Armchair Casting Director: Good Omens

Published on November 26th, 2010 in: Books, Movies |

By Lisa Anderson

good omens

I will always associate late November with Good Omens, the classic comedy novel by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. This was the time of year that I first read it, and it helped get me through a rough period in my life. For those who don’t know, Good Omens is the story of an angel (Aziraphale) and a demon (Crowley) who have, over the course of millennia, become friends, and now have to avert Armageddon with the coming of the Antichrist.

Sadly, the film version of this beloved book has been stalled for years. Director Terry Gilliam has been signed on with the project since 1999, with a script completed since 2002, but funding for the movie has never come together. In the meantime, however, it is fun to speculate about who might play the characters that so many readers have come to love. The main rumor, for a long time, was that Johnny Depp would play Crowley and Robin Williams would play Aziraphale. As you might imagine, I have my own ideas for my ideal Good Omens cast.

callum blue


I’ve never been able to imagine anyone playing Crowley except British actor Callum Blue. His character Mason, on Dead Like Me, had a rakish, ne’er-do-well quality (tempered with moments of tenderness and vulnerability) that would be perfect for Gaiman and Pratchett’s demon. However, while Mason is a music fan, I can’t recall whether he likes Queen as well as Crowley does.

alexis denisof


I am on record about feeling that Johnny Depp is overexposed. If he absolutely has to be in the Good Omens movie, however, it should be as the angel . . . just to defy people’s expectations. He’s talented enough. That’s not my first choice, though. A friend of mine suggested that Anthony Stewart Head, of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame, could play Aziraphale, since his Rupert Giles also had a deep love of books and a tendency to save the world. While Head would be a good choice, it occurs to me that Alexis Denisof, who played Watcher Wesley Wyndham-Pryce on Buffy and Angel, would fit the role for the same reasons. After all, Joss Whedon has called Denisof one of the best actors working on television. He’s not afraid to be formidable one moment and let himself look ridiculous the next. Plus, having Aziraphale and Crowley a bit closer in age is helpful to those of us who bring our slash goggles to the theater.

cillian murphy

Newton Pulsifer

I can easily see Cillian Murphy as the erstwhile Witchfinder who helps stave off Armageddon. His work in Watching the Detectives and Peacock proves that he can project the necessary uncertainty, and a quality of reedy awkwardness. He’s also said that he likes playing characters that are under a lot of stress—and what’s more stressful than the end of the world? In a pinch, though, he could also play Aziraphale or Crowley because he’s just that good.

eve myles

Anathema Device

The modern-day descendant of a 17th-century prophetess plays an important role in the story. The first person who comes to my mind to portray her is Welsh actress Eve Myles, from Torchwood. She has the right “look” for Anathema, and could potentially play both Anathema and her ancestor, Agnes Nutter. If the casting director really wanted to make a bold choice, however, they could cast Naomi Harris (28 Days Later) or Freema Agyeman (Doctor Who). After all, British society is diverse enough today that Agnes Nutter could potentially have descendants who are Black; and we already know that Harris and Cillian Murphy work well together. The only problem is that all three of the actresses I have mentioned are more conventionally beautiful than Anathema is supposed to be.

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One Response to “Armchair Casting Director: Good Omens

  1. Magda:
    December 7th, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    You think Johnny Depp is overexposed? Personally, I wouldn’t go that far, but I had to laugh at the Yahoo! article which was published yesterday or day before which claimed that J.D. wasn’t a “star” until “Pirates”. Really? Where have they been for the last 20 years? Odd people.
    I’m curious. How would you consider Eve Myles conventionally beautiful?
    I love the fact that you stuck with mostly non-American actors. It is only natural and I’m glad there is a trend for such things right now.
    Emma Thompson, who was the first choice for God in Dogma, would be a fun Madame Tracy. It almost balances that oversight. Oh, did you know she did play an Angel in Angels in America?
    “Photo not available”- nice illustration of your point! Tee hee

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