Casting in Hollywood is as precarious as a fiddler on the roof. Did you know, for instance, that James Caan was nearly Han Solo or that Armie Hammer was this close to being Batman? Things fall through. But here at the Forward, every one of us is a casting director, trying to fit our favorite performers into roles — without regretting our choices. It isn’t easy. But when we heard a new “Fiddler” film was on its way, we had to make our decisions. You may ask, why do we do this when we know Taylor Swift will probably play Hodel? I can tell you in one word!
Opinions! Jews have them (at least 1.5 per capita). Here are ours:
Tevye - Taika Waititi
This is perhaps the hardest part to cast. We considered Richard Kind. We gave consideration to Danny Burstein, who donned the flat cap for the role in the 2015 Broadway revival. But a new decade needs a new kind of Tevye. We picked Waititi. The actor-director of Maori and Jewish descent would bring his puckish humor to the role of the fabled milkman while also tapping into the role’s as-yet-unrealized hot dad potential. Plus, what a heel turn from playing Hitler! Waitit’s singing may need some work, but, he can always learn.
Golde - Idina Menzel
A no-brainer given her recent turn as a pissed-off wife in “Uncut Gems.” We know she has the pipes for the part, yet her casting had me wondering what a Sandler take on Tevye would be like — a Jewish Opera Man for two-plus hours? No thanks.
Tzeitel - Laura Dreyfuss
For Tevye’s oldest daughter, the “Dear Evan Hansen” star has the singing voice and screen presence to get what she wants from her old man. We can also see her make the transition to mother and finally getting that sewing machine she saved up for. Hopefully she won’t end up making one of these numbers with it.
Hodel - Beanie Feldstein
Headstrong and independent, Feldstein would make the role of Hodel her own. We can easily see her debating the story of Leah, getting swept up into Perchik’s radical politics and nailing “Far From the Home I Love.” We just hope she has some time in between filming all her other projects — including that epic 30-year-shoot of “Merrily We Roll Along” to come onboard.
Chava - Hailee Steinfeld
Who do you get to play the shy bookish daughter who breaks out of her shell to test tradition? How about the woman now playing Emily Dickinson? When she accepts her father’s blessing at the end, we will all be weeping messes, plotzing in the aisles.
Motel - Ben Platt
Ben Platt overlaps perhaps too much with the others on this list. He’s BFFs with Beanie Feldstein, was in “Pitch Perfect 2” with Steinfeld and “Dear Evan Hansen” and “The Politician” with Dreyfuss. But when it comes to the role of the nebbishy tailor, it had to be him. I know we’re in the process of rehabilitating Platt’s image as a cool guy (thanks, Ryan Murphy) but he just does awkward and sweet too well, so he’ll have to be Motel.
Perchik - Daveed Diggs
The “Hamilton” star has already played revolutionaries (Lafayette and Jefferson) under Thomas Kail’s direction before. He’s intense, he’s charming, he’s sexy and, as the young Bolshevik Perchik, could stand toe-to-toe with Tevye in a battle of ideals. The bad boy of “Fiddler” should have all these qualities, plus, the moves to have that forbidden dance with Hodel.
Fyedka - Bill Skarsgård
We’re casting this one on looks alone. He just is so… not Jewish at all. But, we think with his height and his look of quiet intelligence — without the Pennywise makeup — he stands out just enough to earn the shtetl-dwellers’ distrust and Chava’s affection.
Lazar Wolf - Mandy Patinkin
I mean, it’s obvious isn’t it?
Yente - Barbra Streisand
Reunite Mandy and Babs for another Jew-y musical? Yes please.
Fruma Sarah - Tovah Feldshuh
True story: When I was about six or seven I went to a dinner theater production of “Fiddler” and fell asleep. I woke up during the Fruma Sarah sequence. On an unrelated note, I started therapy soon after. Anyway, Tovah Feldshuh has the lung capacity and comic timing to make this deceased spirit of marital vengeance both endearing and utterly frightening. Just the right mix to keep those billable hours coming for child psychologists.
Rabbi - Seth Rogen
Rogen was recently spotted looking rabbinical in this still from his upcoming Jewish pickle-maker movie. It sounds like a tongue-twister, but it’s enough to have us want him for the spiritual leader of Anatevka — especially if he’s 4/20-friendly.
L’Chaim! (And seriously, Mr. Kail, please don’t cast T-Swizzle.)
PJ Grisar is the Forward’s culture fellow. He can be reached at Grisar@Forward.com.