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the film criticism aspect of cyber | by maryann johanson

dream cast: hypothetical ‘Remington Steele’ movie

It’s Thursday, so it’s time to remake an 80s classic TV show or movie with an all-new cast. This week: Remington Steele, the 1982-7 NBC romantic comedy series about a female private detective, Laura Holt, who hired a former con man, alias Remington Steele (possible real name: Harry Chalmers), as a front man for her PI agency, because, you know: Who would hire a lady detective? Of course, you could cut the sexual tension between the two of them with a knife. When the show grew into its own in its second season, a former IRS agent, Mildred Krebs, came onboard as the agency’s secretary, third investigator, and mother figure.

(This week’s Dream Cast topic was suggested by my friend Bonnie offline; if you have a suggestion for an 80s TV show or movie we should play with and don’t see me in person to share it, feel free to email me.)
The original cast featured:

Remington Steele/Harry Chalmers: Pierce Brosnan
Laura Holt: Stephanie Zimbalist
Mildred Krebs: Doris Roberts

There’s two options for a movie version. Either it has to go retro, back to the 80s, because no one would believe today that a woman would not be taken seriously as an investigator of crime. Or it has to switch things up by, perhaps, positing a male PI who’s so young (or so young looking, or so not-PI looking) that he’s not taken seriously, and so he hires a (slightly) older and more experienced woman as his front. Mildred can probably stay Mildred, though, in either case.

Here’s my dream cast for the retro remake:

Remington Steele/Harry Chalmers: David Tennant
Laura Holt: Mariska Hargitay
Mildred Krebs: Julie Walters

And for the gender-switcher remake:

Remington Steele/Mary Chalmers: Catherine Zeta-Jones
Larry Holt: Colin Hanks
Mildred Krebs: Julie Walters

(I think our modern female Steele could keep the name “Remington” — it sounds gender nonspecific enough, in the same way that names like “Madison” and “Sydney” do.)

Who’s in your dream cast?

Look, it’s 80s-licious!



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  • Bill

    Remington Steele: Colin Farrel
    Laura Holt: Claire Danes
    Mildred Krebs: Lily Tomlin

    And for the gender-switcher remake:

    Remington Steele: Mary Louise Parker
    Larry Holt: Cillian Murphy
    Mildred Krebs: Anna Deavere Smith

    I never watched the show, so I could be way off base.

  • Allochthon

    Hmm. With the original setup (female PI not taken seriously) Cillian Murphy would make a great Steele. He was so great in _Sunshine_. Ooh, Michelle Yeoh as Laura! LOL.

    Ok, maybe not, because as you say, the original setup wouldn’t work these days.

  • t6

    Well the original setup would work if the female PI came off like an airhead.

    They’d clearly market it as a follow up to Legally Blonde. They’d call cast Reese Witherspoon as Laura…but they’d have to rename her Elle of course. And They’d cast Shia LeBeouf as Remington because he’s a hot property right now.

    And then they’d cast the woman who was the mom on Everybody loves Raymond as Mildred.

    And you and I would not watch it.

  • dafydd

    Retro-tastic 80s Version – skewed slightly younger for the Gossip Girl generation:

    Remington Steele: Paul Bettany
    Laura Holt: Keri Russell
    Mildred Krebs: Ginnifer Goodwin (Anyone other than Wanda Sykes)

    Gender-Switch:

    RS: Lena Headey
    LH: Chris Pine
    MK: Ginnifer Goodwin again

  • Bill

    I was gonna go with Paul Bettany myself. I’m just anxious to see the Farrel we saw in “In Bruges” again real soon.

  • Standard Setup
    Don’t have to go retro if you make Laura Holt a one-time fashion model. It isn’t that people don’t take her seriously because she is a woman as much as it is is because she has this other more public persona.
    Remington Steele: Daniel Craig
    Laura Holt: Sarah Jessica Parker
    Mildred Crebs: Cher

    Gender-flipped Alternative
    In this variant, Larry is an uber-genius (think Encyclopedia Brown a little older) and so he hires the “front girl” to be the detective.

    Remington Steel: Halle Berry
    Larry Holt: Christopher Mintz-Plasse
    Mildred Crebs: Glenn Close

  • MaryAnn

    Don’t have to go retro if you make Laura Holt a one-time fashion model.

    Then you’d have *Moonlighting.* :->

  • Remington Steele: David Tennant
    Laura Holt: Elisabeth Röhm
    Mildred: Alfre Woodard

    i love Alfre Woodard, and want to see her in almost *anything*… anything worthy of her talents that is.

    my suggestion for the gender switcher:

    Remington Steele: Alfre Woodard (i did warn you!)
    Larry Holt: David Tennant
    Morton Crebs: Wallace Shawn

  • Henry

    I’ve never seen this show, it actually looks kind of cool, in a desperately ridiculous kind of way.

    Good suggestions, here’s my addition:
    RETRO
    Remington Steele: John Travolta
    Laura Holt: Selma Blair
    Mildred Crebs: Judi Dench (though Julie Walters would probably be better)

    GENDER-SWITCH
    Reminton Steele: Angelina Jolie
    Larry Holt: Thomas Sangster (I’d go the genius-kid route)
    Mildred: Judie Dench

  • Shannon Ohara

    Ahh a RS movie, my dreams would come true.

    Remington Steel: Im sorry I just cant name anyone because I feel there is no other than Brosnan.

    I feel so old right now. OK OK.

    Remington Steel: Gillian Anderson
    L. L. Holt : David Duchovney

  • MezzoMamma1 .

    WRONG the original cast was Stephanie Zimbalist, Pierce Brosnan, James Read and Janet DeMay.

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