‘The Night Circus’ by Erin Morgenstern Dream Cast

“You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows that they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift.”
― Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus



DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of the images used in this post. 

The Night Circus is such a lush and vivid novel that I couldn’t help but imagine how it would be if they ever made a screen-adaptation of it.

Personally, I think it would fair far better as a T.V series than a movie simply because it is driven by detail. There are so many little things to keep track of that 2 or 3 hours worth of screen time simply wouldn’t capture the rich atmosphere that Morgenstern worked tirelessly to create.

However, if there was a book to screen adaptation, I think these actors would be well suited for to play the characters.

Thoughts and suggestions are welcome as always.

Main Characters

Benedict Cumberbatch to play Hector Bowen a.k.a Prospero the Enchanter for the duration of the show. 

Hector Bowen is a talented and ambitious magician who disguises real magic for stagecraft to appropriately ‘enchant’ his audience.

His role in the novel is comprised of being Celia’s father and mentor as he pits his daughter against his rival, Alexander and his own apprentice Marco Alisdair.

Hector Bowen is often depicted to be stern and competitive to a fault. While Celia is in his care, more often than he is cold and cruel, seeming to care little for his child’s distress in comparison to the bet he has made with Alexander.

Not only is Cumberbatch fitting for the role of Prospero due to his physical appearance, but based on his role in the T.V adaptation of Sherlock Holmes, he also possesses the experience to play a character like Hector Bowen.


Johnny Depp to play Chandresh Christopher Lefèvre for the duration of the show.

Chandresh Christopher Lefèvre is the enigmatic and eccentric owner and manager of the Night Circus.

Chandresh has a very grand and artistic personality with a preference for peculiarities of all sorts. Throughout the novel, he is shown to be theatrical, creative and capricious with a flair for the dramatic.

Johnny Depp is well-acquainted with such roles as observed through his most fantastical projects such as ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’, ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ and ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’.

As such, he would be a perfect fit for our charming proprietor.


Ian McKellen to play Alexander/Mr. A.H. for the duration of the show.

Mr. A.H. is Hector Bowen’s longstanding rival and reluctant acquaintance, possessed of the same magical talents as Prospero the Enchanter, however he takes on a more studious approach compared to the practical one favoured by Bowen and is shown to be a very withdrawn character.

He can most easily be described as a serious, enigmatic and melancholy man whose defining characteristic is his grey and silver color scheme.

Ian McKellen is one of the senior most actors in Hollywood, recognized for his great performances and versatile filmography.

He has had roles in everything from British sitcoms like ‘Viscous’ to blockbuster movies like the ‘X-Men Trilogy’ or even in critical favourites like the original ‘Lord of the Rings’ film trilogy.

His versatility and adaptability, along with his somber appearance and experience with fantastical projects would make McKellen near perfect to play Alexander’s character.


Christopher Convery to play a younger Marco Alisdair during the introductory episodes. 

Marco was found by Mr. A.H. in an orphanage when he was eight years old.

Alexander had met with many children to find his player and upon one such visit, Marco had caught his eye with his peculiar nature, prompting Alexander to take him on as his apprentice and young ward.

Convery is a relatively new actor known mostly through his roles in independent projects.

However, he would only be needed for early episodes and is a good fit for the role mainly due to his appearance as it fits Marco’s to a T, except for his eyes which should be a greenish grey although that can always be corrected with a bit of cosmetic intervention.


Timothée Chalamet to play an older Marco Alisdair after the introductory episodes. 

The book takes place over the course of about 30 years, with the ‘Competition’ formally commencing once both Marco and Celia have joined the Night Circus in their early twenties.

Marco is described to a tall and handsome man with thick dark hair, pale skin and grey-green eyes with a serious and often cryptic character.

Timothée Chalamet is a an actor known for his roles in dramatic productions. He fits Marco’s character perfectly with the signature dark hair and green eyes.

But in addition to physical characteristics, Chalamet posses a mysterious and romantic allure that is quite fitting with the themes present in the Night Circus.

Since the book takes place over the course of 3 decades, Chalamet will play Marco Alisdair from the time we see him as a teenager and an adult.

