William Moseley Lost the Role of High King Peter… Until Douglas Gresham Intervened

At the C.S. Lewis symposium in Montreat this week, Douglas Gresham (stepson of C.S. Lewis, co-producer of Narnia movies) said he fought to keep William Moseley on the list of actors being considered for High King Peter in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.William, he said, auditioned several times but “didn’t do very well because he was nervous.”

When Gresham heard William was going to be dropped, he told the casting department to keep him on the list.

I said, “just study how he behaves–how his mind works–while he’s [acting] and you’ll find he has huge strength of character.” And that young actor, I think, did King Peter extremely well in our movies. […] He can play King Peter for me anywhere, anytime. He’s a superb young man and I have the greatest respect for him.

Douglas Gresham

Douglas Gresham has worked as a stage and voice actor. (Listen to his conversation with NarniaWeb about his wide-ranging life experiences)

Gresham was also asked about his favorite Narnia characters. His reply: “Reepicheep is one of my favorite characters. Absolutely. And, in the films we’ve made, he was one of my favorites among the actors too.” (It was not clear if he was referring to Eddie Izzard in Prince Caspian or Simon Pegg in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.)

11 Responses

  1. Hasdrubal says:

    I can’t imagine another kid playing Peter. Maybe I’m being nostalgic but whenever I read the books, I alway picture him. I hope Netflix asks the Disney kids to play the older versions of themselves, I’d love to see them have a crack at playing The Pevensies again.

    • Cleandef says:

      Exactly! The Pevensie actors should definitely return!
      I’m glad Gresham stepped in. Moseley did a splendid job being Peter, and I’d trust the stepson of C S Lewis to know the best actor when he saw him.
      P S-Name should be Cleander btw! XD

  2. In terms of personality, I think Richard Dempsey in the BBC adaptations aligns more closely to my experience of the books. But that also might be because I was reading the books for the first time at a similar time that I was watching the BBC series on TV. This was approx. 1995, so they were reruns.
    I also really like Noah Huntley’s beard and costume as High King Peter at the end of the Walden version. To me, High King Peter has a strong blonde beard. Actually this is how I think King David from the Bible would look too. There is something about a beard that makes a king look a bit more regal.
    I enjoy William Moseley’s performance, but to me his personality in the films is different than the book’s Peter. But maybe that is also related to the way Walden’s scripts were more informal modern language.

    • Col Klink says:

      Interesting opinion about Richard Dempsey. I thought he was pretty miscast in LWW actually. (He’s better in Prince Caspian which was filmed when he was older and I’m assuming had more acting experience.) He looks and sounds like a posh, pampered boarding school kid. (“Don’t talk such tush!”) And he has such a baby face that I really can’t see him as a strong leader type.

      BTW, I’ve heard some critics say that the “English” dialogue C. S. Lewis wrote for Narnia actually wasn’t that reflective of how kids in the 40s and 50s talked. He didn’t have as much experienced with kids when he first started writing LWW. It’s more based on E. Nesbit books which were written a long time before the Narnia books take place (with the obvious exception of The Magician’s Nephew.)

      I didn’t mean that to sound like I think adaptations shouldn’t try to use dialogue similar to the books. I appreciate that the kind of dedication. Actually, I’ve been thinking of starting a topic in the Narniaweb forum about the pros and cons of using that vernacular.

  3. Coracle says:

    The last rival for the role was a member of NarniaWeb in our early days. He was a New Zealand actor, who told us about how he was flown to UK for the final round.
    He was given a small role in the railway station/evacuation scene (soldier).

    • Keeper of Lantern Waste says:

      Sorry, did you mean as Peter? How would he play a soldier then?

      • Skilletdude says:

        I believe Coracle is referring to the quick shot in LWW when Peter spots a young soldier pass by, and Susan has to bring his attention back to their situation. The actor you see was a runner-up for the role of Peter.

        I always thought this little aside (not in the book) was trying to say Peter wanted to defend his country like this young man, and like his father. A nice moment.

      • Hermitess of Narnia says:

        @Skilletdude,
        Yes, I liked the touch that the soldier looked similar to Peter. I had no idea that man had also been in the running for the role of Peter.

        I enjoyed William Moseley’s portrayal of Peter Pevensie. Even in PC where he is acting different from the books, it was due to the script and not any fault in his acting. I also think the big brother attitude Will had with the other young actors was very evident and helped the family look convincing although the four kids do not exactly look related. It would be nice if he could have a cameo in the Netflix version.

  4. Just Queen, not High Queen says:

    As someone who’s met William Moseley, I’m even more glad that Douglas Gresham fought for him to play Peter. He seems like a really nice guy.

  5. I want next narnia please, it takes very long time since the last

  6. JFG II says:

    All though I’ve always felt that William Mosley was a bit too old for Peter (at 16-18 years old), if LWW had been released earlier — 2003-2004 perhaps — William Mosley (at age 14-16) would have been the perfect Peter. He’s a great presence in the films, and If PC had been released sooner, Peter would not have felt like an angsty young man, but like a boy figuring out how to be king.

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