My Casting Choice

(Not that anybody asked me.)

Daniel Craig as Hank Rearden The glare cut a moment’s wedge across his eyes, which had the color and quality of pale blue ice – then across the black web of the metal column and the ash-blond strands of his hair – then across the belt of his trenchcoat and the pockets where he held his hands. His body was tall and gaunt; he had always been too tall for those around him. His face was cut by prominent cheekbones and by a few sharp lines; they were not the lines of age, he had always had them: this had made him look old at twenty, and young now, at forty-five. Ever since he could remember, he had been told that his face was ugly, because it was unyielding, and cruel, because it was expressionless. It remained expressionless now, as he looked at the metal. He was Hank Rearden.

Atlas Shrugged


14 Responses to My Casting Choice

  1. William H. Stoddard October 31, 2008 at 8:31 am #

    The appearance is a close match. I’d need to see him on screen to judge if he could do the manner.

    My own pick for Hank Rearden would be one that completely disregards Rand’s physical description: Denzil Washington. In the first place, because I’ve seen him in a number of films, and he does have the gravitas and the ability to play the role of a man of principle that this part calls for. In the second place, for the simple shock value to the audience. And in the third place, because that casting choice would have some interesting subtextual effects.

    Viewing Rearden in himself, he’s a figure of confident masculinity, one with a strong work ethic, and at the same time one with a strong sense of obligation to his family. He’s described as a “puritan,” and black culture has long been more conservative morally than white. And his relationship with Lillian would be dramatically interesting, especially if she were portrayed as a condescendingly liberal white woman. Think of the symbolism of the Rearden metal chain that he gives her. . . .

    Not going to happen, I know.

  2. James Tuttle October 31, 2008 at 1:59 pm #

    I second William’s recommendation, Denzil Washington would be perfect for all of those reasons.

    I love the idea of taking these characters, of such great strength and virtue, and showing the audience that they are or could be anyone.

    Use the film medium to actually change the way people see themselves and the people around them. Cast Cate Blanchett as Ragnar, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Fransico, or Benicio Del Toro as Dagny. As Rand put it, “objectivists are not ‘conservatives.'” Who ever is in charge of this project lets hope they are an objectivist, of the Sciabarra persuasion.

    Not going to happen, I don’t know.

  3. Bob Kaercher October 31, 2008 at 2:25 pm #

    The thought of Denzel Washington as Hank Rearden is intriguing–and he could give a great performance, to be sure–but Benicio Del Toro in drag? That doesn’t exactly paint a very pleasant mental picture…

    If you’re going to stick with Rand’s character description, I agree with Roderick that Daniel Craig is a pretty excellent choice.

  4. Black Bloke October 31, 2008 at 2:33 pm #

    It’s spelled “Denzel”. Oh well, at least you got those other actors’ names right.

    I’m usually a stickler for faith to a text when it’s time to recreate it for a movie, but the suggestion of Denzel is tempting. I always pictured Hank to be a young Robert Redford, or a well groomed Paul Newman. Daniel Craig might be the best choice for today, but I wonder what Ryan Phillippe would do in the role? Sure he’s a little young, and baby faced for the job, but I think he might be a good audience draw. Then again I might like to save him for the Anthem film.

    Related question: Roderick you’d probably have some ideas on this. Why are Rand’s protagonists the spitting image of Aryan Supermen? Was it just part of the culture at the time? Was this her “type”? Or is there something else going on?

  5. Anon73 October 31, 2008 at 2:52 pm #

    Obviously Ayn Rand was a Nazi.

  6. "Nick Manley" - The Curious "Deviant" October 31, 2008 at 7:20 pm #

    I’ve talked to two people of a generally Progressive, liberal, or leftitish bent who said Rand was a fascist.

    It’s probably because her thematic style involves focusing on a few ideal human beings trapped in nightmarish contexts. This comes off as really anti-democratic and not altruistic enough.

    Fascism is posited as the opposite of democracy or the rule of the many or people by the statist left.