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Spencer Moss to play a younger Celia Bowen for the introductory episodes. 

Celia Bowen is the illegitimate daughter of Prospero the Enchanter and came into her father’s care when she was six years old after her mother passed away.

She was described as a quiet and charming child who could be quite stubborn at times and generally one to keep to herself.

After a long winded search, I finally found Spencer Moss and out of all the younger actors I had looked through, she seemed to be the best fit to play a younger version of Celia.

Even still, there would need to be a few cosmetic changes made, especially with her eye color and skin tone.

She would need to wear contacts that made it so her eyes were a brownish grey instead of blue and some makeup would be needed to lighten the pallor of her skin but aside from that its a good fit.


Lily Collins to play an older Celia Bowen for the remainder of the show. 

Celia Bowen is the illegitimate daughter of Hector Bowen, the enigmatic magician. She comes into his care after her mother passes away when she is six years old and Hector, charmed by his daughter’s natural talent for magic takes her in and trains her to act as his player in his game against Alexander.

She spends years training under her brutish father until she joins the circus as the Illusionist when she is eighteen years old. She is seen as an intelligent and creative individual and described as being particularly beautiful with dark hair and charcoal colored eyes.

Lily Collins is a talented and recognized actress, known for her roles in fantasy and drama productions. Her appearance is charming and matches with Celia’s character wonderfully.

Coupled with her experience in such productions, she would work well as one of the leading characters.


Christian Bale to play Mr. Ethan W. Barris for the duration of the show. 

Ethan Barris is one of the many talented individuals whom Chandresh personally sought out to help with the invention of the circus back when it was simply little more than a dream.

Mr. Barris was the chief architect and engineer of the project, with a passion for complexity and creativity.

Due to the nature of his work, both Marco and Celia have approached Mr. Barris on many an occasion to pitch their own ideas and innovations for the circus.

Both of them have collaborated on several ventures with the engineer and with the help of their unique talents, the three of them were able to create things of absolute wonder and astonishment; making Mr. Barris out to be one of the few people in the circus to know of Marco and Celia’s propensity for magic and the game he is unwittingly a part of.

Ethan Barris is a clever and astute man who is often depicted as being rather reserved and stoic but never unkind. With Bale’s knack for adaptability and versatility, I think he would be fit to play the role of our dear Mr. Barris wonderfully. All he’d need is a pair of fashionable spectacles!


Michelle Pfeiffer to play Mme. Ana Padva for the duration of the show. 

Ana Padva is a retired prima ballerina originally from Romania. During the early days of the circus, she was approached by Chandresh to act as the menagerie’s chief costume designer.

Mm. Padva is perhaps the eldest member of Chandresh’s inner circle, not counting Mr. A.H. for he is hinted at somewhere close to a thousand years old.

Even still, the former ballerina is no less charming than the rest of the cast, having a knack for fashion and glamour, as well as possessing an air of easy authority whilst maintaining her discipline from her days as a dancer.

In short, Ana Padva is an alluring and charismatic individual, who is forever young at heart.

I think having Michelle Pfeiffer would adapt well to play the part of our illustrious designer.

Pfeiffer’s experience has experience in this vein of cinematography coupled with her natural charm and charisma that embodies a strong, older woman with an air of confidence who values aesthetic appeal will surely blend well with Padva’s character.

As always, a few cosmetic changes will be needed, particularly that her hair will need to be dyed silver or gray.


The Burgess Sisters:

The Burgess sisters are the embodiment of the saying, “Jack of All Trades”. They know a bit of everything, from dancing to stage production to acting and at one point even worked as librarians.

That being said, they are sought out by Chandresh to help him establish the circus, using their unique talents to dream up new curiosities.

The sisters are described as being rather beautiful and charming, bearing a remarkable likeness to each other despite not being twins.

As such, the actresses were chosen mostly for their striking resemblance.

The only thing I would suggest is dying their hair a darker color, similar to a deep brownish-red.

Bryce Dallas Howard to play Tara Burgess for the duration of the show. 


