The film adaptation of developer Ubisoft’s video game series Assassin’s Creed has just hit theaters, and it features a time period that’s new to the series and a bunch of characters we’ve never seen before.
It makes sense; when you’re dealing with a franchise that can take place at any point in the centuries-old, global conflict between controlling Templars and freedom-loving Assassins, you might as well expand the universe instead of retreading the eras that players have already seen. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have our own ideas about what filmmakers could do if they did decide to do a straight-up adaptation that brings some of our favorite characters (and that one that nobody likes) to live-action.
These are some of the actors we would cast if we were in charge of an Assassin’s Creed movie franchise and could pick from any of the games’ historical settings and plots. We know that Ubisoft won’t do this, of course, but if they did, we have some thoughts about how we’d want them to look.
Here are our picks, in order of the characters’ first appearances.
15. Desmond Miles – Wentworth Miller
Desmond appears in the first five Assassin’s Creed entries as the near-future character with all those stabby ancestors. Initially, the Abstergo corporation kidnaps him and forces him into its genetic memory-reading Animus machine so that he can search the experiences of his ancestor Altaïr and discover the location of a powerful artifact. But he escapes and ends up going into a variety of other devices on his own volition, because otherwise, the other games don’t happen.
Despite a voice performance from Uncharted star Nolan North, Desmond isn’t exactly the most charismatic guy we’ve ever played as. He’s honestly pretty boring in the first game, but that’s mostly because he’s just the vehicle for the more interesting events in the past. Subsequent entries improve his character, and he ends up growing on us — just in time for his weird and abrupt death in Assassin’s Creed III.
This generally describes how we’ve felt about Wentworth Miller since we first saw him in Prison Break;. His character Michael Scofield is boring almost by design, but the stuff that happens around him is mostly interesting. We were skeptical when he showed up as Leonard “Captain Cold” Snart on The Flash, but that performance gave him a lot more to do, and by the time he moved on to Legends of Tomorrow, he was one of our favorite characters in the Arrowverse.
14. Altaïr Ibn La’Ahad – Rami Malek
Remember when we mentioned that the past events in the first Assassin’s Creed are more interesting than the stuff happening outside of the Animus? We still mean that, but it does not extend to that installment’s first Assassin character, Altaïr. He’s mostly dull and unpleasant. And he’s the only person walking around 12th-century Jerusalem with an American accent.
Ubisoft manages to improve him for his return in Revelations, the fourth entry; that title shows his later years, and he actually sounds region-appropriate that time. But first impressions matter, so we’d want to get him right immediately. And we think Mr. Robot star Rami Malek is up to it.
Malek has the range to create a version of Altaïr that we actually side with instead of just being the default good guy because everyone he’s fighting is so much worse. And we already know from his TV series that he’s alright acting underneath a hood.
13. Ezio Auditore – Lorenzo Richelmy
Ezio Auditore da Firenze is probably the most important character to get right, considering he’s made the most appearances in the franchise. People who play all three of his entries — Assassin’s Creed II, Brotherhood, and Revelations — see his entire life from birth to seniority. And if you watch the side film Embers, you follow him all the way to death, so he’s the best-defined character in Assassin’s Creed by a longshot (and one of the gaming worlds finest, frankly).
We like Lorenzo Richelmy, star of the Netflix series Marco Polo, to play Ezio, and not just because he’s Italian and handsome. We also know he can handle the more physical aspects of the role like fighting and swordplay. Most importantly, however, Richelmy is not very well known outside of the (recently canceled) Netflix series, which means that superfans wouldn’t have many “that guy?” complaints to make. And that’s pretty crucial when you’re casting a fan-favorite character in the Internet age.
If this hypothetical Ezio movie extends to his old age, we’d go for Casino Royale‘s Giancarlo Giannini, because he’s friendly but still seems like he’d stab a guy.
12. Shao Jun – Ziyi Zhang
The series’ first featured lady Assassin debuts in the 2011 Embers short film, where she tracks down the elderly Ezio for help and advice in reforming the Chinese Order of Assassins.
In 2015, she received her own game, the first in the Chronicles series. These three installments tell individual stories set in China, India, and Russia and feature a new art style and 2.5D gameplay. Shao Jun’s entry has her returning home from Italy to eliminate the agents who wiped out her group of Assassins.
Zhang Ziyi is more than capable of taking up the hood and hidden blade thanks to her years of work in action films including Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hero, and House of Flying Daggers. Ziyi is older than Shao Jun is during the events of her stories — the Assassin is 21, and Ziyi is currently 37 — but this is a dreamcast article for a movie that will never happen, so we’re going to allow it.
11. Connor – Martin Sensmeier
Assassin’s Creed III‘s Connor marks a return to the original’s class of dour and boring heroes, which is a confusing choice for us. It’s like Ubisoft saw how much everyone liked Ezio and said, “Well, let’s not do that again.”
