dream cast signature of all things

A Dream Cast for The Signature of All Things

signature of all things pbs

I absolutely loved Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things, so I was pretty thrilled to hear news that the novel is being adapted for Masterpiece on PBS. I immediately alerted my book club and we couldn’t help but talk about dream casting. Since the novel spans quite a bit of time, it’s likely the show will need multiple actors for each character. It was hard enough for me to come up with a great adult (who could possibly be aged) for some of the main characters, so I’ll leave the kids and any other options up to you!


sarah polleyAlma Whittaker

“She was her father’s daughter. It was said of her from the beginning. For one thing, Alma Whittaker looked precisely like Henry: ginger of hair, florid of skin, small of mouth, wide of brow and abundant of nose.”

First Choice: Sarah Polley (Can we get her to direct, too?)

Also considered: Kelly Macdonald, Gwendoline Christie




Henry WhittakerDonald Sutherland

“Henry’s face was better suited to a grown man than to a little girl.”

First Choice: Donald Sutherland

Also Considered: John Hurt, Ben Daniels





David ThewlisAmbrose Pike

“A tall, slender, sandy-haired young man in a brown corduroy suit stepped out.”

“Up close, though, one could see his age – especially as he lay in the sun, flopped across the grass without his hat on. His face was faintly lined, tanned and freckled by years of weather, and the sandy hair at his temples was turning gray.”

First Choice: David Thewlis

Also Considered: Tobias Menzies, Cillian Murphy


Prudence Whittaker DixonHolliday Grainger

“Polly [Prudence] was the same age as Alma, but daintier and startlingly beautiful. She looked like a perfect figurine carved out of fine French soap, into which someone had inlaid a pair of glittering peacock-blue eyes. But it was the tiny pink pillow of her mouth that made this girl more than simply pretty…”

First Choice: Holliday Grainger

Also Considered: Amanda Seyfried, Mia Wasikowska



Juno TempleRetta Snow

“The girl was certainly a queer-looking thing. She had seemed prettier from a distance. True, she had a lovely figure, a magnificent head of hair, and an appealingly matched set of dimples, but from nearby one could see that her face was a bit flat and round – something like a saucer – and her green eyes were altogether too large and demonstrative.”

First Choice: Juno Temple (with dark hair, of course)

Also Considered: Samantha Barks, Emily Browning


All images from imdb.com

Who would you like to see in The Signature of All Things? Do you have any great child actors in mind? What about the other characters?


  • Great choices! I would totally watch an adaptation with this cast.

  • I better hurry up and read the book!

  • I haven’t read the novel, Shannon, but one of my coworkers did and she loved it; I’m texting her right now so that I can see if she’s heard about this and send her to the blog! Thanks so much for sharing the news; I’m sure I’d watch it, even without having read the book, because I love Masterpiece Theater productions.

    • Oh, I’d love to hear what she thinks! And I’m sure it will be great even without having read the book…it’s pretty much made for Masterpiece.

  • I don’t think I knew the book was being adapted for Masterpiece Theater! Hooray! It sounds like it would be just the sort of thing Masterpiece Theater would be good at. I need to get on the ball and read my copy of it now, before the show comes out!

  • Very interested to hear that this novel will be on PBS. I wonder when it will start? 2016? Can you toss Matthew Goode into the mix? Love him.

    • I haven’t heard much about dates, but I’d imagine sometime in 2016. And I love Matthew Goode – I’d totally support him joining the cast!

  • Care

    Wow, this is great! I had just the other day thought, “I wonder if anyone would make TSoAT into a movie…” Fabulous news. I also had an odd discussion with a friend about whether or not ‘they’ should adapt The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry into a film and we discussed all sorts of ideas for the lead for that. Too fun.

  • I’m re-visiting this now that I’ve read the book. I agree with all your choices, except for maybe Alma. I think she needs to be bigger and a little more manly looking. I have no idea who that would be, though. Who in Hollywood looks like Alma?

    • Right? It was so hard to pick someone! Gwendoline Christie is one of my second choices, and she’s definitely super tall/can look more manly (though she’s gorgeous), but I feel like she’s kind of typecast that way because of her Game of Thrones role…and I feel like there must be someone else!

      • Christina Mathis

        When I was reading the book, I cast Alma, in my head, as Miranda Hart. Now I can’t picture anyone else in the role.

    • FEELS

      Perhaps Rose Leslie. She has quite a masculine face :)