Dream Casting a Mass Effect TV Series
Anyone who knows me knows that my all time favorite gaming franchise is Mass Effect. We at Game Infinite even have our new Mass Effect themed Gi Channel devoted to all things Mass Effect cosplay, news, art, and more @masseffectinfinite It is my opinion that it is not only the greatest video game series ever made, but it is also, one of the best sci-fi universes. If I could, I would absolutely love for it to come to more mediums, so that more sci-fi fans could appreciate this amazing universe. I think Mass Effect could easily be as big as Star Wars, Star Trek, or the MCU if only it were allowed to expand beyond games. More importantly, a series could tell different perspectives, explore new timelines, or give us alternate events than what happened in the games! For these reasons, I was inspired to do a dream casting for live action Mass Effect series. Mass Effect would be great enough for a MCU style big budget film series, but I am very open to a big budget tv series. Studios all want to have the next Game of Thrones, and Mass Effect could easily be the next streaming platform seller. My dream casting will focus on people who I think would best represent the character (or a version thereof) specifically, and less so take into account real world restrictions such as celebrity status, cost, interest, or likely availability. It doesn't matter if they would be "too expensive", "too crowded schedule", or gauge their interest in the role.
I am dream casting a story for Mass Effect that largely follows the main trilogy's Shepard saga of events (with options to deviate away); however, I am making some tweaks to the game's premise. One amazing thing about the Mass Effect games that would have to be delicately handled is "player choice". Crafting our own story is a big part of what makes Mass Effect great. A live action series would have to for the most part "choose" certain events in the Mass Effect story. While we know from Bioware themselves, that many choices in Mass Effect have a very high percentage of uniformity amoungst players. Most players save Wrex. Most players cure the genophage. If the big story arcs follow the majority of gamer decisions, I think it will appeal to most players. However, there is one thing they don't have to choose, if they borrow a trick from Andromeda. For the live action, I want Shepard...to be a twin. I want the live action version to be a version of the story where we have TWO Shepards. Not only would this be a great way to give us both a FemShep and BroShep in the same universe, but it would also allow for a greater selection of decisions in one continuity. It opens up more events to take place in the same continuity; for example, BroShep could romance Liara while say FemShep romances Garrus. We couldn't get every romance in the live action, but we could get double as many.
Also, some of these characters like Wrex, Legion, Garrus, Grunt and Mordin, it would be necessary to recreate almost completely with CGI, so reusing voice actors has no negative whatsoever. Might as well keep the voice they are known by. For others that it could be easy to just reuse an actor or actress for live action, for sake of fun discussion, I will "try" to limit the original voice actors, but I will reuse for some.
(This list represents purely the opinion of the writer, and has no insider knowledge about any live action plans or casting)
Commander Shepard (Male): Chris Evans
He has helped save the Marvel universe for Thanos, and now it is time for Captain America himself to save another universe, this time from the Reapers. This choice for Commander Shepard is so perfect and so painfully obvious to me that I am ashamed I didn't think of him first. When I realized it, I realized just amazing it would be to see Chris Evans suit up in the N7 armor and tackle another universe to save. In this pitch for a live action Mass Effect, I have Male Shep be the paragon, ultimate sense of virtue and justice. Who else could deliver better speeches, or inspire the far corners to unite together than Chris Evans? When Chris Evans Shepard speaks, we all listen. While some other choices I think are fair such as Henry Cavil or even having Mark Meer reprise his role in live action, I just think Chris Evans would be the best fit to lead a big budget live action project like this, at the level that I want it to be.
Commander Shepard (Female): Jessica Alba
The best part of this pick for FemShep wasn't even on purpose something I set out to do; but this isn't the first time Chris Evans and Jessica Alba have been cast as brother and sister. They were siblings in Fantastic Four, so somewhere some casting director thinks they can work as siblings. I thought long and hard on who I wanted for FemShep, and it wasn't until I watched Jessica Alba in film the other day that I realized she was perfect for FemShep. Alba is an actress that is capable of playing a sweet, likable character, and go dark/renegade all within the same context and be believable. Alba has a dark hero vibe that would fit perfect for a Renegade FemShep to Evan's Paragon. She can be dark, but still be the hero Shep is. I considered some other big name actresses, but ultimately Alba would be my top pick for the Shep duo.
