Often considered one of the greatest films ever, Dr. Strangelove remains an incredible cinematic achievement to this day. The 1964 Nuclear War satire remains sharp, funny and insightful almost 60 years later. And while Stanley Kubrick’s masterful instruction is a big part of it, the pitch-perfect cast can’t be overlooked.
The film boasts some truly iconic performances, especially with Peter Sellers taking on three separate roles. But while Dr. Strangelove seems like one of those classic movies that Hollywood would not dare to remake, it’s fun to imagine what modern cast can bring to life.
8 Gen. Ripper: Idris Elba
The whole mess of the movie is set in motion by a man, General Ripper (Sterling Hayden). Ripper is a very serious and commanding military official who has grown delusions in the Cold War and orders a nuclear attack on the Soviets to stop their evil plans.
While Ripper has some strange ideas, the role gets quite funny from the fact that he is a very serious man. Idris Elba has the kind of commanding presence needed for a role like this. Like his guest role in The office, Elba can step into a crazy situation and play the role of the straightforward and authoritative figure.
7 Ambassador De Sadesky: Kayvan Novak
When the attack is ordered on the Soviet Union, the President of the United States convenes his war council to solve the problem. He also invites along the Soviet Ambassador de Sadesky (Peter Bull). He is another silly and colorful character in this ensemble who is also sneaky than he first looks.
Kayvan Novak is a fantastic comedic actor who is best known for playing Nandor What we do in the shadows. Novak excels at playing this rather tasteless vampire who is nonetheless funny in his ignorant and self-centered ways.
6 Capt. Mandrake: Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Although Mandrake was only one of three characters Peter Seller played in the film, it seems more likely that these roles would have to be separated up from other actors. For Mandrake, Sellers is funny as the nervous but persistent British officer who tries his best to prevent Ripper from carrying out his plan.
Like Sellers, Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a multi-talented star best known for her award-winning work with Flea bag. She has perfected the awkward British humor that would be perfect for the role of the neurotic Mandrake, while at the same time having the strength for some of the character’s more heroic qualities.
5 Colonel Guano: Jon Bernthal
Although he only appears in the film for a short time, Colonel Guano (Keenan Wynn) is another funny addition to the story as he leads the attack on Ripper’s base to stop the attack. Guano is a no-nonsense man who just follows orders and has no patience when Mandrake tries to explain the situation on life or death.
From Rage to The punisher, Jon Bernthal has made a career out of playing tough guy characters who act first and ask questions later. He’s ideal for the kind of military men that Colonel Guano and Bernthal’s tendency to play very serious and gruesome characters would make the part even more fun.
4 President Muffley: Steve Carell
Another of Peter Seller’s roles in Dr. Strangelove is it for the President of the United States. President Muffley certainly takes the situation very seriously, but he is probably not the best man to deal with a crisis either. As things get worse, his lack of skills as a leader becomes clearer, especially in his awkward phone calls to the Russian president.
When you think of bosses who are not big under pressure, Michael Scott from The office will definitely come to mind. Steve Carell was fun to play Michael as a manager who always says the wrong thing and seems to make any situation worse. A remake of Dr. Strangelove with Michael Scott as president sounds like an ideal fit.
3 General Turgidson: Josh Brolin
Oscar-winning actor George C. Scott was best known for his dramatic roles as Patton, but he gives a fun over-the-top comedic appearance in Dr. Strangelove. Scott plays General Turgidson, one of the president’s top advisers, who realizes the danger of the situation but also assumes that everything is some sort of plot by the Soviets to get taken over.
Josh Brolin is also known for many intense dramatic performances. But some of Brolin’s most likeable roles are when he’s a total goofball. In movies like Inherent Vice and Hi, Caesar, Brolin plays his usual hard-haired role, but also adds a wild comic energy to the characters that fits into the world of these films.
2 May. Kong: Melissa McCarthy
Perhaps the most iconic image from Dr. Strangelove sees Slim Pickens as Major ‘King’ Kong driving an atomic bomb down to his target as if it were a rodeo bull. Pickens plays the Air Force officer with a funny cowboy charm that makes him a bigger character. He is a talkative and confident man, even in the midst of this world-ending mission.
Melissa McCarthy is a brilliant comedic actress who has a talent for playing great and daring characters without making it seem too much. Her breakout role in Bridesmaids is a perfect example of the kind of wild and fun energy she could bring to the role of King. It’s funny enough just to imagine her recreating the famous bombing sequence.
1 Dr. Strangelove: Sacha Baron Cohen
The third and final role Peter Sellers plays in the film is titled Dr. Strangelove. He is a former Nazi scientist who now works as part of the Presidential Council. The character, including his hand, who has a mind of his own, is the film’s most widely comic, which at times seems cartoonish, but it’s undoubtedly a funny creature.
Sacha Baron Cohen at times resembles a modern Peter Sellers at times with his own career filled with strange and eccentric characters. He would certainly be able to bring such an unusual creation to life and turn the small role into a stage-stealing character who earns the biggest laughs.