The case for Stephen Fry to play Professor Pennyroyal in a Mortal Engines film sequel.

08 November 2023
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The speculative casting of Stephen Fry in a potential sequel to the film "Mortal Engines," specifically as the character Professor Pennyroyal, is a thought exercise that invites a multifaceted consideration. To embark upon this discussion, it is essential to reflect on the intrinsic qualities Stephen Fry could bring to the role, alongside the already established relationship with the "Mortal Engines" producer, Peter Jackson.

Stephen Fry is an actor of considerable intellect and charisma, characteristics that align well with the role of Professor Pennyroyal, a character from the "Mortal Engines" quartet by Philip Reeve. Pennyroyal is depicted as a somewhat pompous but deeply colorful historian-turned-politician, traits that Fry has demonstrated an adeptness at portraying through various performances in his career. His ability to embody characters that require a certain grandiosity of presence, yet still maintain an underlying relatability, could offer a rich and textured portrayal of Pennyroyal. This alignment of actor and character suggests that Fry's potential contribution to "Predator's Gold" could be both substantial and nuanced.

stephen fry mortal engines pennyroyal concept art
Concept art of Pennyroyal

Furthermore, the potential synergy between Fry and Jackson can be traced back to their collaboration on the script for "The Dambusters," a project that, despite not coming to fruition, underscores a creative rapport that could be rekindled in "Predator's Gold." This prior connection could facilitate an understanding and a working dynamic that often leads to a more cohesive and vibrant production, as the mutual familiarity and respect between actor and director tend to enrich the creative process.

Beyond this, Fry’s versatility in both dramatic and comedic roles positions him as an actor who could add layers of complexity to Pennyroyal, delivering a performance that resonates with the audience beyond a two-dimensional portrayal. The ability to interweave humor with the more serious aspects of a narrative is a skill that Fry has honed over the years. It is this very ability that could be crucial in portraying Pennyroyal, who is something of a comic relief in the books, yet also a character with his own arcs and depths. The humor in Pennyroyal’s character is not merely for levity but often serves as a facade for his more cunning and self-serving traits, a balance that Fry is more than capable of delivering.

The casting of Fry would also be a strategic move from a filmmaking perspective, especially considering the fan base he commands. His presence in the sequel could act as a magnet for viewers who might be drawn to the film out of an affinity for Fry's previous work or his persona. Additionally, Fry's command of language, honed through years of work in various linguistic-heavy roles, from Wilde to Jeeves in "Jeeves and Wooster," would add an authenticity to the dialogue-heavy role of Pennyroyal, ensuring that the character's oratory is both engaging and convincing.

concept art of professor penyroyal mortal engines

On a thematic level, Fry's extensive background in literature and history — he is well known for his love of storytelling and historical depth — would serve him well in the role of a character whose profession hinges on the understanding and manipulation of historical narrative. This meta-textual element could bring an additional layer of intrigue to the film, as Fry’s own persona could imbue Pennyroyal with an authenticity and credibility that might otherwise be challenging to achieve.

From a cinematic standpoint, Fry’s involvement would provide an intertextual appeal, linking "Predator's Gold" with the rich tapestry of film and literary culture Fry is associated with. His association with British comedy and drama, combined with his intellectual prowess, presents a cultural cachet that would enrich the film's position within the science fiction genre.

Lastly, in the context of longevity and evergreen content, an actor of Stephen Fry's caliber ensures that the film stands the test of time, anchoring it not only with a performance of depth but also with the gravitas of his name. A well-respected actor with a distinguished career contributes to the film's potential legacy, making it more likely to be revisited and appreciated in the future, adding to the film's value as a cultural artifact.

In conclusion, the casting of Stephen Fry as Professor Pennyroyal in a sequel to "Mortal Engines" offers an array of potential benefits and intriguing possibilities, both on the level of narrative and in terms of the broader cinematic landscape. His historical collaboration with Peter Jackson in The Hobbit adds an additional layer of potential for a film seeking to solidify its place within the expansive field of science fiction.


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About the author Jimmy Jangles

My name is Jimmy Jangles, the founder of The Astromech. I have always been fascinated by the world of science fiction, especially the Star Wars universe, and I created this website to share my love for it with fellow fans.

At The Astromech, you can expect to find a variety of articles, reviews, and analysis related to science fiction, including books, movies, TV, and games.
From exploring the latest news and theories to discussing the classics, I aim to provide entertaining and informative content for all fans of the genre.

Whether you are a die-hard Star Trek fan or simply curious about the world of science fiction, The Astromech has something for everyone. So, sit back, relax, and join me on this journey through the stars!
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