Posted October 21, 2012 by X Pacaud in Movies/TV

Doppelgangland- Casting Magic on TV

2012 has featured quite a few fascinating casting choices on TV. With the tail-end of Fall shows early in the year and the season opening late into the next, some of them involve bringing in new family members or new versions of old characters that you would swear border on realism. Here are a few:

Asa Butterfield (left) and Alexander Vlahos (right), both as Mordred.

Mordred (Merlin)

Asa Butterfield, star of Hugo, initially portrayed the legendary child Druid Mordred in Merlin. The show takes a page from Smallville’s new adventures/origin story template. Part of it involved the young Merlin struggling to protect his king and best friend Arthur from Mordred, the boy that could someday spell his death. As Asa Butterfield has numerous commitments in Hollywood at the moment, the role was recast with 26-year-old Alexander Vlahos (Doctors). Vlahos is introduced in Series 5, where Merlin’s dread of him is renewed, despite his innocent appearance and noble behavior.

While many fans are surprised at the recast from an adolescent to an older man, it should be noted that Merlin takes time skips between seasons. Somewhere between four to five years may have passed, which explains why his aging is not addressed. Vlahos himself could easily pass for a 17 or 18-year-old Butterfield, in both looks and demeanor. The recast lends itself to the showrunners’ desire to pen a more sophisticated season. Vlahos’ very convincing recast as Mordred allows the writers more mature themes for the character to cater to their audience, who’ve grown up with the series themselves.

Bailee Madison (left) as the younger Snow White. Ginnifer Goodwin (right) regularly portrays the character as an adult.

Snow White (Once Upon a Time)

ABC’s Once Upon a Time puts a new spin on Disney characters and other fairy tales. It features Ginnifer Goodwin, who portrays the doe-eyed Mary Margaret, who unbeknownst to even herself is actually Snow White. Ginnifer’s Snow White combined “Disney princess” and “warrior princess in one”, along with an angst that followed from having her family and kingdom ripped away from her by a magical evil queen. However her fairy tale princess mode is quite the quintessential Disney princess in all its song-humming, arms-stretched-outward, bright-eyed glory.

As a pleasant surprise to fans, when time came to feature flashbacks of her history as a young girl with the evil queen Regina, we see the role taken over by Bailee Madison who is a spot-on doppelganger of Ginnifer Goodwin. Bailee Madison has clearly studied Goodwin’s Snow White and has captured it to a T. Her Snow White is bubbly and optimistic. It is completely how Ginnifer’s Snow White would have been at a younger age.

Joshua Jackson, Georgina Haig and Anna Torv make an odd but very convincing family.

Etta Bishop (Fringe)

Last season, near the end of Fringe, we met the daughter of Olivia Dunham Bishop (Anna Torv) and Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) in a single “future” episode that diverted from the season’s storyline. Said daughter is HenriettaEtta’ Bishop, played by Georgina Haig. Haig bears a staggering resemblance to both Torv and Jackson’s characters. Most notably, she’s got her father’s eyes and her mother’s long straight blonde hair. Peter and Olivia encounter their daughter in this new season which takes place in 2036, after they are freed from years of sleep in amber.

While there’s no question that Haig’s look and behaviour is a jaw-droppingly convincing take on the pair’s daughter, there is some question as to whether she’s as convincing playing a jaded double agent of the future’s Fringe division. Her naturally sweet, unassuming behaviour seeps through the cracks of her acting. But while she may not be unquestionably a Fringe agent, she’s most definitely a Bishop.

It’s fantastic how showrunners and casting directors can seem to make such a conscious effort to build some sort of ‘continuity’, if you will, in terms of casting differently-aged versions of characters and families, but no matter how fantastic a casting choice is, a lot still lies in writers and directors’ hands where a show takes them. With the new fall seasons of Merlin, Once Upon a Time and Fringe, we’ll see how everything plays out.

X Pacaud