Casting Call: Gilligan’s Island

by Ryan Held

     We love good movies.  What we love almost as much as good movies is talking hypothetically about movie ideas; things like what plot should be, what characters should be involved, who should direct, and for the purposes of this recurring series: who should be cast in which roles.  Take a ride with us as we imagine who should be allowed to demonstrate their acting chops in both hypothetical and actual upcoming films.


     Though it seems to lie dormant for now, there had been some momentum in the last couple of years for a “Gilligan’s Island” film project, and although this most recent wave of classic television show to modern film reinvention likely passed away with show creator Sherwood Schwartz, that’s no excuse not to dream up some great casting opportunities for it. Let’s go through my possible lineup via the character “shout out” from the opening credits:

With Gilligan………….


Gilligan = Steve Carell

     Despite being a couple of years older than the ideal age, Carell has all of the tools and the look to play the show’s titular character. Since he has proven that he can still play the buffoonish, yet lovable single male lead in such recent films as Get Smart, I’m leaning toward him in this role, even if you changed his backstory a bit to purposefully make him a bit older. Plus, it’s not like Bob Denver was all that baby-faced in the show. Schwartz reportedly wanted Michael Cera, but Cera still looks like a teenager to me. I’d rather err on the other side with a proven commodity. I’ll take Carell, but may be open to other suggestions.

………a Skipper too….


The Skipper = Nick Offerman

     Finding a modern day Alan Hale would be very difficult, so I’m proposing giving this role a slightly different slant. If I have to pair the shenanigans of Gilligan with a skipper who seems to have a certain intolerance for such nonsense, why not give Offerman a chance to play such a character for a few minutes more than he would in his usual bit parts in movies like 21 Jump Street and Casa De Mi Padre? It would be like pairing Michael Scott with Ron Swanson, an NBC comedy lover’s dream.

……….a Millionaire………


Thurston Howell III = Carl Reiner

     Though he may not be the biggest name these days, Reiner does bear a strong resemblance to Jim Backus and has taken on similar characters within the context of the Ocean’s … series of films. If nothing else, he’s at least relevant enough to land a recurring role on the underrated “Hot in Cleveland”, which brings us to……….

……….and his wife……….


Mrs. Lovey Howell = Betty White

     Who better to play Mrs. Howell to Reiner’s Mr. Howell, than the actress who already vies for his affections in the aforementioned “Hot In Cleveland”? The fact that Betty White is the most lovable comedic actress over the age of 65 if not period makes this a little too easy of a casting choice. I just hope she finds time in the midst of being the busiest nonagenarian I’ve ever seen.

……….a movie star………


Ginger = Christina Hendricks

     Let’s be honest, Hendricks is probably the closest we have to an actress who so routinely makes looking like Tina Louise so effortless each and every time she steals a scene in “Mad Men”. Her character, Joan, would probably have outperformed Tina Louise as an actress anyway had she auditioned for the role in the original show. Why not give Hendricks a shot at a breakout comedy role? It sure beats the casting of Beyonce that was once desired by Schwartz.

……… the professor……


The Professor = Dermot Mulroney

     My initial thought was that Russell Johnson himself may have been a miscast for the original show in that he was far too handsome to be a professor, but with the idea that perhaps a storyline or two could develop from this, let’s follow suit and go with a modern version of Russell Johnson in Dermot Mulroney.

………..and Mary Ann……


Mary Ann = Zooey Deschanel or Elizabeth Moss

     This casting likely depends on the storyline. If Mary Ann has a number of scenes with Gilligan or the Professor, then you might go with Deschanel in hopes that she can play some of the more classic, mellow characters that she played in Elf or The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. If however, Mary Ann instead has a number of scenes with Ginger, pairing Elizabeth Moss might be more interesting. Moss already has some comedy experience with screen time in Get Him To the Greek. It could be time for another, more expanded role playing off of Carell or Mulroney, but better yet, it would reunite her with her character’s frenemy from “Mad Men”. Isn’t Joan vs. Peggy the more modernized version of the whole Ginger vs. Mary Ann argument anyway?

……….here on Gilligan’s Isle.

     Sorry, I had to finish the song. But what’s not necessarily finished is my casting. Pitch me your ideas and I’ll post the best ones.

    For more Stray Notions, visit our homepage or join us on Facebook.