Now, just like the last time, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of The Shining. In fact, I love The Shining! (Even though its author, Stephen King, hates it). But I also think a hypothetical remake of The Shining would be kind of rad. Especially if it had more diversity in it since diversity can make an already great story feel even more unique. And before some of you say, “What if Black Panther was replaced with white actors? Would that be okay?” Well, all I have to say is, sure, why not? That could be your list if you want it to be. (Adrian Brody as T’Challa, perhaps?) But here’s my list of what actors I would want to play in The Shining if I had a diverse cast in mind.
Jack Torrance – John Cho
Jack Torrance, played by the incomparable Jack Nicholson, is an author who just needs to get away from the world. He’s taken on a job as the winter caretaker at the Overlook Hotel with the hopes of getting in some quality writing time. But he soon starts to go nuts (or does he?), as he begins seeing ghosts in the hotel who tell him to murder his family. He also has a love of axes and Johnny Carson, but a distaste for hedge mazes and ice cold climate. I can relate.
Nobody could replace Jack Nicholson, so I wouldn’t even bother to. Instead, I would want a quieter, more introspective Jack Torrance who might be questioning his own sanity before he even got into the hotel. And I think John Cho would be perfect for that role. John Cho can play quiet and reserved, but there can also be a lot of rage bubbling beneath the surface, as seen in the movie Searchingwhich is about a father who won’t give up hope looking for his missing daughter. It would be impossible to forget Jack Nicholson’s insane performance, so why not try a different approach? I would like a Jack who is trying to figure out if he’s going insane or not, only to submit to insanity anyway. Pretty cool.
Wendy Torrance - Janelle Monae
Wendy Torrance, played by Shelly Duvall, is the wife of Jack Torrance and the mother of Danny Torrance. But she doesn’t have much of a role in the movie besides screaming and occasionally swinging a baseball bat at Jack. Oh, and slicing a hand with a knife if she has to. I mean, I know she’s scared, but fight back more, woman. Fight back!
You know who would fight back? Antebellum’s Janelle Monae. Because here’s the thing. If I were to swap roles in a remake of The Shining, I don’t want the same thing as the original but with different actors. I actually want something different as a whole. And Janelle Monae has proven in Antebellum (especially in the third act) that she won’t take crap from anybody. So I think her presence would change the whole movie. She would definitely fight back. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Danny Torrance – Ian Chen
Danny Torrance, played by Danny Lloyd, actually has the shining, which is a telepathic ability to communicate with others. When he’s not “shining” with the Overlook Hotel’s cook, Dick Hallorann, he’s usually seen riding his big wheels around the hotel and running into ghost twins. Oh, and writing Redrum on the mirrors. Because a boy needs his hobbies.
The youngest (and brightest) child of Louis and Jessica Huang on Fresh Off The Boat, Ian Chen, at 14 (now) is a lot older than Danny Lloyd was in The Shining, but that’s okay. Ian Chen played a precocious, somewhat know-it-all character, and I think it would actually be pretty interesting to have a teenage Danny who thinks he might actually know what’s going on, but tries to doubt it, just like his father. Along with a mother who fights back, I think it would create an interesting dynamic of a wise teenager with the shining who doesn’t know what to do with his ability, or who to trust.
Dick Hallorann – Tilda Swinton
Dick Hallorann, played by the late, great Scatman Crothers, is the head cook at the Overlook Hotel, but he also has the shining, just like Danny. Ever since the Torrance family came to the hotel, though, he’s had a sense that the ghosts are becoming more and more powerful, and more and more bold as well. He tries to alert Danny about this, but gets an axe in the back for all his troubles. Aww, shucks.
Since Dick Hallorann was already played by a person of color in the original, I thought it would be interesting to gender swap the roles this time around. Instead of a black man, I want a white woman. And to fill that role, I would pick none other than Tilda Swinton. Ms. Swinton has already played a man’s role when she portrayed the Ancient One in Doctor Strange, as the character was a man in the comics. But I’m mainly thinking of Tilda Swinton’s performance in Snowpiercer when I envision her for this role. I see her as being somebody who outwardly seems crazy to Danny, but who actually reveals how sagacious and brave she is in the face of all these ghosts. I also don’t think this version would allow herself to be hit in the back with an axe. She’d already see him coming a mile away and could maybe even communicate with the ghosts. Reason with them, perhaps? Who’s to say?
Lloyd – Kunal Nayyar
Lloyd, played by Joe Turkel, was formerly a bartender at the Overlook Hotel, but died and took up residence as a ghost in the same position. He mostly likes to clean glasses and tell people to kill their families, so you know, all in a day’s work.
The Big Bang Theory’s Kunal Nayyar might seem like a terrible choice for the creepy Lloyd in the movie, but hear me out with this one. Lloyd’s quiet but firm approach in the original movie fit perfectly with the kind of hotheaded Jack Torrance he was dealing with. But I’m seeing a more cerebral Jack with John Cho, and this Jack would be the kind of person who actually needs to be eased into following his baser instincts, and I think humor would be a great way to ease him into that situation. Enter Kunal Nayyar, who can be hilarious, but also charming in his own way. I’d love to see a ghost who seems like he wants to be your friend, and will be, if you’re just willing to kill your family to become one with the hotel.
And that’s the list. I’m sure there are better choices that I could have made, but those are the ones that I came up with. But what do you think? Sound off in the comments.
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Rich is a Jersey boy, through and through. He graduated from Rutgers University (Go, R.U.!), and thinks the Garden State is the best state in the country. That said, he’ll take Chicago Deep Dish pizza over a New York slice any day of the week. Don’t hate. When he’s not watching his two kids, he’s usually working on a novel, watching vintage movies, or reading some obscure book.