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Karen Zachary

No idea! And then I did some Googling and found out which (well-known) actor was playing Smiley and I still had no idea. Because I literally couldn't recognize him until I had watched this several times.


Sorry. It's Guinness or its no one.

I'm definitely looking forward to this. Interesting casting choice [against type?] for Smiley.

It's almost impossible to think of Smiley now without thinking of Guinness, but as a physical type, I thought Denholm Elliot [BBC - A Murder of Quality] was a better fit: LeCarre [and Smiley's wife, Lady Ann] described Smiley as looking like a toad. Frequent mention was made of his expensive, ill-fitting suits, which made him look like a bookie. By the end of the Smiley novels, though, I think even LeCarre couldn't picture anyone but Guinness [for whom I gather he had great fondness, plus much to be grateful], and the metaphorical descriptions of Smiley changed from toad-like to owlish -- although the word "tubby" tends to appear from first to last.

[And, just to be a fussbudget, there's also the Rupert Davies version of Smiley:]

In some ways, though, I could even shake off Guinness as Smiley faster than I can shake off the regal Sian Phillips as Ann.

Ken Houghton

...Soldier, Sailor" is the ending everyone knew before David Cornwell.

Still trying to figure out whose backside that was, but I assume she'll be on the cover of Pimple (as Joe Hill called it in his younger days) around mid-September.

Is it just me, or has Dr. Smith (1998) turned into Douglas Benoit (1987)?


I knew who was playing Smiley, and I still wasn't sure on first viewing.

Lance Mannion

Bill Nothstine,

Authors often have the least idea what their own characters look like. You'll get a kick out of this one now that you've delved into Discworld. Terry Pratchett thought Sam Vimes looked a lot less heroic until Paul Kidby drew him with more than a touch of Clint Eastwood about him. After that, Vimes actually got tougher and more active in the books. The Vimes of Night Watch
and The Fifth Elephant
wouldn't have gotten written if not for Kidby, I think.

Lady Ann appears to be a minor character in the movie.

El Jefe

Bill Nothstine,

Seconded on Rupert Davies and Denholm Elliot. These were the original physical templates for Smiley, though it was Guiness the old Catholic who figured out how to climb into the lapsed-ideological-believer's soul.


Yep -- Kidby imagined someone rather Clint Eastwoodish for Vimes and,given Kidby and Pratchett's close creative partnership, it had a real effect. Me, from beginning to end, I've always 'seen' Vimes as John Thaw (Insp. Morse) round about his tenure on "The Sweeney" in the 70s (and Reegan in his less vindictive moments is a similar character)_, but with a military haircut rather than the period tousle.

The topic,

This and the news ref. Smaug have gone a long way to making my viewing year. My heart nearly leapt even higher for the brief moment when I thought it might be Bill Nighy under the glasses rather than who it was. But I'm happy with the actual result. Cumberbatch is an outstanding choice for Guillam. Fits him to a T more than anyone who's played him to date. I do have to call out one casting choice that's going to bother me, though -- I just don't buy Mark Strong as Jim Prideaux. Prideaux's an elemental figure, just like the weather he comes in with (rolling over the brown combes of the Quantocks -- yes I read it about six times in my early twenties, once when I was studying abroad not far from that landscape.) Elementally decent, elementally relentless, the genuine believer and overgrown schoolboy, and elementally betrayed, wounded like a Fisher King with a gun by his betrayal. They already have the perfect guy in the company -- Ciaran Hinds. He fits like a glove, right down to the physical presence. I can see him getting out of the van, later with the bird in his hands, all those crucial little scenes that speak to the character.


But what's great is that though it's a different actor, he makes his Smiley sound like Alec Guinness.


Alec Guinness seemed to be able to portray a roaring, white-hot intelligence hidden beneath an ugly, almost inadequate, exterior.
I wonder will the new guy manage that.

Some Dude Who's Not Read The Books In Ages

No one has done The Honourable Schoolboy which is the most devasting of Le Carre's novels.

I'd never be able to cast it: the Burton-esque hint/tinge of disillusionment of "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold," and the more blatant internal self-war of the "The Looking Glass War;" the we're realizing now we are ourselves what we're pretending to be fighting of Guiness in "Tinker, Tailor" [Soldier, Sailor, Richman, Poorman, Beggarman, Thief the folk poem goes on and, despite two American books/miniseries using its words, I forget the rest] & the sad, pathetic elegy of "Smiley's People" (more a probably intentional pathos about these time-passed anti-Nazis and soon-to-be obsolete cold warriors); all these contasted and amplified with, as Bill Northshire somewhat prematurely notes above, a more nuanced Prideaux-type now even more older, more useless, and yet more desperately clinging to his ravished ideals.

Apparently Le Carre' reviewed himself and thought the prescence of Smiley in this pivot of the Karla series was distracting. I disagree: Smiley's always been fighting a rearguard/retreat and most vividly this time it is so brutally, unjustly useless.

Any actor in the first episode ought to restrain signs of brilliance or Sherlockian manic analysis: instead do the just-so, carefull paper on glass note-taking and benign, almost considerate questioning with only a subtle flash of the keen Smiley mind. He's not to be mile-a-minute fast-talking Sherlock, more Bilbo, polite and diffident, letting vain Smaug reveal his flaw.

Sean Cooper

Of course without having a single line, and only one scene, Patrick Stewart nearly stole the show as the sneering, malevolent Karla.

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