About a year ago, I did a Top X List of video games that should be turned into movies that don’t suck called “A Night at the GotGame Multiplex.” You guys and gals liked it so much it produced a sequel, which is awesome. This isn’t so much as a sequel as it is a spin-off though, because one of the ideas that really took hold of my brain is the idea of making a film based on Final Fantasy VI.
The game, released in the US as Final Fantasy III, is arguably still to this day the best in the SquareEnix series and had at the time of release one of the deepest and most expansive worlds and story lines seen on a console RPG. Between “Multiplex” and now the idea of the film kept flashing back into my head, and I kept toying with the ideas of who I would cast in each role. Finally I took to writing it down, sharing details with friends, and before I knew it I had a full cast.
So what better way to share it than with the people who inspired it, the smartest gamers in the known humanoid universe, GotGamers! Welcome to another Top X List, where this time, x = “14 People I Would Cast in a Final Fantasy VI Movie.”
I had to go a little rule-heavy on this list, so the following assumptions were made in the casting process:
→ It’s summer blockbuster season, and I have scads of money. Like, swimming in studio money. (For reference, the Top 15 most expensive films range between $200 mil – $300 mil budgetwise.)
→ Anyone I ask is going to drop everything and say yes. I mean, would you turn me down? (Answer: Of course not.)
→ The whole story is going to be made, so a Volume 1/2 thing might have to be done. That being said, while a few battles may be shown for action, we’re obviously not going to film the level-grinding we all did while actually playing the game. No one grinds in Hollywood.
→ Creature-based characters such as Mog, Umaro, and Ultros will be CGI.
→ And finally, I tried to stay as faithful to the characters as possible, but in certain times, artistic license was taken, which I will point out – not as if true fans wouldn’t know.
Also, here’s the official warning: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS AHEAD! If you are one of the 8 people left on earth who hasn’t played Final Fantasy VI, consider yourself alerted.
And now, in order of appearance, the cast of Final Fantasy: Nothing is Absolute.
Summer Glau as “Terra Branford”
When we first see Terra, she exists simply as a puppet of the Empire, hypnotized by the Slave Crown and incapable of her own thought. She’s quickly identified by the Returners as potentially useful, largely in the same capacity (though via less cruel methods) that the Empire did. The confused girl becomes frustrated with her situation and everyone involved in it, but eventually evolves into a strong leader, vowing to make the world a safer place for future generations. (Oh, and she becomes an Esper at some point too.)
For those familiar with the short-lived series Firefly, minus the whole Esper thing, does this not smack of the evolution of River Tam? She’s also proven she can carry the strong female thing over to other series such as Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles, Dollhouse, and most notably as information guru Orwell in the also unfortunately-short NBC superhero series The Cape. She also fits the lithe figure of Terra, and can flip between lighting a room up with a smile or moving people to tears with just a facial expression.
Tommy Rainone as “Locke Cole”
Unless you’re really into the world of off-Broadway plays and/or boxing, you’re probably thinking, “Who?” That’s fine. I feel a couple of these roles are really good for unknowns or fresh faces to get their launch, and since this is my fantasy movie, I’m going to take the risk on Rainone.
Locke, resident “treasure hunter extraordinaire,” is a thief. But a thief with a honor code, and he’s part of the Returners. He’s got a sardonic sense of humor, with his natural zest for life and adventure in direct conflict and guilt felt from the tragic fate of his lover, Rachel. Chivalrous and protective, he sees Terra as a sister and Celes as something more.
Rainone is a welterweight boxer out of New York. A slick southpaw who’s not afraid to rumble, he’s also got the gift of gab, which led him to a role in the off-Broadway play Kid Shamrock, which was based on the life of boxer “Irish” Bobby Cassidy. I was able to watch some of this via the Intert00bZ for a boxing article I was working on at a former website and was duly impressed. Rainone is a handsome man, but not “pretty boy” handsome. He’s more ruggedly handsome, which fits Locke to a T. Rainone also has the mix of humor and angst needed for the role. Plus, casting him benefits the film financially, as being a Hollywood unknown would probably net a smaller contract; being surrounded by a strong ensemble cast would skyrocket his stock in the industry. There’s also the added benefit of not having to invest much in combat training.
Leonardo DiCaprio as “Edgar Figaro”
Reigning monarch of Figaro, King Edgar would much rather be tinkering with machinery or flirting with the ladies. But when Figaro faces attack from the Empire for not handing over Terra, Edgar shows his alliance with the Returners, and leads with authority, action, and Chocobos.
