Over the years there has been a few new adaptations announcements about Hunchback movies/series in development with the most recent announcement being the next to release on April 20th 2023.
Aside from one version, all announcements centered around an actor leading the project with the expressed casting themselves as playing Quasimodo.
Now this isn’t new, Lon Chaney (1923) and Patrick Timsit (1999) both more or less lead their respective projects. It does seem inevitable that Josh Gad will play Quasimodo in 2024 Disney Live-Action version and Kevin Heffernan with Quasimodo in the Broken Lizard version, Quasi. But the question is, Is this really a bad thing?
Quasimodo is a unique role for actors. One has to combine physicality with pathos which is more or less the dream combination for many actors. And one does not have to be “Leading Man Handsome.” In fact it works to an actor’s advantage not to be “that type” for a certain believability. Just think of the most “handsome” or “hottest” actor you can think of. Can you really imagine them playing Quasimodo? Maybe you can and maybe can’t.
So take an actor like Josh Gad, he does not have many lead roles. He is most known for voicing Olaf in Frozen, a side-character. A memorable side-character from very well loved movie but still not a starring role. In that same vein he also played LeFou in the live action version of Beauty and the Beast.
Now this is just an opinion but given that Gad is producing both the 2024 Hunchback remake and the Beauty and the Beast series, which follows LeFou and Gaston, my guess that he trying to make opportunities for himself within the system. He has already played LeFou and a Hunchback remake was inevitable given the Disney film making landscape right now. Coupled with the allure of playing a role like Quasimodo which was more or less up for grabs given a chance. A chance that he may not have gotten had he not jump at producing the project outright.
So is it a bad thing for actors to create projects where they can cast themselves in the leading role? It defiantly speaks to a self-serving privilege BUT I don’t think it bad. Given that seven announced Hunchback projects that were actor-lead that have been announced since 2010 and only two of them have release dates, it doesn’t mean that said actor who leading the project will even get to play the role. The other projects may have fizzled out or be stuck in-development-hell.
So while Gad wasn’t high on my casting picks for Quasimodo he may bring an earnest to the role that the Disney animated version possessed.
July 2014 I discovered a movie version of the Hunchback set to stared one Max Ryan, who I have been told is an actor. This version had a script and a cast list but not much more. You can read that post RIGHT HERE. The summery I found that is now gone so reading that post is worth it. Esmeralda gets attack by wolves and Quasimodo lives in the cave of Notre Dame. I also very briefly mentioned it back in September read here Really I had passed this verison off has never being till last month.
Back in October it was announced that Director Chuck Russell was going to direct. Russell’s credit’s include The Mask, The Scorpion King and other action adventure movies. Also on the IMDB page for this version the genre is set as “Action, Drama, Fantasy.” Dear God help us all. Hunchback hasn’t had a hollywood movie since 1939 and we get an Action Adventure movie. Also I just want to point out that screenwriters are Max Ryan and one Julio Ponce Palmieri who writes for mostly short films.
But what REALLY puzzles me so far is that cast list on the IMDB. First off there is no sign of Esmeralda and Frollo. When I first discovered this version it listed the actors for Frollo and Esmeralda as under negotiations so that could be the reason why they are not there. But still the cast has some roles that just confuse me like The Figment and the Giant, the Fuck you say? Also Max Ryan has a double role as Quasimodo and Pierre. Considering the summery said Quasimodo’s parents loved him and he was stolen, Pierre could be his original name OR he just playing another guy to show off his versatility as an “actor”. This version has even started filming and I hate it.
There was also a new breif on IMDB when Russell was reported as the director that claimed that this version was still the same version as Josh Brolin version and the key players just switched which is not the case. This version existed before Brolin dreamed up his version in 2011 with Tim Burton but that switched to Yimou Zhang in 2013 and then nothing. While Brolin’s jazzy’s version seems to either be dead or in development-hell, it’s amazing how similar these movies are to each other. Both are vanity projects from generic actors who have directors known for action-ish movies. Consider Hollywood studios has had battles with similar movies before maybe The Max Ryan version will fuel Brolin to make his Jazzy versions. Either way I still don’t know what that Figment character is and nor to have faith in either version.Follow thehunchblog
Maureen O’Hara as Esmeralda 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame
As many of you may already know, yesterday Maureen O’Hara died peacefully at her home in Idaho at the age of 95.
O’Hara has been hailed as the queen of Technicolor. Her filmography was very long and included some very well regarded movies like The Quiet Man (1952), How Green was my Valley (1940), and Miracle on 34th Street (1947), just to name a few, she had many.
Hunchback of Notre Dame was her hollywood debut and I maintain that it was the best movie version of Hunchback.
I do recommend reading her autobiography. It’s a really engaging read that captures her passionate fiery personality.
In her autobiography, written with longtime manager John Nicoletti, O’Hara wrote:
“When I was young, I didn’t think I was at all pretty. I was told only that I had a sulky, pouty face. Ironically, after I got to Hollywood, I resented that I didn’t get a crack at more dramatic role because I photographed so beautifully. More than anything, though, it was the way I used my eyes that caused audiences to look deep inside my characters to see what else was there.”
