Welcome to the second 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 second installment is written by the brilliant Brent Michael Kelley.
by Brent Michael Kelley
It was a beautiful coincidence that I was asked to cast my book, Chuggie and the Desecration of Stagwater, for Casting Books. It’s something I’d thought about before, and very recently a friend and I had a long discussion about it. In fact, I was thinking sooner or later I’d get around to doing this as a blog post on my own site. But now the forbidden fruit must be tasted.
The story is set on the strange world of Mag Mell, and it follows Chuggie, the embodiment of Drought, as he rambles and drifts drunkenly from place to unwelcoming place. It’s full of dark forces using dark magic to do dark things darkly in dark places after dark. DARK! I’m just kidding. It’s not that dark. Well, it’s kinda dark.
Chuggie can only be played by Tom Waits. The character was born from a Tom Waits song, and I’ve always imagined Mr. Waits as Chuggie. When I write, that’s who I picture, and that’s whose voice I hear. Chuggie is rough around the edges. He’s seen it all. He’s either full of wisdom or full of shit, or both. He’ll sell you a pile of secondhand goods that may or may not be a complete ripoff. He’ll tell you tall tales about people he’s known and things he’s seen, but you won’t know if any of it is accurate, and there’s no way to find out. His voice is gravel, he likes to sing, and few can swear with such color and enthusiasm as he can.
Kagen Kale is big and mean and serious all the time. Brian Cranston would make an excellent Magistrate Kale. The character needs to intimidate with a look. He needs to make you cringe when he barks his orders at you. He needs to possess a cold cruelty coupled with a hunger for power. Oh, throw on some open contempt for everyone everywhere. I think Cranston would know just how to play this part.
Philip Seymour Hoffman would be amazing as Haste. Hoffman has an astounding talent for portraying loathsome people, and Chief Magistrate Haste is just that. He’s power hungry, arrogant, slobbish, loud, and generally unpleasant. Haste runs Stagwater ruthlessly. He has nothing but disdain for the citizenry, and he masterfully manipulates the public through pandering and fear. I’m certain PSH would have a lot of fun in this role.
We’ll get Crispin Glover to play Ronymous Fitch. See, Fitch is this oily, squirmy magistrate who uses spirituality to influence people. He preaches humility, but he’s as power hungry and cruel as any. Crispin Glover, like Hoffman, has a way of melting into bizarre roles. Did you see Dead Man with Johnny Depp? He wasn’t in it much, but his character was one of the most memorable. He’s got creepy down to a science, and that would come in very handy – especially when Fitch looks inside the goat face purse.
Long have I imagined the witch Shola being played by the lovely Mila Kunis. Shola has striking eyes. Mila does, too. Shola is petite. So is Mila. Shola runs around naked for a while. I’d like to see Mila do that. Also, Mila has shown that she can be creepy and seductive at the same time. This, I feel is important. I suspect if you watched Mila Kunis play Shola of Scarecrows, you’d forget she ever played Meg (p’tuh!) on Family Guy. Instead, she’d haunt your dreams with one blue eye and one white.
Debra Ann Woll would be fantastic in the role of Fey Voletta. FV is a sexy blade cultist with self-inflicted scars from head to toe. She uses her sexuality at every opportunity, but don’t get too excited, fellas! Fey Voletta is a virgin, and she’s likely to stay that way. If you think you’ve got a chance with this red-headed hellcat, she may very well just be getting ready to kill you. Debra plays a young vampire on HBO’s True Blood, and in that role she’s shown she can play a savage killer and sexy temptress at the same time. Important, I feel. Fey Voletta doesn’t get naked in this book, but I think we can adjust that in the screenplay. We’ll see what the director thinks.
We’ll get Ving Rhames to voice the Steel Jacks. If you saw Final Fantasy: Spirits Within, you heard him voicing Ryan of the Deep Eyes strike team. When that character has his helmet on, the voice gets filtered into this deep, sort-of-vibratory thing. We filter it a little more, and we got a voice for Non and the rest of the Steel Jacks. Those guys don’t mess around.