Joker: Seth Green
Joker is someone that is impossible to recast. This is my dream team, and Seth Green's voice and sarcasm just IS Joker. No one else could fill those shoes. He needs to be brought on for any live action Mass Effect and that's just non-negotiable.
Miranda Lawson: Hailee Steinfeld
It would be just too easy to pick Yvonne Strahovski to reprise for the role of Miranda. However, I wanted to avoid as many voice actors as I could, and go with some newer picks. I want to save some of the voice actors for the aliens who would be full CGI where look doesn't matter. Yvonne is also getting older, at almost 40, might not want the role for a lengthy period of time. Casting someone up and coming, younger, might be able to hold the role longer. Hailee has proven herself to be a phenomenal action actress capable of holding her own. She is well known for Bumble Bee, Dickinson, and the upcoming Hawkeye. I think she also could nail the look of Miranda perfectly, while perhaps bringing a little bit more likable and wide appeal to the character, that sometimes the game version struggled with. With the right actress, Miranda could shoot to the top as more of a fan favorite than she is.
Liara Tsoni: Jillian Murray
Many of the alien characters in Mass Effect would need to be recaptured in full CGI, allowing for voice actors and actresses to return, but for Liara, an Asari, full human stand in with prosthetics and makeup would be needed. However, a full recast, I think might lose some of what makes Liara, Liara. While actress Jillian Murray didn't voice Liara, she did act as the physical model for the character. Bringing Liara to life in live action, I think would need something from the game to still feel like Liara, and I think having the visual similarity will be more helpful than the voice. Jillian would be able to provide the look of Liara more than anyone, (you can just see Liara in her face), while still providing a quality voice and acting ability.
Ashley Williams: Isabela Moner
Ashley is another character that gets a lot more hate than I feel is deserved. Often minimized as the lesser of two evils between her and Kaidan, Ashley gets labeled the "space racist". Casting her as a younger, very likable, Isabela Moner, could give the character a second chance in fans eyes. Isabela really shows she can hold her own as an actress, and I think just would fit and improve the role of Ash perfectly.
Jacob Taylor: Michael B Jordan
For some reason, Jacob Taylor is one of the least liked characters in Mass Effect, and I'm not sure why. I always enjoyed speaking with Jacob, and felt like he was a could male comrade for my BroShep. I enjoyed his positive attitude and soldier mentality. I think if he were cast with someone who is very likable and just exudes charisma, like Michael B Jordan himself. I like MBJ would breathe a blast of likability into the character for the big screen.
Kaidan Alenko: Oscar Issac
Another character that struggles with fans of the franchise, Kaidan, could use someone like Oscar Issac to breath some likability into the character. I'll be honest, Kaidan usually dies for me on Virmire, so the one play through I have had during this run in the Legendary Edition hasn't changed my mind. I think, Oscar Issac could save this character and give us a much more complex and interesting Kaidan Alenko.
The Illusive Man: Benedict Cumberbatch
As much as I wanted to re-pick Martin Sheen, I think he is simply getting to old to play the character for Live Action. Sure, he could simply be written as an older character for the live action version, but I think it takes away some of the mystery of TIM. It is heavily implied and often stated that he is much older than he looks, using technology to stay young. After all this is a man who literally cheats death and resurrects Shepard with technology. Having him appear to be in his 80's would take some of that away.
TIM needs to be played by someone who can just invoke an intimidating sneak of fear with just a stare, with just his voice. Honestly, Benedict Cumberbatch is that person. He was perfect for Kahn, Sherlock, and Dr Strange, and I think he would just be the best person to sit in the chair, and talk about humanity as if he thinks of himself as a god who knows everything.
