This month, Russell Brand plays a lovable drunk in Arthur, a remake of the classic 1981 comedy starring Dudley Moore. As the update hits theaters, legendary film producer Robert Greenhut reflects on the challenges of casting the original.
“Before Dudley Moore became a huge movie star, the studio cut a three-picture deal with him, so that’s who they wanted us to use. Trouble was, Dudley was British, and we didn’t want a British guy. … Arthur was written as an American character, and we really wanted Robin Williams for the role. But Dudley loved the script and wanted to convince us that he was Arthur. He started leaving us phone messages that displayed his ability to speak in an American accent, then in an American accent and drunk, and these messages just kept coming and coming. They were amazing, charming and hilarious. We fell in love with the guy, which is exactly what needs to happen when you’re playing Arthur. Dudley’s American accent wasn’t very good, but he was the perfect Arthur. We just made the character British!”