Phoebus of Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Hunchback of Notre Dame has been made into many different versions and the token handsome guy, Phoebus, of the story get changed the most from version to version. Phoebus can either be a romantic lead, a jerk, or sometimes he's a glorified extra.
Let's look through the major films and some popular musicals of the Hunchback of Notre Dame and look at how Phoebus is portrayed and the actors that have played the handsome captains of the King's archers.
There are spoilers for the movies
Phoebus a la Victor Hugo
Phoebus de Chateaupers is Captain of the King's Archers but he's really part of Night Watch.
He is a noble who is engaged to a noble women named Fleur-de-Lys de Gondelaurier.
Phoebus prefers drinking and meeting with lots of ladies. He recused Esmeralda from Quasimodo when Frollo made his unfortunate ward to commit the crime on his behalf.
A few months later, he meets with Esmeralda again when she brought up in Fleur-de-Lys' residence. Phoebus then convinces Esmeralda to meet him in a more intimate setting.
During this meeting, he proceeds to tell her lies to get her to sleep with him. Unfortunately for them, Phoebus hid Frollo in the room as Frollo paid for the room and stabs Phoebus.
Phoebus was merely wounded from the encounter but felt embarrassed by what had occurred and decided to laid low in the barracks. Though he felt slightly bad for Esmeralda, he committed himself to Fleur-de-Lys but he does meet a tragic end: he gets married. Victor Hugo himself was down on the insuitution of marriage while write the novel.
Phoebus is described as being very handsome. There are few descriptions of him in the book but he does a have a mustache in the Burgundian style.
Norman Kerry played Phoebus in the Lon Chaney version from 1923 directed by Wallace Worsley.
Kerry is the perfect example of Phoebus as a romantic Lead. He starts out as a philander a sort of rake even. As he tried to seduce Esmeralda He has a change of heart as he overcome by Esmeralda's innocence and he falls in love with her. He tries hard to marry her and does a lot of pining for her.
Alan Marshal played Phoebus in the Charles Laughton version in 1939 directed by William Dieterle.
Marshal's Phoebus is more in the Jerk variety of the Phoebus characterization. types. He's not mean or cruel like some other versions but there isn't much to his character beside thinking Esmeralda is attractive and trying to seduce her.
It's hard to tell with this version of Phoebus if he could have grown to love Esmeralda beyond lustful intention as he is the only Phoebus to die of the wounds Frollo inflicted.
This make Marshal's Phoebus a Glorfied Extra with a three scenes and a handful of lines.
Jean Danet played Phoebus in the 1956 version directed by Jean Delannoy.
Danet's Phoebus follows the book faithfully though he lot more persistence in with pursuit of Esmeralda. However he still philandering and in it for an evening of pleasure.
He does express remorse for what happen to Esmeralda when Quasimodo tries to get him to go to Notre Dame to speak with her, so he is not cruel.
Richard Morant played Phoebus in the 1976 version of Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Morent’s Phoebus follows the character closely to the book.
Phoebus in this versions gets a lot of interactions with Fleur-de-Lys. In these scene he is flirty and bit mischievous with his fiancee. He is still a debouched womanizer.
This version is the most like Phoebus in the book though given the way this version ends I would say it add a bit of cruelty and heartlessness to him or he is a pushover to Fleur-de-Lys.
The final scene of the 1977 is Phoebus and Fleur-de-Lys dancing around the square outside of Notre Dame having just gotten married immediately after Esmeralda is executed. It's rather unsettling to say the least.
Robert Powell played Phoebus in the1982 British-American TV movie starring Anthony Hopkins, Sir Derek Jacobi, as Quaismodo and Frollo respectively. It was directed Michael Tuchner and Alan Hume.
Powell’s Phoebus is a jerk in this version. He’s callous and he doesn’t have Phoebus' lust for life that he has in the book.
Powell’s Phoebus doesn’t even have any redeeming qualities. And he is the only Phoebus that is actually married.
The 1996 Disney Version
Disney's version of Phoebus is voiced by Kevin Kline.
Phoebus is a soldier in the movie who has taken the position of Captain of the Guards, or Frollo's Henchmen number #1.
He saves Esmeralda and Esmeralda saves him. They pretty much have the some personality and they share a a dry wit.
Basically Esmeralda and Phoebus are made for each other in this movie and they are a couple. Unlike other movies, Phoebus is an auxiliary hero, he's not the lead hero but he gets the girl. Or rather the lady chooses him.
Unlike other Phoebus', Disney's Phoebus's look is not medieval but has a Romanesque vibe to his overall look. It's a creatively liberty that works given his name.
Benedick Blythe played Phoebus in the 1997 version simply entitled The Hunchback. It was directed by Peter Medak and starred Mandy Patinkin and Richard Harris as Quasimodo and Frollo respectively.
Blythe's Phoebus is a glorified extra, he has a few lines but the film does not go the stab Phoebus route. In fact Phoebus is not part of the narrative.
Patrick Fiori play Phoebus in the original French cast of Notre Dame de Paris in 1998.
Fiori's Phoebus follows the book, as he enjoys women but he does care for his fiancée Fleur-de-Lys.
Unlike other Phoebus' it a little unclear if he likes Esmeralda more than he does in the book. In the book he just wanted a single evening and told her lies to get her to sleep with him. In Notre Dame de Paris he seems to want to balance Esmeralda and Fleur-de-Lys and have each of them fulfill different needs for him: wife and mistress.
However Fleur-de-Lys isn't into this and gives and makes him chose and since Esmeralda is to die Phoebus very callously picks Fleur-de-Lys, so in the end he is a Jerk. He also is the one who sentences Esmeralda to death so he is also cruel.
Vincent Elbaz played Phoebus in the 1999 parody film called Quasimodo d'El Paris. It was directed by Patrick Timsit who starred as Quasimodo.
Elbaz's Phoebus instead of being a Captain of Guards he is a police officer. He is engaged to Agnes (Esmeralda's adopted name.)
He is not really interested in her and considers her a child. He however is interested in Esmeralda and doesn't realize that Agnes and Esmeralda are the some person. Elbaz's Phoebus is very dumb.
The Musical Version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Andrew Samonsky played Phoebus in a musical adaptation of the Disney's version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The story behind this version and it many other version is complex but Andrew Samonsky was the first to play Phoebus in this iteration of the role.
One aspect of this musical was to blend the original novel and the Disney's version together and the production accomplish this well with Phoebus.This version plays out much like the 1923 version in that Phoebus like women and drinking but come is reformed by his love for Esmeralda.
This version does add in a bit of PTSD as result of the war he was in. It's not clear what war this but a war was mentioned in the Disney version.
Which Hunchback Version is your Favorite?
RiverCygnet (author) from USA on March 20, 2015:
Wow, thanks for the info. I'm glad they kept Phoebus a little more how is he is the book though it is surprising that he dies in the new musical.
I really need to update these Hunchback character pages, I have been really slow of late.
anonymous on March 24, 2012:
both versions with Tim Driesen Asian tour