From the moment I started reading The First Law trilogy I knew I wanted to fancast it. Some books just have that cinematic quality, y’know? Frankly, I can’t believe this hasn’t been optioned for a TV series yet, considering the fantasy golden age we’re in!
Anyway, for this fancast, I tried to stay true to the spirit of the characters while also, as Logen Ninefingers would say, being realistic: that is, I tried to pick actors who weren’t too high-profile for a particular role, who could, theoretically, actually be cast if a show were to be made. Of course, there’s really no reason to do that, since it’s not like Hollywood casting directors are gonna look to my fancast when making decisions, but it makes it more fun for me to pretend that’s a possibility.
Manu Bennett as Logen Ninefingers
For Logen it was important to find someone with the right charisma and gravitas. I think Manu can play menacing, intimidating warrior really well, which is super important for Logen, but I can also see him being kind of chill, as Logen mostly is in the second book. Also his gravelly voice is perfect.
Mischa Collins as Sand dan Glokta
Glokta is my favorite character, and I spent a lot of time thinking about who should play him. There’s a lot of great options out there depending on how you envision Glokta; personally, I think a lot of people age him up way too much. He’s only thirty-five, after all, he just looks a bit older, which I think could be well established on Misha with some makeup. Also, just look at Mischa’s shit-eating grin! Imagine that with some mismatched teeth. Mischa does such a great job coming off slightly unhinged.
Naomi Scott as Ardee West
Ardeeeeee! I adored Ardee from the moment we met her to the very end; her wit and snark, combined with her listlessness and constant drunkeness, make her a pretty fascinating character. I wanted to find someone who looked the part (dark-haired, somewhat dark-skinned), with a kind of unusual beauty. Ideally, I’d love for Naomi to gain some weight, as Ardee is described as being kind of curvy, but overall I think she captures Ardee’s spunk really well!
Matthew Daddario as Jezal dan Luthar
Okay, I know Jezal is described as blonde, but I went more for the spirit of the character than his physical description. I think Matthew is just the picture of empty-headed pretty boy; he just gives off that look, you know? And he’s just so, so handsome and charismatic.
Tom Burke as Collem West
Who better to play a super serious dude with occasional rages than Tom Burke? Collem West also has a tendency to deadpan, which with Tom’s deep voice I think would go over swimmingly. And he’s definitely got the kind of serious, hard-lined face Collem is described as having.
James Spader as Bayaz
I mean!!! Can you just imagine, with James Spader’s incredible voice and charisma! Bayaz is a fascinating, flawed, and multi-faceted character who can at times seem like your friendly grandfather, but who is also capable of being utterly terrifying. Spader oozes talent and charm but he can definitely be intimating. This is probably the most unrealistic casting choice on here, but I feel like Bayaz is such a prominent role that Spader might consider it; he’s open to fantasy, after all, having worked with Marvel.
Lupita Nyong’o as Ferro
Okay, so, Lupita might be too pretty and regal-looking for this, but I’m convinced that with the right makeup (or…the total lack thereof) and messy hair she could be excellent. I actually just watched her in Us and she did an absolutely incredible job playing an unhinged and terrifying doppleganger. Realistically, she’s probably too high-profile for a role like this, but a girl can dream. I struggle with Ferro as a character, personally, but I think Lupita can give her some heart and charm.
Ramy Youssef as Malacus Quai
Ramy just gives off that kind of fecklessness that Malacus Quai is famous for. There’s just something about his face and his general demeanor that screams hapless. It’s a bit hard to picture him as Malacus when he’s got his beard, but without facial hair I think he’s perfect (it’s just hard to find a good picture of him beardless!).
Peter Mensah as Yulwei
I couldn’t really see anyone else in this role, to be honest. Peter Mensah has the looks, the gravitas, and the charisma for Yulwei.
Lin-Manuel Miranda as Brother Longfoot
I MEAN. Who better, really? Longfoot serves as huge comedic relief in the series, with his constant chatter. Can’t you just see Lin-Manuel with his nasally voice, constantly talking in hyper-speed about his many, many talents?
