Updated: Mar 24, 2021
It's hard not to think about your book possibly being turned into a big-budget film, or even a Netflix, HBO, or Amazon Prime series. At least it's hard not to think about it for me, I love visual mediums. I know Stephen King has mentally cast certain actors into the roles of some of his characters, at least he used to. I remember hearing about his preference of John Voight or Michael Moriarty for the role of Jack Torrance in The Shining, or Bruce Springsteen for Larry Underwood, my favorite character in The Stand.
I thought it would be fun to share my thoughts on a screen adaption (big or small) of Graveslinger if money were no object. Let the dream casting begin!
Fiya Pratt Diaz
First up, who would I have in mind for my lead, Fiya Pratt-Diaz? Small-sized, dark hair and eyes, with Latina-blood dominantly running through her veins. She is ideally in her early-mid twenties. Whoever would play her would also have to convincingly throw a punch, and hold her own against bigger males in the same room. Isabela Merced from Sicario: Day of Soldado is pretty close to fitting the bill. She's a teen in that movie, which is now a few years old, but she should be close to Fiya's age soon. And she can slug a bitch. Her performance in the film is top-notch and holds up next to Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro. I'm aware of some Dora movie she did a year or two after, which I didn't see, so some who are more familiar with that movie and are reading thinking "is Darren on drugs, wtf?" please go watch Sicario: Day of Soldado. No, it's not as excellent as the first film, but it's still pretty damn good.
Since I don't have a time machine to get Duane Jones from 1968 (unless that's in the budget. No? Ah, shucks), I've been scouring someone modern to live up to the desperate father to Liama. He's essentially the vessel the readers get to ride with as he is introduced to Fiya's world of hunting ghouls, demons, and werewolves. The ordinary man in an unordinary situation. He struggles to accept the strange, yet doesn't work against it either. Wanting to keep his baby safe, but also wanting to help those who are helping him are strong character traits I can see Lakeith Stanfield pulling off.
This may be lazy, but Thomas Bradley's daughter is so young it's best to cast an unknown. Someone plucky, and can deliver big saucer-sized sad eyes.
Broad as a bear and over six feet, Rutger is meant to be a big guy. Mentor to Fiya and legend among the underworld. Written as an ode to classic 80's action movie heroes, Rutger feels like he should be played by one. I've gone through so many of them, it's tough to narrow it down, but only one fits the bill best, even if he can't hide his accent. The man himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger, would personify the big guy best in my eyes. Slap a scruffy beard on him and he would be Rutger looking back at me from the pages. Yes, he still has a heavy accent after all these years and Rutger doesn't have one, but I'm willing to let that slide. Put a battle-ax in both his hands and let him swing away at a herd of ghouls and werewolves, who wouldn't want to watch that? This is the type of casting where I'm really swinging for the fences.
The werewolf pack leader, a vicious killer and brute with a dark sex appeal. Not the main villain, but a thorn in the characters' side as they try to stop Violess's big plan. He is the Sabertooth to Fiya's Wolverine (and I couldn't have picked a better picture, am I right?). This is another one I've pretty much had cast in my head from the beginning, so it's difficult to see anyone else other than Jason Momoa as Kael. He's moving higher up on the star-meter now, so he'd be another tough one to tack down. He's also played a werewolf before in Wolves, but I wouldn't mind having him go at it again, this time in full best mode. Ideally, I'd want as much practical FX as possible, because they look better on camera.
The demon riding in the body of a deceased woman. A bottom-dweller from hell who found a way to get recognized as something more than The Keeper of Vermin. She loves the body she occupies and even attempts to use it as a distraction. Responsible for the atrocities within the pages of Gravesllinger, she is the primary villain. She has an ego and doesn't like to be mocked. She's been a tough one for me to find an appropriate actress. She is intended to be tall and rocks an ungelled mohawk that dangles off to the side, so it would have to be someone willing to do that with her hair. Yet, should also be in the millennial/older gen-z age range. I never set a specific number, but that should be a wide net. Mary Elizabeth Winstead has the height, I've never been disappointed by a performance from her, can rock some crazy hair (see Scott Pilgrim). Would she shave her head to a mohawk? Uncertain. This may be against type for her, but she's one I'd recommend.
For Director, I've given this a lot of thought over the years and I've come to the choice of Zack Snyder (2004's Dawn of the Dead, Watchmen, BvS, his cut of Justice League). I know he's not everyone's cup of tea but he's mine with two spoonfuls of sugar! There's a certain dynamic eye he has, fearless at tackling comic material and taking it seriously, without being too serious. And he doesn't fear the R rating, which this clearly would be. I'm also a fan of his action sequences, especially the warehouse scene in Batman V Superman. Sure, he does like to over-do it on the CGI, and he does work better when he has a lot of time and good source material in front of him, but I feel like I could trust him to adapt Graveslinger to a visual medium. I'd also like to see him return to action-oriented horror like Dawn of the Dead, which it looks like I'll get with the upcoming Army of the Dead.
For Cinematographer, I can't resist selecting my all-time favorite cinematographer, Roger Deakins (Skyfall, Bladerunner 2049, 1917). The color grading issues people often have with Snyder's visuals? Well, Roger's where I combat that. Cinematography is one area that really appeals to me when I watch a movie, and when I find out Roger is working on something, I try to seek the film out on general principle. His work on Skyfall convinced me he could shoot kinetic coherent action, so he can shoot any damn well thing he puts his mind to.
The final area where I've given some thought is the Film Composer, the honcho in charge of scoring the thing. Snyder's worked with a few of my favorites already, Tom Holkenborg is a great choice, and Hans Zimmer is a can't-miss for me. But...while I'm open to either of those two, lord knows I've listened to their soundtracks in the background while I wrote Graveslinger, I feel perhaps one of them could collaborate with someone new. Tool's Adam Jones seems interested in scoring, and the music he wrote for a guitar commercial (see The Witness from Gibson) has that hard rock edge and sound I love, combined with a brooding atmosphere. Plus he'd likely bring along bandmates Justin Chancellor and Danny Carey (who has worked with Zimmer and Holkenborg before on the Man of Steel soundtrack) as he did for The Witness.
A fully illustrated poster by Drew Struzan would be a dream.
And there you have it, my ideal cast and some of the crew for a film/limited series adaption of Graveslinger. Tall order? Yeah, that's why these are dream choices. When my debut novel Graveslinger is released this summer, I hope some of you come back with your own suggestions.
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