Howdy Interwebbers. I’m Matt Cohen, and I’m semi- consistent this week.
I hope you all got a chance to check out part one of this column (which can be found here) and are ready to jump right into the thinny and come out on the other side. So if you’ll kindly allow me to skip formalities, let’s get right into part 2 of the DARK TOWER fantasy casting session, this time taking a look at the characters from Roland’s past, featured in the fourth book in the series, THE WIZARD AND THE GLASS”…
YOUNG ROLAND DESCHAIN = UNKNOWN (or with a time machine, River Phoenix)
I can’t do it. I’m sorry gang, I tried. I really did. But I can’t… Just can’t. I cannot think of a young actor to fill in the “early” shoes of Roland Deschain. Outside of the elder Roland casting, I really think this is one of the more important roles in the books (and thereby and adaptation of them). I am ashamed and sorry to say I have failed you all. But rather fail purposely then fail by mistake (or hubris). If River Phoenix was alive and 18 years old, I’d say lock it down now. But really, this is a great opportunity to find that next star, that next career that COULD be where River’s was undoubtedly heading. General casting, nationwide/worldwide search, kidnapping. Whatever. Young Roland is out there somewhere. Now we just gotta find him.
SUSANNAH DELGADO = AMBER HEARD
The woman who would steal Roland’s heart, and unintentionally set him on his true quest. I think any male fan can cop to being a little bit in love with the tragic Ms. Delgado, so in casting the role you would need, in my opinion, a young lady who possesses both the looks and charm to make so many men fall in love with her. And I, am hardcore in love with Amber Heard. You may have seen her as Seth Rogen’s high school aged girlfriend in PINEAPPLE EXPRESS, but if you want a real indication of her chops, which she does very much possess, check out the soon to be re-released ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE. There is a sadness to her performance in that film that makes me think she’d be able to carry Susanna, and not just looks wise. Also, I want to marry her and make like 14 babies.
CORTLAND “CORT” ANDRUS = TERRY O’QUINN
Roland’s teacher and first “enemy” Cort should be as wise as he is intimidating. Described as a bald man with a scar… Hmmm. I wonder. JOHN, M’FING LOCKE, that’s who. I’ve been a huge fan of Terry O’Quinn for years, going back to his work on MILLENNIUM, but he certainly put his stamp on the world with his portrayal of everyone favorite crazy old man on ABC’S (and J.J’s… hint hint) LOST. Though not the most physically impressive man in the world, one would only need to see a few minutes of John Locke to know that his eyes can at the same time be soul piercingly frightening, and yet as warm and friendly (and wise) as could be. Also, I want to see him kick some mini gunslinger ass, if you will Sai’.
CUTHBERT ALLGOOD = EMILE HIRSCH/ALAIN JOHNS = JAMIE BELL/JAMIE De CURRIE = DOMINIC MONAGHAN
Why these three actors for these three characters, you may be asking yourself. Well, yourself, here’s my answer. I am cheating. To tell truths, Bert, Alain and Jamie get sort of muddled in my memory, making it hard to really differentiate the personalities of the respective young men. I always remember the important stuff, though. Brave, strong, and would die for Roland. For this reason I chose these three young men, who I think are at the top of their games. Though drastically different in style (less so in look), I think casting these guys would create a fantastic onscreen support system for whoever gets ultimately cast as young Roland. A star in each of their own rights, who would lend untold depth and, in terms of box office appeal, tremendous draw to the series - more specifically to the part of the series that may seem “slow” or “boring” when compared to the tales of Roland’s current Ka-Tet.
RHEA OF THE COOS = HELENA BONHAM CARTER
Imagine the most disgusting, decrepit hag of a witch that you’ve seen in movies, and then multiply that by 10. You have Rhea of the Coos. Impossible to age, impossible to resist (for some), Rhea is King’s most stereotypical “baddie” and yet one of his most effective. Basically, you need to cast the witch to end all witches. And I really can’t think of a woman who can play scary as well as Carter can. Yes, she’s played similar roles before, but never anything THIS outwardly dark and evil. For a woman who seems to pride herself on her range and ability to be more then a pretty face, this role would certainly appeal to her sensibilities. As long as she can promise her husband won’t get involved, I say this is damn near perfect casting (If i do say so myself… which I just did).
ROY DEPAPE = BRAD DOURIF
Eldred Jonas’ right hand man and quite arguably the most “unhinged” of the Big Coffin Hunters. Roy, unlike his handsome friend Clay, is all about two things… Following Jonas’s every order, and causing massive amounts of pain along the way. Now, this character can be read as a young man, as I read Clay, but I also think that an older casting choice would add a dynamic to the strange, almost bully-bullied relationship of Roy and Eldred that, though glossed over in the book, would flesh out these men’s respective backstories very nicely. On that trend, I’d go with old faithful, Brad Dourif. One of the creepiest and yet fantastic character actors I can think of. Imagine the role as a cross between his “baddie” work and his gig on DEADWOOD as a lovable country doctor (STAR TREK, what up!). For my money there’s not many who can play “crazy” like Mr. Dourif can.
