Nintendo has just announced a live-action Legend of Zelda film, in collaboration with Sony Pictures and Avi Arad. Let’s see who might fit the many roles this ‘legendary’ series has to offer.
With the recent success of The Super Mario Bros. Movie and The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Nintendo is venturing into adapting The Legend of Zelda into live-action. First created in 1985, the series has become one of the most well-known in Nintendo’s pantheon. With Wes Ball (Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, The Maze Runner series) in the director’s chair, it’s only a matter of time before casting begins. No story details were given, but I figured with my love of entertainment that I’d try my hand at cast predictions. Will they come true? Maybe. Is it worth a try? Absolutely. Let’s begin!
The characters I chose are fairly general, since we don’t know which entry the movie will be based on, loosely or strictly. Still, I’ve picked actors who I believe can fit the role regardless, whether true live-action or CGI motion-capture.
Link – Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Owen Teague, Tom Holland
The silent swordsman is probably one of the toughest ones to cast. As Link doesn’t talk (and shouldn’t), you need someone who can command a room with their emotions rather than words.
A lot of people have brought up Emmy-nominated Thomas Brodie-Sangster, known for his roles in Game of Thrones and The Queen’s Gambit. It’s a pretty smart choice, as the actor has a history with Wes Ball, portraying Newt in the Maze Runner film series. He was also Ferb in Disney’s Phineas and Ferb (I’m just as surprised as you), so he could play silent characters, even if they were animated. His cadence on screen and versatile range put Thomas high up on the list.
Owen Teague is a relatively new actor but one that shows promise. He also has a history with the director, as he voices Noa, the new protagonist of Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes. He rocks long hair and displays an impressive range, whether it’s comedy, drama, or anything in between. It’s not uncommon for directors to pick previously-directed actors in big roles (look at Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio). With that, Owen’s chances of picking up the Master Sword may come to fruition.
Of course, Tom Holland, while many feel it may be too cliché, might be a big contender. While he hasn’t worked with Wes Ball, the producer, Avi Arad, took part in all his Spider-Man projects. Plus, he also produced Tom’s take on Nathan Drake in the movie adaptation of Uncharted, as okay as it was. If Nintendo is going for big faces, Tom is a natural choice to play Link for the Legend of Zelda adaptation.
Zelda – Florence Pugh, Sydney Sweeney, Rachel Zegler
With Zelda, you want someone who wears their heart on their sleeve and their confidence up front. As she is more vocal in games, with Patricia Summersett voicing the character in the newer entries, they need to find an actress who can match that tone, as well as make it their own.
One that comes to mind immediately for me is Florence Pugh (Midsommar, Little Women, Black Widow). With an Academy Award nomination to her name, it’s certain that she can do a grand job as the princess. She can handle drama, comedy, and action, as several projects of hers showcase her dynamic balance. While she is older than other contenders, a great performance can silence that and I guarantee Florence can deliver on that.
Two fairly newcomers are Sydney Sweeney (Euphoria) and Rachel Zegler (The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes). Syndey has the Emmy nominations to back her up (plus a potential Spider-Woman role in Madam Web) while Rachel’s debut lead in Spielberg’s West Side Story triumphed, almost grabbing her an Oscar nom. Each of them has the charm and charisma Zelda brings and would fit right into Hyrule.
Ganondorf – Idris Elba, Dave Bautista, Keith David
Ganondorf’s actor demands a performance that sends chills down your spine. As the character is likely going to be CGI, I chose actors who can deliver the vocals with sophistication and eerieness.
When it comes to casting a brooding villain-type character, you can’t go wrong with Idris Elba. His deep British voice has graced many projects such as Zootopia, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty. He was even a top contender (and still is in my heart) to be the next James Bond. His presence as Ganon would be suiting for the Gerudo exile.
Vocally, I can definitely see Dave Bautista taking on the role, especially if motion-captured. I mean, the man’s a WWE wrestler and a Guardian of the Galaxy. He’s an avid gamer, too, as shown in his appearance in two Mortal Kombat 1 advertisements and his determination to be Marcus Fenix in the live-action Gears of War. The Legend of Zelda would be lucky to claim Dave as its dastardly antagonist
Speaking of vocals, Keith David could make an excellent lord of the Darkness. His career spans hundreds of projects, with a handful being video games. Most notably, he plays Arbiter in Halo, Anderson in Mass Effect, and Dr. Facilier in The Princess and the Frog. His range would prove tremendously helpful if they plan to go for the Ocarina of Time route.
