It’s time for another round of Muppet Casting, where we take a famous movie and ask, if Jim Henson’s Muppets made their own version of it (in the vein of The Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island), which Muppets would you cast in the lead roles?
This week, it’s another Shakespeare adaptation with King Lear!
For this casting list, I’m going to largely ignore the genders of the characters, so like in Shakespeare’s day, you’ll have men playing women, and like in Shakespeare in Love, women playing men (though no women playing men playing women, I’m afraid).
Miss Piggy as Lear (King of Britain) – Aside from the whole gender thing (and the fact that she’d balk at playing a character who’s old) Miss Piggy is perfect for the lead role. I mean, Lear has his children compete in a “Who loves me the most?” contest, flies into a rage when one of them refuses to flatter him, then insists he can’t go anywhere without a huge and completely superfluous retinue. Only Miss Piggy, at the height of her diva tendencies, can capture just the right attitude for Lear.
Pepe the Prawn & Rizzo the Rat as Goneril & Regan (Lear’s Elder Daughters) – Of the main Muppet ensemble, these two have always struck me as the most untrustworthy. Not bad guys, necessarily, but if some Muppets were to betray close family members for personal gain, as Goneril and Regan do, I’d be inclined to suspect them.
Janice & Yolanda Rat as The Dukes of Albany & Cornwall (Goneril & Regan’s Husbands) – Yolanda is an obvious choice to be paired with Rizzo, and Janice I think would do well as the Duke of Albany. That character’s supposed to be oblivious to all the machinations going on throughout the play, and you can definitely believe Janice would be oblivious to that sort of stuff.
Kermit the Frog as Cordelia (Lear’s Youngest Daughter) – Cordelia loves her father, but isn’t willing to go along with the games he wants to play, and the two come to a furious row, before having a sweet-and-gooey reunion in the finale. With Miss Piggy playing Lear, Kermit seems like the natural choice to have that sort of dynamic with her.
The Swedish Chef as The King of
France Sweden (Cordelia’s Suitor/Husband) – Mainly I just went with him ‘cause he has a European accent. Still, the Swedish Chef being the guy who sweeps the princess off her feet is kinda funny, you gotta admit.
Sam the Eagle as The Earl of Kent (a.k.a. Caius) – Sam’s got the just the right sort of wounded dignity that having to spend most of the story disguised as someone of a lower station would gall him in a humorous way.
Fozzie Bear as The Fool – It’s a jester character who’s constantly telling jokes. Had to be Fozzie.
Rowlf the Dog as The Earl of Gloucester – Gloucester is a friendly, well-meaning sort, so I went with friendly, well-meaning Rowlf to play him.
Gonzo the Great as Edgar (Gloucester’s Son) – What other Muppet, believing he has to run for his life, would immediately decide the best thing to do is cover himself in dirt and act like a total nutcase? Or, when he encounters his now blinded father, help him “commit suicide” by jumping off a cliff that’s only a foot or two high?
Our Very Special Guest, Mr. Tom Hiddleston! as Edmund (Gloucester’s Illegitimate Son) – I felt this role should probably go to a human. None of the Muppets are really evil or conniving enough, or have the proper sex appeal, to do the part justice. And when I thought of human actors, preferably British, who are both very handsome and can do scheming evil very well, and have even played a similar role before, I thought who better than Loki himself?
Those are my picks for a Muppet rendition of King Lear. What are yours?