CLAY REYNOLDS = BEN FOSTER
The ladykiller of the Big Coffin Hunters (mankiller, too… believe me Sai’). Smarter, better looking then Roy, but with ambitions that make him less trustworthy an associate. I’d go with a younger actor, to widen the gap between Roy and Clay even more. This has to be a man who appears smart, friendly, even downright likable - but when one’s back is turned will gladly stick the knife in. Foster, in his burgeoning career, has played a nice range of roles, showing that he can handle drastically different material. The movie to watch for a sample of what I see in this young man is 3:10 TO YUMA, in which he pretty much plays a sociopathic version of Clay.
SHEEMIE RUIZ = UNKNOWN
Sheemie is an extremely difficult casting choice, possibly the toughest in the series. How can you portray a mentally handicapped individual without appearing offensive or “jokey”. It often doesn’t work in films and, personally, an over the top mentally handicapped portrayal immediately takes me out of the film. So a character as important and loved as Sheemie deserves to be shown with the full grace and truth that King intended. I really think the only way to go with this is to do a open casting call for mentally challenged actors. It would also give a young man a chance to perform at a level they most likely never thought possible due to limitations. I think this is the way to do it.
CORAL THORIN = PATRICIA CLARKSON
Ah, the Thorins. There aren’t many families in fiction that I loathe more then these two out of Mejis. And though the Mayor is repugnant to the max, his sister can be said to be the true evil sibling. Manipulative, cunning, heartless, Coral Thorin is very much the Flagg character during the prequel portion of the series, and though this woman doesn’t strike me as anything as warm and genuine in real life, I really can see her “baddy’ing” out. Anyone unfamiliar with Ms. Clarkson’s work only need see a few films she is in, in particular her performance in THE STATION AGENT. Also, lady can ROCK a southern accent, which in my head is the only way I have ever heard Coral. She may not be as old or ugly as written, but hey, we live in the age of BENJAMIN BUTTON. I think she’ll be fine.
HART THORIN = DENNIS HOPPER
Creepy, old, and perverted. And he was in SPEED. I jest, but honestly, this to me is a no-brainer. Though he’s fallen into TV commercial territory lately, there are not many actors who just ooze the vibe that Hopper does, and has been doing for years. If I saw this man on the street, I’d cross the other way. A tad campy, but that would work for the visciously over the top Hart, who only want’s to “Get to know” the alluring Ms. Delgado a bit better. Now he wouldn’t need to go to Frank in BLUE VELVET levels, but if handled (read: directed) right, I think ole’ Dennis could legitimize himself yet again.
STEVEN DESCHAIN = JAMES BROLIN
Who could play the father of Roland? How ’bout… the father of the actor who plays Roland? History is full of father-son acting teams, but rarely are we given the chance to see two generations of the same “theater” family work together. How about we seize the opportunity, and at the same time throw some work to a dude who has fallen out of the game as of late, but still very much exudes “Badass movie star” with every ounce of his being? A bit older, a bit grayer then he may have been years ago, but looking now more then ever like a man who really could control a kingdom. I don’t extensively know the senior Brolin’s work, but just looking at a recent picture convinces me that this guy could really bring something, at least physically, to his role.
GABRIELLE DESCHAIN = MARY McDONNELL
Laura M’Fing Roslin yo. While Gabrielle is beautiful, there is an intangible sadness about her, almost as if she already knew the dastardly deeds Marten would coerce her into committing. In casting this role, I would go for someone who can carry that sense of grace and power, and yet an overwhelming sense of despair. Mary McDonnell has been doing it for years, in both forms. Pride/power (BATTLESTAR GALACTICA) and a crazy level of low (DONNIE DARKO). McDonnell would be visually stunning, but also age appropriate and a good match, I feel, for the choices of Brolin and Henricksen as Steven and Marten, respectively. And at the end of the day… It’s Roslin. So say we all. At least I do.
Tis’ all for this week, my friends and neigbors, but you know what? I’m digging this Tower talk so much, let’s stretch this bad boy out to one more column. Cover ALL the characters (and anyone I forgot) in the saga (or at least as many as I think are “important”). So please, check back next week for the conclusion (I promise this time) of “The Road To Gilead”.
“Long Days and Pleasant Nights”…
(Oh, and keep em’ Bagged and Boarded!)
-Matt Cohen is currently dressing his dog Hellmutt up like a billy-bumbler
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