Sunday 12 May 2013

The Tintin Sequels: Speculation - Characters and Actors

Since the secrecy surrounding the sequel to The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn seems to be absolute, and clues given by screenwriter Anthony Horowitz, director Peter Jackson and producer Steven Spielberg are, at best, misleading, why not have some fun and speculate a little?
What I plan to do here is compile a list of characters I'd like to see in the Tintin sequels.
This will not just be a list, as that would not be very interesting; I will also do a brief presentation of each character, consider the probability of their appearance in the sequels, and ponder which actor could portray them. Warning: as this is my dream-casting, expect to see big name actors, even for the smallest parts.
Let's go!

Professor Cuthbert Calculus (Professeur Tryphon Tournesol)
Description: A major character in the Tintin universe, Cuthbert Calculus is a brilliant, yet absent-minded and hard-of-hearing, scientist. He is responsible for a lot of inventions in the series, including the famous Moon rocket, a very dangerous ultrasound weapon and an iconic shark submarine. He first appeared in the book Red Rackham's Treasure, and can be spotted in pretty much every following Tintin adventure.
Actor: It has been rumoured that Sylvester McCoy could land the part. Very probable, since he already collaborated with Peter Jackson on The Hobbit. And this would be a good choice, as his acting style is pretty close to the idea I have of Calculus.
Probability: This is the one thing about the sequels that looks certain. 

Roberto Rastapopoulos
Description: The best known Tintin villain. Roberto Rastapopoulos is a very wealthy business-man, but, more importantly, an international criminal, and Tintin's arch nemesis. He embodies everything that Tintin hates, and is never short of an evil trick. He appears in 4 finished Tintin books: The Cigars of the Pharaoh, The Blue Lotus, The Red Sea Sharks, and Flight 714.
Actor: This may seem like an odd choice, but I would like to see Tom Hanks play that character. He is a great character actor and hasn't done a lot of bad guys in his career. Also, he was heavily rumoured as Captain Haddock before Andy Serkis was announced, and although I'm thrilled Serkis got the part, I'm somewhat sad Tom Hanks didn't appear in Tintin - yet.
Probability: It would be weird and a big disappointment if this famous villain didn't appear in at least one film of the Tintin trilogy. But nothing is set in stone.

Doctor J. W. Müller
Description: Another criminal mastermind, Müller passes as a psychiatrist. He is probably German, as his name suggests, but doesn't seem to live in Germany. He can be spotted in Scotland (The Black Island) and in the fictional state of Khemed (Land of the Black Gold and The Red Sea Sharks).
Actor: Let's be crazy and propose Daniel Day-Lewis. Why not? Granted, as Day-Lewis can portray pretty much every character in the world, I could have put him anywhere. But Müller seemed to fit him the best.
Probability: Since Rastapopoulos is a bigger villain and hasn't appeared yet, Müller's chances aren't too strong. But we know Peter Jackson loves The Black Island, and he is a big character in that book; he could also work with Rastapopoulos.

Colonel Sponsz
Description: Yet another villain. Sponsz is the head of the Bordurian Police in The Calculus Affair. When Tintin topples his terrible plans, he wants vengeance (as seen in Tintin and the Picaros).
Actor: Who better than Gary Oldman for the colonel? I really can't see anyone else in the role.
Probability: If The Calculus Affair is adapted in the Tintin trilogy, it would feel logical to have him in the movie.

Piotr Skut (Piotr Szut)
Description: Skut starts as a mercenary plane pilot in the Tintin books. In The Red Sea Sharks, he tries to kill Tintin and Haddock with his Mosquito. But Skut ultimately becomes a loyal friend to Tintin and the Captain. He can also be seen in Flight 714.
Actor: He would have to sport an Estonian accent, but I believe Matt Smith could pull it off. After all, he is the best Doctor.
Probability: The Red Sea Sharks is not very likely to be adapted - and let's not even talk about Flight 714. Still, Skut is a popular enough character and could pop up in another story.

Senhor Oliveira de Figueira (Oliveira da Figueira)
Description: A Portuguese salesman living in Wadesdah, Khemed, Oliveira de Figueira can sell everything. He even manages to sell a pair of skis to Tintin on a boat, near the Arabian coast. He appears in Cigars of the Pharaoh, Land of the Black Gold and The Red Sea Sharks.
Actor: The character was supposed to appear in The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn. It has been reported that Danny DeVito even shot some performance capture scenes, but that those were cut in the final film. I'm not sure how accurate this is, though.
Probability: It seems unlikely that, after cutting a character from the first movie, the filmmakers would try to bring him back. But, never say never.