Tatiana Maslany as Practical Vitari
It would be easy enough to dye her hair red, I think, but otherwise I think Tatiana is perfect! She’s a spectacularly talented actress and is really good at playing the tough girl.
Ben Feldman as Practical Severard
Smiling eyes, right? I think Ben Feldman can do sardonic really well, and he’s the first person that came to mind when I thought of someone whose eyes just smile.
Adam Godley as Arch Lector Sult
It helps that Adam Godley has already played the part of an ornery, semi-religious figure in another series (The Great), but he just gives off a kind of menacing, authoritarian vibe that is hugely necessary for Sult.
Rami Malek as Nicomo Cosca
At first I thought Rami might be too young for this role, but did y’all know he’s actually 40??? He just looks much younger than he is. For Nicomo, I wanted someone very visually striking and kind of handsome if you look at him sideways, but who is also a little weird looking. Ramy, especially sporting ugly facial hair, fits that description pretty well, and he’s practiced in playing odd characters.
Sarah Greene as Carlot dan Eider
I struggled a lot with Carlot. At first I was all set on Keri Russell, who I still think would make a good choice, even though she’s far too famous for a small role like this, but then I remembered Sarah Greene. She’s beautiful, but not in an overstated way, and she’s got a very down-to-earth vibe, but she also looks very regal.
Nick Offerman as Rudd Threetrees
I think this would be such a fun choice for Threetrees! Recall Ron Swanson saying, “I know what I’m about, son” and picture him saying something of the sort to the rest of the gang when he’s trying to get them to follow his orders.
Seth Gabel as The Dogman
I had to think a lot about this one! For the Dogman, you need someone who is kind of lean and sharp-looking, youngish but still middle-aged, with a friendly enough face that makes people trust him. At first I considered Andrew Scott, but something about him just didn’t fit. I think if Seth loses some weight for the role and gets the super lean physique he’s had in some roles past, and maintains that messy beard he has now, he would fit perfectly. There’s definitely a sharpness to him, but at the same time he definitely gives off that vibe of someone you could trust.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Tul Duru
Huge, kind of a himbo but still terrifying, basically good-hearted, etc, etc, I think The Rock fits.
Daniel Bruhl as Black Dow
I had a very hard time finding someone suitable for Black Dow. It’s said that he looks “evil” and I wasn’t exactly sure that that was supposed to mean. Is he super ugly? Just menacing? Is he really old and wrinkled? So in the end I went with someone whose face and demeanor kind of give off a sharp, angry vibe, which I think Daniel Bruhl does, especially with facial hair.
Al Weaver as Forley the Weakest
Don’t have much to say about this one; I think Al fits! Forley’s a relatively small role but I still wanted to find someone who fits the “weakest” descriptor.
Chris Messina as Harding Grim
It was hard to cast Grim because the man barely ever speaks, and realistically speaking this role would probably go to a lesser-known actor since there’s so little dialogue, but I ended up going with Chris Messina because I think he looks the part. He’s charismatic enough that even when totally silent he still gives off a strong presence.
Tyler Hoechlin as Ladisla
For Ladisla I wanted to find someone handsome and gives off foppish pretty boy vibes. Tyler might be a tad too fierce-looking for Ladisla, but I think with the right long-haired wig, and clean-shaven, he could pull this off.
Kathryn Prescott as Cathil
Cathil is a minor but significant character, so I wanted to make to include her. For Cathil I wanted to cast someone with spunk and a kind of unusual beauty, so I think Kathryn fits!
Eiza Gonzalez as Terez
Yes, I know she’s supposed to be pale and red-haired, but like with Jezal, I went more for the spirit of the character. Terez is bitter, arrogant, holier-than-though, and exceptionally striking and beautiful. I think Eiza has a lot of confidence and charisma suited to the role, and she’s gorgeous, of course.
Well, there you have it! I obviously couldn’t cast everyone, and there are some significant characters missing (Marshul Burr, Marovia, Frost, etc), but I didn’t want to spend too much time on this, and I didn’t want to struggle to think about casting choices for characters I didn’t care very much about. I went with my gut on this, for the most part.
Let me know what you think of these choices, even if you vehemently disagree, and tell me if there’s other actors you’d prefer for these roles!