    To a Randian, the notion of democracy is more akin to unchecked majority rule. Fascism did historically involve the elevation of a few figures or a figure to exalted positions of power, but it’s intensely anti-individualistic — as the libertarians reading this probably know.

    The statist left should be careful to not exclude the fascist literature’s subordination of the individual to the collective expressed via state power from its analysis.

  7. "Nick Manley" - The Curious "Deviant" October 31, 2008 at 7:22 pm #

    Chris Sciabarra should review all potential directors and cast members ( :

  8. James Tuttle November 1, 2008 at 1:44 am #

    Black Bloke, sorry I missed and miss-spelled Mr. Washington’s name, he is a favorite of mine and I fumbled. I blame my butter fingers on excitement.

    I agree that Daniel Craig looks and could pull off the part of Rearden .

    Benicio could be “in drag” or Dangy could be a homosexual man or whatever. As long as the talent is high and the director committed, I’m along for the ride.

  9. Bob Kaercher November 1, 2008 at 1:48 pm #

    Well, if they cast Dagny as a homosexual, there would probably be some outcries from some quarters of the Objectivist movement. Rand was pretty explicitly anti-homosexual, as I recall.

    As for Rand and fascism: While I think it’s pretty absurd to posit any connection between the two, I’ve often been left with the impression that she had envisioned her ideal political economy as including a government managed by her super-rational heroes, which, while not fascist, could conceivably lead to its own complications.

  10. James Tuttle November 2, 2008 at 12:19 am #

    Bob, Rand was explicit with her homophobia, but homophobia is NOT implicit in objectivism. For a grand defense see Chris Sciabarra’s monograph Ayn Rand, Homosexuality, and Human Liberation. Which is why I hope the individuals overseeing the project are of his persuasion.

    “Eventually, Ricky came to ‘a powerful, seemingly arbitrary, insight.” When he had first read Atlas Shrugged back in 1959, he ‘used to imagine that Francisco [d’Anconia] and [Hank] Rearden became lovers at the end of the book! I found such an outcome natural and satisfying seeing how they really liked each other so much and had both loved and lost Dagny [Taggart].”
    –Ayn Rand, Homosexuality, and Human Liberation, pg 20.

  11. Black Bloke November 2, 2008 at 7:28 pm #

    When I first read Atlas Shrugged I always imagined that Dagny would continue to spread it out among the three guys she hooked up with in the book. There was no disagreement among the rational men, I don’t see why they wouldn’t have just continued tag-teaming her.

    I think the above imagining regarding Dagny, Galt, D’Anconia, and Rearden, ignores what Rand herself said about her feelings regarding homosexuality, but more importantly it presupposes monogamy as a given.

  12. James Tuttle November 3, 2008 at 12:50 am #

    Black Bloke, I am not exactly sure I understand this response. I am sorry that my point of view, on how the book Atlas Shrugged might be envisioned for the silver screen of the 21st century, is incongruous with yours. It was not my intention to upset you or any other reader of this blog.

    I was initially excited by William’s iconoclasm with regards to casting decisions of Hank Rearden. And in that spirit I may have misjudged my audience, my apologies and I hope nothing is beyond repair.

    Yet… What are you saying? I am proud of all the work that has been done by fellow objectivists to save the ideas of Ayn Rand from Ayn Rand and ARI. I see Atlas Shrugged as a grand artistic expression of the system of ideas knows as objectivism. But objectivism has moved beyond Ayn Rand, the fallible human. I believe the new additions or extensions to objectivist thought can be integrated back into the system’s ultimate artistic expression, Atlas Shrugged, without contradiction.

    With regards to your comments, I am taking them in jest. I hope you don’t really mean to imply that rational men can or would objectify women to position of sexual servitude. Or that such behavior would be appropriate, if the woman in question had had multiple partners in the past.
    I am also unclear as to the strict presumption of the give-ness of monogamy. If two people are in a loving, exclusive, relationship voluntarily, how does that presuppose monogamy? Couldn’t monogamy be concluded as an acceptable expression of a loving relationship between the two individuals and not as the “given” or the only acceptable expression?

