Welcome to the first installment of the CASTING BOOKS blog series. In this series, authors choose one of their books, and then discuss their dream cast for a movie based on that book. This first installment is written by the talented Lisa Morton.
Casting The Castle of Los Angeles
by Lisa Morton
This is really a bit of a cheat, because: 1) my novel The Castle of Los Angeles is set in the world of small theater, and many of the characters in it are based on actors I really worked with when I was producing and directing for the stage; and 2) I’m going to wimp out in a big way (see next paragraph)…
I think it’s tremendously important to the casting of the protagonist, Beth Ortiz, that she be played by a gifted young actress who is at least half-Latina, and I’m sorry to say that I can’t think of any who fit. There are several fantastic young actresses who could fit the age and talent and intensity – Rooney Mara comes to mind – but Beth’s identity is at the heart of Castle and it would hurt the story to either fake her heritage with some dark makeup or ignore it altogether. I’m not a television watcher, so perhaps there are some fine young Latina actresses out there already that I just don’t know about. However, I’d still love to find a talented newcomer for the role.
I know who I’d love to have play the antagonist, though: Jessamine Constanzo is an older woman, a celebrity artist, glamorous, arrogant, physically imposing, and extremely competitive. She was in fact based on an actress I worked with, but strangely enough that woman wouldn’t be right to play her. My perfect choice – despite the fact that I have no idea if she’s even still acting – would be Mary Woronov. I’ve always loved her work, and although she’s often been cast in comedies like Eating Raoul and Rock and Roll High School, there’s no question in my mind that she could slay a dramatic part like this. Plus she’s also a painter (and I like her art very much) and she came out of Andy Warhol’s group The Factory, which in some respects is not unlike the circle of artists in the Castle, so she’d grasp all of that intuitively.
There is one character in Castle who I absolutely did imagine with the face of a particular actor, and it’s the 19th-century axe murderer Kinney – I saw him with the unforgettable face of the marvelous character actor Roberts Blossom. Blossom – who is probably now most well-known for playing Ed Gein (although he’s called something else) in the superb 1974 low-budget thriller Deranged – had these amazing mile-deep hollow cheeks and crooked nose and intense eyes (and yes, his name really is “Roberts”). Unfortunately he passed away in 2011, so he can’t realistically play the part…but in my dream version, he’s the only choice for Kinney.
One piece of hiring is a no-brainer, and that’s the director for the film version of The Castle of Los Angeles. This ideal candidate is experienced, hard-working, good with actors, and knows the material inside and out. Oh, and I work cheap, too.
Lisa has been a screenwriter (and worked as Associate Producer on two films she wrote), a playwright and stage director/producer, the author of more than fifty published short stories, and a world-renowned Halloween expert. Her first novel, The Castle of Los Angeles, received the Bram Stoker Award® for First Novel, and more recently her first collection, Monsters of L.A., received a Bram Stoker Award® nomination. Her most recent books are the graphic novel Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times (with Rocky Wood and Greg Chapman) and the novella Wild Girls; forthcoming this October is Trick or Treat?: A History of Halloween. She lives in North Hollywood, California, and online at www.lisamorton.com.