Who Should Play the Lovely Mark Twain?

America’s most celebrated author, Mark Twain, may seem likely an unlikely sort to be characterized in a television series about the American Civil War, but many may not realize that it is because of good ol’ Samuel Clemens that we are even having this series to begin with. The spine of To Appomattox is going to be the memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant, and this book may not have ever been written if it was not for Twain who persuaded the retired general and then former president to sit down and write his memoirs. Grant had been in deep financial trouble and ailing with throat cancer, and though it was not Twain by himself that prompted Grant to write, he was definitely a large part of it, including offering him a reported 75% royalties to help his situation, if he would sell the rights to Twain.

Grant never got to see his memoirs reach “stardom” for the time, because he died only days after finishing them. It is because of this, that we are able to get an in-depth look at one of the only generals to see major and influential action in both the Eastern and Western Theaters.

Twain, a staunch abolitionist, once said that, “[The Emancipation Proclamation] not only set the black slaves free, but set the white man free also.” I do not know how much of a role his character will have in the series, but he will no doubt be involved in later episodes, when Grant is nearing the end of his life. There was one actor being mentioned, at one point, on the show’s official Facebook Group, to play the part, and that was Jeff Daniels. While I am a big fan of his, I just do not see him in this role. Perhaps his acting as Joshua L. Chamberlain has blinded me from seeing him in any other historical role, but I just do not see the blond-haired Daniels looking convincing in wacky white hair and a mustache, other than the handlebar he sported as a part of his previous Civil War roles.

The actor who I would very much to see as Twain, is actually an Englishman named David Warner. For a man who is now 70 years old, he has aged very well and continues to act in all sorts of movies. I first saw him in A Christmas Carol, as Bob Cratchit, when I was a child, and since, I have been hooked on his acting. He was also in another one of my favorites, The Omen, while moving on to do some recent independent ventures such as The Code Conspiracy and The Black Death. He has proven to be an extremely versatile actor, and is even a member of the esteemed Royal Shakespeare Theater Company, a spot which he has held since 1963. It is because of this, that as long as he can master Twain’s Missouri accent, he will be a perfect candidate to portray the eloquent author, who one could argue is the American Shakespeare.

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7 Responses to Who Should Play the Lovely Mark Twain?

  1. Ned says:

    Well, Hal Holbrook is too old now. Too bad he did not do a Twain biography back when he was in his prime. Saw him doing his one man show on Twain (Mark Twain Tonight!) several times and he was Twain.

  2. Wes M says:

    I enjoyed Kevin Conway’s portrayal of Mark Twain in Ken Burns’ film “Mark Twain” (though that was by voice only) and I have seen Hal Holbrook perform Twain on stage. Both were excellent. I would like to see Gods and Generals actor and dialect coach Robert Easton in the role.

  3. Hal Holbrook did a brilliant Twain. I am sure David Warner would make a great Twain as well…in his later years. Twain, at the time of his close friendship with Grant, is in his 40s. That is the Twain we’ll be seeing in the series. MFB

  4. Pingback: Mark Twain Fan-Cast Update: An Unlikely Choice | To Appomattox

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