Friday, August 27, 2010

Casting Call Friday - The Passage by Justin Cronin

Story Summary: (via Goodreads) First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is the long fight ahead and a future ruled by fear—of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse.
As civilization swiftly crumbles into a primal landscape of predators and prey, two people flee in search of sanctuary. FBI agent Brad Wolgast is a good man haunted by what he’s done in the line of duty. Six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte is a refugee from the doomed scientific project that has triggered apocalypse. He is determined to protect her from the horror set loose by her captors. But for Amy, escaping the bloody fallout is only the beginning of a much longer odyssey—spanning miles and decades—towards the time and place where she must finish what should never have begun.

Before I get into the actual casting of this book, I have to say two things: this book is very long (likely the longest one I’ve read this year), and it’s also very sad (but we are dealing with the post-apocalypse here, so maybe that was a given but I still wasn't expecting it). If I had to liken what’s happening in this book to something I’ve seen on the screen, I’d have to compare it to the TV show Lost. Just like in Lost, The Passage deals with multiple characters (including their individual histories and vantage points) and the whole story is like a big puzzle that gets put together very slowly.

I liked this book A LOT. It made me think about death a lot, it made me cry once, and it scared me and it shocked more times than I can remember. As much as I tried figuring it out, Justin Cronin still got me in the end.

Anyway, let’s get back to what this post is really about: The Casting Call. All I can say is that I hope Ridley Scott (who’s currently working on the movie-version of The Passage with the Fox Network) is somewhere out there taking copious notes.

Cast & Crew:
The Pre-Viral Years:
Amy Harper Bellafonte: Amy is the main main character of the book. When we first meet her, she is a six year old girl living a nightmarish life. After her mother, a prostitute, abandons her at a convent, Amy is chosen to be a specimen for the US ARMY-sponsored experiment NOAH. Once they’re done transforming her, Amy becomes a photophobic mutant with stunted aging.

Casting Callback: Destiny Whitlock – Whitlock is actually nine not six, but I think that’s insignificant in light of the fact that Destiny just has this look about her that’s very Amy: young but wise and haunted.

Special Agent Brad Wolgast: Wolgast is an FBI agent sent to queue human “specimens” for the NOAH experiment. He in his 30’s, divorced and a little depressed. But he is a good man, with a good heart and tries to do what he can to save Amy.

Casting Callback: Sean Penn – Yeah yeah I know, Sean Penn is not 30, not even close, but he is like my most favorite actor EVER and I know that he could play the role of Wolgast better then ANYONE else (except for Viggo Mortensen….maybe) and this is my movie, so I get to do what I want. Sean Penn it is!

Special Agent Phil Doyle: Doyle is Wolgast’s partner. He is younger, better looking and likes to follow the rules exactly the way the job dictates. He is not a villain; he just knows how to separate his profession from his personal life.

Casting Callback: Patrick Wilson – Patrick Wilson is a certified hottie with a bit of a mean streak…should a movie role call for it. He’d be a kickass Sean Penn sidekick.


Sister Lacey Antoinette Kudoto: Lacey is the nun that takes care of Amy when her mother abandons her at the convent. Lacey is from Sierra Leone and has a very earthy and spiritual essence.

Casting Callback: Viola Davis – Viola Davis is pretty awesome and every time I read about Lacey in the book, Viola's face popped up in my head.

Richards: Richards is the ultimate villain in the pre-viral years. He is a ruthless and calculating and would do anything to keep the NOAH experiment afloat.

Casting Callback: Kevin Bacon – For this role, Kevin Bacon just needs to channel that menacing vibe he had when played Wade in the movie Sleepers.

Post-Viral Years:

Amy Harper Bellafonte: When we’re reunited with Amy in the post-viral years, she looks anywhere between 13 and 16 years old and can no longer communicate using speech (at least not initially); her expressions have to say everything she cannot.

Casing Callback: Dakota Fanning – I am convinced, CONVINCED, that Justin Cronin wrote this older Amy with Dakota Fanning in mind (I mean, he did sell the movie rights to the book before it was even halfway finished.) And for a role that needs one’s expression to substitute their speech, there is no one out there that would do it better then Dakota.

Peter Jaxon: Peter is the main character during the post-apocalypse years. He is an integral part of the California colony of survivors and is an important member of their crossbow militia. In many ways, Peter becomes Amy’s protector during this time.

Casting Callback: Evan Ross – Sigh. I’m not convinces that Evan Ross can pull off a role as dramatically and physically challenging as this one, but he just has the right type of look for Peter.
Theo Jaxon: Theo is Peter’s older brother. He is portrayed as the main leader of the California colony of survivors, but he isn't quite up to be playing the role the hero everyone thinks he is.

Casting Callback: ? – I don’t know guys. I was really drawing a blank with Theo. These Jaxon boys are tough

Sara Fisher: Sara is a blonde nurse, who (almost) singlehandedly takes care of all the ailments experienced by the members of the colony. She grew up with Peter and has some unrequited romantic feeling for him. 

Casting Callback: Evan Rachel Wood –I’ve seen Evan Rachel Wood play so many different roles perfectly. She’d have this one down too, I’m sure.

Alicia Donadio: Alicia is a redheaded hot-head who is the best crossbow guard in the survivors’ colony. She is fierce but also very reckless, which sometimes endangers the colony.

Casing Callback: Lily Cole – Lily Cole is so gorgeous! That alone, and the fact that she is a redhead, makes her the perfect Alicia Donadio. Ah well, it’s not like this would be the first time an actor got a role simply because of their looks.

Michael Fisher: Michael is Sara’s younger brother and the colony’s reclusive mechanic/electrician. He is the first one to solve the mystery surrounding Amy’s agelessness.

Casting Callback: Eddie Redmayne – Eddie Redmayne is a decent actor and definitely has that i-don’t-go-out-into-the-sun-much-because-I-like-beings-indoors-playing-with-transmitters look about him. If he wasn’t an actor, he'd be a physics PhD student for sure!

Sanjay Patal: Is the stand-in (old-generation) leader of the California colony of survivors after the disappearance of Theo Jaxon. He is a very unfair leader whose decisions are based on the biases he has against the Jaxons.

Casting Callback: Ben Kingsley – Is anyone even questioning why I made this selection?


Mausami Patal: Maus is another brilliant crossbow guard for the colony’s militia. But she needs to step down from that role when she becomes pregnant. She is described as very beautiful and headstrong.

Casting Callback: Freida Pinto – Well, Freida Pinto certainly is very beautiful and I just want to see her star in more movies.

Greer: Greer is a major of the Army of the Republic of Texas. He befriends Peter, Alicia, Sara, Michael and joins their group when they decide to trek back to the original grounds of the NOAH project.

Casting Callback: Aaron Eckhart - Greer is another character that's hard to cast, but I think Aaron Eckhart could pull of pretty much any role, so I'll just use him as a filler here.


Director/Producer: Ridley Scott (well, they've already picked him, so why not.)

Soundtrack: I think Hans Zimmer would do a decent job composing a score for this movie.

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