Remaking The Enchanted April: Movie Dream Cast for the Book’s Centennial
Since its publication in 1922, Elizabeth Von Arnim’s novel The Enchanted April has cast its spell over thousands of readers. Yet this charming novel has only been adapted for the screen twice in the last hundred years! In anticipation of the book’s upcoming centennial, I’m calling for a movie remake of The Enchanted April…and I’ve even come up with a cast, to make Hollywood’s job easier.
You see, audiences love classic period dramas, as evidenced by the box office success of numerous Jane Austen remakes, Downton Abbey, and classic book-to-film adaptations each year.
We bookworms and lovers of classic lit know that there’s a huge market for more films in this vein: for lush period settings and costumes, timeless storylines, and iconic characters. We want more!
The thing is, I’m not sure if most filmmakers get it. They know audiences will watch a ubiquitous classic like Little Women or Anne of Green Gables, but they don’t seem to realise that Alcott and Montgomery have a lot more in their backlist–and that fans want to see those on the screen, too.
(Well, perhaps if they read more blogs like Tea and Ink Society they would realise just how many lovely, dramatic, powerful stories remain untapped in the realm of classic literature.)
While we’re waiting for filmmakers to “discover” these books, it can be great fun to come up with our own suggestions for classic book-to-film adaptations, along with dream casts. As I was re-reading The Enchanted April, which was the featured book in the spring Seasonal Reading Box, I kept thinking about how beautiful it could look in an updated film. And what a sparkling cast you could assemble!
The story features four Englishwomen–formerly strangers–who split the rent for an Italian villa during the month of April. They’re each miserable in their own way when the story starts, but as San Salvatore works its magic they blossom one by one into the best version of themselves.
Now, use your imagination for a bit and let’s see if we can picture this story played out on the big screen by some of today’s talented actors!
The Enchanted April New Movie Cast
If The Enchanted April were made into a new film adaptation, director Autumn de Wilde should be at the helm. She directed 2020’s EMMA., and I can see many similarities between that film and a potential Enchanted April remake. There’s the gorgeous, floral-filled visuals; humor on a spectrum of sly and subtle to laugh-out-loud; eccentric personalities and gentle character growth.
Here’s how I would cast each of the main characters from Von Arnim’s novel:
Claire Foy as Rose Arbuthnot
Rose is described as being calm, gentle, and serious, and Claire Foy can pull off this manner perfectly. Rose is also introverted and introspective, and I think Claire Foy can excellently portray someone with an inner monologue. Rose has a bit of fire in her, too, though, which we see with her passive-aggressive behavior towards Mrs. Fisher. Foy could pull off this polite but assertive stance. Runner-up idea: Bonnie Wright.
Other period dramas you might’ve seen Claire Foy in: The Crown, Wolf Hall, Upstairs Downstairs, Little Dorrit
Carey Mulligan as Lotty Wilkins
In the book Lotty (I mean, Mrs. Wilkins, as she’s known before coming to San Salvatore) starts out very timid. Carey Mulligan can capture this shyness and innocence.
And then after she arrives at San Salvatore, Lotty becomes “washed through with light,” and her natural spunk and playfulness shine out. Carrie Mulligan can nail this, too, with that hint of a smile that always seems to play around her face and eyes. And at 5’7″ she would seem tall to Claire Foy’s 5’4″, which would fit the book.
Other period dramas you might’ve seen Carey Mulligan in: Suffragette, Far From the Madding Crowd, The Great Gatsby, Northanger Abbey, Bleak House, Pride and Prejudice.
Anya Taylor-Joy as Lady Caroline Dester
Lady Caroline is supposed to be young, aristocratic, and stunningly beautiful. Lotty and Rose are described as pretty, especially once they get to San Salvatore–but Caroline isn’t just pretty, she’s exquisite. Anya Taylor-Joy looks the part with her finely-delineated features. At 25, she’s the right age (Lady Caroline is 28). And we already saw in EMMA. that Taylor-Joy can play the part of a privileged rich girl who comes to terms with her own flaws.
Other period dramas you might’ve seen Anya Taylor-Joy in: The Queen’s Gambit, EMMA., The Miniaturist
Samuel West as Mellersh Wilkins
The key here is to find someone who could believably act the part of a straight-laced Mr. Wilkins while wearing nothing but a towel. I’m not being inappropriate here–you’ll know, if you’ve read the book–it’s a must that the actor be able to carry the humor of the bathtub scene!
Samuel West has that look about him of someone who thinks highly of himself and his profession, as does Mr. Wilkins.
