Monday, February 27, 2012

Number 181 Casting Call

One of nice side effects of getting my book, Number 181 (Get it here), out there was the follow-on discussions I've had with readers. Like most authors, I've had several people tell me that my book would make for a great movie and received suggestions for who should play key parts. In this day, readers get an image in their head regarding the protagonists' appearances, and I've found some of the suggestions quite interesting.

I decided to cover some of my readers' thoughts and throw in a few of my own. Note that I've left Shawn and Alexis for the next blog post. I ended up with several suggestions for each of those two main characters and a few were excellent... felt they needed special attention.

Given my work at Kennedy Space Center and the recent filming of Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon here, the most often mentioned director is Michael Bay largely because I met the guy and got along well with him. Given the scope of some of the action set pieces and camera-ready explosions, I could see Bay having an interesting vision for bringing Shawn Kidd to the screen. And, if you're thinking action movies, Bay is the go-to name.

I'd be interested in a different take on it, though, one that focuses on character and is only peripherally an action movie. There are some scenes, those in the Swiss mountainside specifically, that I feel are the highlights of the story and could use a unique style in their telling. Given the tone and handling of movies such as Heat and Collateral, I'd love to see what Michael Mann could do with the material. His focus on dark colors and subdued atmospheres would work great, and his hands-on approach would be a benefit.

Jason Anders - (43 year old FBI Agent and head of the Reaper Team)
Anders is the head of the Reaper Team and is often at odds with Shawn, whether out of Shawn's impulsive behavior of Anders' general air of superiority. There are flashes of humanity in Anders' character, when thinking of his son for instance, that flesh his out as a person, so he has to be played in a sympathetic manner even while screaming at Kidd.

There are a few people I think could handle the role as I envisioned it, but I see Jason Isaacs (Harry Potter movies, The Patriot) as ideal. He's had experienced with despicable characters (which Anders is not), but he can engender a balance of sympathy and dislike in an audience. I've enjoyed his work and am enjoying his new spring show, Awake, so far.

Other possibilities suggested: John Cusack, Timothy Olyphant, Josh Duhamel, Patrick Wilson (who would be my second choice... possibly first if my make-believe movie gets made in 5 years instead of tomorrow)

Maurice Wood - (early 30s; African-American; Shawn's close friend)
Maurice was probably the hardest to cast, largely because I had a definite image in my head for him and few Hollywood actors fit the mental picture. He's stocky and thick, strong and forceful. With a fireplug build, it's difficult to find a good option. So, I was forced to make a bit of a compromise and allow for a taller actor to get the presence I was looking for.

Enter Idris Elba (Thor, The Wire).

Lieutenant Thomas Sebastian - (Early 20s; Marine detachment commander)
I always saw Sebastian as a thick, young guy that had a dominating presence though he himself wasn't physically intimidating. I think that sets itself apart from Shawn, opposites in both size and forceful attitude. He also needs to be a stoic individual that doesn't see the events he's swept up in as anything more than what he's been trained to expect. He isn't out of his element and he isn't flustered. It's just another day at the office fro him for the first 95% of the story, and that attitude requires someone that can keep cool and breezy in any instance. Corporal Hicks from Alines... that's what I want here. Unfortunately, Michael Biehn isn't 24 anymore. This realization has saddened me many times over the years. In a perfect world, Biehn never ages and releases 20 action movies a year. Seriously.

Anyway, back to Sebastian... The actor has to compliment Kidd without being a mirror of him, and that led me to Cam Gigandet (Who? Exactly...). I also considered Alex Pettyfer and Alex Winters (if he looked like he did as Bill S. Preston, Esq. in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure).

Garrick - (British mercenary; Leads terrorist faction military cell)
Garrick is a physically imposing figure in the story, a man that throws his weight around simply by entering a room and only expands on his presence by opening his mouth. He's charismatic and intimidating, and that needs to be taken into account. Though his part in the book is smaller than the others and only shows himself midway through the second act, it's an important role and one that drives the novel to its conclusion.

As such, there are a handful of actors today that carry themselves in a way that made them immediately jump to mind. Two stand out from the others, and either would be great. Chris Hemsworth (Thor and Red Dawn (2012))has the look of Garrick but may be a bit too much for the role. A possible alternative would be Henry Cavill (Superman (2012) and Immortals). Though Cavill is not near Hemsworth in sheer volume, I think he would be able to project more of a dominating personality. When I think of Garrick sitting in the van on that Swiss mountain road, It's Cavill.

Tobias Acklin - (mid-50s Swiss national; Friend of the Kidd family)
Tobias is another late introduction in the book, but he's an important piece given how it ends. There are certainly any number of experienced actors that could be great in the role: Jim Beaver, John Cusack, Chris Cooper, et al. I think, though, that since Tobias is the international flavor of the book, the character that expands the scope to a global crisis rather than the small-scale issue Shawn had been dealing with to that point, the actor should be international, as well.

This brings me to Christoph Waltz (Inglorious Bastards). Waltz is best known for playing eccentric Europeans, and i think this description fits Tobias to a 'T.' During our introduction to Tobias, as he sits at his lunch table eating an early meal, I can easily picture Waltz's face in the scene.

Irisi Girard - (20 yo French-Egyptian sleeper agent; Reaper member)
Irisi needs to have a definite sexuality but a hidden dark side... so, in essence any woman should likely work in the role. Ah... I kid, I kid.

As I wrote her character, Irisi always came across more as an archetype than a real person to me, and it made it difficult to write her. Then, I was watching How I Met Your Mother (excellent show, by the way), and I met Nazanin Boniadi. And, I had my Irisi.

Robert Culliford - (Early 30s FBI agent; Traitor and agency mole)
Culliford is a hard person to cast, if only because the guy has zero redeeming qualities and is inherently a douchebag. How to I pick someone, someone I supposedly like since I'm casting them, in such a crappy role? The guy is a greedy coward, more ratlike than human. With that glowing endorsement, I have to backtrack and completely apologize to a guy I think would be great in it.

Phantom of the Opera star and frequent Broadway singer Patrick Wilson (The Alamo, The Watchmen) is growing a strong following thanks to his recent turn on A Gifted Man on CBS. The show is great, and I've enjoyed every thing Wilson has been in. Earlier episodes of the television show really showed he could pull off 'selfish jackass' if he wanted to, and he'd be great as Culliford if he could channel that.

There you have it, my thoughts as to who could be put up in a Number 181 feature film. Proceed to debate ad nauseum as to whether you agree or disagree. I'd like it noted that I see a few up-and-coming stars that would be great in the coming years but are too young to fit the parts right now. You MIGHT see a couple of these younger stars in my next post that details who I think would be good for Shawn Kidd and Alexis Winters.

What say you? Agree...? Disagree...?

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