Casting Sam Vimes

The cover of Snuff, Vimes illustrated by Kidby

I just finished listening to the audio book of Snuff by Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs. Snuff is a book in Pratchett’s Discworld series in the Watch sub-series. Spring 2011, they announced that they are making the Watch sub-series into a television program. You can watch Terry Pratchett and Rob Wilkins discuss it in this video. In the DiscWorld convention, this year, there was a presentation about it, and it seems it is still in production. See the very bottom of this post for Jason Anthony’s report.

Listening to Snuff made me wonder who they would cast as the protagonist of the sub-series: Sam Vimes. I’m a huge fan of Stephen Briggs’ version of Vimes’ voice, to the point where his Vimes is the Vimes I hear in my head if I’m reading one of the books on paper. Tony Robinson has an extremely different take on Vimes in the audio books that he does–a much more laid back, sleepy, calm Vimes. In terms of the “look,” I think Paul Kidby’s Clint Eastwood-esque is pretty classic, although Pratchett has said that he envisioned him more as the late Pete Postlethwaite, as he was then illustrated as in the children’s book Where’s My Cow.

So who alive has the right sort of voice, the right sort of look, the right age to play Sir Saumel Vimes? Let’s take a look at some ideas. Pasted below is a selection of the list on The L-Space, which has collected all the actors who fans have suggested to play the role. Go here for the full list. I felt some of these ideas deserved some comments from me.

1. Hugh Laurie: This seems to be everyone’s favorite choice, but as much as I like Hugh Laurie, I disagree based on the sole premise that despite being able to play gruff on House, his eyes are too soppy for the Commander.

2. Sean Bean: Not a huge fan, but I could almost see that work if he’s likable enough.

3. Stephen Coogan: Not someone I would have considered. Normally I’d say he’s too silly, but I have yet to see him in a dramatic role.

4. Matt Frewer: Again, not someone who would spring to mind, but he looks the part, if he can get the voice right.

5. Alan Rickman: This is another popular choice. Personally, I think he’d be a great Vetinari, but not wiry enough for a Vimes.

6. Kevin Kline: Well, Kevin Kline can do anything, so don’t doubt his ability to do this.

7. Richard Dean Anderson: Maybe not British enough, but I’d bet he’d be good in the part, actually.

8. Mandy Patinkin: Actually, that would be pretty good.

9. Sigourney Weaver: Why the hell is Sigourney Weaver on this list?

10: Daniel Craig: I’m not a Daniel Craig fan, but he looks the part. He could probably do it.

11. Philip Glenister: Very clearly type-cast, but you know he can do the rough, smart-mouthy police chief.

12. Rupert Graves: And the man not on the list that I am officially adding to the list. Again, type-cast after seeing him as Lastrad in Sherlock, but I think he could be a good candidate.

Cast your vote in comments.

I like this cartoon version of Vimes:

Jason Anthony reports on The Watch panel at Discworld Convention 2012

One of the most anticipated panels of the weekend was The Watch Team Interview.  This promised to provide some much requested information about some of the upcoming TV adaptations.  The first shock, however, was the announcement that rather than working with third parties, Terry and Rob have created a new production company of their own named Narrativia.  Rob had the vision of Narativia more than five years ago but it has only recently been possible to put all the plans and ideas into motion. A full press release will be coming in a couple of weeks and we’ll send out a special edition when we get it.  Narrativia needed a producer so they asked Rod Brown (ex The Mob and PrimeFocus) to join the company in that role. The final director of the company is Terry’s daughter Rhianna who has become very influential in the computer games market (having recently reinvented Lara Croft).  Rhianna has spent several years building her writing skills on games and has also written a screenplay for a film.  She now feels she is ready to work with her father on the Discworld adaptations.  Narrativia has teamed up with independant writer Guy Burt – whose recent projects include a recent episode of The Borgias.  During the interview it became obvious that Guy is a huge Discworld fan with plenty of character knowledge and a lot of enthusiasm.  Wherever possible Narrativia have secured film, TV, digital and merchandise rights to Terry’s books.  Narrativia will be working on two projects initially: An adaptation of Good Omens and a 13 part police procedural, post-watershed, drama called The Watch.  The Watch will feature new stories and new characters as well as existing characters we know and love.  Rhianna has spent time working out how forensics might work on the Disc and is planning on bringing Igorina (a cousin of Igor) into the watch as their forensics officer.  At the moment both projects are at very early stages – but this all sounds very exciting and I can’t wait to see what they produce.

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5 thoughts on “Casting Sam Vimes

  1. what about James Bolam or Martin Clunes? I like the idea of Hugh Laurie (especially if he’s a Discworld fan.. it would kinda of suck if this was just another job for him), but it is kind of surprising… I would think they would stick with lesser known (to Americans) BBC stable actors (but I’m willing to bet Nigel Planner will pop up somewhere in the mix..) and although it’s a long shot, I’ve always wanted to see Stephanie Cole as Granny Weatherwax… (think not so much as Doc Martin’s crazy aunt, but more as Diana Trent in Waiting for God)…

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