After compiling my personal ballot of candidates to play the role of Mags in the upcoming film adaptation Suzanne Collins’ Catching Fire, I knew I was still missing key players, even those in my relatively narrowed field: actresses over 80, like the character Mags, who could hold the screen despite having no lines – just movement and presence. Mags is wisdom without words, a living callback to the near origins of the Hunger Games, dragged back from her golden years to relive the horror of her youth. The part could be choice if cast correctly.
Today, I discovered a striking and embarrassing omission in my original line-up:
Angela Lansbury, 86 and still working.
She has a fucking Fansbury page on Facebook that I secretly monitor, and I still couldn’t pull her obvious name from the my brain. Of course she would be ideal as Mags. Shame on me. I even participated in a semi-miraculous homemade video adaptation of Murder, She Wrote in the 90s. In it, you could see the love. I still feel it.
But it’s not all Murder, She Wrote. She’s been around forever, usually playing characters far older than she was at the time. She could be a naughty wench with ill intent (Gaslight); the worst, most manipulative mother in the world (still leaving me in shock from The Manchurian Candidate); a frail Miss Marple in the superstar adaptation of Agatha Christie’s The Mirror Crack’d; or the perpetually soused author of steamy roman à clefs in Christie’s Death on the Nile, which Raúl holds close to his heart.
Plus, she’s been on stage forever! She was the original singing Mame, played nutso in Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, and took the role of the ambitious, cynical, wholly corrupt “mayoress” in Raúl’s personal Sondheim favorite, the infamous, misunderstood Anyone Can Whistle. She can do everything. Including playing an octogenarian stroke survivor/Hunger Games champion in a soft-sci-fi sequel that would introduce her to a new generation of fans. Wait till they see The Manchurian Candidate!
Mags could be a piece of cake for Lansbury, but she won’t phone it in. I suggest getting Sondheim on the set for inspiration.
Now the kids will have a new star to visit on Hollywood Boulevard: