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Who Should Play Carmilla?

Two film versions of “Carmilla” are in some stage of production right now. A stage play based on Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s last work just opened in Chicago. With the number of Draculas numbering in the dozens, little wonder those interested in the genre find this female literary predecessor increasingly interesting. The current wave of interest in vampires (hardly the first, almost certainly not the last) naturally enough has filmmakers looking for stuff with name recognition which remains in the public domain. So the first lesbian vampire attracts interest.

Presuming for a moment that some A-List director wants to mount a fully realized film adaptation of “Carmilla” who should play the lead? Behold some possibilities.

Rachel Hurd Wood. Made her debut in the live action “Peter Pan” and went on to appear in a string of period films–“Perfume” “An American Haunting” “Dorian Gray” and “Solomon Kane.” Lately she ventured into contemporary times with “Tomorrow When The War Began.” Very beautiful, with soulful eyes and an expressive face, her niche so far has been ingenues and (usually) victims of some kind or other. In an interview she even joked about her repertoire of frightened looks. How much more interesting to see her as a victimizer, huntress instead of prey?

Evanna Lynch so far has played only one role, but did it to perfection in several movies. She portrays Luna Lovegood in the “Harry Potter” films, a part cast and crew insist she lives as well as acts. That other-worldliness might translate very well into a vampiress visiting as it were the world of normal human life, a creature out of her own time. One can understand how people might want to simply watch or spend time with her, might forgive odd details and even grow frantic at the thought of anything happening to her.

Emma Watson, another “Harry Potter” alumn, in real life resembles the almost tomboyish Hermione not at all. Watson likes to dress with a very feminine elegance, fitting to a 17th century aristocrat. Mind you, she’s shown enough ability to play a wide range of roles but this remains something she can draw upon. Somebody will mention her recent pixie haircut. To that objection here is a one word answer: Wigs!

Felicity Jones is not as well-known in the United States as in Britain, where she starred in a popular series. Here, she would most likely be recognized as the lead in Jane Austen’s “Northanger Abbey” on “Masterpiece” or perhaps as a spoiled house guest in the Agatha Christie episode of “Doctor Who” with David Tennant. The two roles give a nice example of range, while her physical appearance matches that of Carmilla in the novel–pale, pretty, delicate and with dark hair.

Emily Browning played a ghost as a little girl in “Ghost Ship” and was later offered (but turned down) the part of Bella in “Twilight.” Would she reconsider playing a vampire for some other script? We can hope. She can be seen in “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events” and the upcoming “Sucker Punch” (described by writer/director Zack Snyder as ‘Alice in wonderland with automatic weapons’). These days she sports a pixie blonde haircut, but see the above note regarding Emma Watson.

Anna Popplewell, best known as Susan in the “Narnia” films also enjoys the distinction of having already played one of the undead in “The Little Vampire.” A child then, she is a lovely young woman now, with the enviable ability to seem either girlish or seductive.

Given that “Carmilla” has two female leads, whose strange and mysterious friendship makes up the heart of the story, one can also look at this list with the idea of mixing and matching. Choose one as Carmilla, the other for Laura, her victim/friend/lover. Consider previous pairings in the roles–Madeleine Smith and Ingrid Pitt for example, or Ione Skye with Meg Tilly. Who would your choice (or choices) be?

David MacDowell Blue blogs at Night Tinted Glasses.  He graduated from the National Shakespeare Conservatory and is the author of The Annotated Carmilla. and Your Vampire Story (And How to Write It) as well as a theatrical adaptation of Carmilla.
anna popplewellcarmillaChicagoemma watsonevanna lynchfelicity jonesJoseph Sheridan Le Fanulauralesbianrachel hurd wood

david • January 20, 2011


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  • Christine

    Carmilla should be rosy, dark-haired, delicate and lovely… Good lord, I don´t know!
    Yes, I know. Winona Ryder in Dracula had pretty much perfect look. Yes, she is now in her forties, so she SHOULD be too old, but she has still pretty much that same appearance than 20 years ago.

    • Christine

      And I would like to see her as vampire!

      • Well, you can for a few moments in BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA. I personally do see signs of age in the wonderful Ms. Ryder, and methinks for the chemistry of the story Carmilla and Laura need to seem approximately the same age.

        • Christine

          Perhaps I have just bad eye-sight, lol! And yea, I think she made very fine vampire – but too briefly, damn it!

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  • Moonlight

    Anna Popplewell is beautiful! But I would love Natalie Portman in the role, her recent part in Black Swan shows that she can do edgy while still looking elegant and feminine.

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  • john

    i say Anna Popplewell she is fit for the role and sexy too

  • john

    i say Anna Popplewell .she is the one

  • I say Michaela Petro should play Carmilla, because she’s doing a hell of job at it right now onstage at the DCA Storefront Theater in Chicago. http://www.wildclawtheatre.com

  • Annoymous

    Anna Popplewell-Carmilla
    Evanna Lynch, Felicity Jones, or Rachel Hurd-Wood-Laura

    But you should add Scarlett Johansson, Keira Knightley, Michelle Trachtenberg, and Kristen Bell as Carmilla.

    • Annoymous

      Selena Gomez-Carmilla

      Scarlett Johansson, Keira Knightley, and Natalie Portman could play Carmilla, but they too old. Selena is a beautiful and Carmilla personality match her character as Alex in Wizard of Waverly Place. Anna Popplewell and Emma Watson is not right in that role.