Leo DiCaprio has always worn the moniker of a ladies’ man, but also had played the dashing leader type. Specifically I’m looking at Catch Me If You Can and the upcoming The Great Gatsby. He has the charm, the wit that Edgar showcases, and he bears similarity to the person I’ve cast as Sabin. DiCaprio should be an instant lock on Edgar’s role.
Jim Carrey as “Kefka Palazzo”
I don’t really need to explain this one. Kefka is a cross between Batman’s archnemesis The Joker and Satan, the Lord of Darkness.
Someone said, “Well, you’d have to rein in Carrey.” Absolutely not. Kefka is a lunatic. Nutty McCuckoo. Not only that, he takes immense pleasure in his hate and destruction. Let’s let Carrey loose. I want all the mania he can produce. Hell, I’d cast Gary Busey if he wasn’t so damn old.
Matt Damon as “Sabin Figaro”
The estranged fraternal twin of King Edgar, Sabin left the royal family to train in the ways of the martial art warrior. His master chose him as his top student, to the chagrin of his other top student Vargas. That of course would be when the rest of the party find him. Sabin later joins the others in assisting the Returners against the Empire when he learns they attacked the Kingdom of Figaro.
If DiCaprio is a lock on Edgar Figaro, Matt Damon is a lock on Sabin Figaro. He bears similarity to DiCaprio, he’s shown fighting prowess in the Bourne trilogy, and can play a great foil against DiCaprio’s more comical Edgar.
Nicole Kidman as “Celes Chere”
Celes Chere is first seen by Locke Cole chained up to a wall in South Figaro. Kinky, right? But she’s actually a general of the Empire declared treacherous. Magic-infused, she shows more sympathy than he fellow Imperial generals, and as such joins the Returners when Locke saves her. She also has demonstrated singing ability, and eventually falls for Locke while protecting Terra.
While the original story line calls for Celes to be unusually young for a general, I went ahead and augmented her age to at least mid-30s to mid-40s, so the fact that she’s a general in the Empire isn’t highly unusual. Kidman has shown action abilities throughout her filmography, and a wide range of acting ability from cold and calculating to vulnerable waif, all of which Celes feels at some point during the adventure. And, as Moulin Rouge! showcased, she can sing for the musical scene. (Yes, I changed the opera scene to a musical. So sue me.)
Boris Kodjoe as “Shadow”
The dark ninja with more than just his face hidden, Shadow comes and goes as he pleases, helping where he sees fit, and where he sees dollar signs. His only companion is his dog, Interceptor, aggressive towards all except one person: young Relm Arrowny.
(Here comes some of those spoilers I warned you about.)
You may remember in Final Fantasy VI the fact, which is either mentioned or highly highly implied, that Relm is actually Shadow’s daughter from an affair with the daughter of Strago Magus. So, when I made this casting choice, I not only wanted someone who would be athletic for ninja-type action sequences, and who can really rock the brooding pretty well (because let’s face it, Shadow is kind of a Debbie Downer), but was also biracial in order to explain how a lily white girl could come from a “dark” figure.
I settled on Boris Kodjoe, whom some of you might remember from the very short-lived but still pretty good show Undercovers, which was kind of a Mr. & Mrs. Smith type plot: Two retired CIA agents are married to each other when they’re reactivated for a mission. I thought he could take that strong, serious type and parlay that into troubled, but still caring when he needs to be. He’s biracial, and there’s no doubt he could pull off the stunts. Plus, sex appeal. I mean, this is Hollywood, after all.
Edward James Olmos as “Cyan Garamonde”
Loyal retainer to the kingdom of Doma, Cyan sinks into a heavy depression when Kefka poisons Doma’s water supply, killing everyone including Cyan’s wife and son, Owain. Rescued by Sabin from a kamikaze attack on the Imperial camp near Doma, Cyan’s depression intertwines with the supernatural, as at one point he tries to save his wife and child from the Phantom Train, only realizing they are truly crossing over to the Other Side. While usually serious and stern, Cyan shows a soft spot to Gau after rescuing him with Sabin from the Veldt.
I have to admit, I’m not wild about this choice, but Olmos is the right age to play Cyan, he’s certainly got the acting chops, and can play up a little humor, which Cyan shows in the game with matters of mechanics.
Tom Holland as “Gau”
A feral child found on the Veldt, Gau has spent most of his life fending for himself after being left on the Veldt to die by his father, labeling him a “demon child” when Gau’s mother died in childbirth. Gau has learned how to mimic the attacks of other creatures in order to defend himself, and even at a young age can kill beasts with only his bare hands. He is bribed by Sabin, Shadow and Cyan to hand over a underwater device. Though his communication ability is minimal, Gau quickly becomes protective of Sabin and especially Cyan, whom he calls Mr. Thou. He also shows a playful competitor sort of relationship with Interceptor, Shadow’s dog.
