnia, reveals the origins of both The Professor and The White Witch and, at the end, reveals that he built the wardrobe that would later transport the Pevensies to Narnia. The Professor is also the person who persuades the older Pevensie siblings to listen to Lucy rather than dismiss her after she tells them about her visit to Narnia. For this role, Marianne Jean Baptiste, whose recent acting credits include the second season of critically acclaimed BBC drama Broadchurch, would be perfect. She maintains a mature yet imaginative personality that would be necessary for a role like this.
Cate Blanchett as The White Witch
The White Witch, also known as Jadis, is the general antagonist in The Magician’s Nephew as well as The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. The White Witch, through her own magic, subjects Narnia to a winter that lasts a hundred years and is both paranoid and fearful of a prophecy that states four people will defeat her to rule Narnia. So paranoid is she that she instructs the various creatures who work for her as well as other Narnians to bring to her any humans found in Narnia. She tempts younger Pevensie brother, Edmund, to her side, causing him to betray his siblings. The White Witch is defeated and killed in the Battle of Beruna by Aslan himself, whom she is previously thought to have killed as he volunteered to be killed in Edmund’s place. Cate Blanchett would be absolutely iconic in this role, especially considering her upcoming role as Hela in Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok.
Alfred Enoch as Mr. Tumnus
Tumnus is the first Narnian character we are introduced to in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, a close friend of Lucy Pevensie, and a satyr (half-man, half-goat). He first returns Lucy to her world after being incredibly fearful of having to give her over to The White Witch, noting that she would find out sooner or later as so many creatures are on her side. When Lucy returns (her brother Edmund not far behind), she sees that Tumnus is still safe, though a later visit including all four siblings reveals that Tumnus was arrested by The White Witch’s secret police after Edmund divulges that Lucy met him in her first visit to Narnia. Alfred Enoch, whose previous acting roles include the pop culture phenomenon Harry Potter and critically acclaimed crime drama How to Get Away With Murder, has a certain innocent youth about him that would make him fun to watch as Mr. Tumnus.
David Oyelowo and Eve Myles as Mr. and Mrs. Beaver
Mr. and Mrs. Beaver serve as guides for the Pevensies through Narnia after Tumnus enlists them to do so in the event of his arrest by The White Queen’s police. Notably, they are the ones who inform the Pevensies of the prophecy concerning them as the harbingers of The White Queen’s demise as well as Aslan and his return to Narnia. Like Tumnus, Edmund betrays the location of the Beavers as well as his siblings to The White Witch after sneaking out of the Beavers’ home. For these incredibly important roles, David Oyelowo (Selma, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and Queen of Katwe) and Eve Myles (Torchwood & Broadchurch) are perfect fits.
Peter Dinklage as Ginarrbrik
Ginarrbrik is a Black Dwarf and is a servant for The White Witch. Interestingly, he is only given a name in the film rather than the book. He has a somewhat minimal role in both the book and the film, notably working as the overseer for Edmund while The White Witch imprisons him and also drives the sleigh for The White Witch. Peter Dinklage, most notably known as Tyrion on the HBO series Game of Thrones, would be ideal in this role as it might be interesting to see him in an antagonistic role.
Manu Bennett as Maugrim
Maugrim is the head of The White Witch’s secret police and also guards The White Witch’s castle. In The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, Maugrim is a Talking Animal, specifically a wolf, that is particularly efficient at hunting and killing the creatures who offend The White Witch. Maugrim is later killed by Peter Pevensie after attempting to attack Susan Pevensie. The best person to play Maugrim is Manu Bennett, most notable for his roles in Arrow and Spartacus.
Its been years since we saw a new film in the Chronicles of Narnia series and a lot has changed since the first film was released. The Chronicles of Narnia is one of those series that is ripe for a reboot that does the original books and characters justice bringing them to a new audience. The books are masterfully written tales of belief, faith, good and evil, and above all things doing what is right. I hope to see these characters reimagined and brought to life again and fairly soon. The world of Narnia could be the perfect example of diversity in fantasy and is a prime candidate to show off just how diversity can not only enrich your story, but enhance its meaning to viewers and readers.