FANTASY CASTING: Live Action Bioshock
With so many reboots, serial killer documentaries and adaptations in the film and TV world today, I sit here and wonder why there’s no live action adaptation of Bioshock. A glorious art deco world full of substance, suspense and philosophical conundrums.
While it is a pipe dream right now, cinema and TV have shown us that it is possible. Fans want to see it. Many creators WANT to make it. People NEED to experience it. And if it fails? Who cares, at least it’s not another reboot or serial killer documentary!
Just as a heads up, if you’d like to listen to a more in depth discussion on this subject, our most recent episode of BGCP: Disassembled covers this very topic with myself, Ian and Dan!
We can’t stress enough, this is NOT official, this is what we want to see from an adaptation. With that being said, here is our fantasy casting of a live action Bioshock.
So, what is our story? The game itself? Too well known. A totally made up scenario within the setting? Too dangerous. No, instead I have opted for the under-appreciated and in some cases unheard of prequel novel, Bioshock: Rapture by John Shirley.
World War II has finally ended and the world sits in Atlasian contemplation of what comes next. One dreamer, Andrew Ryan, asks the question, is a man not entitled to the sweat of his own brow? With this and anyone worth their weight in gold, Ryan assures and procures his own future. His own Eden. His own Utopia. His own…Rapture; a shining city below the sea.
A safe haven Atlantis for the idealist, artist and scientist, where no government, censorship or morals can stop you from being the best version of you. No gods or kings, only man. However, as Ryan will soon find out, give humanity an inch and they’ll take a mile.
DIRECTOR & FORMAT
For a story built on a lavish art deco utopia with a dark dystopian nightmare lurking in the depths, there are a bunch of directors you could choose to bring Rapture to life. One in particular already tried! Gore Verbinski (best known for Pirates of The Caribbean films) was lined up to direct a Bioshock film but unfortunately it never grew into a reality due to budgeting and an external concern for the subject matter. While we never got this film, Verbinski did in fact create the closest thing we have to a Bioshock film in 2016 with the underrated gem, A Cure For Wellness.
Despite Verbinski’s noble efforts, I feel there are only two possible directors to undertake such a grand affair. The decision comes from a separate choice of whether to make this a feature length film or a systematic series.
For a feature length film, I elect the Big Daddy creature creator, Guillermo Del Toro. Who else could bring the Big Daddy to life but the dark fantasy fanatic himself? With the success of his art deco fantasy, The Shape of Water, I feel that Del Toro would feel right at home in Rapture.
On the other hand, if we were to get a TV series focusing on corrupt character developments and Electro Bolt shock horror, why not the TV storyteller terror that is Ryan Murphy. Best known for his terrifyingly diverse and engaging work on American Horror Story, Murphy would be the ideal candidate to bring Andrew Ryan’s vision to television so to showcase a fascinatingly frightening world without boundaries or limits. Not to mention much of his go-to cast would be perfect for several roles. Calling it now, American Horror Story: Rapture.
Now for the fun part. With Rapture hosting only the best and brightest guests to live in an underwater world, who else but Rapture’s Best and Brightest to headline the film/show?
Who else to start off the fantasy casting than the Marxist man-made man himself, Andrew Ryan. An immigrant with a dream of a better world built on charm, patience and hardwork. Really anyone with a pencil moustache could do the job but that’s not what Ryan would want. We need someone that proudly holds an enigmatic presence with the words, “I am Andrew Ryan.”
In an ideal world, we’d have Vincent Price to step into the dapper shoes of Andrew Ryan but alas that dream is just that, a dream. There are a multitude of secondary candidates that each could bring their own vigour and stoicism to the role; Evan Peters or Benedict Cumberbatch for example.
My top two picks however are Johnny Depp and Ewan McGregor. Depp is no stranger to playing misunderstood outsiders, especially in a lavish setting. As well as this, he is a naturally enigmatic and charming individual with a darkness befitting of a mad man with a good point.
Ewan McGregor is my wildcard for this. In contrast to Depp, McGregor is in waking life, an innocent and inviting gentleman; someone who you can trust and vice versa. With that being said, the twist of his gentle demeanour provides a perfect alibi for building a city of supreme freewill and moral corruption (this could also be flipped to Fontaine).
Scarcely making an appearance in the main game, Bill is instead an important figure within the prequel novel Bioshock: Rapture. A cockney working Joe that believes in playing the cards he’s dealt and making the most of it with no time for outlandish thoughts or societal perceptions. Taken under the wing of the Ryan to become his right-hand handy man, his place in Rapture is paramount to its success…or it’s undoing.
For this role, Bill needs an actor who isn’t afraid to get rough and has a commanding authority, but they also have to look the part. My first choice was Scotland’s resident grizzled badass, Tommy Flanagan. I wouldn’t be against his proud and powerful Glaswegian twang replacing a cockney accent as both are befitting of the character.
Conversely, mostly due to his stature and closely comparative looks, is X Files’ own FBI Assistant Director, Mitch Pileggi. Though no longer in his prime, there is no doubt that Pileggi still has his authoritative aura and subtle charm. If he could pull off a cockney accent I don’t see how he wouldn’t fit the Bill.