Connor, who was born Ratonhnhaké:ton, is the son of Templar agent Haytham Kenway and Native woman Kanien’kehá:ka. And he has the small task of rebuilding the Assassin Order in the American colonies after the Templars almost completely wipe it out.
We were tempted to cast Twilight‘s Taylor Lautner here, but not even Connor deserves that treatment. Instead, we’re going with Martin Sensmeier, who most recently appeared as a Native-bot on HBO’s Westworld and as Red Harvest in director Antoine Fuqua’s The Magnificent Seven. Unlike Lautner, Sensmeier is actually a Native American actor. And he’s badass and talented, so that’s another couple points for him. It’s possible this casting might actually get us to like Connor, which would be something of a miracle.
10. Achilles Davenport – Danny Glover
Achilles Davenport was the leader of the Colonial Brotherhood of Assassins until the Templars hunted them down and purged them like so many Jedi. Davenport survived the slaughter and went into hiding until Conner manages to track him down and demand training. The elder Assassin relents, despite the fact that he is getting too old for this s***.
Danny Glover is clearly the man for the job here; he’s a well-liked dramatic actor who can also inject humor when it’s needed. We don’t think playing Achilles would call much for that, considering everyone who’s ever known him described him as “serious,” but he could probably use some jokes to provide a counterpoint to Connor’s sourpuss demeanor.
9. Aveline de Grandpré – Lupita Nyong’o
Aveline de Grandpré appears in the Assassin’s Creed III spinoff title, Liberation. That story takes place in Louisiana in the aftermath of the French and Indian War. That’s about a decade before the American Revolution, if you’re spotty at history.
Aveline is the daughter of a French merchant and a slave woman, and her experience is all about walking the lines between race, gender, nationality, and class — and then stabbing people because it’s an Assassin’s Creed game. She fights the Templars while uncovering government conspiracies, freeing slaves, and even traveling to New York to team up with Connor and murder more people there. Eventually, she manipulates her adversaries well enough to infiltrate their organization, steal a valuable artifact, and, yes, stab them all.
We like 12 Years a Slave‘s Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o for this role, although we doubt producers would be able to find an opening in her schedule. She’s currently pulling double Disney duty, appearing as Maz Kanata in the new Star Wars episodes and Nakia in 2018’s Black Panther.
8. Edward Kenway – Matt Ryan
Our pick for scoundrel-turned-pirate-turned-gentleman Edward Kenway from high seas adventure Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is our most obvious; Matt Ryan provides the voice for Kenway in the game, and we’d like to see him reprise that role in live action.
Ryan is no stranger to media-hopping. He played the sorcerer title character in NBC’s tragically short-lived Constantine and again in an episode of The CW’s Arrow. We would like to have seen him team up with Oliver Queen a few more times, but we’re pretty sure that show can’t handle having a character that likable. Regardless, Ryan will play Constantine again next year’s animated Justice League Dark film, so it’s not so crazy to want to see him play Kenway again.
Edward is Connor’s grandfather, so we’re not sure what happened over those two generations. Regardless, we’d love to see Ryan pirate it up in the Caribbean. And we have some thoughts about the other Assassins he works with.
7. Adéwalé – Lyriq Bent
Kenway’s quartermaster on his oddly named ship, the Jackdaw (it’s a type of crow famous for its curiosity) is Adéwalé, a former slave who joins up with the Assassin during a raid on his plantation. Seeing the invaders murdering and stealing, Adéwalé seizes the opportunity, killing his master and helping the pirates with the boxes. They bring him along, seeing that he has already mastered the basics of privateering.
Adéwalé earns Kenway’s respect, and the freed man eventually becomes an Assassin himself. He even returns the favor to his captain, helping to plan a mission to save him from prison later in the game. And in the downloadable add-on campaign Freedom Cry, he uses the training and resources of the Order to help slaves in Haiti, even though that’s not what he’s there to do. But he still manages to stab some bad people, so it all works out fine.
We’re picking Lyriq Bent from the Saw horror series and the CBC’s 2015 miniseries The Book of Negroes. We think he’s up for balancing the character’s intelligence with his quietly simmering rage, and we don’t know if you’ve ever seen Bent’s trapezius muscles, but they’re like pow.
6. Mary Read – Dakota Blue Richards
In Black Flag, Kenway meets James Kidd, a young pirate who introduces him to the Assassins and their eponymous Creed and sponsors his entry to the Order. This is despite the fact that the captain is pretty unqualified outside of his possession of Eagle Vision, an Assassin ability that lets its possessors identify targets and see through walls. It’s super handy.
After a few more missions together, Kidd removes “his” bandana to reveal that he is, in fact, Mary Read, a woman who disguises herself as a man to engage in pirate adventures without all the hassle she’d have had otherwise. Mary and an associate, future pirate Anne Bonny, found themselves imprisoned and sentenced to hang, but they managed to have their death sentences commuted through the revelation that they were pregnant. And that was just an incredible coincidence, isn’t it?
Mary Read is a no-nonsense scrapper, and we’re picking Dakota Blue Richards, who played Lyra in The Golden Compass, for the part. That whole character was about going on adventures without giving two ducks what other people think of it, and we think it would translate well to Read.
