I’ve been planning a War & Peace fancast since before I started the actual book! I’ve been playing around with casting ideas in my head for months now, so I’m really pleased I finally sat down and put it all together.
There were some characters who just jumped out at me and I immediately knew who I wanted to cast for them. However, I thought I should wait until I had finished reading the novel. Then I was struggling to cast a particular pair of characters so I set it aside again. But I’ve had some casting epiphanies again recently, and now I have my cast!
Now, obviously, I couldn’t possibly include every single character in War and Peace (I mean, I could, but I don’t want to). There are going to be some important characters missing (for example, Denisov) because I just didn’t have any particularly inspired casting thoughts about them. Then there are other characters who may seem minor but whose castings jumped out at me.
So let’s get started!
NINA DOBREV AS HELENE KURAGINA
Nina was the very first person I cast. I think she is absolutely perfect for Helene: she is gorgeous, with a mesmerizing smile and enchanting eyes. I would see her gaining some weight to more accurately resemble Helene, who is described as plump, but it’s not like casting directors have paid any attention to that (looking at you, BBC War and Peace). Nina has this charm and magnetism to her that makes her so damn sexy, which is imperative for anyone playing Helene. (Helene is my favorite character so she comes first!)
LUKE PASQUALINO AS ANATOLE KURAGIN
If you want to feel better about certain terrible decisions you’ve made in the past, go take a look at who BBC decided to cast as Anatole in their adaptation of War and Peace. I’ll wait for you to recover from the shock. Alternately described as a weasel (thanks Rachel), a lizard (thanks Tumblr), and the scrawny nerd from your high school chemistry class (thanks moi), Callum Turner as Anatole Kuragin has got to be one of the worst casting decisions in history. Anatole is above all hot. Like his sister, he’s beautiful and charming and sexy; the whole reason Natasha is so drawn to him is because of his gorgeous looks! Now, personally I think Lucas Steele is the best Anatole Kuragin there will ever be in the history of time, but sadly, as he is approaching forty, he’s too old to portray Anatole in an adaptation. But I think Luke Pasqualino would do a pretty fantastic job too! He’s a fabulous actor (check him out in The Musketeers), and he is certainly swoon-worthy. Plus he and Nina make a pretty pair (and they’ve got the same coloring!).
DIEGO LUNA AS FEDYA DOLOKHOV
Also one of the first people I cast! There’s something really intense, magnetic, and sexy about Diego Luna that I think would suit Dolokhov really well. As a character Dolokhov quite odd: part wild, part absolutely nuts, part romantic. I think Diego could play all those parts and bring them together brilliantly.
ADELAIDE KANE AS NATASHA ROSTOVA
Addy was the second person I cast! Having seen her on Reign, I’ve witnessed her incredible acting chops. On that show, she went from naive young girl to badass queen, and Addy acted the hell out of all of that character’s phases. She’s utterly striking, yet has this guileless look about her, along with Natasha’s “full mouth” and a smile that would utterly dazzle you. I also think Addy would do a fantastic job acting out Natasha’s energy. (Also, Natasha has BLACK HAIR which adaptations always seem to ignore in order to cast her as the ~virginal blonde~ which really annoys me.)
NATALIA DYER AS SONYA ROSTOVA
Originally I was going to cast Sarah Bolger for Sonya, but I’ve been liking Natalia’s performance on Stranger Things, and I think she could really give Sonya a lot more depth than the character is usually allowed to have. Don’t get me wrong, I still think Sarah Bolger would do a fantastic job, but it would be interesting to see Natalia branch out into a period drama like this, and I think she has a particularly interesting energy that would really lend Sonya more complexity.
KIT HARRINGTON AS NIKOLAI ROSTOV
Nikolai is described as stout and dark-haired, so Kit fits that description perfectly! This is probably somewhat of a weird casting decision, but I think Kit’s got that perfect combination of intense and adorable that makes up Nikolai. Plus we’ve seen Kit pull off brotherly affection and brooding misery, and both are needed for Nikolai!
EDWARD HOLCROFT AS ANDREI BOLKONSKY
I had an extremely difficult time casting Andrei because, like many people, I think James Norton was absolutely perfect in the role on BBC’s War and Peace, like he was born to play it. However, I think Edward could give him a run for his money. He’s got this sharp, rugged, serious face which I associate with Andrei, and in the only performance I’ve seen him in he’s played intense rather well.
OONA CHAPLIN AS MARYA BOLKONSKAYA
Okay, so Oona is not exactly plain like Marya is described, but she’s also not traditionally pretty. She’s got some striking features and gorgeous eyes, though. I also think she would be fantastic playing someone as religiously devoted as Marya. Plus she and Edward look like they would play off each other really well.
CHARLOTTE SPENCER AS LISE BOLKONSKAYA
Poor Lise, Andrei’s ill-fated first wife! Tolstoy spends a lot of time talking about her pert upper lip and how even at rest you could see some of her teeth. I tried to find an actress with that feature who wasn’t Felicity Jones, and I think Charlotte somewhat fits the bill. She’d have to dye her hair dark to match Lise’s looks, but otherwise I think she could do a great job in this minor role.
ELOISE SMYTH AS MADEMOISELLE BOURIENNE
Oddly enough, this casting was inspired, meaning I didn’t have to think too hard about it. It just came to me. Eloise hasn’t done much besides Harlots, and I’ve only seen her in an episode or two in that, but Bourienne only has a minor role anyway. She’s beautiful and blonde and flirts with Anatole. I think Eloise can capture that playfulness to her.
HELEN MCCRORY AS MARYA DIMITRIYEVNA
Helen is perfect for this role, in my opinion! She’s gorgeous and has that fierceness required to play Marya D. And she’s so elegant; she does really well in period pieces!
KYLE SOLLER AS PIERRE BEZUKHOV
I’m still not too sure about this casting – for a long time I considered Howard Charles for the role, but thought he looked too old. The thing is, Pierre is always described as large and ungainly, and it’s such a huge part of how other people see him and how he walks through life. But BBC War and Peace’s choice of Paul Dano was spectacular, despite Dano being so diminutive. So I thought I stopped trying to find someone frighteningly large and just focused on finding someone who could play guileless.
JOHN BRADLEY WEST AS PIERRE V.2
Rachel and I were chatting about this very post when she randomly came up with John Bradley West for Pierre and he was too perfect not to add here! Not only his physicality, but his demeanor, I think he could portray both Pierre’s naivete as well as his self-righteousness. But seriously, his physicality is perfect for Pierre. He would be so incredible!
DANE DEHAAN AS BORIS DRUBETSKOY
I don’t have much to say about this as I don’t have much to say about Boris. He’s kind of a sneaky, ambitious character who I didn’t find particularly likeable. He’s also rumored to be having an affair with Helene, so there’s that.
YAY! What do y’all think? If you’ve read War and Peace, do you think my casting choices fit? Have you watched BBC’s War and Peace? Let me know in the comments!