Impa – Zoe Saldana, Michelle Rodriguez, Ming-na Wen
The role may portray the older version from the original and Breath of the Wild, but I’m going for the Ocarina of Time and Hyrule Warriors version. As one of my favorite characters, Impa is a badass and deserves to be played by one in the Legend of Zelda film.
Instantly, the resume of Zoe Saldana comes to mind. She’s been in the biggest franchises of all time in huge roles, like Gamora in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Neytiri in Avatar. Plus, she can kick some serious ass. Speaking of Avatar, the same goes for Fast & Furious star Michelle Rodriguez. The Resident Evil actress is a huge gamer, mostly first-person shooters, and even appeared in Halo 2. She’d make an intimidating Impa, for sure.
However, Ming-na Wen has the distinct pleasure of being in video games and their adaptations. In the 1994 Street Fighter movie, she played Chun-Li and also starred in Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. Despite being 59, the actress still can dish some damage if her character in Star Wars is anything to go by.
The King – Sean Bean, Donald Sutherland, Andy Serkis
Of course, for the King of Hyrule, you need to have someone who’s been around for a bit. Preferably an actor whose background lies in theater, as they fit that regal tone.
Sean Bean, over his large career, has played a few kings of his own. Most notably, he was Ned Stark in Game of Thrones. He also did the voice for King Regis in Final Fantasy XV: Kingsglaive. And yes, his performance in The Lord of the Rings may make him the ideal candidate for a high-fantasy set epic.
Still, natural alternatives do exist. For example, Donald Sutherland (The Hunger Games) and Andy Serkis (Planet of the Apes) both have been in huge franchises as demanding figures. Each of them has played authoritative roles that’d fit right into the reality of The King. No matter what version is portrayed, I don’t think you could go wrong with either of them
Goron – Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Dave Bautista, Jason Momoa
I know, I know but hear me out. Gorons have played pretty big roles in various Zelda titles, so they’ll make an appearance in some form. Regardless, you’ll need someone tough to play a literal rock creature.
And yeah, perhaps having Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson (Moana, Hobbs & Shaw) play one is on the nose. However, his personality and charisma would fit perfectly with a Goron. The same goes for Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Jason Momoa (Aquaman). Each of them would accentuate the headstrong nature of the Gorons. Their background in superhero films and wrestling already demonstrates that sense of strength. Plus, it helps that all of them are buff as all heck and could snap me in half.
Zora – Cate Blachett, Tilda Swinton, Charlize Theron
Water creatures need to have a sense of elegance to them. Maybe it’s because of water being a symbol of life itself or maybe that’s just me digging into my Creative Writing background like a rabid raccoon. Regardless, many iterations of the Zora in The Legend of Zelda are characters that are even-headed and calm. You typically want someone whose presence matches that.
Actresses like Cate Blanchett (The Lord of the Rings, Blue Jasmine) and Tilda Swinton (Doctor Strange, Michael Clayton) can do that pretty well, given their background in dramatics. While they can hold themselves in a fight if initiated, one actress who could do both with precision is Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road, Monster). Her mix of drama and action would suit a more silent warrior Zora but work either way.
Tingle – Chris Pratt, Jack Black, Danny Devito
It’s hard to imagine Nintendo and Sony making Tingle a dramatic character in The Legend of Zelda film. I mean, he’s an old man in a green jumpsuit who has a catchphrase. Hard to nab an Oscar nom for that. Therefore, it should be someone who doesn’t take themselves too seriously. Comedians are natural choices since they embarrass themselves every day.
If Nintendo wanted to play it safe, the obvious choices are The Super Mario Bros. Movie stars Chris Pratt and Jack Black. Each of them nails that awkward comedy that would likely be used for the green ‘fairy’. Still, it’s been far too long since The Lorax himself Danny Devito has graced the silver screen. Perhaps it’s time for his big return to be a small red-nosed human gremlin. Maybe.