Chang Chong-Chen (Tchang Chong Jen)
Description: A young Chinese boy that Tintin meets in The Blue Lotus. Later, when Chang's plane crashes in the Himalayas, Tintin refuses to believe he's dead and goes on a quest to rescue him (Tintin in Tibet).
Actor: As I can't imagine being older than 15, it would have to be a child actor. And I'm afraid I don't know enough child actors to put a name here.
Probability: Chang is pretty much a given if Spielberg and Jackson decide to do The Blue Lotus or Tintin in Tibet. But that would be surprising. Sure, Steven Spielberg was quoted recently saying that the third film would probably be The Blue Lotus, but I think he only said that because he was asked specifically about that story and didn't want to simply say 'no'. I may be wrong.

Description: Another villain. Mitsuhirato is the Japanese double agent. He appears only in The Blue Lotus, where his boss is none other than Rastapopoulos.
Actor: Inception's Ken Watanabe is my choice.
Probability: Less likely than Chang, but he is still an interesting villain.

Wang Chen-Yee (Wang Jen Ghié)
Description: A wise Chinese man, who helps Tintin in The Blue Lotus.
Actor: Why not Sir Ben Kingsley?
Probability: He is even less likely to appear than Mitsuhirato; because he is not as memorable or popular.

Description: Didi is Wang Chen-Yee's son. He is a good guy, but was poisoned by Rajaijah juice. As a result, he went insane. Only seen in The Blue Lotus.
Actor: I have Lost's Ken Leung for him.
Probability: Just like his father, Didi will probably not feature in the Tintin trilogy. Yet, he's strangely popular for such a minor character. Probably because of that monologue where he explains to Tintin why he has to cut off his head. 

Description: A Sherpa guide who helps Tintin and Haddock in Tintin in Tibet. Tharkey is very brave, not that talkative, but ultimately a very nice guy.
Actor: Remember Short Round from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom? Jonathan Ke Quan is in his forties now, and I'm not sure he still acts, but wouldn't that be funny if Spielberg choses to work with him again?
Probability: Not strong. Even if Tintin in Tibet is chosen in some way by Spielberg and Jackson, Tharkey's presence would not be assured.

The Yeti
Description: A legendary animal who lives in the Himalayas. He is not as bad as you might think. Appears only in Tintin in Tibet.
Actor: I see no one other than performance capture-legend Andy Serkis. Yes, he already is Captain Haddock... What's your point?
Probability: Once more, there's an if. If Tintin in Tibet is adapted to the big screen, then sure. This would make me very happy, as the Tibet adventure is my favourite Tintin book, but we're far from being sure it will happen.

Abdullah (Abdallah)
Description: The spoiled child of the Emir of Khemed. Abdullah is a practical joker, and can drive everyone crazy, especially Captain Haddock. Abdullah appears in Land of the Black Gold and The Red Sea Sharks.
Actor: Again, this character requires a child actor. So, I'm not sure who.
Probability: A pretty funny and popular character. The problem with Abdullah - beyond the fact that he doesn't feature in the books that are likely to be adapted - is that he has to be played by a child who can act on a performance capture set.

Mohammed Ben Kalish Ezab
Description: The father of Abdullah and Emir of the fictional state of Khemed. A father who thinks his son's twisted jokes are just good fun. He's seen in Land of the Black Gold and The Red Sea Sharks.
Actor: Why not recast Gad Elmaleh here? He was good as Omar Ben Salaad in the first film (well, he only had two lines, didn't he?). I think it would do the part justice.
Probability: Like his son's: not very good.

Description: An Indian Peruvian boy who helps Tintin and Haddock in Prisoners of the Sun.
Actor: One more time, a child actor is needed. Good luck, casting people!
Probability: Yes, just like with Abdullah, I believe it won't be easy to find the right young man. But since there's a high probability Prisoners of the Sun is going to be the third film, and since Zorrino is a key element in this story, our chances to see him portrayed on the big screen are solid.

The Inca Prince
Description: The ruler of a hidden Inca temple within the Andes mountains. Not exactly a villain, but still a real threat to the lives of Tintin and his friends; only seen in Prisoners of the Sun.
Actor: Maybe Alfred Molina, who worked with Steven Spielberg on Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Probability: Even if there's a Prisoners of the Sun film, the filmmakers could cast a more iconic and evil antagonist. Still, I believe we will see the Inca Prince in one form or another in that film.

Professor Hercules Tarragon (Professeur Hippolyte Bergamotte)
Description: An old friend of Calculus. He was a member of the Sanders-Hardiman expedition and helped to discover the Rascar Capac mummy. He appears in The Seven Crystal Balls and very briefly in Prisoners of the Sun.
Actor: I have Jim Broadbent for him. 
Probability: Pretty good, but he could still easily be erased from the story.

