Welcome to the Tier 2 Casting of the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. This week starts a new segment of the Casting, where we will break down details a bit further, since we’re dealing with (arguably) more important characters now.

As mentioned last week, the format has changed slightly. I will introduce each character with a picture and discussion of their physical looks and attributes, and then go into the various reasons why I’ve chosen the actor or actress I’ve chosen. Occasionally, on certain very popular characters that others have casted, I will explain why I have not chosen the actor or actress that many believe the role should go to (this applies particularly to Lanfear and Moraine, but others as well).

As a slight change to what I mentioned last week about using art to picture characters, it should be worth mentioning that unless the Forsaken was very important, we generally don’t have a lot of descriptions about their physical looks before they returned and started masquerading as other people here during the Third Age. So, I may post up some of the art just to keep things equal between the characters, but I may not necessarily use the art of all the Forsaken as an end-all.

Before we start Tier 2, here are the results of the poll from last week to Cast Berelain. The poll included the choices of Taylor Cole, Cindy Sampson, and Emmanuelle Vaugier to be voted on for Berelain. Here are the results (in pretty pie-graph form):

Berelain Pie Graph

I am pleased to announce that Cindy Sampson (who was my first choice of the three) won the vote barely. I voted for her once, but since she won by three votes, I’m not concerned that I tipped the boat in any way that matters. So now, without further adieu, I announce Cindy Sampson as Berelain.

Check here for previous entries to the Casting Call. Oh, and yeah, there may be spoilers, up to Towers of Midnight.

So yeah, let’s move on. Here are the first seven of Tier 2.

Tier 2 Casting

Aginor does not get a ton of screen time, but that doesn’t make him unimportant, since it is through him that Rand finally discovers his true nature in The Eye of the World. And really, no matter how little screen time they receive, I don’t think any of the Forsaken can be considered unimportant. I picture possibilities in movies (especially once Rand becomes integrated with Lews Therin properly) where there are flashbacks of the Forsaken before they turned, or even after they had turned, but while still during the Age of Legends, so these actors still need to fit certain criteria.

Forsaken Aginor
Aginor’s description in the book is given as almost zombie-like in appearance – he is “older than old,” and parts of his skin is rotting off or missing. Most of the art of him shows him to be dead-looking. We don’t know much about his Age of Legends appearance, so I’m going to go here with acting ability and character motivations instead of specific appearance. Besides, any actor can have costume and make-up make him look much older (almost dead).

So I have gone with Alan Rickman. I’ve chosen him for two reasons. First of all, he has such a history in cinema of playing evil characters that as soon as he shows up on-screen in The Eye of the World, people will know he is a bad guy (as if the flesh falling off his face wouldn’t do that). Secondly, I think it is appropriate for him to have the kind of voice that Alan Rickman has – his talk with the ta’veren and Moraine at the Eye is all menacing and monologuing in nature, and I just don’t think anyone does that quite as well as Rickman.

Alan Rickman as Aginor

Places you’ve possibly seen him:
Die Hard
Quigley, Down Under
Harry Potter movies

Alviarin Freidhen is the first of two, what I like to call, pseudo-Forsaken (the other being Mazrim Taim) – she is extremely capable as an evil character for the first little while that we know her, though she starts to flounder once Elaida begins retaking control of the Tower (around book 10 or so). She is extremely wicked in her control of Elaida, and is very manipulative and clever in her searching for the identity of Mesaana. She was raised to the Head of the Black Ajah by none other than Ishamael himself, so you know she means business. Alviarin has a swan neck, and is tall and slim, with smooth, unblemished skin. I cannot find mention of her hair color, but I picture dark-haired.

Elaida and Alviarin by Richard Boye
The only art I can find anywhere of Alviarin is a 1996 drawing by Richard Boye of her standing next to Elaida. She does have dark hair in the art, so either Boye saw the same thing in her that I saw, or he found some text that I couldn’t find.

I think Famke Janssen fits the tall, evil-looking brunette actress that we need for this role. She just has the look to me of someone who means me harm. I will say however, that I am not a huge fan of her voice – I picture Alviarin’s voice to be very deep (for a woman) and menacing, and Janssen would definitely need to do some vocal lessons for this role. I have found, for your viewing pleasure, pictures of her garbed in both her white ajah and black ajah attire. You’re welcome.

Famke Janssen as Alviarin

Places you’ve possibly seen her:
X-men movies
Taken (Liam Neeson!)

Next on our list, we have Aran’gar / Halima, everyone’s favorite trans-gendered ex-Forsaken. Aran’gar is introduced in Lord of Chaos as a new player in the game, revived by the Dark One to continue his evil plans. Though the details are subtle the first time we meet her, it eventually becomes apparent that Aran’gar is none other than Balthamel, reincarnated by the Dark One into a woman’s body.

Halima / Aran'gar
She begins her plans with the Salidar Aes Sedai, making quick friends with Egwene as she is seemingly the only person who can soothe the Amyrlin’s headaches. She is described as quite beautiful, with glossy black hair, big green eyes, and :ahem: firm, full bosom. She also has an outspoken manner which Egwene seems to like. So, what we’ve got here is essentially a supermodel. Unfortunately, the only art I can find of Halima done by any of the “official” artists depicts her with blond hair, so we won’t be using that. I did find this picture, though (source unknown).

Looking for super-model-esque actresses, I came across Jacqueline MacInnes Wood pretty often. I am honestly not very familiar with her, though I have seen Skyrunners. This is going to be one of the only times I do this, but I have chosen her based almost solely on her looks, and not on anything I really know about her as an actress. She may be awesome – I won’t be watching Final Destination 5 to find out – but whether or not she is, she sure as hell looks the part.

