Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Casting Call: A Pius Man, the Movie, 2011 Edition

After I started making a video for Scott Murphy (see below), where I used myself as a model, I was asked about starring in any particular film based off of the novel ....

To start with, that would be a great big no.

No. No.  And Hell No.

Which, of course, leads to the question: who would one get for the film, should it ever make it past the book production stage?

I tried to answer this question last year.  Since then, other people have come to my attention that might be better suited for some of these parts....

Assuming, of course, I don't make it into a video game.

However, as I said last time .... I guess the first question would be who could be cut from the film first.

A Pius Man is a novel that is over 400 pages long. There are nine characters of varying importance, and while that composes an interesting Fellowship of the Ring, I doubt any film will accommodate all of them.

So, any film would also have less character, as well as fewer characters, not to mention no ambiguity. Figuring out who's the lead may work in a leisurely novel, but movies have to move.

Maureen McGrail— An Irish InterPol agent who's in Rome to follow up on a murdered priest, she is a seriously deadly opponent, with advanced training  in silat, capoeira, and Krav maga. She is, in essence, the fighter from Hell. She's fair-skinned, black-haired, with green eyes. She's, obviously, athletic.

Pretty. But can they act?
Originally, when I wrote this article, I wrote that: physically, if you popped green contact lenses into the eyes of Jennifer Connelly, and gave her acting lessons and martial arts training, she would be good to go for the role.

However, since I have yet to see her act, someone else would probably be needed; someone with a similar coloring. Preferably, someone who can fake an Irish brogue and kick some ass. Similar coloring would imply Megan Fox... but I have yet to see her act, either.
She can fight.
But can she speak with a brogue?

Now, I would consider Summer Glau. Formerly of Firefly and Serenity, as well as the unfortunate series known as The Cape, Summer Glau is ...

Well, look at her photo. She's pretty, fair skinned, dark-eyes, athletic build (I'm not going to tell a former ballerina that she has no muscle tone, are you?).  Pop in some green contact lenses, you are good to go.  She's done a variety of accents from Russian to Cockney to smartass, so I can't imagine that an Irish accent would be too far beyond her abilities.

Not to mention that someone needs to give her a good role. Unless Joss Whedon wants to hire her for something else, it may be a while for her.

As for fighting ... This is her behind the scenes.

Compiled together, it looks like this on screen.

The next person in the cast list, and more problematic, is Wilhelmina Goldberg: a short, Jewish Secret Service technical geek, who's initially in Rome to provide a security audit ..... However, there aren't many 5' actresses, and many of those who are don't seem to be geared to play computer nerd. Short and dark, with blonde highlights ... unfortunately, no one leaps immediately to mind.

Please, God no.
Originally, I had suggested that, given angles of the face, and the fact that her natural hair color seems to be anything but blonde, Sarah Michelle Gellar may work, if she can speak geek with a straight face. Given the way Hollywood casts people, I would be afraid that they'd cast one of the witches of Charmed—who are also short and dark (Rose McGowan is the tallest at 5'4”).

Short enough.
But can she speak geek?
However, I don't believe any of them can really pull it off. Gellar, maybe.

Though, in retrospect, there is always Robin Tunney.  Lord knows she's small enough.  While her most impressive role to date has been as a cop on The Mentalist, and she can sound competent and intelligent in that role, I have no idea how well sounding intelligent as a cop can translate into sounding smart in Geek-speak. And, The Mentalist at least proves that she looks good in dark suits, and she can carry a gun -- although Goldberg's major requirement is that she can handle a gun without shooting herself in the foot.

In that respect, it is not impossible that we have a contender ... though how Tunney feels about highlights and contact lenses ... or about being Jewish. I have no idea if she can deliver a proper New York "Oy."

There is also Mary Lynn Rajskub, who is best known for playing a computer nerd on the tv series 24. However, there is a risk of cross-contamination. The same actress playing the same position with the same type of skills?  That has sunk casting decisions before -- and if Rajskub played Goldberg as she played her character in 24, it could be viewed as anti-Semitic.

Next on the cast list is Giovanni Figlia— Italian by heritage and a soccer player by build, I have some issues imagining someone who's 1) in good health, 2) possibly the father of two children, and 3) can pull off a passable Italian accent.

Originally, I had wondered: I wonder, does Billy Zane have a career anymore after Titanic? I liked him in The Phantom -- and let's face it, if an actor can go through a role in purple tights and maintain a straight face, very little is beyond his grasp.

However, in retrospect, maybe Adam Baldwin wouldn't be too out of line. Like all Italians, Figlia has military service. Unlike most Italians, he's a former member of their equivalent of SWAT.

Adam Baldwin, who, for the record, has no relation to the Baldwin clan of actors, can play military -- that's been most of his career (Independence Day, Chuck, Firefly). And, if he doesn't like contact lenses, well, I can settle for a blue-eyed Italian.

The only question becomes: can he fake the accent?

Spend enough time on
My third, and possibly best candidate, is an actor named Carlos Bernard. His height is closer to that of the written Giovanni Figlia. Best known for his role in the TV show 24, as well as a brief appearance on the TV show Burn Notice, Bernard seems to have a handle on playing characters who are comfortable about being in violent situations, without enjoying it too much.

The coloring is right, the build is right, and so is some of the training -- he was on 24, so he knows from guns and action sequences. His ethnic background is Spanish and Polish, so the coloring comes out Mediterranean

Now, can he do an Italian accent?

Hashim Abasi— Hashim is an Egyptian policeman who is also part of a think tank, with degrees in international politics.

Physically, I always imagined him as Ben Kingsley after a weightlifting regiment.

