With a live-action Assassin’s Creed TV show in the works at Netflix, here are our picks for actors who could play the franchise’s best assassins.
Assassin’s Creed is coming to Netflix, starting with a live-action TV series that will need a cast of main characters. The popular video game franchise began in 2007 with the release of the first Assassin’s Creed, which introduced the concept of a modern-day protagonist using a machine called the Animus to unlock his genetic memory and experience the lives of his ancestors. Over 13 years and a dozen main title releases (not to mention spinoffs on other platforms) Assassin’s Creed has woven a complex mythology of Assassins, Templars, ancient gods, powerful artefacts and conspiracies that span centuries.
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The last attempt to tame all of this into a story accessible for newcomers was 2016’s Assassin’s Creed movie, starring Michael Fassbender in the lead role as both the modern protagonist Cal Lynch and his ancestor, a 15th-century Assassin called Aguilar de Nerha. The movie was panned by critics and bombed at the box office, joining a long list of doomed video game adaptations. Reflecting on it later, Fassbender commented, “I think it took itself too seriously” – something that was evident in casting an actor known for playing intense and stoic roles as the main character.
Netflix’s Assassin’s Creed could easily choose to explore an entirely new era with wholly original characters, since the Assassins and Templars have bases all over the world and have been battling for millennia. However, if the live-action TV show instead adapts the games more directly, here are our picks for the actors who could play some of the franchise’s most memorable protagonists.
Tomer Kapon as Ezio Auditore da Firenze
Assassin’s Creed has explored the memories of many ancestors over the years, but none have quite had the impact of the second: Ezio Auditore da Firenze. Though the first game was well-received, 2009’s Assassin’s Creed II was a huge leap forward that expanded the gameplay, gave players a wider and more diverse world to explore, and delivered a layered story with a jaw-dropping ending. Ezio returned for the sequels Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood and Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, which meant that players got to experience the charming Italian playboy’s life from his first kicks as a baby all the way through to his old age. If Netflix’s Assassin’s Creed series chooses to adapt Ezio’s story, The Boys star Tomer Kapon has demonstrated great range in his role as the passionate, drug-fuelled gunrunner Frenchie – like Ezio, a born romantic with a capacity for violence when the situation calls for it.
Matt Ryan as Edward Kenway
Why fix what isn’t broken? Before he became better-known for playing John Constantine in NBC’s short-lived Constantine TV show, and reprising the role in the Arrowverse series Legends of Tomorrow, Matt Ryan voiced the swashbuckling pirate Edward Kenway in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. After the sailing mechanics proved to be one of the most highly-praised elements of the otherwise underwhelming Assassin’s Creed III, Ubisoft went all-out on the high seas in the next main release, building Assassin’s Creed IV around the golden age of piracy. The Starz series Black Sails proved just how exciting a TV show based around pirates can be, and an Assassin’s Creed series inspired by Black Flag could add an ancient feud and a dose of science fiction into the genre. If Edward Kenway returns in live-action, it would be a treat for Assassin’s Creed fans and a lure for Arrowverse fans to have Ryan back in the role.
Harry Styles & Sophie Simnett as Jacob & Evie Frye
The first Assassin’s Creed game with a female protagonist, Assassin’s Creed: Liberation, was a spinoff title that had the misfortune to release on the PlayStation Vita. Though Liberation was rereleased on other platforms a year later, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate was the first title in the main series to have a playable female protagonist, Evie Frye, who shared the lead role with her twin brother, Jacob. Set in Victorian London, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is ripe for adaptation into a gritty and raucous tale of the city’s criminal underworld and the secret war between Templars and Assassins. As with the game’s story, the driving force would be the relationship between the Frye twins, and the show would therefore need two young actors with charisma and easy chemistry. Though he rose to fame as a member of the pop group One Direction, Harry Styles proved his acting chops in Christopher Nolan’s 2017 war film Dunkirk. And for the role of Evie, Netflix could cast the breakout star of another of its recent series: Sophie Simnett, who played Samira “Sam” Dean in the post-apocalyptic comic book adaptation Daybreak.
Sammy Sheik as Bayek of Siwa
Adapting Assassin’s Creed Origins for TV would certainly be a challenge of world-building, given that it’s set further back in time than any other game in the main series. As the title suggests, the 2017 release explores the origins of the Assassin Brotherhood and is set in Ancient Egypt in 49-44 BCE. Origins‘ protagonist, Bayek, quickly made his way to the top tiers of Assassin’s Creed character rankings, praised for his complex and multi-faceted personality and his gripping, tragic story. It also doesn’t hurt that he has one of the coolest looks and weapon sets of the series, including a pet eagle. Should the Assassin’s Creed TV show take on the earliest days of the Assassins, Bayek could be played by Egyptian actor Sammy Sheik, known for his roles in the Oscar-winning biopic American Sniper and Netflix’s 2017 war film Sand Castle.
Jared Harris as Warren Vidic
The 2016 Assassin’s Creed movie starred Jeremy Irons as its main villain, Alan Rikkin, the CEO of Templar front Abstergo Industries. But when it comes to hateable villains from the games, it’s hard to beat Dr. Warren Vidic. Though Rikkin was the leader and puppet master of the modern Templar order, it was Vidic who got his hands dirty with the business of conducting traumatic experiments on mostly unwilling subjects – including forcing children to live through the violent lives of their ancestors. Assuming that Netflix’s live-action Assassin’s Creed TV series uses the framing device of a modern storyline and the Animus, Vidic would be the perfect choice for a series big bad. Actor Jared Harris delivered the central performance in the critically-acclaimed HBO series Chernobyl, and also played one of the great villains of literature, Professor James Moriarty, in 2011’s Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. One of Vidic’s faults in the games was that he could sometimes be cartoonishly villainous, but Harris’s talent for nuanced performances could keep the character in check and give him a truly chilling edge.
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