Rascar Capac
Description: An Inca Emperor now mummified. He's more a nightmare than a villain in The Seven Crystal Balls, but if the filmmakers are true to the book, they would still need an actor to capture the way he moves.
Actor: Who better than the Emperor of performance capture, Andy Serkis?
Probability: Not sure Rascar Capac will actually be moving, but the mummy's presence in a Tintin film is a safe bet.

General Alcazar
Description: One pretty complex character in the Tintin universe. Alcazar is an army General who, when he's not the leader of the fictional San Theodoros, is merely trying to be. He and his arch-rival General Tapioca have a constant fight over who will be in charge of the country. Alcazar seems slightly better than Tapioca, but he still is a dictator. Not really a friend of Tintin, more of an ally. He can be spotted in The Broken Ear, The Seven Crystal Balls, The Red Sea Sharks and Tintin and the Picaros.
Actor: Javier Bardem would fit the character nicely.
Probability: General Alcazar appears in a pretty large number of books and is relatively famous. He has a pretty good chance.

General Tapioca
Description: Arch-rival of General Alcazar since The Broken Ear, contrary to his adversary he only appears physically in one book: the last finished Tintin album, Tintin and the Picaros.
Actor: Benicio Del Toro.
Probability: Clearly not as good as Alcazar.

Description: British explorer who everyone believes dead, Ridgewell actually decided to stay with the Arumbayas, an indigenous tribe living in the jungles of South America. Spotted in The Broken Ear and Tintin and the Picaros.
Actor: Let's have an actor who worked with Peter Jackson, for a change: Sir Ian McKellen.
Probability: Not very high.

Muskar XII
Description: King of the fictional country of Syldavia. He does a fine job ruling his Kingdom in the one book he appears in (King Ottokar's Sceptre).
Actor: Let's have an actor that won an Oscar for playing a King. That's right, Colin Firth.
Probability: Sadly not very strong.

Colonel Boris Jorgen
Description: Jorgen is a Bordurian double-agent, who tries to help his country annex Syldavia in King Ottokar's Sceptre. He is later seen on the Moon rocket, in Explorers on the Moon.
Actor: I'm going with Benedict Cumberbatch on this one. There's no rule against playing a villain in space twice, right? 
Probability: Not extremely high. He could be a secondary villain.

Frank Wolff
Description: An engineer who helps Calculus building the rocket in Destination Moon, and travels with the heroes in Explorers on the Moon. Very quiet, Wolff is actually a troubled fellow, with a dark side to him.
Actor: Since this is kind of a double act with Jorgen, I'm going to pair Cumberbatch with Martin Freeman. Bold move, I know, but I believe they can work together.
Probability: Not as high as Jorgen, because the Colonel could appear in a different story than the Moon one. Wolff, on the other hand, is a one-shot deal.

Mr. Baxter
Description: This clever and serious engineer is the Director General of the Sprodj Atomic Research Centre. He appears in the two Moon books.
Actor: I'm going to go with the second best Doctor in Doctor Who history, David Tennant.
Probability: Just like Wolff.

Professor Hector and Alfred Alembick (Professeur Nestor et Alfred Halambique)
Description: Hector (here on the left) is a scientist whose specialty is sigillography. He smokes, is short-sighted and absent-minded. Alfred is none of that, but steals his brother's identity as part of a conspiracy in King Ottokar's Sceptre.
Actor: The beauty of these two characters is that they're never seen together in the book, except for the above picture. So one actor could play both. I'd choose John Hurt for the part.
Probability: Even if the story they appear in is chosen for a film, I'm not sure they would feature in it. Hector's role could be taken by Calculus, and another villain could fill in Alfred's shoes. 

Professor Decimus Phostle (Professeur Hippolyte Calys)
Description: An astronomer who goes on an expedition with Tintin and Haddock in order to study an asteroid fragment in The Shooting Star.
Actor: Rowan Atkinson.
Probability: This strange scientific character could also be replaced by Cuthbert Calculus. And I don't believe The Shooting Star will become a movie.

Captain Chester
Description: An old friend of Captain Haddock. We see him briefly in The Shooting Star.
Actor: I'm choosing Hugo Weaving here.
Probability: Unfortunately, very poor.

Puschov (Wronzoff)
Description: A bad guy who works with Doctor Müller in The Black Island. Puschov appears to be the master of Ranko.
Actor: Why not Ralph Fiennes ?
Probability: No reason Doctor Müller couldn't have him by his side, even in another story. But Puschov still is not as famous as his boss.

Description: This gorilla is kept in Craig Dhui Castle by the villains of The Black Island, in order to scare people away.
Actor: A gorilla that was inspired by King Kong? It's got to be Andy Serkis. That guy needs some work, anyway.
Probability: Not terrible. But it has to be The Black Island. I don't see Ranko being introduced in another story.

