Alan Ball's new HBO pilot casts first import, Ben Whishaw

Ben-WhishawImage Credit: Tony Lowe/PR PhotosBen Whishaw has been cast as the lead in True Blood creator Alan Ball’s new HBO pilot, All Signs of Death, EW has confirmed. Whishaw — who you might remember as what we described as “a vision of 19th-century emo tubercular hotness as the great Romantic poet John Keats” in 2009’s Bright Starwill play crime scene cleaner Webster Fillmore Goodhue.

Reviewing the book the story is based on, Charlie Huston’s 2009 crime noir novel The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death, Stephen King spoke of Huston’s “morbid sense of humor and seemingly effortless ability to create scary/funny bad guys who make Beavis and Butthead look like Rhodes Scholars.” Sounds perfect for Ball. Of Web (ooh, we get to call him Web!), King said, “He pees his pants while trying to shield his girlfriend from a bullet. He’s scared but never cowardly, down but never completely out. He is, in short, a guy worth watching.”

Do you think Whishaw is the right man for the job? Having received rave theater reviews for playing Hamlet in 2004, you know the talent is there. (His feature credits also include Brideshead Revisited, I’m Not There, and Layer Cake.) Watch a few interviews with him on YouTube, and you’ll find him talking about how he loves sad things in art (Oliver! is the first movie he remembers seeing, and he enjoyed watching Nancy’s death scene — he’s also funny!) and how he isn’t afraid to go dark (he played a serial killer in Perfume: The Story of a Murderer). He can seem so laid back, and yet still have a nervous energy about him that keeps him interesting even when he’s silent. He’ll reference Brando in one sentence, and Jimmy Stewart in the next. He has a voice you’d want to listen to for an hour every week. And eyes that will look great in giant posters in the subway.

I say Ball’s winning casting streak continues. You?

Comments (19 total) Add your comment
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  • ali

    now this new show sounds interesting.. cos he will be in it. I been sort of following his career for years now…

  • Michael

    I think he’s fantastic! Bright Star was definitely one of the best movies of 2009, despite its several snubs by the Academy Awards, and he was fantastic in it. I didn’t like the version of Brideshead Revisited that he was in as much as the book or as the older BBC 14-hour version of it, but he was very good as Sebastian. I think anything Alan Ball touches turns to gold, and his picking Ben for casting is another decision that proves it! Six Feet Under is one of the best shows of all time, and True Blood (though not as good), is quite a thrilling ride as well. All Signs of Death is bound to be good!!!

  • mermaid

    I love this guy! I’ve seen most of his films, as well as live on stage, and he’s truly an amazing and magnetic actor. So exciting!

  • mary q contrary

    Oh my god, I’ve been in love with him since I saw Bright Star. I’ve literally watched it, like, 30 times. It drives my husband nuts. This guy is so freaking talented, and now I’m going to have to watch the show no matter what. Alan Ball, I love you.

    • lilian

      Agree! I fell in love with him the first time I saw Perfume! He is positively brilliant – here’s to another show we can start obsessing about

  • lorraine

    I love him, he’s a very talented actor and I cant wait to see this

  • Mari

    Saw him in Hamlet in London back in 2004. He was FANTASTIC. Bright Star is one of my favorite movies. Glad to see he is doing more and more things.

  • darkprince

    I saw him in The Pride this spring. His nervous energy was so compelling that I could not take my eyes off from even when he there were other actors on stage. He also has a blinking tic that is completely disarming.

  • TorontoTom

    Alan Ball is a genus. I’ll watch anything he makes.

  • Profit2829

    I have loved him since Grenouille and that was it – I have been continually enthralled! Am collecting all his DVDs. So far only Perfume, Criminal Justice, Brideshead,Bright Star,Layer Cake. Also saw him in The Pride (met him & said Thank You for his IMMENSELY AMAZING work) in February and he’s something to behold – LIVE. Must always make it a point to watch him LIVE. Alan Ball thank you! For a clue of his comedic performance as Webster check out Ben as ‘Pingu’ in the UK series, Bruno in Are you ready Mr McGill & Booze Cruise.
    Thank you for an awesome article Mandi!

  • nicole

    I am so excited to see him on a regular basis now that hes doing tv, he is such an amazing actor

  • Profit2829

    Edit: Ben as Pingu in Nathan Barley and Bruno in ‘Are you Ready Mr McGill.

  • izikavazo

    Awesome and a half!! That is the best news I’ve heard all week (and it’s Comic-Con). Seriously great. He’s the best, after Perfume I’ve been watching him, waiting for everyone else to pay attention. This is such great news.

  • ally

    i love him! he is such a good actor and after i watched bright star i became sort of obsessed with him. so glad he got this part. i hope its good but then again its alan ball, how bad could it be?

  • TD Sims

    I wish HBO would do a Sci-Fi show already. They’ve tried every other thing. Why not?

  • Chelsea

    I love him! There’s definitely a mesmerizing quality to his acting. I’ll be checking this HBO show out!

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