5. Arno Dorian – Hugo Becker
Assassin’s Creed: Unity takes place during the French Revolution, and if you’re so inclined, you can go down to its re-creation of the Place de la Révolution and watch the guillotine rise and fall all day. But you do have one or two other things to do.
The hero, Arno Dorian, stumbles upon a conspiracy that places the real roots of the political upheaval on Templar infighting. The instigators hoped to replace the old, aristocratic leadership of the organization with a new middle-class sect and also create a population so terrified of what self-governance gets them (i.e. endless days of public executions) that they would clamor for the control that is the Templar’s ultimate aim.
We like Hugo Becker for this part, despite the fact that he was in 18 episodes of Gossip Girl. Or maybe it’s because of that. But he’s also on the French series Chefs, a (probably) better show about a parolee learning how to cook at a fancy restaurant. Becker certainly looks the part, and he even snatched up a Most Promising Actor win at the Luchon International Film Festival…which is apparently evaluating TV folk now.
4. Shay Patrick Cormac – Aidan Turner
Assassin’s Creed: Rogue released at the same time as Unity and has a way more interesting hero. Shay Patrick Cormac is an Assassin who eventually goes…well, rogue, and goes over to the Templar side. Interestingly, he operated in Colonial America under Achilles Davenport and was instrumental in the campaign that saw the country’s Order destroyed. Later, he even kills Arno Dorian’s father, setting him on the path that would ultimately lead him to the Assassins, himself.
Cormac is pretty much the Forrest Gump of Assassin’s Creed.
We think Aidan Turner would be a great choice for this part. You probably remember him as Kili, the hot Dwarf in director Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy. The interesting thing about Cormac is that his shift isn’t one between good and evil; it’s a nearly impossible decision to betray his friend and mentor because he’s thought about it and realized that he’s not quite on board with the methods and tenets that they stand for. It’s like the Star Wars prequel trilogy without all that dismemberment.
3. Henry Green – Sendhil Ramamurthy
Henry Green is the leader of the Assassin Order in Victorian London. He was born Jayadeep Mir, son of Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India hero Arbaaz Mir, but he changed his name to avoid his father’s enemies. He chose “Henry” because it was a common name and “Green” because that was the color of the hat he was wearing when he set up his cover business. No, really.
Seeing the Templars’ rise in his city, Green petitions other Orders for aid, but he doesn’t receive any until twins Jacob and Evie Frye go off-book and decide to leave their home in Crawley and head for the capital to start trouble there. The elder Assassin gives them advice and aid while they establish their own street gang called The Rooks. That’s for the type of crow and not the chess piece; Assassins have a whole bird theme going on.
We couldn’t help thinking of Heroes‘ Sendhil Ramamurthy for Henry, even though, like Ziyi Zhang, he’s older than the game character. But we think a more aged Henry could work here, and it wouldn’t even have to come up. We just really like Sendhil Ramamurthy, even during that dumb Heroes subplot where he started turning into a Brundlefly.
2. Jacob Frye – Taron Egerton
Jacob is the younger — by four minutes — of the Frye twins, and it’s his idea to start up the Rooks to steal control of London away from the Templar-sponsored Blighters. He’s the more direct sibling; his missions involve going out into London to raise trouble and kill enemy agents, whereas Evie’s are about tracking down an ancient device and cleaning up Jacob’s messes.
This character is brash, slightly thuggish, and often hilarious, so his portrayer has to be able to handle all of that. We pick Taron Egerton, who managed to carry all of those qualities in Kingsman: The Secret Service. Of course, we’re referring to the beginning, before his character Eggsy becomes a proper gentleman and starts wearing a suit. We’re talking about Early Eggsy here.
Egerton can probably temper the dodgy morals of a mass murderer with relatable charisma to ensure we stay on his side. But the twins play so well off of each other that finding a good actress for Evie is equally important to having a decent Jacob.
1. Evie Frye – Daisy Ridley
Daisy Ridley fans might have been disappointed that the role of Lara Croft in the upcoming Tomb Raider film reboot went to Alicia Vikander. But Lara isn’t the only game character the Force Awakens actress would be ideal for.
Evie is the more measured and scholarly of the twins. She was completing their father’s Assassin lessons while Jacob was off befriending crows and picking fights or whatever. Her goal in London is to figure out where the mysterious Piece of Eden artifact got to and help Charles Dickens investigate the paranormal. She’s generally classier, too; her default weapon is a noble cane-sword, while Jacob’s is a set of brass knuckles. And in our opinion, if you can choose a cane-sword, you should.
We’ve already seen Ridley suffer occasionally foolish companions while wielding awesome melee weapons in last year’s Star Wars episode, and taking those skills to an all-important mission to prevent Queen Victoria’s assassination (not by Assassins, ironically) seems like a pretty obvious choice.
Which actors would you want to see in a more direct Assassin’s Creed adaptation? Be sure to let us know in the comments.