Fancasting the upcoming Y: The Last Man TV show
Fans of Y: The Last Man have been waiting a long time for an adaptation – one that can overcome development hell and finally reach our screens.
In 2015 it was announced that a show is on its way – FX would be the brave network to bring Brian K. Vaughan’s infamous comic to life.
But that was two years ago. Since then, we’ve heard many statements that the show is still “in development”, leaving fans idle and perhaps even a little suspicious that it all might collapse under its own weight.
Thankfully, when speaking to CBR recently, Vaughan gave this update:
“I recently read a phenomenal draft of the Y: The Last Man pilot by Michael Green for FX.”
The adaptation is still on, but its pilot is still in the draft stages, which means that concrete casting news is probably a long way off yet.
While the core roles are still up in the air, this is the perfect time to provide some dream casting suggestions – actors and actress that I would love to see in all of the main roles, once Vaughan’s masterpiece is brought to television.
Included alongside each casting choice is a viewing suggestion. This is to give you the opportunity to view some of their relevant work, to decide whether you think the actor or actress feels like the character that I have cast them against. Resemblance is very important, but being able to pull off the role is even more paramount.
Please be aware that there are some spoilers for the Y: The Last Man comics below.
Yorick Brown – Samuel Davis
Yorick is our hero – our chief protagonist. Therefore, his is the most important casting to get right. The TV show Chuck – which borrowed very heavily from Y: The Last Man (and paid homage to it directly) – used Zachary Levi for their Yorick-esque lead Chuck Bartowski.
Even though Chuck is an altogether different character, Levi did a great job of emulating Yorick’s personality – he nailed the charm and wit that make Yorick so lovable. So why not cast Levi here too? I think it would be too obvious a pull and therefore detrimental to the show.
Resemblance-wise, I also feel that Levi is too far removed from what Yorick should look like. We’ve seen Levi do a great homage; now we need fresh blood in the role.
I scoured low and high I found Samuel Davis. He’s a relative unknown (which is always best, in my book), but not so much of an unknown that he is invisible to the industry – he had a key, leading role in the 2016 version of Cabin Fever.
He’s also appeared in Machete Kills, From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (clearly he has a strong relationship with Robert Rodriguez). His next role will be as Hamlet in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
He very much has the looks required for Yorick; the thick wavy hair, the strong jaw, and importantly – a smile and charisma that make you immediately warm to him. Check out this interview, when Davis was new to acting (and still in college), in which he comes a cross as a little dopey, but thoroughly charming; a very Yorick-esque combination.
Cabin Fever (2016)
This remake sees Samuel as one of the male leads. His character is of college-age, he kisses pretty blondes and he even talks to other blondes with horizontal scars across their face – all very Yorick-esque moments.
It will also give you a view of his acting capabilities, which I think you’ll agree are more than sufficient to take on the central lead in an FX show.
Agent 355 – Mieko Hillman
Agent 355 is the most important female in Y: The Last Man. She’s the one who sticks by Yorick’s side no matter what and the one who he ultimately falls in love with. There’s a crucial delicate softness underneath the hard exterior that she projects, which is a difficult duality for an actress to get across simultaneously.
Half African and half Japanese actress Mieko Hillman is perhaps best known for MTV’s Teen Wolf, in which she plays Deputy Tara Graeme. She’s also been in How I Met Your Mother, Flashforward and a variety of other outings.
She resembles 355, she has the acting range to pull off this complex and layered role, and she was even a “military kid” growing up, which she states “shaped her perspective on the world”. In my book, she’s ideal for Agent 355.
Teen Wolf, Season 3, Episode 9 – ‘The Girl Who Knew Too Much’
This episode is a perfect glimpse into what Hillman can do in the role of Agent 355. Towards the beginning of the episode, her character is in a cliche horror scene, where she wanders a dark hallway with her gun drawn, moving closer towards a monster. Before being attacked, she sees herself dead sitting against a wall.
