Dream Casting is an imaginative look at the casting process of potential Hollywood projects based on comics and other media. This isn't just about what is being made; this is about what should be made, and who we think should be the stars.
For the last week of Pride Month, I decided to look at an exciting all-ages graphic novel that just came out a few weeks ago. The Cardboard Kingdom is the creation of artist Chad Sell and tells interlocking stories of the imaginative kids in a suburban neighborhood, which Sell cowrote with Jay Fuller, David DeMeo, Katie Schenkel, Kris Moore, Molly Muldoon, Vid Alliger, Manuel Betancourt, Michael Cole, Cloud Jacobs, and Barbara Perez Marquez.
In the comic, the kids use a shared fantasy kingdom to explore their identities by taking on over-the-top adult personas including knights, queens, superheroes, villains and monsters. Given the expansiveness of the book and the limited scope of this column, I've focused on casting those fantasy personas. If I tried to cast all of the children, they would end up being too old. Those are roles that should go to unknowns. So we'll cast their adult alter egos (except for most of the monsters, who'll be special effects), and then search for child actors who resemble them.
Jinkx Monsoon as the Sorceress
Jinkx Monsoon may not have a long acting résumé, but they're a talented performer who can portray exactly the sort of sinister glamour that the Sorceress is all about.
Amber Stevens West as the Knight
Amber Stevens West (Ghosted) is a very funny actress who has some action experience and will look great in a sleek suit of armor.
Sunita Mani as the Huntress
Sunita Mani (GLOW, The Good Place) is a delightful presence in everything she's in and will make a fantastic Huntress.
Leslie Jones as Big Banshee
Whether her Hulk-like appearance will be accomplished by motion capture or just green makeup and a padded suit, Leslie Jones (Ghostbusters) is the perfect actress to portray a little girl's fantasy of being as big and loud and boisterous as she wants to be.
Kristin Chenoweth as the Animal Queen
I almost didn't cast an adult as the Animal Queen because she stays so tiny in the fantasy sequences, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea of her being a tiny and regal adult in that form. Who better to cast than Kristin Chenoweth (Pushing Daisies, American Gods), who is herself a tiny and regal adult?
Rodrigo Santoro as the Prince
If you know Rodrigo Santoro from Westworld, you understand why I've cast him as the Handsome Prince.
Nico Tortorella as the Royal Rogue
Nico Tortorella (Younger) brings a needed queer sensibility and a good amount of scruff to the role of the Prince's constant companion, the Royal Rogue.
Manny Perez as the Mad Scientist
Amanda's Mad Scientist alter ego is meant to resemble her dad, so Manny Perez should ideally play both characters, with white hair as the Scientist and black hair as the dad. He'll need a really good mustache for both, though.
Christian Bale as the Gargoyle
Sometimes you just lean into the stunt-casting, and I think this is one of those times. The Gargoyle is obviously based on Batman, and Bale doing an imitation of his own grim and gravely performance in the Dark Knight trilogy will really make you feel like you're in a young boy's imagination.
Kenan Thompson as Professor Everything
Kenan Thompson (Saturday Night Live) can definitely make a self-serious pedant into a funny character, and if he throws in a bit of his Neil DeGrasse Tyson impression, that wouldn't be out of place.