Jolyon Wagg (Séraphin Lampion)
Description: An insurance salesman. Full of himself, Wagg manages to enrage Captain Haddock every time he meets him, yet he thinks they are good friends. He struts round Marlinspike Hall like it's his home. He's seen in The Calculus Affair, The Red Sea Sharks, The Castafiore Emerald, Flight 714 and Tintin and the Picaros.
Actor: I always pictured Ricky Gervais for this part. Maybe because Jolyon Wagg is not that far away from his David Brent character in The Office.
Probability: I want to believe. Wagg is an extremely funny character, and pretty popular. He appears in enough books to be considered a part of the Tintin family.

Description: Bianca Castafiore's maid. She accompanies the opera singer everywhere, but was sadly not to be seen in The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn. Spotted in The Calculus Affair, The Castafiore Emerald and Tintin and the Picaros.
Actor: My top choice here is Helena Bonham Carter.
Probability: Bianca Castafiore would have to be back for Irma to show up. Given the fact that she had a big scene in the first movie, I wouldn't bet on her return. And even then, Irma is not certain to appear.

Igor Wagner
Description: Bianca Castafiore's pianist. He can be seen in King Ottokar's Sceptre, The Calculus Affair, The Castafiore Emerald and Tintin and the Picaros.
Actor: Someone who can act and play piano at the same time. Skills demonstrated by Hugh Laurie on House M.D.
Probability: Pretty much the same as Irma.

Mr. Bolt (Isidore Boullu)
Description: A handyman from the Marlinspike village. He only appears in The Castafiore Emerald, where he is asked to repair a broken step in Marlinspike Hall.
Actor: I've chosen Michael Caine.
Probability: Very low. He only has a running gag going for him, but it has to be in Marlinspike Hall, and I imagine the filmmakers want to send Tintin on an adventure in their films.

Cutts the Butcher (Sanzot)
Description: The butcher in the Marlinspike village. His phone number is very close to Marlinspike Hall's phone number. He can be seen in only a few panels from The Calculus Affair and The Castafiore Emerald.
Actor: Michael Gambon.
Probability: There was already a reference to the butcher in the first film. What I'm considering here is the credibility of the character's physical appearance. It could only be a cameo, but the chances are still very low.

Max and Gustav Bird (Maxime et G. Loiseau)
Description: The original villains from The Secret of the Unicorn (book). They were replaced by Sakharine, and it worked for the movie. But I still miss the way Barnaby reveals who the bad guys are. Gustav is dressed in blue, his brother Max is in black and the leader of the Bird brothers.
Actors: For Max, I'm thinking Timothy Spall. For Gustav, Alan Rickman. It would be a twist on their Sweeney Todd characters, where Rickman was the leader of the two.
Probability: Basically, no chance at all. I'm not giving it a 0% because I'm being nice here.

Bunji Kuraki
Description: A Japanese police agent. He appears in The Crab with the Golden Claws, and yet was not in the first Tintin film, which adapted this story.
Actor: Masi Oka.
Probability: I would love to see him, but he had his chance in The Secret of the Unicorn film and he blew it. Sorry Bunji.

Arturo Benedetto Giovanni Giuseppe Pietro Archangelo Alfredo Cartoffoli dé Milano
Description: Arturo Cartoffoli, for short, is an Italian with crazy driving skills, who helps Tintin and Haddock chase Syldavian agents in The Calculus Affair.
Actor: Roberto Benigni.
Probability: A pretty long shot; we have to remember he only is in one scene in the Tintin series.

As you've seen, most of the actors I've chosen are British. I did that on purpose, to reflect the choices that were made by the filmmakers for the first Tintin movie: pretty much the whole cast was British in The Secret of the Unicorn. I also didn't pay too much attention to the way the characters look when choosing the actors, as it's safe to assume the sequels will be shot using performance capture.
I put the characters I'd like to see, but this doesn't mean everyone should agree with me. Who would like to see that isn't on this list? And who you think shouldn't be on that list but is, and why?
Comments are most welcome, so shoot!


  1. Thierry Rabaud13 May 2013 at 19:21


    Thanks for the great article. Really appreciated, obviously your prediction will be more accurate when we know what book Peter Jackson is adapting.

    Can't wait to know so we could start all kind of crazy speculations.


  2. Thanks Thierry,

    And yes, we need to know more about the sequels. There are too many possibilities right now and it's gonna make my brain explode !

  3. The stress is clearly sending you crazy. I mean, you think Matt Smith is the best Doctor!

  4. I didn't wait to be crazy to say Matt Smith is the best Doctor.

  5. Thank you, and agreed !

  6. I always thought Brian Blessed would be better for Taragon myself.