Then she is attacked from behind and ends up dying – in the exact same spot that she witnessed her body in. I know it’s thin, but that means you get to see her wielding a gun (as 355 does) and also dead (as 355 ultimately ends up).
Doctor Allison Mann – Jaylee Hamidi
Dr Allison Mann is one core pillars of Y: The Last Man. By this I mean her familial history is integral to the plot, she’s one of the only characters who can predict what happened using science and she also has a wonderful lesbian arc – something we always need more of in modern television (and she isn’t randomly killed off either – she does die, but in epilogue).
She also has a very tough streak, which includes having gone through a true punk anarchist phase in her youth. Therefore, a tough and somewhat intimidating actress is required. Someone capable of both wrath and tenderness.
I suggest Jaylee Hamidi. Hamidi has been in single episodes of Supergirl, Supernatural, Motive and had a leading role in the film An Imperfection (2015). Her career may not be expansive, but it’s developing and she’s on the rise – just like most of the choices in this list.
I think Hamidi has what it takes to take on the important role of Allison Mann. And if you want to see her in glasses, then look no farther than here.
Supergirl, Season 2, Episode 15 – ‘Exodus’
The image linked above is from Supergirl (one of our favourite shows at The Nerd Recites), in which Hamidi plays Alana – an assistant to Katie McGrath’s Lena Luthor.
Not only do you get to see her in a pair of glasses (which Mann always wears), but you get to see her playing a studious assistant. Lena Luthor would only hire the very best and smartest, so here Hamidi is playing an intelligent and driven woman – just like Dr Allison Mann.
Beth DeVille – Alyson Bath
Beth is a brilliant character (possibly even my favourite). Whoever plays her needs to be a vision of beauty – the kind of girl that a guy would trek half the world to reunite with. She also needs to be tough and resourceful – someone who can survive the outback and its horrors.
She also needs to look great in a myriad of different genre outfits – as a superherione, as a medieval damsel, as a crime noir gal, and even as a laser-toting spacefarer. That’s providing the writers do Yorick’s dream sequences, which I truly hope they do.
I think Alyson Bath ticks all of those boxes. She’s appeared in a multitude of popular shows (albeit in small, bit roles) – Arrow, Supernatural, Travelers, The 100 and more. Casting her as one of the core female leads in Y: The Last Man might be a little bit of a stretch, but I have full confidence that she could pull it off.
Motive, Season 3, Episode 3 – ‘Oblivion’
Alyson co-stars in the short opening scene, which sees two divers struggle underwater. She has one line, as she surfaces, which is berating her instructor for nearly drowning her.
There’s something about this underwater scene that reminds me of Beth Deville – I can imagine Alyson surfacing from a spring in the Australian outback, before chatting to Yorick on the phone.
Beth 2 – Sarah Grey
I’ve become a big fan of Sarah Grey of late. She executed the role of Stargirl brilliantly in the recent season of Legends of Tomorrow (and I’m a big Stargirl fan, so that’s not said lightly). I’d very much love to see her bring yet another great female comic book character to life – this time in the form of Beth 2.
In the comics Beth 2 is strong, resourceful and wholly tempting for Yorick. Picture Sarah with shorter hair than the above image and that famous horizontal scar across her nose and cheeks, and you’ll see that she’s a great fit for Beth 2.
Legends of Tomorrow, Season 2
If you want to see Sarah at her best, watch her as Stargirl in Legends of Tomorrow. She not only brings Courtney to life perfectly, but she also gets to assume the role of history’s Merlin.
Legends of Tomorrow is not a show that’s short on action, so you’ll get to see her brutally beating down foes, just like Beth 2 does when Yorick’s enemies close in.
Hero Brown – Arielle Rombough
Sometimes a casting choice falls so perfectly into place that it’s surprising. Arielle is one of those. Her looks scream Hero to me (just look at that hair) and there’s something about her that seems like she’s able to play both slightly damaged and desperate, and also the superior older sister-type.
Arielle has a short but growing filmography, which includes a very quick (and blurry) scene in Fargo Season 2 as a teacher, as well as a film with Jacob Tremblay. She also seems to be heavily involved in a variety of theatre.