Other period dramas you might’ve seen Samuel West in: All Creatures Great and Small, Mr. Selfridge, Darkest Hour, Howard’s End
Richard Harrington as Frederick Arbuthnot
Because Arbuthnot’s physique is important to the story, I wanted to get this aspect right with my casting choice. The role calls for someone with a fuller face and build–not someone with slender or pointy features! In the book Arbuthnot is a bit of a celebrity as a writer of sensation novels, but has a dormant tender side, too. Richard Harrington could cover the scope of this role well. Runner-up idea: Allen Leech.
Other period dramas you might’ve seen Richard Harrington in: The Crown, Poldark, Lark Rise to Candleford, Bleak House
Eddie Redmayne as Thomas Briggs
Rich but lonely, Thomas Briggs owns the Italian villa yet still searches for a sense of home. And Eddie Redmayne can capture his sense of eagerness and idealism, as well as the courtesy (or infatuation) he displays towards the women. Runner-up idea: Tom Hiddleston (I know we think of him as Loki nowadays, but Hiddleston has many period dramas to his name, too!).
Other period dramas you might’ve seen Eddie Redmayne in: Les Misérables, The Theory of Everything, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Tess of the D’Ubervilles
Julie Walters as Mrs. Fisher
Mrs. Fisher seems like a crusty old lady, so I instantly thought of Maggie Smith or Judi Dench or Eileen Atkins, since they’ve all played to the type before. But the truth is, these ladies are too old for the role now, if you want to be true to the book’s timeline. Mrs. Fisher is actually only 65.
So, I went searching for an actress that could still capture the crotchetiness, the dry humor, and eventually the motherliness of the role, and came up with a perfect fit–Julie Walters!
Other period dramas you might’ve seen Julie Walters in: The Secret Garden, Indian Summers, Brooklyn. And although not a period drama, Julie Walters is probably most famous for her role as Mrs. Weasley in the Harry Potter series.
Thanks for joining me on this imaginary casting journey of The Enchanted April! Let’s hope someone from the filmmaking industry was listening in(;
P.S. The BBC North and South needs a remake, too. Perhaps I should try my hand at casting that next!
I love this cast list! I really hope they do a remake of The Enchanted April sometime. I think it would be so beautifully filmed. I’d love to see your North and South list sometime.
I think this is a great cast list for Enchanted April! (One substitution I would suggest would be Lily James for Lady Caroline. ) I also recently read the book in a book club, and saw the movie and thought it a little wanting.
Why not send your idea to a British film studio or the BBC? Maybe they’ll make it!
I should do that, shouldn’t I? After all, I’m borrowing several of their go-to actors for this list! I did think of Lily James for an Enchanted April movie, but I was actually considering her for Rose or Lotty! She does period drama so well.
I would love to see a good version of Mansfield Park! It is by far the most underappreciated Jane Austen novel. I liked the casting of Jonny Lee Miller but he would probably be too old for it now. I hope someday someone with the skills and funding to do it justice gives it a try.
Absolutely agree with you! Also, Fanny is such a different heroine than most moviemakers are used to creating stories around. It would be really interesting to see if someone was talented enough to do the book justice!
I am currently in the middle of reading The Enchanted April. Before your blog I had never heard of Elizabeth Von Arnim.
I thought I had read all of the great historical authors already. I laugh at the thought now! Thanks for relighting my love of armchair time travel. Back I go to 1920s Italian Riviera, sunshine, floral scents and a sparkling sea.
Enjoy your time travel trip! I too reached a point in my reading life when I thought I “knew” all the classic authors out there. One of the things that made me realise that was far from the truth was starting this blog! I’ve found so many rabbit holes to go down and keep discovering more and more wonderful literary treasures!
My husband and I like the original version of The Enchanted April but if they were to do a remake, these are probably good picks.
A few years ago, I came up with an idea that someone should make a movie about the life of Tasha Tudor. It struck how much the mother and daughter , Phillida Law and Emma Thompson looked like Tasha. I don’t know if they are too old for the parts anymore but that depends on Phillida’s health and whether they can find even younger actresses , a child and a young woman. Look up pictures of them, especially in period dress, to see what I mean.
Wow, yes, good actress picks for Tasha Tudor! I would love to see a biopic about her…what a fabulous idea!
Thanks. I am afraid they may each be getting too old for one reason or the other. I should research my second picks.
Can’t decide which of your casting suggestions I love most!! Our book group which has run for many years has now done Enchanted April twice, and the 2nd time on zoom in April 2020 during lockdown, we amused ourselves with casting our own choices. So lovely to find someone else thinking on the same lines. This book definitely deserves a new film!
I love that! Great choice for 2020. Surely, eventually someone will get the bright idea to make a new movie!!
I’ve been buddy reading this with a friend and I did a reimagined cast on Twitter earlier in the month. My choices were a much younger cast than this… but these are also all great choices.
Oh, fun! This is a great book for a buddy read, isn’t it?