Casting Books into Movies

Which Book is Begging to be Made Into a Movie?

I recently came across this piece in the NYT by one of my favourite film critics, Dana Stevens, on which book she thought was begging to be made into a movie. She says:

“Envisioning the movie version of a beloved book is at once an act of tenderness and of violence. Even as you recognize that the thought experiment is likely to end in failure, you find yourself mentally casting the main characters, finessing the details of costume and production design, maybe even framing the opening shot. No film that commits the crass act of existing could compare with the one that takes shape in your mind as you read, a project unbeholden to the demands of budget or box-office draw or, indeed, the laws of time and space. (Want to cast Cary Grant opposite Cate Blanchett in a screwball update of Pride and Prejudice? Have at it.)”

customofthecountryShe goes on to envision an adaptation of Edith Wharton’s The Custom of the Country, starring either Amy Adams or Busy Philipps, and directed by either Sofia Coppola or Todd Haynes, (or “maybe a time traveling Douglas Sirk“).

You should read the article — it’s great. And it got me thinking, which book do I think is begging to be made into a movie?

womanwholosthersoulThe Woman Who Lost Her Soul, by Bob Shacochis is an epic, sprawling geopolitcal thriller in the vein of a John le Carré novel that sweeps across time and places such as Haiti, Turkey, Washington DC and Croatia. It was a long, stunning novel about love, war, and family, and I remember thinking it would be a fantastic movie.

In my fantasy producer role, I’d hire Fernando Meirelles, of The Constant Gardner and City of God fame, to direct. Lawyer Tom Harrington would be played by Bryan Cranston. Sargeant Eville Burnette would be played by Taylor Kitsch. (Okay, I admit this might be a bit of a stretch, but I’m currently obsessed with him as broody Riggins on Friday Night Lights, which may be coloring my choice here.) The titular “Woman,” beautiful and secretive photojournalist Jackie Scott, would be played by Elizabeth elizabetholsenOlsen, who I think is one of the most interesting actresses working in Hollywood right now. (Case in point: Did you see Martha Marcy May Marlene? You should.) And Christoph Waltz (you might remember him as the extra-evil Nazi from Inglorious Basterds) was born to play Jackie’s father.

Now it’s your turn: What book do you think is begging to be made into a movie?



Casting Female Literary Leads

The last two years have seen some pretty amazing female literary characters. Coincidentally, many of their print vehicles are being made into films (or should be, imo). Here is who I would cast if given the power. (Somebody really should give me this power).

JenniferConnellyNicole Kidman will produce and star in the psychological thriller Reconstructing Amelia, by Kimberly McCreight, but I picture someone a bit warmer playing the main character of Kate Baron, a single mother searching for answers to her teen daughter’s suicide. Jennifer Connelly has the softness and sadness to play a heartbroken mom, while still being believable as a revenge seeker. Plus, Jen hasn’t been in much lately and a well-done thriller could really inject some life into a once promising career.

11th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards - ArrivalsI really wish Bette Midler was young enough to play Jules Jacobsen in a film adaptation of Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings. But in her stead, I might cast a frizzy haired Lauren Ambrose (Claire Fisher from Six Feet Under), to portray Jules’s endearing neuroses. Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale) or Nicole Holofcener (Please Give) are two character-focused directors that would do a nice job with this New York dramedy, which follows the life trajectories of a group of performing arts camp attendees into adulthood.

TIME-JENNIFER-LAWRENCERachel Kushner has been the “it” girl of the fiction world this year. Her novel, The Flamethrowers — about a young motorcycle-riding artist in 1970s New York  — has been heaped with praise and award nods. Therefore, casting Hollywood’s current “it” girl Jennifer Lawrence as the title character, Reno, seems appropriate.

KateeSackhoffHugh Howey’s sci-fi thriller Wool has already been optioned by 20th Century Fox, with Ridley Scott, of Alien and Blade Runner fame, set to direct.  So far, I haven’t seen any word on who will star as Juliett, the badass reluctant hero of the post-apocalyptical saga. Who better to bring her fierceness to life than Battlestar Galactica’s Katee Sackhof (Starbuck).

SandraOhSusan Choi’s My Education, about a PhD student’s affair with her professor’s wife, may have recently been nominated for a Bad Sex Award, but I think the movie version would be hot! And you know who would make it so? Sandra Oh.

RachelWeiszMaria Semple’s Where’d You Go Bernadette – one of my favourite books of 2012is also being made into a movie.  Whoever plays the enigmatic, but hilarious, Bernadette, needs to be adept at playing a character with subtle humor and a complex interior psyche. Call me crazy, but I think Rachel Weisz would be perfect. Though she’s not known for her comedy chops, something tells me Rachel has it in her. (I purposely chose a semi-unflattering photo of her because she is totally wearing Bernadette sunglasses!)

SamiraWileyAnd finally, someone needs to make a movie of Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, just so I can see Samira Wiley play the roll of Nigerian-born Ifemelu as she navigates the complicated rules of race and nationality in America. Samira, who plays Poussey Washington in my new favourite show, Orange is the New Black, definitely has the charisma needed, and deserves a shot at a big-screen role.


What do you think? Should I change careers and head to Hollywood?