Playing casting director

8 Sep

One of my successes of the summer was the amount of good reading I accomplished, and there were three books in particular that stood out: A Sudden Country by Karen Fisher, This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer.
That last book is still resonating with me two days after I finished it. One reason for this blog is to record for myself that I was incredibly moved by this book (as in, spent the last 50 pages crying). As I usually do after I finish a book, I scanned the reader reviews on Amazon and realized I wasn’t the only one who closed the book (reluctantly leaving Oskar’s world), sat back and said, “Wow.”
Another reason for the blog is to note that the latter two books might get the Hollywood treatment soon, and I want to set the producers straight on who should have the starring roles. Alas, Hollywood didn’t listen to me a few years ago when I ordered up Adrien Brody to play Henry in The Time Traveler’s Wife. Eric Bana was just OK.
So here’s how it should be: Paul Rudd should play the protagonist in This is Where I Leave You — the shiva-sitting son who flashes back to important scenes in his life and tries to make sense of his failed marriage. The character comes across as intensely funny, approaching handsome and nebbishy. Anyway, I was picturing Rudd as I read this novel during my mountain vacation.
As for ELIC, I wasn’t too far into the book when I saw a news crawl that production had begun, with Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks being solicited to star in the movie version. So I started picturing Bullock in the mom role, and that seemed OK. It made me wonder, though, how the book would be adapted to fit in more screen time for the Oscar-winning Bullock, since it’s Oskar (the kid) and a slew of minor yet eccentric characters who dominate the book. By the same token, if Hanks plays Oskar’s dad, how will he be given more lines? In the novel, the dad is recalled through occasional flashbacks and voice mail messages.
Casting would be crucial for the subplot of the book, involving Oskar’s German grandparents. Maybe Lena Olin and Bruno Ganz? I’m just taking a wild guess.
I know for sure, though, who would be wonderful as Mr. Black, the centenarian who helps Oskar on his Holden Caulfield-esque journey through the five (or are there six?) boroughs of New York. Ed Asner — he can play old … and spunky … and a little off his rocker. Do you hear me, Hollywood? Ed Asner, star of the recent animated movie Up. Perfect.
Now, casting Oskar, that should be a challenge, when you have to sell audiences on how incredibly precocious this 9-year-old is and on how he can be endearing and annoying at the same time. The only child actor who comes to mind is the smart kid on the TV show The Middle.
The screen version of Foer’s Everything is Illuminated was enchanting, so I have high hopes for the movie of ELIC. In early 2012, supposedly.

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