I would argue that Hero is quite a theatrical character in some ways – she’s very over the top in the way that she reacts to things (joining the Daughters of the Amazon), she’s very emotionally driven and she ultimately has a strong redemptive arc. In my mind, this makes Arielle more than suited to take on the role.
Due to her sparse roles in films and TV shows, the best chance to get a view of Arielle’s acting is within plays, of which there are a small handful on YouTube.
The scene from Othello – linked above – has a strong focus on Arielle as she takes on archaic Shakespeare dialogue. It’s brief but you get a sense of her acting presence.
Yedida “Alter” Tse’elon – Lyanka Gryu
Alter – a colonel in the Israeli army – is arguably the toughest of all the female leads within Y: The Last Man. This means that the actress who plays her needs to be able to exhibit unwavering boldness and fearlessness. Due to her Israeli heritage, it would also help if she’s played by an actress from Israel, but I don’t think this is essential.
It’s worth nothing that Israeli actresses are thriving in Hollywood at the moment. Both Inbar Lavi (Imposters) and Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) are beautiful Israeli actresses who are taking America by storm. For Alter, a similar talent is needed, but as always, I think an relative-unknown would be a better choice.
I suggest Lynaka Gryu, who was born in Moscow. She’s graced The Americans, Blue Bloods and has even played Irene Adler in a 2013 Sherlock Holmes TV adaptation. Much of the rest of her career has been in Russian entertainment.
Why am I not casting her as Natalya, you might ask? Because I think she’s a much better fit for Alter and because I have another, more suitable Russian suggestion for Natalya (see below). While Gryu doesn’t check the Israeli box, but she is still a poised, foreign beauty, who is very capable of an elevated refinement.
Alter is scrupulously well-mannered and well-groomed, as you’d expect from any army soldier, but especially from a Colonel. With this comes a special kind of poise and confidence, which I think Gryu can bring. She also has the visual elegance that’s needed for Alter.
The Americans, Season 5, Episode 5 – ‘Lotus 1-2-3’
In this episode, Lyanka plays Elina Sachko. Speaking Russian for her entire scene, Lyanka engages in conversation at a somewhat tense dinner party. It’s a good example of the poise and refined etiquette that she can bring to the role.
Natalya Zamyatin – Tina Ivlev
Natalya is one of the more minor characters who allies with our core group. She’s a Russian Secret Agent who wears the Gold Star of a Hero of the Russian Federation and carries a sniper rifle, which is named after her husband who was killed when the plague hit.
Born in Moscow, Tina Ivlev is Russian – as her name suggests – so it’s likely she’ll be able to pull off the heavy Russian accent that Natalya has. This thick accent is important, as it’s something that the other characters joke about. Later on in the comics, Natalya’s accent improves immensely, so Ivlev would get an opportunity to do the same in the show.
Ivlev has been in Graceland, CSI and even the video game Dead Rising 3. She often seems to be typecast as a Russian or an Eastern European, but I would argue that Natalya is perhaps a more interesting role than others.
Graceland, Season 2, Episode 12 – ‘Exodus’
In Graceland (a great show), Ivlev plays Irena Veselov – a young Ukrainian girl who is forced to pretend that she is someone else (her sister).
She’s interrogated by Serinda Swan’s character Paige, who manages to extract the truth from her. This is a perfect example of the broken English that she could use for Natalya (at one point she states “I am too much young”).
Her character is meant to be a teenager here, but at the time of writing Ivlev is actually 28 years old, which is a suitable age for Natalya.
Ciba Weber – Marina Black
Ciba is an astronaut who falls in love with her two male crew mates. Only Ciba survives a crash return to Earth and she later gives birth to a boy – a prized human being in a world without any men.
Marina Black hasn’t worked since 2014, according to IMDb, which implies that she might have left the business. This fancasting is about who is best for the role though and much less about availability, so I have included her anyway.
