In 1995, a movie was released that had just one question on everyone’s lips: Who is Keyser Söze? The film was The Usual Suspects, and it featured a great ensemble cast who kept everyone guessing till the final reveal. With a cracking plot, razor-sharp performances, superb writing, and impeccable direction, it deserved more than the two Oscars it won (Best Actor for Kevin Spacey, and Best Original Screenplay).
It’s hard to imagine anyone else filling the roles, but I’ll give it a shot…
The Usual Suspects (1995)
Character: Dean Keaton
Originally played by: Gabriel Byrne
Recast: Jeremy Northam
Jaded, tired, a figure of lost authority, an ex-dirty-cop. Northam could easily embody the role originally played by Byrne. Not only would he look the part, he would play the hell out of the character and be totally convincing. Northam is one of my favourite British actors and I’d love to see him in just about any movie, but I think his talents would especially suit this one.
Character: Fred Fenster
Originally played by: Benicio Del Toro
Recast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Fast-talking Fenster doesn’t give a damn about anyone or anything, and this would be just perfect for Gordon-Levitt. I’d love to see what this fresh, innovative young actor would do with the role of this slick thief – he’d certainly steal the show in any scene!
Character: Michael McManus
Originally played by: Stephen Baldwin
Recast: Adam Baldwin
Something of a nutjob, McManus is a wild card who can be both funny and terrifying at the same time. It’s worth noting that these two Baldwins are NOT related, and it’s sheer coincidence that I’ve recast someone with the same surname in the role. And Adam Baldwin looks great with a gun, as shown in Firefly.
Character: Roger “Verbal” Kint
Originally played by: Kevin Spacey
Recast: Michael Emerson
The unlikeliest of our Usual Suspects, the unassuming, harmless-looking, mild-mannered cripple, Kint, was superbly played by Spacey (indeed, he won the Best Actor Oscar for his efforts), but I would love to see Emerson in this role now. He’s proven his acting chops in several very popular shows, such as Lost and Person of Interest (the latter being one of my favourite shows!), and he certainly has the range to handle the complexities of the character. He was actually the first person recast when I started thinking about this film…
Character: Todd Hockney
Originally played by: Kevin Pollack
Recast: Kevin Bacon
This highjacker is a bit of a cool cucumber. Always relaxed yet on the ball, he keeps himself to himself. Bacon’s laconic manner would be an interesting take, and I’d love to see him get his teeth into this character.
Originally played by: Pete Postlethwaite
Recast: Ken Watanabe
I adore Postlethwaite, and there’s no denying he was brilliant in the role of Keyser Söze’s right-hand man, but it never sat quite right with me that someone of no ethnic origin was playing someone with a Japanese heritage. I’d like to rectify that and cast eminent Japanese actor, Watanabe, in the role. I cannot think of anyone who could handle it better!
Character: Dave Kajun, US Customs
Originally played by: Chazz Palminteri
Recast: Zachary Quinto
Palminteri was always Singer’s first choice for the role, but in my reimagined version, my first, and indeed, only choice is Quinto. He’s quietly been making his name for some time and has already proven himself to have quite breathtaking range. His quiet confidence would be quite something to see as Agent Kajun, and making him younger, perhaps with something to prove in his career, might add an extra element to the character.
Character: Jack Baer, FBI
Originally played by: Giancarlo Esposito
Recast: Dwayne Johnson
As the agent investigating the boat explosion at the pier, Baer isn’t a huge role, but I’d love to see Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson slip into the role. He’s already played a CIA Agent in the Fast and Furious movies, so it would be a nice, knowing nod to those films.
So, that rounds out my nice little recast for The Usual Suspects. Do you agree with my choices? Or do you think I’m wildly off-base with my new cast? Who would you choose? I’d love to know, so please do leave a comment below to let me know what you think!