Fan-Casting Some Remaining Characters of “To Appomattox”

We all wish we could be involved with a production in some way, and that is why “Fan Casting” is so much fun. There are an endless list of candidates that every role is narrowed down from, but here, I tried to take some actors that I think would be good for the series, and cast them in some of the remaining roles that do not yet have an actor attached to them. I would just like to point out very clearly that this is MY opinion and thoughts, and these actors are not attached to the production in any way (though I wish they were!). This is my way of having some fun with Hollywood:

John Brown: Lance HenriksenAh, the eternal allure of abolitionist John Brown. Was he a half crazed extremist or a man ahead of his time, willing to go to any length in order to destroy slavery? Like all historical characters, how you define him is in the eye of the beholder. The storyline for To Appomattox will feature only a brief plot involving him, described as “intense” on their official Facebook Group. Had Charlton Heston still been alive and in his 50’s, this role just screams his name. There is something about his performance as John the Baptist in The Greatest Story Ever Told that draws a bit of a parallel between him and a more modern prophet in John Brown. But unfortunately, Mr. Heston is no longer with us, and I would like to see the task fall to Lance Henriksen, who played the title role in The Day Lincoln Was Shot. Put some messy gray hair on him, and you have a spitten image, so the only issue here would be acting ability. I said in an earlier post that his depiction of Lincoln was my favorite, however, everything that embodied that previous character would be the exact opposite here. Lincoln was soft-spoken, kind, and had a touch of humor. Brown was very stern, emotional yet humorless, and extremely outspoken. This would be the job for a veteran actor to undertake (might I throw out there that Stephen Lang also bears a resemblance), and if you look at Henriksen’s career, from historical roles to science fiction and futuristic, he could definitely be a candidate for John Brown.

Jesse Grant: Jeremy IronsOne might not think that the epitome of an English gentleman, Jeremy Irons, would be fitting for a series about 1800’s America, but being a huge fan of his work, I felt that I had to get him in here in some capacity. The character of Jesse Grant, father of Ulysses, would be the perfect place to insert him. The role is not too large, and gives Irons a chance to show his softer and more understanding side, which we have seen with his guest appearances recently on Law & Order: SVU. He can also be the rough-around-the-edges type, with roles in Die Hard: With a Vengeance, and my personal favorite, Tiberius in Kingdom of Heaven. I believe that he and Michael C. Hall, who is currently slated for the younger Grant, can develop some interesting chemistry together, and that would be the forefront of the elder Grant’s character in this series.

Winfield Scott: Stacy Keach

There may not be a more colorful character in the years leading up to the Civil War than its aging (and widening) commander-in-chief, Winfield Scott. While being nearly seven feet tall and three hundred pounds, while mounted atop a horse, he must have been a sight to behold. The actor I have selected for such a task? Stacy Keach, who has appeared already in a Civil War mini-series, The Blue and the Gray, back in 1982. He has also played that historical authority figure, when he tackled the role of Sam Houston in James A. Michener’s 1994 TV movie Texas. Keach, like Scott, has seen the days of when he was a lean, mean, fighting machine passed, and is now older, and yes, a little bit heftier. Okay, so maybe he isn’t 300 pounds of pure, unadulterated whoop-ass like Scott was, but how many actors are? There are not many people other than Keach who I think can step in and nail this role. He can play a funny guy too (The Assistants), which is something he might have to add to the character. There is something unintentionally funny about fat people in positions of power (I’m from New Jersey, so I know), and Keach, while not nearly as rotund as Scott, could keep the audience off-guard with a colorful rendition of one of America’s most celebrated military figures.

Edwin Stanton: Stellan Skarsgard

Originally, I had cast one of my absolute favorite actors, Terence Stamp, in the role of Edwin Stanton, but after some reflection, I felt that I needed to leave my old friend out of it for now. Stanton was not a huge man, but he certainly had a commanding presence in the room, if not for his brains, than for the fearsome beard he was sporting. He, along with J.E.B Stuart and James Longstreet, are the kings of beardom, which is why an always clean-shaven Stellan Skarsgard may seem like a mystery for this selection. Well, there is a method behind the madness, because Skarsgard too has a commanding presence in the room, as well as a very deliberate, almost enforcing style of acting, without being too overly aggressive. With Stephen Lang now officially attached to the production, we must now picture in our minds a bearded Skarsgard working with a much thinner, and soon-to-be lankier (thanks to the wonders of camerawork) Lang as Abraham Lincoln. These two could prove to be a formidable tandem, if only the Swedish-born actor can somehow manipulate Stanton’s Ohio accent.