Jacqueline Wood as Aran'gar / Halima

Places you’ve possibly seen her:
Final Destination 5
The Bold and the Beautiful

Now we come to our favorite gleeman . . . wait for it . . . Asmodean, or Jasin Natael, gleeman for the Dragon Reborn! Asmodean is all throughout The Shadow Rising, though we do not know it is him until the end when he battles Rand for the Choedan Kal. We do know that he is the weakest of the Forsaken, and only turned to the Dark One for the chance at immortality. I don’t recall ever even really hearing about anything evil he actually did.

Asmodean by Seamas Gallagher
We know him only as a gleeman for the entire time he is alive, and he is reasonably tall and handsome, with dark hair and eyes. He apparently has a funny way of tilting his head to the side while listening, which is a huge part of what inspired me to cast the person I cast for this role. He also appears to be in his middle years, which is very interesting – most of the Forsaken who set themselves up in any sort of ruling position also took on a middle-aged person (except Be’lal, who went full-on old-man). It seems to me it would make more sense to take on a young persona, so that you don’t have to fictionalize as much time. Of course, with Compulsion at your beck and call, I guess it doesn’t matter how good you have your story. Here is some art by Seamas Gallagher of Asmodean.

The best head-tiltingest actor I know is Kevin Spacey, boo yeah! Spacey used to be one of my all-time favorite actors, but lately, I feel like he “Spaceys” up his roles too often. However, he is still very good, and has a good, strong presence, which is useful for a handsome gleeman. He is also an extremely gifted impressionist, as well as a talented singer,both of which I’m certain would come in handy as a gleeman.

Kevin Spacey as Asmodean

Places you’ve possibly seen him:
Superman Returns
The Usual Suspects
American Beauty

Now we come to casting the first of Rand’s love trio, Aviendha. It is always interesting to me that the first time we meet Aviendha, it is during a scene that seems to have little significance to the story, and thus, she seems to be a throwaway character. There was no indication on our first meeting that she would become as important a character as she is now – then again, there was no indication that Fain would be that important either, so what do I know?

Aviendha by Seamas GallagherShe is a beautiful woman, with short red hair (though I believe it’s growing longer now as a Wise One apprentice), and blue-green eyes. Rand likes to call her skin creamy, and while I’m not objecting to this, I will say that he’s at least a little biased. She is strong too, being a former Maiden of the Spear, and Mat once said she could “kill you with a look.” Here is some more Gallagher art of Aviendha.

Now, a lot of people really seem to like Milla Jovovich for this role. While I normally wouldn’t take much time out of my day to bother defending the reasons why Jovovich is no good for any role (that doesn’t involve zombies), much less this particular role, today, I shall. Here are two. She’s too old, and she sucks at doing the one thing she’s supposed to be good at doing: acting. So that’s all I have to say about that. 🙂

You know who doesn’t suck, though? Karen Gillan, that’s who! She’s made a name for herself recently playing Amy Pond in Doctor Who, and she is Awesome. She looks the part, she is tall (so, good for an Aiel), and young enough to look naive and innocent. And very, very pretty. Rand will dig.

Karen Gillan as Aviendha

Places you’ve possibly seen her:
Doctor Who
Harley Street and other TV shows

Balthamel shows up next, and he is another, like Aginor, who doesn’t really get a lot of screen-time in his original incarnation. We do know that he was quite the womanizer in the day, which makes it pretty ironic when he ends up in Aran’gar’s body. Of course, that doesn’t stop him/her from womanizing anyway.

Balthamel from the Dabel Brothers
At his first appearance, he has rotted away so much (being close to the edge of Lews Therin’s prison) that he must wear a mask. So we’re basically just dealing with someone who is a good enough actor to wear a mask. But the voice is important for this on. I picture a sarcastically humorous voice, possibly with quirkiness in it. For Balthamel’s original Age of Legend appearance, we once again don’t have a lot to go on. Here is some Dabel Brothers art of him that I like (can’t find exact artist name).

Quirky actors that aren’t Johnny Depp are hard to find, but one of my favorites (who also happens to get a lot of flack for his acting style) is Jeff Goldblum. Goldblum has an awesome voice that would sound great coming from behind a mask, he’s a good height to be menacing, and seriously, look at him – you can picture him as a womanizer, I know you can. Hell, looking at the picture on the left below, he wouldn’t even need a mask – his face looks creepy enough!

Jeff Goldblum as Balthamel

Places you’ve possibly seen him:
Independence Day
Law and Order: Criminal Intent
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

Little is known of Be’lal before he turned to the Shadow, although his skills indicate that he was a powerful force for the Light. After breaking free from his prison, he took up residence in Tear and quickly worked his way up to become one of the High Lords. His plan was to lure Rand into taking Callandor, and then taking the Sword that Ain’t from Our Hero. Needless to say, he failed, once he (quite properly) got his ass balefired by Moiraine.

Be'lal by Seamas Gallagher
He is a blademaster, and quite formidable at it. He is described as older looking, but must obviously still be in shape to practice swordplay the way he does. He has white hair and a thin mustache. Here’s, yet again, another Seamas Gallagher piece for your viewing pleasure.

Grow him a mustache, and there are few older actors who look more manipulative (and eeeeeeevil) than Malcolm McDowell. Whether he’s blowing up planets and killing billions just for his own personal gain, or beating women to death with a giant ceramic penis, he always very effectively and scarily plays the ruthless villain.

Malcolm McDowell as Be'lal

Places you’ve possibly seen him:
Halloween remakes
A Clockwork Orange

So that’s it for this week. Hope you’ve enjoyed. I’ll see you soon!

-Brandon Daggerhart