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Andrea Arnold Casts James Howson As Cinema's First Black Heathcliff In 'Wuthering Heights'

by Kevin Jagernauth
November 22, 2010 5:13 AM
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For her follow-up to the excellent "Fish Tank," director Andrea Arnold has done a great job at keeping her forthcoming adaptation of "Wuthering Heights" under a veil of secrecy. With filming wrapped last week, it was still a mystery as to who landed the lead role of Heathcliff of the film but as the film heads into post-production, we now have a face and a name.

The Daily Mail (via Bleeding Cool) reports that the previously unknown James Howson has landed the part, making him the first black actor to portray Heathcliff on screen.

Arnold held opening casting calls as early as February of this year looking for a leading man who was 16-24 years old, from Yorkshire, of Gypsy appearance and not necessarily experienced, and plucked the actor from obscurity. And if he brings anything like the freshness Katie Jarvis did for "Fish Tank," we certainly have something very special to look forward to.

Howson is in his early twenties and his the young age of the character is one the filmmakers were looking to nail and something that previous adaptations have missed. One source told the Daily Mail, "Previous versions have had people in their mid-30s running up and down the moors and that is not what the novel is about at all. This is all about going back to basics."

The project is based on a script by Olivia Hetreed (”Girl with a Pearl Earring”) and has seen a revolving door of talent attached or linked including directors Peter Webber and John Maybury along with thesps Michael Fassbender, Natalie Portman, Abbie Cornish, Ed Westwick and Gemma Arterton. But no sense dwelling on what could have been. Arnold is a strong talent and we're looking forward to her take on the material with a young cast that also includes Kaya Scodelario (”Skins”) as Cathy and Nichola Burley as the third lead.

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  • Olivia | June 12, 2011 2:04 AMReply

    Actually, we "stupid Americans" defer to the individual in regard to ethnic or racial identification. We also consider "coloured" to be archaic, racist and ridiculous. Don't forget our President is of mixed heritage and he identifies as black and African-American. That is HIS choice, not yours nor mine. Understand? So, before you malign all Americans you might want to check your facts. I wouldn't be surprised if you still say half caste and mulatto. Dumbass..

  • Lily | November 22, 2010 10:55 AMReply

    Uh...the Daily Mail isn't American Frugel.

  • Max | November 22, 2010 9:35 AMReply

    Yeah Frugel, because calling the guy "coloured" would go over so much better. Prick.

  • M | November 22, 2010 8:30 AMReply

    Great for casting a non-white actor. I am not interested in Wuthering Heights never was, but will be interesting to see how he does.

  • brandi | November 22, 2010 8:11 AMReply

    Well we know which Americans those are, right, Frugel?

  • lips | November 22, 2010 7:02 AMReply

    The actor identifies as Black

  • Frugel | November 22, 2010 6:11 AMReply

    Trust stupid americans to see this guy as black when he's actually coloured or mixed-race.

  • jim | July 21, 2013 12:19 PM

    James Howson is black, which is another attempt to remain "politically correct" when decribing someone of the negroid race, and you have chosen to be BLIND if you would argue the fact.
    I, myself am colored, and mixed race.
    Do uncolored people exist?
    Are people of pure race, unmixed with another common?
    Whether someone is interested in the story, or not, is enough reason to disqualify their opinion concerning the story, or not.
    You want a story with a black man as a main character? Their are wonderful examples out there, go seek them, and comment on THOSE. This discussion however, is concerning Wuthering Heights, and the character Heathcliff, who is no more described as being of a negroid heritage than Catherine, who could have been played by Halley Berry, I suppose, given the same casting considerations.

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