A Star Is Born Remake – Choose Your Cast!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 at 12:49 pm

It’s been over 30 years since the last A Star Is Born remake, so you can bet that Hollywood is feeling the itch to turn out another one. Always a favorite with the industry crowd, the 1954 version with Judy Garland was recently chosen to kick off the first annual Turner Classic Movies Film Festival. That speaks volumes, especially when you consider that TCM has thousands of films to choose from.

So who would (or should) star in the modern-day version? That’s what we intend to explore on this installment of the Casting Couch, and you’re welcome to chime in with your own picks in our comments section. But before I unveil my wish list, let’s take a moment and look back at the three previous versions of A Star Is Born. There may be a spoiler here and there, so you’ve been warned.

All three versions of the film can be purchased on Amazon or rented from Netflix. Just click on the pictures to be taken directly to their Amazon page. We get a commission if you spend any money, but it all goes towards covering expenses (honest).

A Star Is Born (1937 version)

Encouraged by her grandmother to pursue her dreams, Esther Blodgett (Janet Gaynor) leaves her small North Dakota hometown and heads for the bright lights of Hollywood. Things are tough at first, but a chance meeting with fading star Norman Maine (Fredric March) leads to romance, marriage, and a chance at an acting career. Esther is renamed Vicki Lester, and it’s not long before she’s on the way to the top. But Norman’s career is in decline, and he starts hitting the bottle with a vengeance.

A Star Is Born (1954 version)

After saving popular actor Norman Maine (James Mason) from public humiliation, singer and aspiring actress Esther Blodgett finds herself the object of his support and affection. As Esther–now dubbed Vicki Lester–becomes an overnight success in a lavish Hollywood musical, Norman’s career continues to falter (due in large part to his heavy drinking). As you might have guessed, this leads to a tragic end for ‘ol Norman.

A Star Is Born (1976 version)

Esther Hoffman (Barbra Streisand) is a singer whose band is interrupted by drunken rocker John Norman Howard (Kris Kristofferson). Feeling guilt over his behavior, Howard tries to make it up to her, and the two become romantically involved. But Howard’s various addictions are taking their toll, and he begins forgetting the words to his own songs during concerts. Esther, meanwhile, becomes a star in her own right, and she desperately seeks a way to help her husband find peace. As with the other two films, it doesn’t end well for Esther’s true love.

A Star Is Born Remake

Russell Crowe has been discussed as the male lead in a modern-day remake of A Star Is Born, but Gerard Butler has recently emerged as another top contender. On the female side of things, Beyonce was attached to star, but recent reports indicate that she’s pulled out. That’s the way casting occurs in Hollywood, and none of these stars may be involved by the time it hits the big screen.

That’s why the ‘ol Casting Couch is so great. None of the actors can refuse my offer, and they’re all guaranteed to show up on time, behave themselves, and give their best performances. Keeping that in mind, here are my personal selections for the latest version of A Star Is Born:

Anne Hathaway as Esther/Vicki – With her doe-eyed beauty, Hathaway would be perfect in the role of the innocent young starlet who suddenly finds success in Hollywood. She also wanted to be a nun up until the age of 15, so she’s got the wholesome thing nailed down. A more sensual characterization would also be possible, as anyone who’s seen Havoc or Brokeback Mountain can confirm. She’s demonstrated her singing talents opposite Hugh Jackman during the 81st Academy Awards, and her style of acting has been compared at times to Judy Garland (the lead in the 1954 version of A Star Is Born). When you add it all up, I believe the lovely Ms. Hathaway to be the perfect choice for the role.

Sean Penn as Norman Maine – While his own career is hardly in decline, Sean Penn has the acting chops to pull off the role of a boozy, fading celebrity. And violent on-screen outbursts wouldn’t be a problem, as Penn once did 33 days in jail in 1987 for beating a photographer like a government mule. He was also married to Madonna when she became a superstar, so his insider’s view of a female rocketing to the top of the entertainment industry would prove invaluable on the set.

James Cromwell as Oliver Niles – I like James Cromwell for the role of helpful producer Oliver Niles. He’s the character who starts Esther on the path to superstardom, but he’s also blunt enough to point out that Norman’s career destruction is self-inflicted. Cromwell is equally adept at playing nice guys (Babe and Star Trek: First Contact) and bastards (L.A. Confidential and RKO 281), so he’s got all the emotional range you’d ever need.

Betty White as Grandma Lettie – She’s been in the biz for over 70 years, and she recently became the oldest person to ever host Saturday Night Live (with the show’s highest rating since November of 2008). I picture Grandma Lettie as a comical-yet-wise figure, and the film’s climax would allow her to stretch her acting muscles in a tender scene with Esther. I’m not certain if the reptile (pictured above) would be included in the storyline or not.

