One of my guiltier pleasures in regards to the book writing efforts--aside from imagining how I'm going to spend the millions of dollars I'll make because of its publication, of course--has been casting the movie that will be made out of it. That's a practice my entire family has been involved with, in fact. Some day I hope to be famous enough to be able to ask other writers if they engage in the same speculative practice without fear of being laughed out of the room.
They must, yes?
It only sounds narcissistic. It's actually a fun activity, putting real actors into imaginary roles. It's also useful in helping to visualize the characters, to breathe a little bit more life into them. Debra advised me to take a drive with my characters in order to talk to them and get to know them. This is the aspect of writing--the personalization of the characters--that makes stories capture our hearts and our minds and our spleens. Well, maybe not that last, but still....
Anyway, what male writer wouldn't prefer to take a drive to get to know Angelina Jolie rather than a mental sketch of a book character?
Yeah, she was the hands-down uncontested winner for the role of Aphrodite. The goddess of love in Cataclysm has to be omigod sexy to the point where men want to rip their shirts off and women want to either destroy the movie screen or join the men in forcibly disrobing. At the same time, there has to be a depth to her character. She's kookoo for cocoa puffs, to be sure, but it's over a god. Besides, she's been around for a long, long time. Thus, the role of Aphrodite has to be filled by someone who can do stop-your-breath sexy and delightfully evil at the same time while carrying along some slick personality. Oh, and auburn hair. Ten or fifteen years ago there would've been a few names I would've put forth, including/especially Sharon Stone (who is, incidentally, playing Aphrodite in the upcoming book-to-movie Gods Behaving Badly, which is kinda sorta not really at all like my book). Now, though, I only think of one person: Angelina.
The other half of the famous celebricouple, Brad Pitt, came up when discussing Matt's actor. I like Brad Pitt. A lot of people like Brad Pitt, as a matter of fact. He's a solid action actor with a nice depth of character to him. Thing is, I see him as a great action guy, but not as a Greek god sort of guy. He's great in shoot 'em, run fast, drive fast kinds of roles, but...Greek God of War? His portrayal of Achilles in Troy was close, but didn't sell me; frankly, I thought he was miscast in that role. I fear that seeing him as Mars would give me much the same reaction I had when watching the movie Thor: yeah, nice abs, but you're a god? Really?
I suppose, though, that you can't ask the question of who should play your Greek/Roman/Norse/Egyptian/Californian god to a household of women without getting a lot of feedback. Tom Cruise was another name tossed my way, but he's in the same category as Brad. Worse, I don't see Tom Cruise as even having a sense of humor to speak of, while Matt's subtle humor shows itself several times in the book. Heide suggested Antonio Banderas with a swoon in her voice, but Latin Lover as Greek God? Not even I could be that irreverent. I mean, yeah, I recognize that we're talking about the same geographical region when we talk of Roman stuff and Latin stuff, but you get two very different male aspects out of the archetypes. No, no, no.
There were three candidates, then, that made it to the "Hmm, interesting idea" stage of Matt's Imaginary Casting. Before the reveal, though, I have to make mention of the Avatar of God himself, Sir Sean Connery. Yes, he's great, and yes, twenty or thirty years ago I'd strongly suggest him. But let the man have the graceful retirement he deserves. A tip o'th' hat, then, to Sir Sean, along with a grand sigh that he's not a candidate for this one.
Ashton Kutcher was a top candidate. He's a fine actor, and he brings a ton of humor to the table. I'm not not sure I could see the guy who played Kelso on That 70's Show as the god of war. Kutcher's characters tend to be lovable goofballs, which is one occasional aspect of Matt's personality--but not the whole of it by any means. I don't think, then, that Kutcher's right for the role.
Both of the women picked as their choice: Vin Diesel. I like him, too. He's got the gritty, manly, stick-a-sword-in-your-face side, and he's got a loving, caring, cuddle-bunny side as well. He clearly is in touch with all aspects of his manhood, and his characters show that depth. Also, I've enjoyed the sense of humor he brings, and a sense of humor is, as I've said before, a key aspect of Matt's character. The god of war in my book has to be able to slice the head off of a troll, hug his wife tenderly, and crack a joke about the dichotomy of the situation all at the same time. Vin Diesel could do that, I think.
My problem is that I see Vin Diesel more as Thor in my book than as Matt. Many people see the god of war as someone who goes out and revels in any battle available at the moment, and starts one if there isn't one readily available. But as you read through the book you will hopefully see a different god of war. Different as in Nicolas Cage, that is. His role of Balthazar in the Sorcerer's Apprentice was pretty much spot on with what I've envisioned as Matt: powerful, yet caring, and a wisecracking smartass to boot. National Treasure showed a very similar personality profile in a different setting, and I loved that movie mostly because of the personality. I hated City of Angels, which I think was a universal sentiment, but a major source of my hatred was the depth to which Cage played Seth's character. He took an angel doing something really stupid and selfish and made us all love him.
So yeah, I'm pretty sure that if I'm ever given a say in who plays Matt in the grand movie experience, I'm going to ask for Nicolas Cage. It's still a fantasy at this point, but the whole book project is fantasy, so why not?
Meanwhile, I'm also pretty sure that I'm out of bytes for today. Thus, I'll have to leave off discussion of who might some day play the lead character, Crystal, for a later blog. Time to get to the actual work of writing!
Have a great day!