Casting to the Extreme of The “Devil in the White City”
In this group project we are told to collaboratively come up with six actors for characters of our choosing as long as we do H. H. Homes and Daniel Hudson Burnham in the project. Our assignment was to come up with a body paragraph together and have different intro and conclusion paragraphs to make them different. At the start of this assignment I looked forward to working with others but sadly I was disappointed. The characters that we choice to do was H. H. Home, Daniel Hudson Burnham, John Root, George Washington Gale Ferris Jr., Benjamin Pitezel and Frederick Laws Olmsted.
From the book to the movie of The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, is being produced by Paramount and directed by Martin Scorsese. Through the struggles of the bidding war and winning of the rights to produce the film. The ever so infamous H. H. Homes – a serial killer that goes unnoticed during the building and making of World’s Columbian Exposition Fair in Chicago, IL. Though filling Homes shoes will indeed be hard, the wonderful, stupendous Leonardo DiCaprio has decided and bought the rights to perform as H. H. Homes. Through the many films that Mr. DiCaprio has starred in from Titanic in 1997, playing Jack a lover, to The Great Gatsby in 2013, playing Jay Gatsby a millionaire, is more than qualified to be playing the ever handsome devilish H. H. Homes. In Larson’s book, he describes Homes as someone who “walk[s] with confidence and dressed well, conjuring an impression of wealth and achievement…He had dark hair and striking blue eyes… ‘They are blue. Great murderers, like great men in other walks of activity, have blue eyes’”(35). This gives us the impression that not only is Homes someone that any looked up to but someone that many feared. The book goes on the talk about how Homes was someone that could turn heads and make many forget all about the art of courting. Though Mr. DiCaprio may have brought the rights the perform this character, he is indeed a great choice not only due to him having dark hair and blue eyes, but also because of his ability to be able to conjure the very essence of each character he plays in a movies. His ability to go well beyond the means to make himself become the character he is playing, making himself into the role of each character. Though Homes was is indeed the mastermind behind all the deaths. he certainly did not work on his own. His right hand man was Benjamin Pitezel, played by Robert Downey Jr. Larson describes Pitezel as Homes personal minion. Larson goes on to say that, “‘Pitezel was his tool,’ a district attorney said, ‘his creature’” (70). Though Mr. Downey has played many action movies playing the hero, it is believable that he will be someone who can take this not so villain character.
Another hearty character that is sure to storm up the movie is Daniel Hudson Burnham, played by Jude Law. Burnham is an architect just trying to get his big break which comes with the help of his business partner John Root, played by Tom Hardy. The pair of them try to make it into the raging society of being a famous architect. They seem to get their big break when offered the chance to build and direct the making of the World’s Fair. Though these two characters and actors are around the same age the fact is that Larson, himself said to describe Burnham as a “business genius of his firm, Root the artist”(53).Though in some ways this is true, but in other ways it is not. Burnham was indeed a man of many talents and a knack for disciplining the workers. Where Larson said that Roots“‘conversational powers were extraordinary,’ a friend said. ‘There seemed to be no subject which he had not investigated and in which he was not profoundly learned.’ He had a sly sense of humor” (27). This gives that appearance that Root was not the artist behind the buildings but whether the business man who had everyone liking him to the point that people were glad to be of his acquaintances.
During the making of the World’s Fair Burnham came into contact with the most famous architect that designed Central Parks in New York, Frederick Law Olmsted, played by Donald Sutherland. Mr. Sutherland having played in many movies such as The Hunger Games as President Snow and Pride & Prejudice as Mr. Bennet. Would be a great addition to this movie. Mr. Sutherland would be a great Olmsted due to him being able to play a character in such a way that leaves that audience wanting more. Mr. Sutherland playing as Olmsted would be a great actor for the character but also able to work well with others. Like how at first Olmsted was against helping Burnham, though Olmsted eventually said yes. Larson described Olmsted as someone having “a reputation for brilliance and tireless devotion to his work” (53). Which is how Mr. Sutherland can be described. After Olmsted decided to be apart of the World’s Fair Experience, Burnham started to get nervous do to no one coming forward with an idea to outdo the Eiffel Tower. Til one day when a George Washington Gale Ferris Jr., played by Finn Wittrock. Mr. Ferris was a young engineer trying to make his mark on the world. Larson describes Ferris when we first meet him by saying, “At one table sat a thirty-three-years-old engineer from Pittsburgh who ran a steel-inspection company that had branch offices in New York and Chicago and that already possessed the exposition contract to inspect the steel used in the fair’s buildings”(155). A little later when Ferris design was up for approval Larson said, “And if what happened to Eiffel happened to him, his fortune would be assured”(156). Though Mr. Wittrock is young just like Ferris, he is indeed a fantastic actor. Having played many characters already, like playing Francis ‘Mac’ McNamara in the movie Unbroken. He is sure to be an up and coming actor now and in the future.
The only thing that we did together was choosing the characters and actors that we were going to use. I did find it interesting to create a character list of actors that we think should play that character. I look forward to the movie being made and released, so that I can go see it soon.
Larson, Erik. The Devil in the White City. Vintage, 2004.