Jessica Chastain to play Laine Burgess

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Gemma Chan to play Tsukiko for the duration of the show. 

Tsukiko is an enigmatic character who is introduced as the circus’s contortionist. She is notably of Asian descent, strong and lithe and as limber and flexible as a snake, with her body covered in tattoos.

Tsukiko can easily be described as someone who is very enigmatic and calming. Her demeanor is often one of practiced indifference but she is by no means unobservant or naive.

She has a keen understanding of her role in the circus and bears witness to the game as a silent but knowing spectator. She is strong-willed and exudes an almost authoritative and intimidating presence but is not unkind or unjust.

She is by all definitions, a survivor.

I think Chan would be able to embody this role perfectly based on her performance as Astrid in ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ where she played a similar part. She possesses all the beauty, poise, and grace that Tsukiko demands.


Sarah Bolger to play Isobel Martin for the duration of the show. 

Isobel Martin is a woman on the run, from what exactly, we don’t know.
She meets Marco in London long before the start of the competition, and the two of them become amicable companions for a time.

It is revealed that Isobel has a fondness for Tarot and at the start of the game she offers to aid Marco in winning the competition, and in doing so becomes the circus’s fortune-teller.

Over time, she comes to love Marco dearly, though he is oblivious to her affections and when he begins to show greater interest in Celia, Isobel is left to suffer for her unrequited love.

She is close in age to both Marco and Celia and is described to have light eyes and hair a color that is somewhere between brown and blonde.

I personally think that Sarah Bolger fits this description beautifully, whilst also possessing that air of general whimsy that fits Isobel’s character rather nicely.


The Murray Twins:

The Murray Twins are as enigmatic and charming as the world they were raised in, born of the opening night of Les Cirques des Reves.

By some twist of their birth, the two possess unique talents like no other. Widget has the ability to read a person’s past and has a knack for storytelling.

Meanwhile, Poppet can see into the future through brief visions triggered by certain stimuli or events and it is this singular talent that is able to ensure the circus’s continued survival.

The twins’ most characteristic feature is their enthralling nature and charm coupled with their red hair, which is quite shocking amongst the sea of black and white.

It is because of this characteristic that I think Petsch and Monaghan would be well suited for the role.

Madelaine Petsch to play Penelope Aislin “Poppet” Murray for the duration of the show. 


Cameron Monaghan play Winston Aidan “Widget” Murray for the duration of the show. 


Jeremy Irons to play Herr Friedrick Thiessen for the duration of the show. 

Herr Friedrick Thiessen is a renowned clockmaker approached by Barris to create the whimsical masterpiece that is the center of the circus.

Herr Thiessen becomes enamored with the circus in due time, falling love with its fantastical creations and feats of fancy.

His visits push him to begin writing about his experiences there, and soon enough others take to his example and follow suit, leading to the creation of a community known as the rêveurs, where Thiessen is recognized as its unofficial leader. 

Thiessen is a charming, friendly character whose creativity knows no bounds, in the book he starts off in his thirties and follows after the circus for nearly 20 years. 

I’ll admit, Jeremy Irons wasn’t really an accurate choice in terms of age but as it stands, he was the closest person to match the description of what I imagined to be Herr Thiessen’s appearance in my own mind. 


William Franklyn Miller to play Bailey Clarke for the duration of the show. 

Bailey Clarke was really an ordinary boy with extraordinary dreams.

Since the day he laid eyes on the circus in Boston all those years ago, he like so many others became captivated by it.

As he grew older, Bailey took any chance he could to explore each nook and cranny.

During one of these visits, he was reunited with Poppet, whom he had met as a child and would spend much of his free time with the twins, forming a lasting relationship with them in very a short while.

Near the end of the novel, Bailey is revealed to be a key player in ending the game and ensuring the circus’s survival.

Miller seems to be a good fit for Bailey due to his sweet and innocent disposition as well as his age since Bailey can be no older than 18 by the end of the novel.

He is exactly how I pictured Bailey to look while I was reading the book.



Once again, I do not own any of these images.

Photo by Craig Whitehead on Unsplash

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