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the film criticism aspect of cyber | by maryann johanson

dream cast: imaginary movie about the American Revolution

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for another Dream Cast, and this week we’re doing something special in honor of the American holiday Fourth of July. I’ve always wondered why we haven’t gotten a big, juicy, emotional, dramatic, epic movie about the revolt of the British colonies in the New World, especially considering how many spectacular personalities made up the “Founding Fathers.” So now we’re gonna cast my dream movie about that sticky Philadelphia summer of 1776.

(If you have a suggestion for a classic TV show or movie we could play Dream Cast with, feel free to email me.)
There have been some movies about the American Revolution, perhaps most notably the musical 1776, but what I want is something at the intersection of Braveheart and Gladiator and Titanic, urgent and passionate and exciting. I haven’t seen that movie yet, but it could be thrilling.

Here’s whom would have be depicted, at a minimum:

John Adams
Abigail Adams
Thomas Jefferson
Martha Jefferson
Sally Hemings
George Washington
Martha Washington
Samuel Adams
Thomas Paine
Benjamin Franklin
James Madison
Alexander Hamilton

My dream cast:

John Adams: Russell Crowe
Abigail Adams: Anne Hathaway
Thomas Jefferson: Christian Bale
Martha Jefferson: Amy Adams
Sally Hemings: Jada Pinkett Smith
George Washington: Josh Lucas
Martha Washington: Reese Witherspoon
Samuel Adams: Sam Rockwell
Thomas Paine: John Simm
Benjamin Franklin: Kevin Spacey
James Madison: Joaquin Phoenix
Alexander Hamilton: Jude Law

From 1776:



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  • PaulW

    You want 1776 as an action movie?

    John Adams: Jean Claude Van Damme
    Abigail Adams: Amy Adams
    Thomas Jefferson: Thomas Jane
    Martha Jefferson: Sarah Michelle Gellar
    Sally Hemings: Um. She’d be 3 years old in 1776.
    George Washington: Dwayne The Rock Johnson
    Martha Washington: Tina Fey
    Samuel Adams: Matt Damon
    Thomas Paine: Simon Pegg
    Benjamin Franklin: Samuel L. Jackson
    James Madison: Charlie Sheen
    Alexander Hamilton: Shia LeBouf
    and you’re gonna have to have the bad guys, so toss in the Howe Brothers…
    General William Howe: Gary Oldman
    Admiral Richard Howe: John Simm

  • Kathy A

    Russell Crowe is too tall for John Adams, and Jude Law is too old for Alexander Hamilton, who should be played by someone in his early 20s.

    I’m such a huge fan of 1776, and would love to see a dramatic version of the events of that summer, too!!

    This is such a hard cast to figure out–I’ll have to think it over and post later this weekend.

  • wooster182

    Damn, MaryAnne, that’s a good cast…Although I’m not a fan of Christian Bale’s work.

    John Adams–Giovanni Ribisi
    Abigail Adams–Reese Witherspoon
    Thomas Jefferson–Joaquin Phoenix (wasn’t he brilliant, awkward, and passionate?)
    Martha Jefferson–Angelina Jolie(who doesn’t want to see JP and AJ married to each other??)
    Sally Hemings–Gabrielle Union
    George Washington–Matt Damon
    Martha Washington–Jennifer Garner
    Samuel Adams–Brendan Fraser
    Thomas Paine–Brad Pitt
    Benjamin Franklin–Paul Giomatti
    James Madison (Bruce Campbell–just cause)
    Alexander Hamilton–Robert Downy Jr. (It would also be pretty hot to watch JP and RDJ hate each other…)

  • Bill

    i’ve thought about it and i can’t beat the cast of “John Adams”. it’d be cool if we could sneak Robert Downey Jr in there somewhere, but outside of that, i got nothin. he can play Madison.

  • Victor Plenty

    In 1776, Sally Hemings was 3. (She was born in 1773, according to the references I’ve been able to find.) Even with Jada Pinkett Smith’s admittedly amazing talents, that’s one heck of an acting challenge.

    Or am I misunderstanding the time frame of the movie you have in mind?

    If you’re going to include scenes that aren’t actually set in the year 1776, you might want to include Crispus Attucks and Phyllis Wheatley in the cast as well. Just a suggestion.

  • Wooster182

    Okay, I change my mind slightly…Marsha Washington should be played by Maggie Gylenhaal and Liev Shrieber should play Thomas Paine with Brad Pitt as James Madison. I shouldn’t have nearly given this as much thought as I have…

  • PaulW

    They just showed 1776 on… I think Turner Movie Classics. Upon further review, it really shouldn’t have been a musical, but it was funny as all get. So maybe doing it as an action thriller would work better. :)

  • one of the things about “1776” that sticks with me, is how the delegate from New York never gets instructions or direction from the legislature, so he always has to decline, “courteously.”

    well, later on he describes how the legislature in New York talks “very loud, very fast and no one hears anyone else, with the result that nothing gets done.”

    nothing has changed, obviously.

  • one of the things about “1776” that sticks with me, is how the delegate from New York never gets instructions or direction from the legislature, so he always has to decline, “courteously.”

    well, later on he describes how the legislature in New York talks “very loud, very fast and no one hears anyone else, with the result that nothing gets done.”

    nothing has changed, obviously.

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