By Tom Comi
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the popularity of the original Charlie’s Angels was much more about the angels than Charlie. But it would also be naive to dismiss the importance of John Forsythe, who provided the voice for Charlie in the TV show (1976-81) and both movies (2000, 2003).
Fast forward 30 years later to a remake of the TV show set to debut on ABC in the fall, and it’s becoming blatantly obvious how crucial the role of Charlie is. With Forsythe now deceased and Robert Wagner bowing out due to scheduling conflicts, producer Sony TV is literally trying to find a voice for one of its most talked-about new dramas.
The 2011 show features Annie Ilonzeh, Minka Kelly and Rachael Taylor as three female private detectives, which were famously played in the original series by Farrah Fawcett, Kate Jackson and Jacyln Smith. They work for Charlie Townsend, who is seen but never heard. This actually makes the casting more difficult, because the voice has to be distinct and carry with it a sense of both power and mystery.
So who will be the new Charlie? Your guess is as good as ours, but here are a few suggestions — some fairly obvious, others much more outside the box. We’ll let you determine which ones are which.
James Earl Jones: Does the name Darth Vader ring a bell? If Jones can voice the greatest sci-fi villain of all time, this would be a walk in the park.
Gilbert Gottfried: Looking for work after being fired as the voice of the Aflac duck, Gottfried’s unusual delivery would bring a very distinct personality to the show.
Kiefer Sutherland: The smooth 24 star has lent his vocals to movies (Phone Booth, Monsters vs. Aliens, Marmaduke), video games (Call of Duty: World at War) and commercials (Ford, Bank of America). He’d be perfect for this role.
Bobcat Goldthwait: Okay, maybe his high-pitched voice is on par with fingernails being dragged across a chalkboard, but he would no doubt make a memorable Charlie. With no real marquee names starring in the show, Bobcat could really shine here.
Morgan Freeman: If there’s a better voiceover actor out there, I’m all ears. The former Electric Company star has carried movies, documentaries and commercials by merely speaking. And if you disagree, I’d strongly suggest you watch the documentary March of the Penguins. Brilliant.
Howard Hesseman: You can’t be on the radio without great vocals, and you can’t have a great TV show about a radio station without a character like disc jockey Johnny Fever. Hesseman defined cool in this role on WKRP in Cincinnati, and he would bring that same vibe to Charlie’s Angels.
John O’Hurley: Best-known as J. Peterman on Seinfeld, the smooth-voiced O’Hurley could come across with as much sophistication and suaveness over just a simple audio connection with his Angels. And since he’s already working with ABC as a guest star on All My Children (with his episodes scheduled to begin airing Sept. 12), why not hop over to the ABC recording studios and do Charlie for this series?
Allison Janney: Who says Charlie has to be a man, especially with a name like Charlie? This is a remake, right? So let’s really shake things up by hiring one of the great female vocalists of her time. Not only is Janney currently the voice you hear on Kaiser Permanente commercials, but she has also been heard in Finding Nemo and Over the Hedge.
© 2011 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. Credit: Bob D’Amico