Little Shop of Horrors has been through many iterations, from the original 1960 Roger Corman horror film to the 1982 stage musical to Frank Oz’s 1986 film adaptation of that musical. Now it may wind up back on screens again, as Love, Simon director and Arrowverse writer-producer Greg Berlanti is out to bring the musical back to the big screen.
Oz’s 1986 movie has a perfect cast, with Rick Moranis as the nerdy florist Seymour Krelborn; Ellen Greene as Audrey, the shy coworker he has a crush on; Steve Martin as Audrey’s sadistic dentist boyfriend, Orin Scrivello; and Levi Stubbs as the voice of the alien plant Audrey II, who turns Seymour’s fortunes around. This has made the casting rumors swirling around the new film particularly exciting.
Billy Porter is the only confirmed cast member as the new Audrey II, but Taron Egerton and Scarlett Johansson are rumored to be circling the lead roles, and Chris Evans has been reported as being in talks for the role of Orin. Though Porter is a hard casting choice to beat, the Polygon staff have banded together to put forth our ideal picks for the roles.
Tasha Robinson, film/TV editor
Seymour: Brie Larson
Audrey: Tom Holland
Audrey II: Janelle Monáe
Orin: Charlize Theron
Bonus casting: Michael Stuhlbarg as shopkeeper Mr. Mushnik
Let’s face it, the social dynamics of Little Shop of Horrors are pretty regressive: ineffectual nerd lusts after beautiful dumb lady, who’s dominated by a psychopath but secretly wants to be with the ineffectual nerd. In the 1960s version, Seymour was played as grossly pathetic, and in the 1980s version, he’s sweetly pathetic with a big side order of “comedic stereotype.” Neither movie takes him all that seriously as a character. But it’d be hard to put this same story on the screen today without it feeling like an incel stalker fantasy where an awkward dude learns that just incessantly hanging around the girl of his dreams (oh, and feeding her boyfriend to a monster-plant) is enough to make her see he’s better for her than anyone else. So let’s mess with those dynamics! Also, the Frank Oz version of this movie is just about perfect, so instead of aping it badly, let’s do something radically different!
We know from the MCU Spider-Man movies that Tom Holland can do sweet vulnerability. Let’s have him as the doe-eyed love interest, under the thumb of merciless, domineering dentist Charlize Theron, while awkward florist Brie Larson longs for him. And then Brie gets some lessons in ferocity from Janelle Monáe, who has the big, confident voice and outsized personality to play Audrey II, and some experience at inhuman/alien singing roles to boot. Yeah, the gender-swap here may create some weird and problematic relationship dynamics, but the original is just as weird and problematic, so why not push the boundaries of what this setup can do?
Karen Han, entertainment reporter
Seymour: Paul Dano
Audrey: Park So-dam
Audrey II: Will Smith
Orin: Patrick Wilson
I love Taron Egerton, but casting him as Seymour is a crime. As much as I loved Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance as Seymour at Encores!, I just can’t condone it. Conventionally hot Seymour is wrong! Hence, Paul Dano, who is hot, but in a different category. We also know that he can sing from his performance in Love & Mercy. We know Park So-dam can carry a tune from Parasite’s iconic “Jessica, Only Child” jingle, and she’s said she started acting because she wanted to be in musicals. Park also has very earnest features, which I think is perfect for Audrey. As for Audrey II, hiding someone as recognizable as Will Smith behind a plant would be a fun reversal. Plus, Smith just played the Genie in Disney’s live-action Aladdin, so we know he has the range. Patrick Wilson isn’t in the same age bracket as Paul Dano and Park So-dam, but he’s so beautiful, and such an incredible singer, that I think channeling all of that into an evil dentist would be a lot of fun.
Emily Heller, commerce writer
Seymour: Kristen Stewart
Audrey: Keke Palmer
Audrey II: Nic Cage
Orin: Taran Killam
Bonus casting: Tony Shalhoub as Mr. Mushnik
I saw Taran Killam play Orin in the 2015 Encores! Little Shop, and he absolutely killed it. Killam pulls off manic creepy-sexy better than anyone, and his performance deserves a bigger spotlight. As for the central romance of Audrey and Seymour, there’s nothing queerer than crushing on your best friend and hating her terrible boyfriend. I want a lesbian Seymour and bisexual Audrey, dammit! We know Kristen Stewart can sing (she played Joan Jett in The Runaways), and like Seymour, she’s a huge nerd. Keke Palmer’s character in Hustlers has an earnest, infectiously charming energy that’s essential for Audrey.
Finally, Nic Cage is a beautiful force of chaos. Enough said.