With reading glasses.

However, in the immortal words of Danny Glover, he might be getting too old for this sort of thing.

Back to Egypt?
However, on the other end of the spectrum, there is Arnold Vosloo.

Vosloo, who is not Middle Eastern, but South African, is probably best known for being the title character in both The Mummy and The Mummy Returns.

So, while not Egyptian, he has at least been to that neck of the woods before.

Also, like Hashim Abasi, Vosloo's not small. In fact, he's fairly well built. He's taller than 5'10" -- IMDB.com insists that he's 6'2". He's well-spoken in most of his parts, and if he can wrap his mouth around ancient Egyptian, well, I think he can go through some of my dialogue without breaking a sweat -- I'm not writing rocket science (that's my sci-fi stuff).

It's a thought.

As noted: My brain hurts just imagining this.
I'd sooner have Orlando Bloom and Willem Dafoe
Next is Sean AP Ryan—This is a hard role to fill. Take someone with “black Irish” coloring (black hair, pale skin, bright blue eyes), make him 5'6”, and at least looks like he can do his own stunts. He is mad, bad, and dangerous to know. He is a pleasant, friendly fellow, until you piss him off and he cripples you for life.....

My problem here is, based purely on that physical description, I feel like someone would try to cast Tobey McGuire or Elijah Wood in the role—both are images that seriously make me want to acid- wash my brain.

As I said last year: Can I have a stunt man who can act? Please?

Unfortunately, I'm no better at casting this role now than I was then.

The next one up is Father Frank Williams—I can't imagine an actor who's in his thirties with silver hair and violet eyes, but makeup can do wonders.

This requires an actor with a range that allows him to be soft spoken and quiet, and can probably beat someone to death with his bare hands.... I wonder if Ewan MacGregor enjoys playing shady priests...

However, that was my thought last year. And, really, while MacGregor would be a great priest, if only because he turned out to be another evil priest in another franchise, I'm not 100% convinced that he can spend most of the movie playing soft-spoken.  The last time he tried that, he was impersonating Alec Guinness.

On the other hand, there is Kiefer Sutherland. On 24, he was adept at going through the choreography for fight sequences, and he has a full range of voices, going from gentle and soft to full roar.

However, after eight years of 24, he might be getting tired of action sequences.

Although, come to think of it, Father Williams only has two fight scenes in the novel. Hmm ....

Joshua Kutjok—the Pope. Tall, African, a very physical Pope.

I would go for Michael Clarke Duncan, but I don't know how many different voices he has in his repertoire. Forest Whitaker is also a big fellow (6'2”), and seems to have gone through a workout regiment recently, and he played Idi Amin at one point,so he's done the accent.... there are possibilities here....

However, that was last year.

This year, while not as big, actor Hakeem Kae-Kazim is probably a better fit. For starters, he was actually born in Nigeria. He doesn't have to fake an accent. And, while I am not as familiar with his acting career as the others, he had a nice range of qualities on his appearance of 24, going from terrorist to loving boyfriend, and both at the same time.

However, according to his resume, he's been in Shakespeare plays ... I think he can handle whatever anyone throws at him.

Scott "Mossad" Murphy— The spy from Mossad....

This role needs a chameleon -- he can go unnoticed in a complete crowd. Once upon a time, this would have been played by Alec Guiness, who could practically play any role he wanted, with only a smidge of makeup and new clothes, and sometimes not even that.

Currently the only one I've seen who has managed the same trick has been David Suchet—he's played terrorists, policemen, biblical characters, Terry Pratchett characters, and Belgian Detectives. However, he left his twenties far behind him... also his thirties. Good acting can only go so far in making someone look younger. The same goes for the equally impressive Gary Oldman (Immortal BelovedBram Stoker's Dracula, The Dark KnightBatman Begins), or Geoffrey Rush (QuillsShineLes MiserablesPirates of the Caribbean on Stranger Tides). They are, unfortunately, getting too old to pass for someone in their twenties. Or thirties.

However, for a slightly younger actor.... Given the various acting jobs I've seen him do, I think Alan Tudyk should probably be on call for that one: I've seen him play nerds, neurotics, normal guys, absolute sociopaths, and Joss Whedon characters. He's a solid six feet tall, but I've only seen him look big maybe once—and with Lord of the Rings, we've certain seen the games that camera perspectives can play (no, Elijah Wood really isn't a midget.... really).

Unfortunately, like with Sean Ryan, I'm no better this year at coming up with a different name for this part.

Manana Shushurin—even though I had based this character on a real person (on the near left), I don't think I could coax her into playing the part, since she has a life.

Based on physical build and coloring, some have suggested Olivia Munn—both the build and coloring match, and even the facial structure works, at the right angles, but I have no idea if she could act her way out of a paper bag.

However, since last year, reflecting on this a little bit more, there is always Eliza Dushku.

Yes, Eliza Dushku has played in a lot of Joss Whedon productions, but have you seen her acting range?  One look at the various and sundry parts she played on the short-lived Dollhouse displayed an impressive array of acting qualities.

And, like Manana Shushurin, Dushku has a good record of going through combat sequences. It's been a staple of hers for at least two Joss Whedon shows.

And Shushurin is supposed to be able to speak in any accent she wants, so a Russian speaker isn't necessary for the role.

Also for Manana Shushurin, my friend Jason has suggested Anne Hathaway.  An idea that might not suck at all.  She's not unattractive, she's apparently able to do her own stunts ....

I'll be interested to see if she's able to handle her role as Catwoman in the upcoming The Dark Knight Rises.

Any thoughts on any or all of these, please comment below.

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