Kasumi: Melissa O'neil
I thought for a while for who should play Kasumi, longer than probably the others, because Kasumi is a character I would want to get a major upgrade in a Mass Effect live action series. Being a DLC character, always hooded, and playing only a small role in the game, I feel like we barely get to know her. In the live action, I would want her to be a much more major character, as I feel like Kasumi was just a wasted opportunity for a really cool character. She's a freaking space thief. Melissa O'neil plays one of the most badass characters in sci-fi in the criminally underrated tv show Dark Matter. She commands such a presence, that I think she could single handedly rise Kasumi up to a big player in viewers eyes, as O'neil's performance would be too good to keep in the background. I almost even considered her for the role of Shepard, before deciding for Kasumi instead. While they don't sound similar, and don't have exact different ethnicities, I think she would be a good change for a very different version of Kasumi.
Anderson: Idris Elba
If I could tweak something about Mass Effect 3, that I would want to expand on in a live action series, it is Earth's perspective. I get that the game is Shepard's story, but one of advantage a live action show could have over a game is the easier power of multiple perspectives. The story can be more easily told from multiple locations. We already have two Shepards, two Shepards that can split up sometimes and go on separate missions. I would want the live action series to explore Earth during the Reaper invasion, and show us the Resistance. I want to see Anderson leading a war on Earth while Shepard leads a war in space. it would be too good to see more of the Reapers on Earth than what we got in ME3. In my live action, at least when the Reaper War story arc is reached, I need an Anderson who can be more than a background character. I need a badass, someone on the level as Shepard. I can think of one man that needs to defend Earth while Shepard is off world. That man is none other than Idris Elba. I just watched the new Suicide Squad movie, and while it is one of the strangest weirdest super hero movies to date, one thing is clear and that is Idris Elba is the only one who should be leading a resistance on Earth.
EDI: Camila Cabello
Camila Cabello is probably one of my more out there picks as I don't think she resembles or comes across like the character in the game as much as others on my list. However, one of the things I would want the creators to do with a live action is to tell us a different story. I don't want this to be an exact cookie cutter story ripped from the game. I have played the games a hundreds times, I know the story like the back of my hand. I want them to take the opportunity to give us very different versions of characters. I want them to push the envelope where it is ok to push it, and cater to fans when it is ok to do so. For EDI, I think she is a character that would be ok to experiment with. The entire Mass Effect trilogy tells much about the rise of AI, how they interact with humans, how they are treated, and the future of mankind and machines. Which is why, I find it a huge missed opportunity that we don't get a optional and killable AI crewman until near the end of of Mass Effect 2 with Legion and EDI doesn't take human form until ME3. The only AI we interact with for more than half the trilogy are ominous, evil, and kind of faceless, enemies with the Geth and Reapers. Even in ME3, EDI's admittedly kind of ridiculous body design and her minimal friendship with Shepard makes her ripe for improvement.
In my live action, EDI's story arc differs more than any one else on this list. She is not a Cerberus creation. She is never a faceless blue orb. She also doesn't look like an "robot adult companion". In my tweaked timeline, Shepard discovers EDI way back on the Luna mission in the ME1 story arc. She becomes sentient, but instead of being temporarily set back and recovered by Cerberus, she is recovered by Shepard. In this timeline, scientists were performing illegal experiments on a VI on Luna, and even so much as to create an android body. The live action EDI body however, is much more human looking with human skin, perhaps with a nod to a silver endoskeleton. Shepard and EDI meet in human form much much earlier. In fact, EDI is much more human in this story. I want a human synthetic much earlier in the story to start resinating with viewers a big theme of what this story is about. Are synthetics alive? In this timeline, I want EDI to romance one of the Shepards. EDI being more human, having a closer relationship with Shepard, will offer much more emotional impact to moments such the Geth's possible destruction or more importantly, how the story concludes. Imagine how much harder the Destroy ending would be if one of Shepard's oldest, closest, and romantic relationships was a machine?
This was a longer one, to explain why I want a very different EDI story, and it provides context to why I picked a lesser obvious choice for EDI. Camila Cabello is most known for her recent portrayal of Cinderella. To say she is far from an obvious pick, would be a very fair criticism. However, I was impressed by how real, and how human she was. There was just "something" about her that would make her a believable character. A synthetic questioning her existence, her place in the universe? She comes off more naive and innocent, that would better fit this story.