As I have covered before in previous articles Peter Cushing is without doubt my all time favourite actor. Throughout his long career spanning four decades he defined many iconic roles from Van Helsing to Sherlock Holmes to Winston Smith to Professor Frankenstein to Grand Moff Tarkin. Though he was somewhat typecast in horror and fantasy roles he nevertheless managed to play a whole range of different characters from the dashing hero (Van Helsing) to the evil snarling villain (Grand Moff Tarkin) to the cuddly old grandfather (Doctor Who) to the comic relief (Dr Abner Perry) to the conflicted anti hero (Professor Frankenstein) to the poor victim (Arthur Grymsdake). He enjoyed a truly marvellous career and is still beloved by millions of people two decades after his death.
However still whilst his career was long and fruitful I nevertheless do believe there are a number of roles he didn’t get to play that he would have been brilliant in. Not that I am complaining about how his career mind you like I said he already got to play a multitude of great characters to play pretty much to the end of his career. It was only his ill health that forced him to retire. Still I think he would have been great in the following roles too. Please let me know what whether you think Cushing would have been brilliant in these roles and let me know which roles you would have cast him in. I only hope that in some alternate universe Cushing got to play all of these characters.
10/ James Bond Villain
I said in my previous article about Cushing that he would have made a brilliant Bond villain and I stand by it. Cushing played many evil, scheming charming villains with the most notable being Grand Moff Tarkin (his Frankenstein was more of an anti hero depending on the film to me). Cushing as a Bond villain I think would have become comparable to Donald Pleasance as Blofield. A perfect balance of charm, sophistication and quiet menace. Quite why he was never cast as a Bond villain or had any role in the series is a mystery to me. Even if he didn’t get to play a villain he should have had some role in the series.
9/ Professor X
Now don’t get me wrong Patrick Stewart is an excellent Professor Xavier and I wouldn’t want anyone else to play the role n that particular X-Men film series . However I often wonder what it would have been like if there had been an X-Men film series in the 1960’s made by Hammer studios. “The Curse of the X-Men” it would be probably be called and Cushing would have made an excellent Xavier alongside Christopher Lee as Magneto and Vincent Price as Mr Sinister. Don’t try and tell me that wouldn’t have been an awesome movie.
Now this is complete fantasy as Harry Potter didn’t emerge until after Cushing’s passing and even if he had lived to see it he would have been far too old, pushing 90 in fact by the time the first film came out and pushing 100 by the time the last came out. However again imagine in an alternate universe where Harry Potter was written in the 1960’s and Hammer made the Harry Potter film series. Cushing would have been a brilliant Voldemort again opposite Christopher Lee as Voldemort, Vincent Price as Snape, Boris Karloff as Barty Crouch Snr and Ralph Bates as Barty Crouch Jr.
Now Richard Matheson’s best selling novel “I am legend” has been adapted three times on the big screen “The Last Man on Earth”, “The Omega Man” and “I Am Legend”. Personally I haven’t been entirely happy with any of them. Don’t get me wrong they are all enjoyable films, but I don’t think they quite capture the fear of Matheson’s novel. Hammer were going to make the first ever version of the novel way back after the success of “Dracula”. Personally I wish they had as I think they would have done a brilliant job and I can’t think of anyone better to play Neville than Cushing. A Vamire hunter and a scientist. Cushing to me would have been able to capture the solitude of the character just like he did with Grymsdake perfectly.
6/ Captain Nemo
Again I wish that Hammer had adapted at least some of Jules Verne’s works. To me Cushing would have been great as Nemo as I can imagine him channeling his Victor Frankenstien as Nemo. A man with a fabulous mind who thinks he can make the world a better place but is completely blinded by the horror of what he is doing. I would have loved to see Cushing tackle this iconic character I truly believe that it could have been one of his most celebrated roles.
5/Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
Peter Cushing was in a Jekyll and Hyde movie “I Monster”. Still I think he would have been great as the title characters too. He was an extremely versatile actor who proved many times that he could play the villain and the hero thus I could see him capturing Jekyll’s guilt and grief whilst at the same time making Hyde seem menacing and frightening too.
4/ The Invisible Man
Cushing to me would have been a great Invisible Man. Who better to play a mad scientist who feels vengeful towards the entire world? Also Cushing fulfilled another one of the great requirements to play the Invisible man in that he had a fabulous voice.
3/ Solomon Kane
Cushing’s Van Helsing I felt was actually more similar to Solomon Kane than the Van Helsing from Stokers original novel. In the original novel Van Helsing is not really a Vampire hunter. He is an eccentric scientist who knows a lot about Vampires simply because he is well read on just about every subject, but he is not someone who has devoted his life to destroying them like Cushings Van Helsing was. Kane on the other hand was like Cushing’s Van Helsing as he was someone who lived on the outside of society travelling from town to town hunting and destroying Vampires. With this in mind it would have been nice to have seen Cushing play Kane in a Hammer film series based on the character.
2/ Lex Luthor
I think Cushing would have been great as Superman’s archenemy. It would have been a similar role to Gand Moff Tarkin the slight, weak man physically who still commands tremendous power through his incredible intellect. Cushings Lex Luthor I think would have been much darker than Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor in the 70’s film series, not that I dislike Hackman’s performance though either.
1/ Mr Freeze
Now I can’t really take credit for this as my friend actually came up with this one. Still I think Cushing would have be amazing as the Batman villain Mr Freeze. Of course when I say Mr Freeze I mean the version we saw in the classic 90’s Batman animated series. This was the best version of Mr Freez for me as it cast him as a more sympathetic 3 dimensional character. Prior to the 90’s series Freeze was just a generic mad scientist, but after the popularity of Batman TAS his tragic origin was retconed into the comic books. Now obviously Cushing could never have played the version in the 90’s animated series as he was too old and ill by then, but again imagine in an alternate universe they had thought that origin up for Freeze at a much earlier date and Cushing got to play that version in a Batman movie made by Hammer studios.
Mr Freeze almost seems tailor made for Cushing. He is a mad scientist named Victor who has been driven mad by the death of his beloved wife that continually haunts him. Its safe to say that he could have gotten into the head of the character.
I can see it now Hammer’s Batman films series starts in the early 60’s. It stars Christopher Lee as Batman and Michael Gough as Commiosonar Gordon and the first film features Vincent Price as the Joker and is an adaptation of the first Joker comic with Price’s Joker going around killing his victims across Gotham in mad elaborate ways ala Dr Phibes. The sequel would feature Peter Lorre as the Penguin and Marsha Hunt as Catwoman. The third entry would have featured Boris Karloff as Doctor Hugo Strange and the final entry released in the 70’s would have had Peter Cushing as Mr Freeze whose wife would have to be named “Helen Freeze” instead. What a shame we never got to say that.