Holland was almost universally lauded in his portrayal of earthquake survivor Lucas in 2012’s The Impossible, and is the right age to play Gau. Depending on player’s play styles and strategies, Gau was either beloved or rarely used; the role, however, requires a lot of emotion, both comic and poignant, to be relayed largely via body language, as Gau’s speaking ability has been stunted since birth. If played by someone with Holland’s ability, it could be a very powerful role.
David Tennant as “Setzer Gabbano”
Glib, cheeky, at times rude, Setzer’s zest for life manifests itself in arrogance, spontaneity and borderline immaturity. Setzer’s idea of the good life is a full glass of wine, a lovely lady (or two), and control of his airship, the Blackjack. Playing his penchant for hedonism, the Returners swap the musical star Maria for Celes Chere, then trick Setzer into joining the team with Edgar’s double-headed coin. Once he realizes what he’s gotten himself into, though, he doesn’t fight back – he revels in the new adventure.
Beneath all the bravado, however, lies the hole in his heart left behind by his late lover, Daryl. The only woman belligerent enough to match Setzer’s brash, adventurous attitude, Setzer’s fun-loving ways only serve to cover up the true loneliness he feels inside.
I’m sure as soon as I mentioned David Tennant’s name, some Whovians lauded me as the smartest person alive, while others took up their pitchforks and torches. But if Setzer’s description doesn’t match an older version of the Tenth Doctor, I’m at a loss for who else could match it. Tennant can give cheeky comedy, purvey a zeal for adventure, while still providing poignant moments. Fear not, Whovians… if I am in control of the script as well, you’ll get some fan service. Maybe renaming Daryl’s airship. What sounds better for an airship name, Moltobene or Tardys?
Patrick Stewart as “Emperor Gestahl”
Emperor Gestahl rules with an iron fist, and subjugates those who would oppose him, while trying to reclaim what was once known as “magic.” His Empire has claimed several Espers for his research, which has bred Magitek weaponry – magic-infused technology. But even his lust for power stops short at destroying the known world. Unfortunately for him and the Empire he’s built, Kefka’s doesn’t.
Patrick Stewart was meant to be the Emperor. He’s played regal roles, he’s played cruel, heartless people, and he can do both at the same time. And I suspect he would have a blast doing it.
Tommy Lee Jones as “General Leo Christophe”
If Kefka is too bat-sh*t crazy, but Celes is too soft in the eyes of Emperor Gestahl, then Leo Christophe is just right. Leo believes in the tenets of the Empire, he believes in order, and he believes in honor. He is the all-American man… if the game took place in America, and America was trying to take over the rest of the world via magic. (Right-wing conspiracy theory nuts, have fun with that one!)
Leo is a smaller, but definitely important role, and I took the most artistic liberty with him, as I feel Tommy Lee Jones plays the role perfectly if we saw what the general looked like twenty to thirty years later. The idea of keeping order and keeping to the Imperial tenets reinforces the fact that Leo has been with the Emperor since the beginning, and makes his fate more tragic when he realizes his beloved Empire was truly under command of someone other than the man he trusted.
Sean Connery as “Strago Magus”
Strago is the curmudgeonly old man who takes care of young Relm in the village of Thamasa, whose inhabitants are descendants of the Mage Warriors who fought in the ancient War of the Magi. As such, he is able to replicate attacks once seeing them, as they trigger ancient Lore passed down from generation to generation.
Connery has all but stayed out of the spotlight for many years now. But this is my fantasy movie and no one can say no to me, so Connery it is. Besides, in reality, Relm is more important than Strago, so he’d only be in a few scenes.
Willow Shields as “Relm Arrowny”
Relm is Strago’s granddaughter, who possesses the magic of the Blue Magi of Thamasa, but the spunk of her late mother. Feisty and stubborn, she also possesses serious magic in her paintbrush, creating living, breathing replicas of her enemies to face foes. It is implied in flashback sequences she might be the daughter of one of Shadow’s affairs.
Shields is kind of my runner-up choice. My first choice was Chloe Grace Moritz (Kick-Ass), but she’s growing up. “Blooming,” should we say. And even with liberties taken, Relm is still a little girl, and Moritz would have difficulty playing that young, though she would be perfect for the character of the role. Willow Shields (The Hunger Games) has some spitfire in her, while still being precocious.
Do you like these casting choices? Or do you hate (“hate hate hate hate hate”) them? Sounds off in the comments below.
A very big thank you to GotGamer Sean K. and to GaymerConnecter Aaron R. for their immensely appreciated help and feedback during the creation of this article!