Would it be possible to remake Gone With The Wind today?

I’ve been amusing myself re-reading Gone With the Wind.  The racism in the book is undoubtedly offensive, but it is otherwise a rip-roaring, fantastically good story, whether as a character study (and Scarlett’s quite a character), as a romance, or as a portrayal of a culture falling apart in war and then trying to pull itself back together again.  My problem when I’m reading is that I’m unable to separate the characters in the book from those in the movie.  When I read about Scarlett, I can’t stop seeing Vivien Leigh in my mind’s eye.  Rhett?  Clark Gable, of course.  Melanie is the lovely (too lovely by the book’s description) Olivia de Havilland, while Ashley is forever the badly miscast Leslie Howard (too old, too British).

My question for you:  Putting aside the fact that a story as racist as GWTW would never be made today, I’m wondering whether it’s even possible to imagine remaking the movie today with any of Hollywood’s current crop of known actors?  Can you think of anyone out there who could fill those shoes?

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34 Responses

  1. No, I don’t think it would be possible. You could maybe use George Clooney as Rhett Butler. And now that I pause to think, I can only suggest Reese Witherspoon as Scarlett but she’s getting too old to play a 16-year-old with any conviction. Although in the movie, she’s only a 16 year old girl for about 30 minutes tops, then she’s a matron and immediately a widow.

    Melanie and Ashley, well, no one springs to mind. Ashley should be what Florence King dubbed “collie dog aristocracy, everything long and quivering” and I just can’t think of any actresses who could convincingly portray Melanie’s sweetness and steel.

    And how on earth could you ever get any self-respecting black actor or actress to portray Mammy or Pork? That’s not going to happen in this lifetime. Or Prissy, for heaven’s sake!

    • It is very possible a remake of Gone With the Wind could happen. Even though i like the original 1939 version, i would like to see another remake of it. Here’s a cast I had in mind:
      SCARLETT- Rachel Weiz
      RHETT- Russell Crowe
      ASHLEY- Matt Damon
      MELANIE- Anne Hathaway
      MAMMY- Octavia Spencer
      PRISSY- Keke Palmer
      SUE ELLEN- ?
      CAREEN- Hailee Steinfeld
      ELLEN- Helen Mirren
      GERALD- Jeff Bridges
      BELLE WATLING- Jessica Chanstain
      DR. MEADE- ?
      MRS. MEADE- Mary Steenburgen
      BONNIE- Emma Rayne Lyle

  2. The race-problem with GWTW is that none of the black characters is given a serious, completely human involvement in the story. Demeaned and sluggishly cooperative slaves are stereotypes that actually existed, but do not represent the majority of Africans’ experience or behavior during the Civil War or at any time before. I suppose that this limitation in GWTW could be finessed by a thoughtful addition to the story–perhaps more than one. I should like to see the mammy, too, leave Scarlett in the lurch, and it would be true to history to see Pork reduced to the de facto slavery suffered by most freed American Africans after the war. It would not take much time or effort to accomplish something meaningful with the story.
    As for self-respecting black actors–American actors who are intelligent, brave, extraordinarily gifted, and black abound. Many of them have played the most pitiable victims of our culture without demeaning themselves in the least. Some have managed to play the worst sort of human failures, and in doing so contributed to great films–and covered themselves in glory. See Idi in the hands of Whitaker. Imagine what Oprah Winfrey could do as a trusted house slave in Mississippi–one full of fear but with both adult resolve and compassion.
    A remake would likely be just another disaster, but it could be something immensely worth while.

  3. I’m trying to think of a remake that has ever equalled the original or even surpassed it. So far, no candidates. Do you have one?

  4. I don’t even remember watching the original.

  5. Rhett: Leo DeCaprio
    Scarlet: Kiera Knightly
    Ashley: Jude Law
    Melanie: Julia Stiles

  6. They must have given up trying to find suitable actors in Hollywood in 1939 too, as three of the main four actors were English.

    Which leads to another question: why are Southern characters so seldom played by Southern actors?

  7. I’m not sure Kiera Knightly has the heft for Scarlett, but I think Leo could carry it off. After seeing him in Blood Diamonds, I think he could do that bravura quality. As for the others, hmmmm….