Demi Moore voice Esmeralda in the Disney version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
-Her first job was a bill collector.
-She “won” Worst Actress of 1997 for her performances in the films The Juror (1996) and Striptease (1996), then again the next year she “won” Worst Actress for her role in G.I. Jane (1997). She has been nominated six times. Though could technically be seven as in 1996 she got a nomination for two movies. And also in 1996, Disney’s Hunchback came out,which poked fun at her being in Striptease.
-Hired three cameramen to videotape the birth of her first child.
Esmeralda’s Dance Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame
Bonus round- In the commentary of Disney’s Hunchback the directors said they wanted Esmeralda to sound like “she’s been around” which is why Moore was cast.Follow thehunchblog
Maureen O’Hara played Esmeralda in the 1939 version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame
-Her Stage name of O’Hara was forced on her to fit marquees.
-Named her only child Bronwyn after a character from How Green was my Valley.
-Did all her own stunts. In the seen in Hunchback were Quasimodo is holding her up to the crowd after saving her from hanging, O’Hara did that with a stunt man without a safety net and it was cobblestone below. I believe in her autobiography she goes more into detail.
Sir Cedric Hardwicke played Frollo in the 1939 version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
-In 1934 Sir Cedric Hardwicke was knighted, but King George V was hard-of-hearing so he missed heard his name and dubbed him Sir Cedric Pickwick
-He played King Edward IV of England in Richard III (1955) while his son Edward Hardwicke played Lord Stanley in Richard III (1995). Also it’s worth noting, that Edward Hardwicke was in the Scarlett Letter (1995) alongside Demi Moore who voiced Esmeralda in the Disney version of Hunchback.
-His favorite screen role was playing Mr Brink in On Borrowed Time (1939).
Frollo stares at Esmeralda’s chest for 15 seconds, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Maureen O’Hara, 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame
Bonus round- Hardwicke played a doctor in Sentimental Journey (1946) alongside Maureen O’Hara. He said this about the movie “I did nothing but look at the handsome bosom of Maureen O’Hara and listen to the murmuring of her heart through a stethoscope.” He also famously looked at her bosom in Hunchback.
For this months, I picked five random Hunchback actors and offering three facts about them. First one, Kevin Kline who voiced Phoebus in Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame.
-He Inspired the Kevin Kline Mustache Principle where he has facial hair for comedies and clean shaven for drama. This doesn’t apply to him voice acting work as it would make The Hunchback of Notre Dame a comedy (which it is in parts) and Bob’s Burger where he plays Mr. Fischoeder, a drama which is not. Though this principle would also make Wild Wild West a drama too. (IMDB)
-His favorite restaurant in Paris is Le Duc*. (source). He is also fluent in French
Despite not singing in Hunchback, Kevin Kline studied at Juilliard and has won two Tony awards for “On the Twentieth Century” and “The Pirates of Penzance.” He also played the Pirate King in the 1983 movie version of “The Pirates of Penzance.” He also sings sometimes as Mr. Fischoeder in Bob’s Burgers, I love that show. (IMDB)
Just a little info on the Actor who appeared in the Wishbone version Hunchback.
Soccer the Dog as Wishbone
Soccer the Dog was a veteran Jack Russell actor. He was most known for playing Wishbone on the PBS show. He beat out 100 dog who audition for the role. He was also in many commercials for such companies like Nike and Mighty Dog Food.
Larry Brantley is a former stand-up comedian and radio spokesman. He specializes in character voices. He currently works on Boz the bear.
Lanell Pena played a lot parts on Wishbone in the literary segments of the show. Mostly notably she played Scheherazade in the Wishbone version of Thousand and one nights (One Thousand and One Tails). Pena has also appears in a few television series and movie. Currently she teaches acting at A &M University and KD Studios/College.
Sean Hennigan, like Pena also played a lot parts on Wishbone in the literary segments of the show. Hennigan appeared in 24 episode of Wishbone and notably played he played a lot of the villains. Hennigan has appeared in a lot Television shows and he has been voice acting in anime dubs. Notably in immensely popular One Piece, Baccano! and Romeo x Juliet. he has appeared in a movies like 3:10 to Yuma.Follow thehunchblog
While promoting Men in Black III, Josh Brolin gave a short interview for Collider.com. The last question was about the upcoming Hunchback movie. He seems very excited about the project and thinks that filming will take place in either France or England. While I’m all about filming on location, Hunchback films are better when filmed on a set. Sets enable the production to create a more accurate Notre Dame as it looked in the 15th century. Both the 1923 and the 1939 were films on sets and they had amazing set design. Also regardless of enthusiasm, I don’t see Brolin as Quasimodo. He just seems wrong in type. While I want to say I’ll hold off judgement till I at least see a trailer, I probably won’t. I will say this though, if Megan Fox comes anywhere near this project I will boycott it.
What do you think; Josh Brolin as Quasimodo, Yay or Nay?