I’d trust Katey Sagal to play Faben Brassline. Faben’s a touch past her prime, but she’s still no one to mess with. She is a summoner who can call forth creatures from other realms to do her bidding. She’s also sassy, and she don’t take no guff. If you get on her bad side, she’ll give you a smack that’ll leave a mark. When it comes time to whoop some ass, Faben is ferocious. Katey plays Gemma on Sons of Anarchy, and that’s a good enough audition for me.
Jeff Bridges would be great as Captain Rorid. This character has seen a lot of action, but he’s getting close to retiring from the city guard. He’s blue collar, honest, and humble. He’s got some wisdom to impart on the next generation of guardsmen before he hangs up the red and black. If you need a whoopin’, he’ll give you one, but Rorid doesn’t pick a fight.
Guardsman Kletter Priole could only be played by Clay Matthews III. I realize he’s a football player. This means we can’t shoot the movie in the Fall. Well, the book is set in the Fall. That’s the director’s problem. When I made this character, I imagined Clay Matthews. Dude is a freaking warrior. Anyway, Priole is the prototypical guardsman. He’s tall, muscly, fast, and ready for action. But he’s also new to the job, and he definitely has a lot to learn from Captain Rorid (whether he’s willing to learn it or not). He may seem arrogant, but everything he does is for his young bride Ree.
Ree Priole doesn’t have a big role in this book. She may, however, have a bit more to say in the next one, so we need to cast her properly right away. I think Hailee Steinfeld would be great. She’s got a mischievous glimmer in her eye. Hopefully we can generate some chemistry between her and Clay Matthews, because those characters are going to be around for a very long time. Hailee was terrific in True Grit. I think she’d be great as Ree. Take it from me, chums. I know what lies ahead for the character. EEEE! I wish I could tell you! My publisher would kill me if I leak spoilers, though. Seriously, she showed me the chainsaw she’d use and everything.
Sam Rockwell needs to be Mucklin the Bartender. Mucklin is a jocular jerk, and Rockwell is a genius at such characters. Mucklin is selfish, sarcastic, and a bit of a bastard. The kind of character who deserves to have something bad happen to him, but you’d be sad if he was gone forever. He’s another one that isn’t going anywhere, so he must be cast appropriately in the beginning. Can’t you just imagine him teamed up with Clay Matthews, buddy action-flick style? That would be awesome. I mean dragon. That would be dragon.
Rob Zombie is good at the violence. Why, just the other day my four-month-old son and I were watching the Devil’s Rejects. I was all like, “Man, this is really violent!” Jordy just stared at the TV, fascinated by the moving colors and the snappy dialog. But more than just the violence, Rob Zombie has a ridiculous attention to detail. I’d trust him to make the violent scenes violent, the picturesque scenes picturesque, and the nude scenes NUDE the way God intended. Looking at you, Mila. You too, Debra. And Katey. I, personally, don’t need to see Clay Matthews naked, but that’s a decision for the director. If Rob Zombie thinks showing Clay Matthews nude would be the best thing for the STORY, I’d have to trust him. Would my wife go to this movie just to see that? Yes, she would. Every other woman I know? Yep, them too.
So this movie would have something for everybody. Perpetually intoxicated Tom Waits talkin’ loose, naked ladies, naked Clay Matthews, scarecrows, and a purse made from the face of a goat. Maybe we’ll get ol’ BMK in there for a little cameo, huh? Then again, that could make the film TOO sexy! You know what? I don’t care, I’m doing it. How often do you get a chance like this? Tom Waits and Rob Zombie! Throw in Maynard James Keenan and Isaac Brock, and my head will literally explode. But I’m rambling now. That’s your fault.
Thank you for your time. You found this article entertaining and informative.
Brent Michael Kelley lives in the countryside north of Tomahawk, Wisconsin, with his wife Keri, their son Jordy, and a small zoo of strange animals. He assures you he is not building an army of clone-bots at a secret bunker in the forest. His rivals may insist otherwise, but they are all madmen, bent on world domination. Not Brent, though. Nope. In addition to short stories, he writes about his pal Chuggie, the drunken and travel-worn embodiment of drought. Chuggie and the Desecration of Stagwater is available now from Omnium Gatherum, and the next Chuggie adventure is coming soon. Brent keeps his readers up to date at www.brentmichaelkelley.com.