Given recent comments from Sir Ian McKellen about his involvement (or lack thereof) in the upcoming "X-Men Origins: Magneto" film from Fox, it's time to face the inevitable—Magneto is going to be recast. This was already a virtual certainty due to the story's purported focus on the Master of Magnetism's more youthful days, but McKellen's words confirm the need for a new, younger actor.
Recasting Magneto is difficult for a number of reasons. For one, McKellen already played him so expertly that an actor of his quality is absolutely essential—and not only that, but it'd be a good idea to find someone who looks like they could age into McKellen's likeness, which is very tricky. For that reason, I think it's more important to focus on finding an excellent, fitting actor for the role, rather than selecting an actor based on his likeness to McKellen.
When and if "X-Men Origins: Magneto" gets underway, I think any one of these five actors has what it takes to bring the magnetically-inclined mutant back to the big screen.
ADRIEN BRODY: The Oscar-winning star of "The Piano" might not be a traditional choice to play Magneto, but Adrien Brody has more than a few things going for him. His exaggerated features are similar to McKellen's own, allowing the audience to believe that he could grow into becoming the original "X-Men" trilogy's villain.
But let's not harp too much on looks—Brody is a very talented actor that can ride the line between gentle humanitarian (or mutanitarian, I suppose) and menacing terrorist threat. I think the outcome of his upcoming performance in "Predators" will better dictate whether or not Brody can play the lead in an action-centric film, but my hunch is that he could be an excellent choice for Magneto.
JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT: Putting aside any personal feelings one might have about "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra," you have to admit—Joseph Gordon-Levitt has come a long, long way since "10 Things I Hate About You" and "3rd Rock From The Sun."
Gordon-Levitt has exuded some serious intensity in films such as "Stop-Loss" and "Brick," a quality that's required of the eventually vicious Magneto. If Fox is aiming for a much younger Magneto, Gordon-Levitt would be an excellent pick—as long as his Cobra Commander voice stays at home, that is.
JUDE LAW: As the Watson to Robert Downey Jr.'s Sherlock Holmes, actor Jude Law is already a couple of steps removed from the comic book world. Law is a self-described comic book fan that's had a few near-misses with the medium's translation to film, most notably in his desire to play Ozymandias in "Watchmen."
If he's still up for a round in the superhero genre, Law might be a great fit for Magneto. If you're skeptical of his ability to do the part justice, I'd suggest you check out "Gattaca," the science fiction film in which Law plays an on-edge paraplegic. His performance there shows all of the intensity and humanity an actor needs to really bring Magneto's plight to a sympathetic light—watch that movie, then let me know what you think.
EWAN MCGREGOR: The Obi-Wan Kenobi of the "Star Wars" prequel trilogy is already being pushed by several fan sites for the role of Magneto. While a lot of that dream casting never pans out—including our own!—that doesn't mean the idea of Ewan McGregor as the Master of Magnetism is off the mark.
First of all, you can't debate McGregor's acting abilities, particularly after "Trainspotting" and "Big Fish." Still, the actor tends to err on the side of good guy roles—which is exactly why I think going for a morally grey character like Magneto would not only be good for McGregor as an actor, but interesting for us as an audience.
JONATHAN RHYS MEYERS: There are few young actors in the movie business that play cold and cunning better than Jonathan Rhys Meyers. If you don't believe me, check out his spine-tingling turn in Woody Allen's "Match Point" as a man that goes from trouble-free social climber to full-on sociopath. That's not quite the same journey as Magneto's—well, it might be, depending on how you view the character—but it's still a massive transformation that Meyers has proven himself capable of.
The better example is "The Tudors," the Showtime series in which Meyers plays King Henry VIII. He's often quite genial behind closed doors, but he's equally ready to throw down the gauntlet to protect and further his own agenda. As the eventual founder of the Brotherhood of Mutants, Magneto can relate to that side of Henry. Going from the ruthless historical king to hopeful leader of mutantkind wouldn't be much of a stretch for Meyers.
What do you think, readers? Agree with our picks? Think they're terrible? We love you anyway! Sound off with your opinions on who should play Magneto in the comments section or on Twitter, and make sure to let us know who you'd like us to cast in future installments of SECRET IDENTITY!