  8. Scarlett: Angelina Jolie
    Rhett: George Clooney
    Ashley: Jude Law
    Melanie: Kirsten Dunst

  9. No, I disagree emphatically. It’s not possible. Today you do not have the studio system that cultivates actors, and you do not have American actors who have earned their acting chops on stage or in journeyman roles. The American ones are mostly lightweights, many of whom got where they are based on nepotism (note the family connections of Ms. Jolie and Mr. Clooney) as much as talent (and the afore-mentioned performers do have talent). The Brits are more groundedm, better traubedm and thus more versatile (Keanu Reeves could not master a British accent for his role in Constantine, so they rewrote the character; Brits like Damian Lewis and Dominic West were able to morph seamlessly into Americans, respectively, in Band of Brothers and The Wire on HBO). But there is no more Hollywood in the sense of a mogul-run studio system that produced the movies of the Thirties. Sic transit gloria mundae.

  10. Uh that should read more grounded and better trained … sorry about being incoherent there …

  11. What you wrote, Z, reminded me again of just how wonderful the HBO series “Rome” is. HBO actually just sponsored it. It’s British made and is a reminder that, while I constantly focus on the Brit’s decline, when it comes to acting, nobody does it better.

  12. It’s the rarified air. And as I said before, California sunshine will rot, well you know the rest.

  13. We ought to start a thread on Rome, the series. I watched every episode. It was a Sunday night ritual. Titus Pullo and Lucius Vorenus (who actually do make cameo appearances in the historical record) were vivid characters as portrayed by Ray Stevenson & Kevin McKidd. The problem I had with the series is that it departed from historical accuracy, acceptable for a drama, but veered into the lurid, even misogynist.

  14. I think it kept to the big picture, Z. I also think it did a very good job of showing how similar and yet how different Rome was. We know so much about it, and we trace so many Republican ideas to Rome, and yet, as the historical expert said on one of the first season discs, they were completely amoral as we understand morality. Indeed, to the extent they were driven by honor, they were closer to the Arab or Eastern societies, where “face” matters, more than doing the right thing. Also, even though Roman women had more rights than any other ancient women but for Jewish women, it was a misogynistic society.

    Having said that, by the second season, I think the producers/directors/writers were getting carried away with depicting how lurid it was. Stamp, the historical expert, did say, though, that the Egyptian court as Antony and Cleopatra declined was an exceptionally debauched place, and that Caesar Augustus used the effeminacy of Antony’s new sensuality (as opposed to just being a Roman stud), as part of the justification for turning on him.

  15. It seems a year has passed since this website has had a comment but let’s please not drop the ball on this one. Gone With The Wind needs to be redone. During the last 40 years I have read this book ten times and watched this movie probably 25 times. I cannot imagine anyone portraying Scarlett better than Vivien Leigh. And Clark Gable was born to be Rhett Butler. But then again PRIDE AND PREJUDICE was done 3 times in the last decade or so and each version was somewhat captivating….each actor playing Lizzie and Darcy were convincing. It has been almost 70 years since this movie debuted. It is time for a remake. And I vote for Gerard Butler as Rhett,

  16. Julia Sawalha would make a fantastic Melanie Hamilton. I’ve just seen her in Lark Rise to Candleford and Cranford and can’t get over how much she resembles the young Olivia De Havilland. I seriously doubt any of the actresses mentioned would truly be Scarlett. Perhaps Megan Fox? Or the excitement of finding an unknown, just like they did when they found Vivien Leigh and the world knew she was the ‘real’ Scarlett! I so wish they would do the most magnificent remake of such a classic. As for the slavery/racism issue, it is a piece of American history, whether people like it or not.

  17. It’s kinda funny that I saw this because I just sent out the following e-mail to my friends yesterday:

    With all the remakes in the works (Fame, Clue, Halloween 2, Robocop, Red Dawn, Weird Science,The Karate Kid, and Top Gun), I decided that the end all be all of remakes would be the following. I believe it would make money for no other reason than for people seeing it for the WTF? aspect.
    I’m sick today so I have nothing better to do…

    GONE WITH THE WIND
    STARRING
    Shelley Duvall as Ellen O’Hara
    Steven Seagal as Gerald O’Hara
    Tyler Perry as Mammy
    Tyler Perry as Pork
    Tyler Perry as Prissy
    Tyler Perry as Big Sam
    Jenna Jameson as Melanie
    Madonna as Belle Watling
    Jack Black as Rhett Butler
    with
    Harvey Fierstein as Aunt Pittypat
    and
    Paris Hilton as Scarlett O’Hara

    That’s hot…

    In other words, don’t do it. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

  18. Whatabout the princess diaries girl as scarlett?

  19. Scarlett: Rachel McAdams
    Rhett: George Clooney
    Ashley: Jude Law
    Melanie: Anna Kendrick
    Mammy: Mo’Nique
    Prissy: Taylor Parks

  20. My advice: Don’t even try it.

    Gable, Leigh, Howard and de Havilland are forever identified with their roles–and so be it. It was a magnificent production and cannot be replicated today.