Whether you agree with my choices or not, I hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of The Casting Couch. For similar articles, be sure to click on the following links:

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10 Responses to “A Star Is Born Remake – Choose Your Cast!”

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June 8, 2010


Why can’t hugh jackman play in the movie a star is born alongside beyonce, he’s younger than russell crowe and by the look of his movies he knows how to go dark and still captivate passion. I believe that the two would work together, just recap their performance together at the 2009 oscars! Don’t give up Beyonce, we need our black actresses to take on big roles

June 29, 2010

Rina Rochel

I bookmarked this site a while ago because of the interesting content and I have never been disappointed. Continue the outstanding work.

November 5, 2010

Rosanna Bruns

No one can possibly out do what has already been done by Barbara and Kris. I think the world has had enough of Beyonce and she should stick to her music. I think new talent should be found for these roles. However I do like Sean Penn as Norman. He would do a fabulous job. I also think that Eddie Vedar would play the role of Norman fantastically.

November 5, 2010


Thanks for the response, Rosanna. I had never even considered Eddie Vedar, but that’s certainly an interesting choice.

December 28, 2010


I think that John Bon Jovi would be great as John Norman!!! And as Esther Hoffman my choice is Taylor Swift….I think this would be an awesome coupling as John Norman and Esther!!

January 22, 2011


I believe Beyonce would be perfect in the lead under Clint Eastwood’s direction. And honestly there are only (5) actors in the business right now with the presence and sex appeal to balance Beyonce without becoming creepy and they are (1) Eric Bana (2) Brad Pitt (3) Matthew McConaughey (4) Johnny Depp and (5) Viggo Mortensen. Gerard Butler is the leading 6th man for the role with Beyonce. She’s “a whole lotta woman” so it only makes sense that she’s paired with a hunk and not a metrosexual dude or someone who would be conceived as slightly past their $exual prime. I truly hope the execs at Clint’s production company are taking that into account.

January 23, 2011


I’m looking at a couple good options depending on whether this remake is to depict musicians or actors.

Music wise I would venture Chris Cornell or Eddie Vedder for the male lead and Rhianna or Beyonce for the female. Taylor Swift might do, too.

Acting, I’d go with Sean Penn or Robert Downey for the male lead and Mila Kunis or Ellen Page for the female lead.

may sound nuts, but there ya’ go.

May 27, 2011


Regarding the original March/Gaynor ‘A Star Is Born’, none of ITS remakes hold a candle to it. I really thought it brought about what the story intended to tell more so than the remakes. Once it became about music stars, it ruined what the true story was. The story was about what happened in the time of transition between silent and sound movies and what effects it had to real people in the industry at that time. Norman Maine was a representation of that.
There are so many other stories that have dealt with a fading musician/dancer, actor/actress while their loved one has become larger than life, since. They should just make another separate movie like that.
IF they need to remake the movie, then go back to the original storyline so that it can possibly garner more interest to that time period and the movies that were made throughout the silents into the 30’s, so they can make comparisons of whom they feel the Norman Maine character was based.
I really, really, really hope it’s true Beyonce’ won’t be in this. Reason being, with her, the movie will fail, not money-wise, but critically, due to the fact that she couldn’t act her way out of a paper bag. At least Garland and Streisand were not just extremely talented singers with powerhouse voices (which Beyonce’ clearly is not when she has to truly sing live, no lip synching), they were (are) truly amazingly gifted actresses. They should have gotten Jennifer Hudson, at least, she CAN act and she has a phenomenal voice.

Again, though, I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to see Hollywood go that extra mile to bring the original version of the story to light, so many people don’t even know that there was version that didn’t deal with it as a story regarding singers. The few that do, tend to state it’s a remake of an earlier, somewhat similar storyline, ‘What Price Hollywood?’, but that is not the case. Both WPH and the original ASIB are great movies and both will bring a tear to the eye. I love Fredric March, though, so I could be biased. I, also, have become a fan of John Bowers and have been a fan of John Gilbert, 2 actors that the Norman Maine character is believed to have mirrored. The WHP storyline is said to be somewhat a representation of Barbara Stanwyck and her first spouse…
Anyway, it would be nice to bring attention to the times that these storylines had represented originally. It was an important time in film history that gets overlooked by Hollywood, nowadays, but should be represented. The change from silent to sound, could you imagine having been alive then and watching some of the biggest silent screen stars not be as ‘huge’ during the sound era? Well, Hollywood could help with that imagining if they’d just do a proper remake.


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