Harkening back to A Cure For Wellness, the boots of a cockney badass could be filled by one Jason Isaacs. While he doesn’t resemble Bill in his looks, the sheer level of charm in his smile combined with a commanding glare makes him an ideal handyman for the hand of Rapture.
He wants to entertain. He wants to be a star. He wants to create something unique and inspired. He wants to take the rabbit ears off. The eccentricly psychotic Sander Cohen is the headline act wherever he goes, whether the public think so or not. With a passion for singing, sculpting, painting and poetry, Cohen is a thespian by nature and that is also his curse.
If there was ever a psychotically narcissistic and out of the box actor to play Sander Cohen, it undoubtedly has to be John Waters. This leans closer to the impossible rather than possible however with Waters being 75 at the time of this article, but imagine!
With so much potential for this role, I honestly can’t think of a number one candidate. Just for the sake of the casting, here are my choices. Doug Jones for his eerie expressions and movements, Crispin Glover for his discomforting creepiness, Bill Skarsgard for his clownish energy, Chris Conner for his Poeish showmanship, Dennis O’Hare for his commitment to the abstract and Steve Buscemi for what would surely be a masterclass in the tale of the tortured and misunderstood thespian.
DOCTOR YI SUCHONG
Taking the moral and horrifying capabilities of science to the extreme is Doctor Yi Suchong, an ingenious and opportunistic mad scientist responsible for the creation of the Little Sisters and their Big Daddies. With no limits to his brilliance and a sea of specimens to work with, there’s no stopping Suchong’s experiments.
Similar to Andrew Ryan, an actor with the potential to subvert expectations is a plus in this casting. Rogue One’s Donnie Yen taking a step back from action to hone in on his character work would be a great sight to see as well as Jet Li, a fan favourite martial artist movie star, shocking fans with a murderous performance all in the name of science.
My favourite choice however goes to the man behind the maniacal Doctor Hugo Strange in Gotham, BD Wong. There’s really no better way to explain this choice, just watch his performance as Hugo Strange and you’ll understand why he is perfect for the role of Doctor Yi Suchong.
Assistant scientist to Suchong and Mother to the Little Sisters, Tenenbaum is the lighthouse atop the structure of Rapture as she sees the error of her ways and seeks to protect her genetically mutated offspring by any means necessary.
With this role, a thick Russian accent is necessary. A safe-bet would be Scarlett Johansson, her exceptional and diverse character work in films such as Jojo Rabbit and Marriage Story as a mother and the darker and more extreme roles such as The Spirit and Under The Skin. Not to mention a drop of Russian blood in her family.
While we’re in the realm of Russian-ish Marvel characters named Scarlett, the Scarlet Witch herself Elizabeth Olsen is a strong candidate for the maternal light in a dark and fantastical world, especially after a brain altering performance as a tortured housewife.
Alternatively, and leaning on the American Horror Story cast…and a little of The Spirit cast, Jessica Lange and Sarah Paulson both could rival Johansson for their character work and extreme roles, both befitting of the name Tenenbaum.
Personally, Gillian Anderson looks the part and is no stranger to the role of a motherly doctor in X Files. I imagine the role of Tenenbaum would be a masterful balancing act between Scully and Margaret Thatcher.
Last but not least, who is Atlas? Or rather who should play Atlas? A master of disguise and a master of the mind, Frank Fontaine is the rival of Andrew Ryan and the one who floods the city of Rapture with a socialist uprising. Ahead of the curve and out for his own interests, Frank wants to sink Rapture to the bottom of the sea.
For this role, an exceptional character actor is required. Though he is the opposite of Andrew Ryan in every way, the similarities between one another lie deep. Cunning, intelligent and a scene stealer, we need the perfect rival to Rapture’s Rembrandt. Safe-bets are the likes of Tom Hardy for his likeness and diversity as an actor, Brad Pitt for the same reason (Pitt could also just as easily pull of a contrasting Ryan)
The facade of Fontaine could be helmed by none other than the cunning, intelligent, scene stealing and frankly underrated, John Barrowman. Knack for cosplay aside, Barrowman throughout his career has proved himself to be a versatile showman including work as the villainous Dark Archer in Arrow. Not to mention he kind of looks like Fontaine.
Barrowman was my personal casting choice before I heard the words “Bryan Cranston as Fontaine“. It makes so much sense for this to be a reality, the versatile actor has subverted our expectations for years now from a long run as a fun and weak dad in Malcolm In The Middle to a long run as a brooding and tough cancer ridden chemistry teacher in Breaking Bad. Cranston has captured our hearts in his multitude of diverse roles and can convince us of his innocence every time but has yet to really break us at the core and stub out a cigarette in our minds.
And there you have it; the Fantasy Casting of a Live Action Bioshock adaptation! We remind you that this is make-believe and wholly our own opinions. We want to hear your thoughts on casting such a groundbreaking and generation defining adaptation. Do you agree with us? Would you kindly let us know in the comments and check out our most recent episode of the BGCP: Disassembled podcast for a deep dive discussion!
Also what other fantasy castings would you like to see us tackle?
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