That children’s classic, written by the guy who gave us James Bond (yes, it was written by Ian Fleming!), and then completely rewritten by Roald Dahl (yes, the man who wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!) for the big screen, and filled with twee songs that stick in your head forever… If it were made today, it would be an entirely different movie, and if I were to remake it, here’s who I would cast in the main roles in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang:
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)
Character: Caractacus Potts
Originally played by: Dick Van Dyke
Recast: Ioan Gruffudd
Likeable, but a little madcap, we need someone believable as an inventor and a father to two small children. I wanted to stick with a British actor for my lead, and I love Ioan Gruffud. I have no idea if he can sing, but he’d certainly look the part and I’m choosing to believe his singing voice would be as velvety as his speaking voice, so the idea of him singing Hushabye Mountain would be the stuff of my dreams!
Character: Truly Scrumptious
Originally played by: Sally Anne Howes
Recast: Hayley Atwell
Fresh-faced, pretty, and utterly adorable, the actress who portrays Truly Scrumptious has to be, well, truly scrumptious! When looking for an English rose to play opposite my perfect leading man, Atwell stood out as having exactly the right look, as well as being the right kind of age to be believable as a love interest for him without the age gap being too wide. She’s something of a rising star with some impressive acting credentials. Again, I’ve no idea if she can sing, but if she sounds anywhere near as good as she looks, her voice will surely be angelic!
Character: Grandpa Potts
Originally played by: Lionel Jeffries
Recast: Bill Nighy
Nighy has already warbled on-screen in the wonderful Love, Actually, but to be honest, Grandpa Potts doesn’t really need to be able to sing, so long as he can sound a bit haughty whilst almost chanting in a military manner about being P-O-S-H posh! Nighy can definitely pull off the comedy elements of the role, and has surprisingly similar bone structure to Gruffudd; enough so that he could be a believable candidate to play his father.
Character: Baron Bomburst
Originally played by: Gert Fröbe
Recast: John Goodman
For the bombastic Baron Bomburst, I wanted someone who could look quite cuddly whilst also being rather fearsome, and the thought of Goodman bellowing the lines is just too good to deny! He can certainly look imposing and regal, and has a comic background that would stand him in good stead for the role.
Character: Baroness Bomburst
Originally played by: Anna Quayle
Recast: Julia Roberts
As the odious Baroness who hates children, we need someone elegant and imperious but who can also handle the comedic element. Roberts proved she could do all that in the (admittedly, dreadful) Mirror, Mirror. And don’t you think she’d be a marvelous foil for Goodman playing the wife he hates but pretends to love? Wouldn’t you just love to see her chased down and caged by a crowd of unruly children? I know I would!
Character: The Child Catcher
Originally played by: Robert Helpman
Recast: Christophe Waltz
The Child Catcher. He is the stuff of childhood nightmares, enticing us with goodies, then snatching us away. Even now, the original portrayal by Helpman creeps me out! Waltz played a similar character in Inglourious Basterds, as a Nazi hunting down Jews in hiding. With his calm, friendly manner, he would lull people into a false sense of security before unleashing terror, and that’s just what we need from our Child Catcher. Waltz would be creeptastic in the role! Actually, he was the first person recast here…
Character: Jemima and Jeremy Potts
Originally played by: Heather Ripley and Adrian Hall
Recast: Isabelle Allan and Daniel Huttlestone
I’ve been rather sneaky and snaffled two of the child actors from the most recent version of Les Misérables, so I already know these two kids can sing, as they played the young Cosette and Gavroche respectively. With three years between them, they actually look like they could be brother and sister too!
So, that concludes my recast of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Do you agree with my choices? Or do you have a better idea for any (or all) of the characters? Either way, I’d love to hear your views, so leave a comment below!