Dream Casting: The Masque of the Black Tulip

Today’s post is contributed by Miss Eliza of Strange and Random Happenstance.


The Masque of the Black Tulip is truly when “The Pink Carnation Series” becomes a series. So while the background and supporting characters of The Secret History of the Pink Carnation were important, this is where they start to get more precedence. Any person in the background might end up the star of a future book, like that unassuming Miss Grey requesting tea and accompanying Henrietta’s singing… could that be a future heroine in say six books? The Masque of the Black Tulip sees the expansion of Lauren’s universe to include Ponsonbys and Turnips and a full ton. Therefore this becomes the time when the casting gets even more in depth. Though this is also the time when errors can occur, the wrong actor can lodge in your brain and that’s that. And yes, this has happened to me many a time.


Re-reading the second book I was struck by how humorous Henrietta is. I have always really liked her, but she has a biting sense of humor that I’m not quite sure my original casting can capture.  I originally instantly saw Henrietta as being played by Perdita Weeks, younger sister to Honeysuckle, who any Anglophile would recognize as Sam from Foyle’s War. While Perdita has been in the spotlight less, she has the right je ne sais quoi that Henrietta has. The animated facial expressions that I think are necessary. But there’s someone else I could see as Hen, and that’s the 11th Doctor Who companion Karen Gillan. If we could get her to temporarily eschew her red locks and her Scottish brogue, I think she has the comedic timing that is right on.


Ah Miles. Or as I might say, Miles, oh darn it Miles. I have for years been in love with the work of the comedic character actor Richard Cant. And for some reason while reading The Secret History of the Pink Carnation there he was, forever in my brain as Miles. I know he doesn’t work. He’s a fop; he’s just not THE thing. So I have reluctantly decided to recast him. For a long time now I have had inner debates with myself as to who would work. Perhaps Tom Hopper from Merlin and Black Sails… he’s worked with my casting for Richard, so why not… but then I found James Norton. And well… look at that lock of hair! It’s so floppy. He IS Miles.


As for the supporting characters… so many end up as stars of their own books it feels silly to talk about casting them at this stage with another ten months to go! But there is someone I think should be mentioned, and that’s a certain Tulip, the Marquise de Montval, “little Theresa Ballinger.”  Originally she was Frances Barber in my mind, but as time has gone on, well, Frances Barber has gotten older, so while she was the femme fatale in everything from Manchild to The IT Crowd, her role has been taken over by a certain “woman” Lara Pulver, just watch season two of Sherlock and tell me she isn’t perfect. Though I also think Maimie McCoy, who recently played Milady on The Musketeers reboot would be a stellar choice as well.  As we ready ourselves to plunge into the third installment, who would be in your dream cast?

Henrietta Selwick played by Perdita Weeks
Miles Dorrington played by Richard Cant
Miles Dorrington played by James Norton