Jefferson Davis: William H. Macy

You may be wondering, how can a man who portrayed a conniving, scheming husband who wants to have his wife murdered ever find himself as the esteemed President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis? Well, it’s simple: William H. Macy is a man who can wear many different faces, and portray many different characters. Aside from the fact that if you put a goatee on him, he would look like the real Davis (they share commonalities in their high cheekbones), Macy can master any role he is given, whether it be a fast-talking, BS-ing car salesman, and emergency room doctor, or a horse racing radio announcer. We have heard him speak with different accents, depending on the demands of his character, and have already seen him nail a Civil War related role, as Colonel Chandler in Andersonville. Thinking back to that helped seal the deal for me, to see him as Jefferson Davis, the once confident, but soon embattled and overwhelmed President of the Confederate States of America (very much like his Oscar-nominated fall from grace in Fargo).

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5 Responses to Fan-Casting Some Remaining Characters of “To Appomattox”

  1. Wonderfully done. Love your assessments. And I hadn’t realized what a close match Lance is for ol’ John Brown.
    Just not so sure about William H. Macy. I keep getting visions of Jefferson Davis does “Fargo”…. 🙂
    Great job. Very thought-provoking.

  2. Michael Imbrogno says:

    What about a Few other influential characters like George Armstrong Custer? or James Ewell Brown Stuart? George Custer compiled a creditable record as a cavalry leader in the latter part of the Civil War. Graduating at the bottom of his West Point (1861) class, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the old 2nd Cavalry, later the 5th, on June 24, 1861.
    His Civil War assignments included: first lieutenant, 5th Cavalry July 17, 1862); captain and additional aide-de-camp, USA June 5,1862 – March 31, 1863); brigadier general, USV June 29, 1863); commanding 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, Cavalry Corps, Army of the Potomac June 28 – July 15 and August 4 November 25, 1863 and December 20, 1863 – January 7, 1864); temporarily commanding the division July 15 – August 4 and November 25 – December 20, 1863); commanding lst Brigade, lst Division, Cavalry Corps, Army of the Potomac (March 25 – August 6, 1864) and Army of the Shenandoah (August 6 -September 26, 1864); temporarily commanding 2nd Cavalry Division, Army of West Virginia serving with the Army of the Shenandoah (September 26-30, 1864); commanding 3rd Division, Cavalry Corps, Army of the Shenandoah (September 30, 1864 – January 5, 1865 and January 30 – March 25, 1865) and Army of the Potomac (March 25 – May 22, 1865); and major general, USV (April 15, 1865).
    Serving during the first two war years on the staffs of Generals McClellan and Pleasonton, Custer saw action in the Peninsular, Antietam, and Chancellorsville campaigns. Given his own star, he was assigned command of the Michigan cavalry brigade and, with it, took part in the Gettysburg, Bristoe, and Mine Run campaigns.
    At Gettysburg he remained with General Gregg east of town to face jeb Stuart’s threat to the Union rear, although he was previously ordered to the south. The combined Union force defeated Stuart.
    In Grant’s Richmond drive in 1864, Custer participated in the fight at Yellow Tavern where Stuart was mortally wounded.
    Transferred to the Shenandoah Valley with his men, he played a major role in the defeat of Early’s army at Winchester and Cedar Creek, commanding a division at the latter.
    Returning to the Army of the Potomac in early 1865, he fought at Five Forks; and in the Appomattox Campaign. His victories against the rebel cavalry came at a time when that force was a ghost of its former self Custer was brevetted in the regulars through grades to major general for Gettysburg, Yellow Tavern, Winchester, Five Forks, and the Appomattox Campaign. In addition he was brevetted major general of volunteers for Winchester.
    Remaining in the army after the war, in 1866 he was appointed Lt. Col. of the newly authorized 7th Cavalry, remaining its active commander until his death. He took part in the 1867 Sioux and Cheyenne expedition, but was court-martialed and suspended from duty one year for paying an unauthorized visit to his wife. His army career ended June 25, 1876, at the battle of Little Big Horn, which resulted in the extermination of his immediate command and a total loss of some 266 officers and men. On June 28th, the bodies were given a hasty burial on the field. The following year, what may have been Custer’s remains were disinterred and given a military funeral at West Point.

