Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, a spooky animated classic, has a great voice cast. Who could play these characters if there’s a live-action adaptation?
Who might play the colorful characters of Corpse Bride if the Tim Burton gem received a live-action remake? The movie came out in 2005 and has everything you’d love in a Tim Burton film: beautiful stop-motion animation, magical music by Danny Elfman, and a quirky gothic style that makes you want to put on eyeliner and listen to The Cure in the Dark. It’s like a follow-up to The Nightmare Before Christmas (even though Burton didn’t direct that one). Corpse Bride is about Victor van Dort, who accidentally marries a dead woman, and it follows his journey to the afterlife. Get ready for a fun and musical adventure!
No one was surprised when Tim Burton chose Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter as the main actors in Corpse Bride. However, the supporting cast will be filled with well-known names. Richard E. Grant, Michael Gough, Emily Watson, Christopher Lee, Tracy Ullman, Joanna Lumley, and many others contribute to bringing Corpse Bride’s eerie world to the big screen.
Even though Corpse Bride hasn’t had a sequel, the trend of streaming platforms bringing back old favorites might change that soon. While the animated format played a big part in Corpse Bride’s success, fans can’t help but think about who could play the characters in a live-action version. Tim Burton’s voice actors were great, but not all of them might be right for real-life roles. If a live-action Corpse Bride movie happens, who could take on each character’s role?
Freddie Highmore as Victor van Dort
Victor van Dort in Corpse Bride is a kind and awkward guy with a strong sense of morals. He’s a bit like a grown-up version of Charlie Bucket, especially the one in Tim Burton’s Charlie & The Chocolate Factory. Thankfully, the actor who played Charlie, Freddie Highmore, has grown into a great actor. Not only does he look like what a live-action Victor would need, but he also has that innocent vibe typical of Tim Burton’s main characters. Since his golden ticket days, Highmore has taken on horror roles in Bates Motel, so he wouldn’t feel out of place in Corpse Bride’s gothic world. Skilled at playing imperfect but lovable characters, Freddie Highmore is like a modern-day Victor van Dort. Although, if Adrien Brody were 20 years younger, he might fit the bill too.
Evan Rachel Wood as Emily, The Corpse Bride
The main character in Corpse Bride, Emily, is emotionally complex. On one side, she shows the manners of an upper-class upbringing, but on the other, she carries the wounds from a harsh wedding night murder. Her world gets even more complicated when she unexpectedly marries Victor. Evan Rachel Wood, known for her role as Dolores in Westworld, could skillfully bring together these conflicting emotions. In the early seasons of Westworld, Dolores is innocent and kind but holds an inner sadness. These qualities match what a live-action Emily in Corpse Bride would need. Even though Wood is older than the character she’d be playing, it wouldn’t be noticeable – after all, it’s challenging to determine the exact age of a stop-motion model.
Anya Taylor-Joy as Victoria Everglot
Anya Taylor-Joy, currently in the spotlight and renowned for her role in The Queen’s Gambit, would be a great fit for the Corpse Bride herself. However, her talents might be even more fitting for the role of Victoria, Victor’s intended wife. With her past role in Emma, Taylor-Joy is clearly comfortable with the old-fashioned style of Corpse Bride, effortlessly embodying Victoria’s demure and elegant character. In the original animated film by Tim Burton, Victoria has an independent and defiant side, which would be interesting to explore further in a modern adaptation, giving her the agency that today’s audiences rightfully expect from female characters. Anya Taylor-Joy is the perfect choice to enhance Victoria’s character, bringing new layers without losing the essence of the original.
Richard E. Grant as Barkis Bittern
When considering who could play the live-action version of Barkis Bittern, it’s hard to overlook the original voice actor, Richard E. Grant. Tim Burton made an excellent choice in selecting Grant for the animated film, and although not all original cast members may fit in a live-action setting, Grant remains the top choice for Barkis Bittern. Since lending his voice to the character in 2005, Grant has experienced a career resurgence with roles in Logan, Star Wars, and Loki. Particularly relevant for Corpse Bride, Richard E. Grant showcased his villainous skills as Doctor Who’s Dr. Simeon—a Victorian-era villain with a dark view of humanity, aligning with the Great Intelligence to thwart The Doctor. Grant’s portrayal of Simeon might offer a glimpse of what a live-action Barkis Bittern could be like and his existing connection to Corpse Bride provides a thread of continuity between the old and the new.
Morgan Freeman as Elder Gutknetcht
When Victor ends up in the Land of the Dead with Emily, he struggles to make the locals understand his situation. However, when he meets Elder Gutknecht, a wise old owl with a fountain of knowledge about life and death, things start to make more sense. This grandfatherly figure, or rather a skeleton, speaks with a comforting tone that demands respect without being condescending. For a role like this, Morgan Freeman seems like an ideal choice. If you look at any performance from Freeman’s extensive career, you’ll find a perfect blend of charm and authority, precisely what Elder Gutknecht needs. Having portrayed God in Bruce Almighty, Freeman can bring the mystical and otherworldly quality that Corpse Bride’s afterlife Elder requires.
Emma Thompson as Maudeline Everglot & Toby Jones as Finis Everglot
Victoria’s parents are very controlling and don’t care about how their daughter feels. They treat her like a tool to get more money and a higher social status. Originally, Joanna Lumley voiced Maudeline, and she could return for a live-action version. But a better choice might be Emma Thompson, known for her versatile and strong performances. Playing Maudeline would let Thompson bring the right mix of authority and complexity to the character. For Victoria’s father, Toby Jones (with a bit of makeup to look older) could bring Finis to life. Jones has played sneaky villains in shows like Sherlock and Captain America, so he’d do well with Finis, even if the character doesn’t need to be too wicked.
Helena Bonham Carter as Nell van Dort & Bill Nighy as William van Dort
Just like Victoria’s parents, Victor’s parents are a terrible, self-centered couple scheming to marry off their son to climb the social ladder. For the demanding and outspoken Nell van Dort, Corpse Bride could make a perfect choice by casting Helena Bonham Carter. Although she voiced Emily in the 2005 animated film, in a live-action setting, Carter could be reassigned to play Nell van Dort, drawing from her previous roles like Bellatrix Lestrange in Harry Potter and the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland. This would be a nod to Corpse Bride’s original cast, similar to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s role in the movie version of In The Heights. On the other hand, William van Dort, somewhat more understanding toward his son, had a relatively minor role in the animated film. To bring more vibrancy to William’s character, Bill Nighy could infuse bolder colors, balancing comedic obliviousness with a slightly kinder demeanor compared to his wife.
Jonathan Pryce as Pastor Galswells
If Christopher Lee were still with us, he could have seamlessly transitioned from the 2005 Corpse Bride to a modern live-action reimagining. Although irreplaceable, if someone were to step into the shoes of Pastor Galswells, the severe master of ceremonies overseeing Victor’s marriage to Victoria, it’s conceivable that Jonathan Pryce could fill the role. Pryce, another horror legend with a commanding voice, could easily intimidate Freddie Highmore. Having played an even more twisted man of the cloth in Game of Thrones, Pryce would be well-suited for such a role.