  21. The original cast was awesome; you can’t compare because each is special unto it’s own, but it’s always fun to remake a classic especially 71 years later! Why not! Scarlett would say thumbs up!

    Scarlett: Catherine Zeta Jones (without a doubt)
    Rhett: George Clooney or Tim McGraw
    Ashley: Jude Law
    Melanie: Renee Zegwelier

  22. THE PROBLEMS OF TODAYS WRITER’S TALENT’S IS WHAT IS OUT THERE FOR SCREEN PLAYS?. THIS, WHERE IS THE DYNAMIC TALENT, IN THE FIRST PAGE TO THE LAST PAGE, FROM SOMEONE WHO HAS THE VISSION, AS IN DAYS PAST, FROM THE OTHER AUTHORS GOING BACK ,SAY TO THE BEGINNINGS OF MANY ,MANY YEARS AGO..
    HOW MANY TIMES HAVE CERTAIN MOVIES FROM THE PAST BEEN REMADE AND REMADE? ALL THIS GETS SO OLD. HAS IMAGINATION DIED??????
    IN TODAYS AUTOMATION OF STORY BOARDS, STRONG VISSUAL EFFECTS, AND THE UNBEIVEABLE POWER OF WHAT YET MAY COME FROM COMPUTERS, THIS WORLD OF MOTION PICTURE MAKING IS GOING TO MAKE THE UNKNOWN COME INTO A REALITY AS NEVER SCEEN BEFORE ITS ALREADY HERE!
    HOWEVER WE ALREADY KNOW THIS…RIGHT.
    IT STILL TAKES THE HUMAN IMAGINATION TO CREATE THE INVENTION. WHERE IS THE INVENTION??? SOMEWHERE OUT THERE CAUGHT IN THE INBETWEEN. IS IT THE OMINSENT EYEOF IMAGINATION OR IS IT SOMETHING MORE????
    GIVE ME ONE ORIGINAL THAUGHT THAT HAS NOT BEEN SPOKEN OFF OR EXPERIENCED BY ANY HUMAN BEING….JUST ONE!
    BETWEEN THE THAUGHT AND THE SPOKEN WE ARE IN THE FLUX OF THE INBETWEEN WHICH IS LIKE GRAVITY WE KNOW OF IT BUT WE CAN’T DEFINE IT DOWN TO THE BASIC ELEMENTAL WORDS OF FORM, FIT, FUNCTION, AND SIMPLICITY.
    W.HAT EQUATION WILL EXPLAIN HUMAN EMOTIONS

  23. Scarlett-Angelina Jolie
    Rhett-Johnny Depp
    Melanie-Kiera Knightly or Reese Witherspoon
    Ashley-Leonardo DiCaprio

  24. Well i can’t imagine any remake of Gone With The Wind surpassing the original — Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable are just too perfect for the roles of Scarlett and Rhett. However, i’ve seen a few episodes of The Tudors and there’s something about Natalie Dormer’s portrayal of Anne Boleyn that reminds me of Scarlett. She’s just about the next best thing to Vivien Leigh. Except the eyes, which could easily be fixed with some colored contacts {one of the few disappointments of the original was Vivien Leigh’s having blue eyes instead of Scarlett’s characteristic green ones}. Rhett Butler seems a hard character to pull off but i agree that George Clooney/ Leo Dicaprio could do it, but Clooney looks the part better. Could also see Jude Law as Ashley Wilkes but he wouldn’t be my first choice. As for Melanie i think Natalie Portman would do.

    All in all:
    Scarlett; Natalie Dormer
    Rhett; George Clooney
    Ashley Wilkes; Jude Law
    Melanie; Natalie Portman

  25. Rhett: Johnny Depp
    Scarlett: Kiera Knightly
    Ashley: Leo Dicaprio
    Melanie: Natalie Portman

  26. Johnny depp must once play rhett butler, he is the perfect version, atleast according to the book, and the only actor who looks good in a moustache…..

  27. They would have to find a new face for Scarlett, just like fresh faced Vivian at the time! The role would prob make or break a newbie, because they’re big shoes to fill. I just cant see any actress taking on this role, not to mention Scarlett is only 16 at the beginning of the movie! Very few well know actress is going to pass for a 16 year old!