    Jeb Stuart

    Jeb Stuart was probably the most famous cavalryman of the Civil War. A Virginia-born West Pointer (1854), Stuart was already a veteran of Indian fighting on the plains and of Bleeding Kansas when, as a first lieutenant in the 1st Cavalry, he carried orders for Robert E. Lee to proceed to Harpers Ferry to crush John Brown’s raid. Stuart, volunteering as aide-de-camp, went along and read the ultimatum to Brown before the assault in which he distinguished himself. Promoted to captain on April 22, 1861, Stuart resigned on May 14, 1861, having arrived on the 6th in Richmond and been made a lieutenant colonel of Virginia infantry.
    His later appointments included: captain of Cavalry, CSA (May 24, 186 1); colonel, 1st Virginia Cavalry (July 16, 1861); brigadier general, CSA (September 24, 1861); and major general, CSA July 25, 1862). His commands in the Army of Northern Virginia included: Cavalry Brigade (October 22, 1861 – July 28, 1862); Cavalry Division July 28, 1862 – September 9, 1863); temporarily Jackson’s 2nd Corps (May 3-6, 1863); and Cavalry Corps (September 9, 1863 – May 11, 1864).
    After early service in the Shenandoah Valley, Stuart led his regiment in the battle of 1st Bull Run and participated in the pursuit of the routed Federals. He then directed the army’s outposts until given command of the cavalry brigade. Besides leading the cavalry in the Army of Northern Virginia’s fights at the Seven Days, 2nd Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and the Wilderness, Stuart was also a raider. Twice he led his command around McClellan’s army, once in the Peninsula Campaign and once after the battle of Antietam. While these exploits were not that important militarily, they provided a boost to the Southern morale. During the 2nd Bull Run Campaign, he lost his famed plumed hat and cloak to pursuing Federals. In a later Confederate raid, Stuart managed to overrun Union army commander Pope’s headquarters and capture his full uniform and orders that provided Lee with much valuable intelligence. At the end of 1862, Stuart led a raid north of the Rappahannock River, inflicting some 230 casualties while losing only 27 of his own men.
    At Chancellorsville he took over command of his friend Stonewall Jackson’s Corps after that officer had been mortally wounded by his own men. Returning to the cavalry shortly after, he commanded the Southern horsemen in the largest cavalry engagement ever fought on the American continent, Brandy Station, on June 9, 1863. Although the battle was a draw, the Confederates did hold the field. However, the fight represented the rise of the Union cavalry and foreshadowed the decline of the formerly invincible Southern mounted arm. During the Gettysburg Campaign, Stuart, acting under ambiguous orders, again circled the Union army, but in the process deprived Lee of his eyes and ears while in enemy territory. Arriving late on the second day of the battle, Stuart failed the next day to get into the enemy’s rear flank, being defeated by Generals Gregg and Custer.
    During Grant’s drive on Richmond in the spring of 1864, Stuart halted Sheridan’s cavalry at Yellow Tavern on the outskirts of Richmond on May 11. In the fight he was mortally wounded and died the next day in the rebel capital. He is buried in Hollywood Cemetery there. Like his intimate friend, Stonewall Jackson, General Stuart soon became a legendary figure, ranking as one of the great cavalry commanders of America. His death marked the beginning of the decline of the superiority which the Confederate horse had enjoyed over that of the Union. Stuart was a son-in-law of Brigadier General Philip St. George Cooke of the Federal service; his wife’s brother was Brigadier General John Rogers Cooke of the Confederacy.

  3. Nancy says:

    HELLO???? GERALD MCRANEY

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