    “In short, I would have men and women so arrange their lives that they shall always, at all times, be free beings in this regard as in all others. The limit of abstinence or indulgence can be fixed by the individual alone, what is normal for one being excess for another, and what is excess at one period of life being normal at another.” They Who Marry Do Ill, Voltairine de Cleyre.

  13. Black Bloke November 3, 2008 at 1:26 am #


    What in the world are you going on about?

    My last post was half in jest, half in seriousness. I don’t see that what I wrote has very much to do with you or what you wrote. I was commenting on the idea that Hank and Francisco may have gotten together. That was taken from Chris Sciabarra’s work.

    You ask, “If two people are in a loving, exclusive, relationship voluntarily, how does that presuppose monogamy?” I was talking about the conclusion that imagined that Hank and Francisco may have gotten together. That conclusion comes at the expense of my conclusion in which Dagny simply keeps up her sexual relationship with the three men, and instead forms a monogamous relationship with Galt, while Francisco and Hank form a monogamous relationship with each other. The latter relationship wouldn’t extend from Rand’s imagination, and so I’d discount it in terms of decent fanfic. The former relationship fits better in my mind, but it wouldn’t occur to someone who presupposes monogamous relationships.

    “Couldn’t monogamy be concluded as an acceptable expression of a loving relationship between the two individuals and not as the “given” or the only acceptable expression?”

    Sure. Why not? That’s how I think of it.

    I’m not sure where you found any “sexual servitude” in my last post, but there wasn’t any. I find it striking that that would be an inference for anyone.

  14. James Tuttle November 10, 2008 at 1:00 am #

    Dear Black Bloke,

    I am going on about defending my position that one could alter the character personas of Atlas Shrugged without altering or contradicting the ideas in Atlas Shrugged. I am in favor of casting decisions that would allow previously alienated or estranged individuals, who have wrongly conflated objectivism with conservatism or any other form of bigotry, to see them-selves represented in the movie version of this book. I feel this as important for the movie because the book is reliant on the reader’s imagination to fill in the details, hence the quote from Ricky in Sciabarra’s monograph. Ricky could read the book, imaging, all the while, that these characters were gay or black or whatever. John Galt could be a black transgendered woman with dyslexia, yet none of the accidental qualities detract from the characters’ essential heroism and virtue. In fact those qualities can and do belong to heroic and virtuous individuals. The idea, whether implicit or explicit in a culture, that these qualities somehow deny one entry into the class of virtuous beings should be, IMO, a primary target for annihilation by objectivist and left-libertarians alike.

    I apologies if I inferred from your comment something that you did not wish to communicate. Honestly it was from your use of the phrases: “continue to spread it out” & “I don’t see why they wouldn’t have just continued tag-teaming her,” led me to my conclusions. If not in jest, then I don’t know how else to read them other than to mean the bifurcation of Dagny, the objectification of her body, and the sexual servitude or maybe even sexual assault of her body by the gang of three, “they:” Hank, John and Francisco, as they “continued tag-teaming her.” With all charity I hope you can forgive me for these insinuations if they unjustly prescribed to your position, but grant to me that based on your choice of phrases they were not unwarranted.

    One of the points that Chris Sciabarra makes in his monograph is that the philosophy of Objectivism is not explicitly or implicitly homophobic, in fact quite the opposite, it gave a grand vision of human liberation through self-acceptance and individuality. This vision had a positive and fruitful impact on many members of the GLBT community who felt alienated by the oppressive culture surrounding them. Atlas Shrugged was published in 1957 and Ayn Rand went public with her views on homosexuality, to my knowledge, during her Ford Hall Forum lecture circa. 1971. Why do I have to re-read or re-interpret Atlas Shrugged just because Rand expressed these homophobic feelings 14 years later? She is the author, but once the last period is put into place, with all due respect, the book is ours. I cherish the spirit that she poured into it, but her ghost must not be allowed to haunt its letter.

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