  28. For Scarlett we would need someone who is feminine and beautiful and tiny wasted and all that but still has that healthy “plumpness” or round of face about them. Thats part of Scarletts charm, with her dimples and everything. And also i think this actress would need some natural sort of charisma if you will. Im thinking Natalie Dormer. Shes perfect.
    I dont think it matters much who plays Ashley – he should just have nice traditionally handsome features, blonde hair, and more of a tall and lanky frame. Also, its gotta be someone who can pull off acting like Ashley, who is for the most part vulnerable and at war with himself. He’s usually bitter and forever second guessing himself. But he’s also a “thinker”. He’s into things that go deeper than what meets the eye. I could see Ryan Gosling as Ashley, for he has that sort of quiet thoughtfulness about him.
    As for Rhett, It must be someone who has a strong presence. He would have to be mocking and careless, but at times caring and gentle. And as for appearance, he should be “tall, dark, and handsome”, with a look of mystery to him. I like the idea of Clooney, but i think Johnny Depp would be good. After all he is a phenominal actor. He could pull off the mocking cleverness, but maybe hes not tall enough. idk, i guess were lucky that this remake movie thing is just for fun.

  29. I just want to say.. George Clooney would be the absolute worst choice as Rhett. I think for a movie like this, you can’t just put in well known actors and actresses. You would really have to search for people who have the right attitudes, looks, etc. Gone with the Wind is my all time favorite movie and book. I think it would be a shame to use over-used actors.
    Regarding the racism, Gone with the Wind is a historical story, however wrong about the events it may be. It is about the past and is supposed to show how things were back then. There are plenty of movies made now days that use words such as “nigger”. It’s a part of American history and can’t be hushed away because some people would take offense to it.

  30. I agree with Angie. It’s a part of American history, like it or not. What a shame it would be if this fantastic movie couldn’t be made again because of people wanting to forget about the past. Then again, the actors were so spectacular in comparison with the rubbish in Hollywood now, would we always be comparing and completely disappointed by the choices the studio made? Unless they get a whole new slew of up and coming, unknown actors, such as Vivian Leigh was back then I can’t think of anyone who would be good enough to take the original places…..

  31. I don’t think it would be that diffiult remaking GWTW. I’m pretty sure if Peter Jackson directed this it would be amazing!
    Scarlett-???
    Rhett-??? definetly not george clooney
    Ashley- Heath Ledger would have been perfect
    Melanie- maybe Michelle Williams or Miranda Otto
    Ellen O’Hara- Liv Tyler
    Frank Kennedy- Viggo Mortensen
    Dr.Meade- Gary Oldman, Harvey Korman, or
    Bernard Hill
    Belle Watling- Amy Yasbeck
    Mrs.Elsing- Sally Field
    Ian Mckellen, Craig Parker, Hugo Weaving, & Cate Blanchett should be in this as well

  32. I love this movie and well I thought long and hard before deciding on who could fulfill the roles in this epic movie. Most of the actresses people have suggested to play Scarlett are just to old and i don’t know if they would be able to get the southern accent right. Now i will get to my list

    Rhett- Hugh Jackman
    Scarlett- Diane Kruger(Im aware of her german accent)
    Ashley Wilkes- Michael Fassbender
    Melanie- Naomi Watts
    Mammy- Octavia Spencer

  33. I recently saw the movie “Lincoln” and loved it for its historical authenic ity. Gone With the Wind can and should be remade. They can do things with a remake that they could not do in 1939. The 1939 version stands on its own: in glorious technicolor, 10 years after the first “Talkie” came out, but the extreme and complicated dynamics involved in the extended love affair between Rhett and Scarlett were hardly explored in the 1939 version. The psychological knowledge didn’t exist, and honestly, despite the hype, the acting skills of the leading actors, Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh was limited. A possible cast could be:

    Scarlett O’Hara- Kiera Knightly
    Rhett Butler- An Unknown (Hugh Jackman would have been excellent 10 yrs ago)
    Melanie Wilkes- Michelle Williams or Naomi Watts
    Ashley Wilkes- Ryan Gosling
    Mammy- Viola Davis or Octavia Spencer
    Belle Watling- Catherine Zeta-Jones

    Gone With the Wind has romance, sex and action: Handled by an expert and careful director, it would make a wonderful remake, and would make alot of money!

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