Matt Patches, senior entertainment editor
Seymour: Demi Adejuyigbe
Audrey: Karen Gillan
Audrey II: RuPaul
Orin: Rami Malek
Bonus casting: Ashleigh Murray, Hayley Law, and Asha Bromfield as Crystal, Ronnette, and Chiffon
Every time Demi Adejuyigbe goes viral with a new Fake Movie Song, “Earth, Wind, and Fire Day” tribute, or 10-second musical joke, I wonder why Hollywood has yet to cast him in a major star vehicle. A musical about a meek amateur botanist who sings his feels seems appropriate. For Audrey, I’m really looking for range, someone who can do the flighty, bubblegum-popping comedy, then completely floor us with “Somewhere That’s Green” and “Suddenly Seymour.” I’ll point to Gillan on her short-lived sitcom Selfie as evidence I’m on the money here. (Watch her perform Sia’s “Chandelier” in one of the show’s more earnest moments.) I’m filling out the cast with a Mean Green Mama Ru, an Oscar-winner who seems very aware of Acting Cool, and probably the most memorable girl-group threesome from recent memory: Josie and the Pussycats from Riverdale.
Chris Plante, editor-in-chief
Seymour: Randall Park
Audrey II: Donald Glover
Orin: Lakeith Stanfield
Bonus casting: Judd Hirsch as Mr. Mushnik
Park is my favorite “nerd” stock player. He’s cornered the market on awkwardly funny, and more recently, he proved he can conjure old-school Hollywood chemistry. The Little Shop script uses Audrey to spotlight the delusions of the American dream, and Mitski has the catalogue and range to do just that. Donald Glover is the perfect mix of comedian and vocalist, but I recognize it would be a waste for him to be hidden behind a puppet. As for Orin, it’s a nearly impossible role to cast. The actor has to be a hip-thrusting charmer, a masochistic abuser, and a likable Catskills comedian, often in the same line of dialogue. Better than any actor working today, Lakeith Stanfield can do more with less. And as for Judd Hirsch, he’s Judd Hirsch. How has he not played Mr. Mushnik a million times? Have y’all even watched Independence Day?
Ryan Gilliam, news writer
Seymour: Timothée Chalamet
Audrey: Florence Pugh
Audrey II: Will Smith
Orin: Daniel Craig
Bonus Casting: Don Johnson as Mr. Mushnik
If you’ve been keeping up with this list so far, you may think that I just stole Will Smith from Karen Han. You’d be right. But that’s because he’s perfect. He’s the only correct answer, and I will hear no arguments.
As for my original casting, I took inspiration from the best movie of 2019 for my leads: Little Women. Timothée Chalamet has done basically everything in his short career, from charismatic dope in Little Women to gloomy asshole in Lady Bird to heartbreaker in Call Me By Your Name. Let me see him play well-meaning but absolutely disastrous Seymour. I know he can do it, and I’d just like to see him in glasses.
Florence Pugh is perfect, and I’ll watch her do anything. But most importantly, I’ll watch her sing. Did you know she once had a YouTube channel filled with acoustic covers? (Who didn’t in high school?) They’re very good, and so is Florence Pugh.
Daniel Craig’s turn as unhinged explosives expert Joe Bang in Logan Lucky is just fantastic stuff. I’d like to see him turn that up to 11 and take on the abusive, masochistic, singing dentist Orin.
Why should Don Johnson be Mr. Mushnik? Because Don Johnson is an endless well of charisma. I live to see the face he makes when Mr. Mushnik gets eaten by Audrey II.
Simone de Rochefort, senior video producer
Seymour: Cillian Murphy
Audrey: Dita Von Teese
Audrey II: Eminem
Orin: Johnny Depp
Before you freak out, the theme of this casting is “people I thought were hot in 2005,” which is when I first saw Cillian Murphy perform as Scarecrow in Batman Begins. I spitballed from there, and that means this casting goes to some weird goth places, but I committed to it, and I will not change.
I haven’t seen Little Shop of Horrors since I was a child, but I have seen Cillian Murphy in too many seasons of Peaky Blinders. Even though he’s an adult man in his 40s, he’s capable of channeling ethereal waifishness, but also of committing murder — both important for the weak-willed but needy Seymour. Playing Seymour would still allow him to flex his range, as the role is much more sympathetic and less up its own ass than Peaky Blinders, which only lets him express the emotions of “I hate others,” and “I hate myself.”
Regrettably, to stay on theme, we must bring Johnny Depp into the mix. He gets the jerk role of Orin because I’m deeply over him as a person. I am casting Dita Von Teese as Audrey because I just found out she can sort of sing, and she would bring a Weird Sexual Energy to the role that I am deeply here for.
As my coup de grâce (defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “a final blow or shot given to kill a wounded person or animal,” which I will be receiving from our entertainment editor after I finish this casting roundup), we simply must cast Eminem as Audrey II. The reasoning is as follows:
- I thought he was like, so hot, when I was a young teen, and that probably freaked my parents out
- When I considered the possibility of Audrey II rapping in Eminem’s nasal voice I immediately started chuckling.
I hope this helps the producers of Little Shop of Horrors in their casting search. I think my ideas are revolutionary, perhaps frighteningly so, and I look forward to remembering the events of the musical when I see this film in theaters.
Alternatively, follow the thinking of Morgan M. Page and Casey Plett and make it the trans retelling it is meant to be!