Given the audience’s and critic’s reaction to Miller’s baseball-themed Moneyball (2011), as well as his 2005 film Capote and his other sports-related film Foxcatcher (2014), the particular dramatic and yet heartfelt comedic taste he brings to his films could be an interesting addition to The Natural, which was far more melodramatic and bordered on a male equivalent of the ‘chick-flick’. It would be a tad heavier and ‘darker’ than the original, but that edge could give the film a new sense of substance.
Steven Zallian and Aaron Sorkin
If Miller wanted to rewrite the script, it would be wise for him to bring on the co-writers of Moneyball, Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List (1993)), and Aaron Sorkin (A Few Good Men (1992) and The West Wing (1999-2006)). Both men could add to that ‘sense of substance’ that was missed in the original Natural. They would give the plot and dialogue a natural sense of credibility, ensuring that the film could potentially earn an award or two.
Continuing on the back of Moneyball’s success, Wally Pfister (The Prestige (2006), The Dark Knight (2008) and Inception (2010)) would give the film a new and refreshing look that while is not as bright and warming as the previous rendition of the film, would still look sharp and crisp. If he wanted to reflect some of Deschanel’s camera work from the original, it would not be too much of a stretch for him to attempt to blend Deschanel’s with his own style.
Since we are still lucky to have Randy Newman active in the industry, it would be intriguing to bring him back and see what he could do to update the score to match Miller’s team’s visual and tonal style. It could lead to a clash, but it could also be a rewarding emotional experience.
Although he is not ‘An All American Boy’ Henry Cavill’s physique and Superman good looks could be the appeal that will get audiences to see a film about a fair paced sport like baseball, compared to the more action-packed superhero films (example: Man of Steel (2013)) he is associated with. Given his experience with The Tudors (2007-2010), a time period piece will not be a stretch for him either.
There is a warm glow that comes from the various roles, troubled or joyful, of Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine (2010) and Fosse/Verdon (2019)). She reflects the gentleness of Close but has a softness of her own that would serve the role of Iris well. It would be reassuring to know that such a character could be left to Williams and her good hands.
While it was a bit of a tie between pranksters John Leguizamo (To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar (1995) and John Leguizamo’s Latin History for Morons (2018)) or Michael Weatherly (NCIS (2003-16)), I would vouch for Leguizamo for the mischievous, modern-day Mercy. It would also, fortunately/unfortunately, add to the lack of diversity in the original film. Although Leguizamo should not be cast for his race, his talent speaks far louder than his skin tone and therefore would prove to be a smart match.
A modern day, brilliant, talented, and charming bombshell, Christina Hendricks (Mad Men (2007-15) and Drive (2011)) would be a good choice for the femme fatale that is Memo Paris. Not only because of her body and looks (much like Basinger) but for the emotional toll that Memo goes through during the film, when she must choose between her goals and what is ethically right. Hendricks can play that conflict strongly and has done so in several performances.
Michael Shannon (Take Shelter (2011) and The Shape of Water (2017)) is spectacular at playing someone who is troubled and does not mind who shares the troubling experience with him. While his intensity would be stronger than McGavin’s, it would add another layer to Sands, who is cunning, wicked, and greedy.