Prior to that she was in Grey’s Anatomy, 24, Flashforward, Six Feet Under and much more. She’s a more than capable actress who could easily pull off the intelligent but also openly loving person that Ciba is.
Six Feet Under, Seasons 1-2
Black played the recurring character Parker, who was a friend of Claire’s. If you don’t feel like hunting through the show, here’s one scene with Parker and Claire, which should give you an idea of Black’s acting presence.
She exhibits a childlike awe in this scene – the same kind of awe that Ciba might show when peering out into space or upon seeing her newborn child for the first time.
Victoria – Scottie Thompson
Victoria is a brutal and spiteful villain, who leads the Daughters of the Amazon. She holds the belief that all men are rapists, serial killers and abusers. Victoria is murdered by an axe part way through the comics, but she lives on in the mind of Hero, so would stick around in the show (again, if the writers opted for this), despite her death.
Scottie Thompson is a relatively big name on this list. She’s graced The Blacklist, Grey’s Anatomy, Graceland, Star Trek (2009) and so much more. She’s also Vivian Rutledge (AKA Mantis) in 12 Monkeys.
She has a great smile, but she also has that hardness and sharpness about her looks that’s needed for Victoria. She also looks intimidating in glasses (which would need to be thinner than the ones pictured above).
12 Monkeys, Seasons 1-3
I am far from up to date with this show, but I do know that Thompson’s character Vivian is a genetically engineered villain.
If you watch Season 2, Episode 3, ‘One Hundred Years’, you will see a strong example the kind of outright villainy that Black is capable of portraying.
Agent 711 – Julie Ann Emery
Agent 711 is by far Y: The Last Man‘s most sexually promiscuous character. She kidnaps Yorick and submits him to S&M, while dressed in the above outfit, which intentionally reveals her assets (I’ve censored them for friendly internet viewing).
Julie Ann Emery has one of the most successful careers within this list. She’s had recurring roles in Fargo, Better Call Saul, Suits and more. Importantly, her arc as Lara Featherstone in Preacher is just about to begin on AMC, which is a huge deal for fans of the Preacher comics.
This is another casting choice this seems so perfect that it’s almost as if the actress was born for the role. Take a look at the side-by-side above and I think you’ll agree.
Preacher, Season 2
Even though her arc in Season 2 hasn’t aired yet, I still suggest that you view her in Preacher, once her episodes arrive.
Featherstone is an interesting character and although Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg will do doubt change her character quite a bit, I’m confident that her role and performance will be very powerful viewing.
Toyota – Samantha Herrera
Toyota is a violent and short-tempered mercenary ninja who abducts Yorick’s monkey Ampersand and takes him to Japan. She’s highly skilled, highly capable of avoiding detection and is resolute in her mission. Ideally, I think someone who has martial arts skills, or who been involved with a martial arts project should play her.
Samantha Herrera has only been in one project so far (that’s been released). This is Netflix’s Iron Fist, in which she is one of the members of The Hand (an organisation of shady and highly skilled ninjas). She also has two upcoming projects.
This, combined with her spot on looks, makes her perfect for the role of Toyota. I honestly think that if you donned her in black and placed a sword in her hand, she would look exactly like the kind of Toyota that the upcoming adaptation needs.
Iron Fist, Season 1
Herrera plays Becca Yoo – a student of Colleen Wing and a member of the Hand who becomes a doctor. She’s only in two episodes and it’s in Episode 11 that she truly shines, as an up and coming doctor.
She is visited by her former sensei Colleen, who asks a favour of her. Becca tells her: “Of course. Whatever you need. The Hand always comes first.” This reminds me of Toyota’s devotion to Doctor M.
What do you think of my casting choices? How many of them do you agree with? I’d love to hear your own casting suggestions too – let us know in the comments section below.
Image credits: Vertigo, Samuel Davis, Mieko Hillman, Jaylee Hamidi, Alyson Bath, Sarah Grey, Arielle Rombough, Lyanka Gryu, Tina Ivlev, Marina Black, Scottie Thompson, Julie Ann Emery, Samantha Herrera