Let’s count our chickens before they hatch; hell, let’s count them before the hen is even remotely interested in that cute rooster with the confident strut marching with aplomb right up to her, looking her right in her twitchy weird dinosaur eye and saying, “Girl, you want some dipping sauce to go with that two piece nugget?” (And yeah, before you ask, this chicken is charmed by this. Charmed. She’s a fucking chicken; roosters usually don’t go to the trouble of even trying to drop game let alone noticing her nuggets.)
So let’s cast a movie version of my new novel An Augmented Fourth now while absolutely no one is trying to make it a reality. Least not yet.
Thinking about adaptations of my novels is something I do as a fun mental exercise with my wife (life partner in crime) from time to time. Now you get to have the fun of being my wife, you’re welcome, Internet. Well, not all the fun.
Right out the gate, before we cast this thing we gotta talk about directing. Because you can have awesome source material (check) an awesome script (let’s assume, check) and a great cast (you will soon see, check) but if the direction is shit you might as well have made a shot for shot remake of Battlefield Earth only everyone in it is now played by either CGI blue catperson from Avatar or a racist stereotype bot from Transformers.
Naw, I’d watch that actually.
An Augmented Fourth requires someone who can handle horror, comedy, surprising pathos, psychedelic, otherworldly visuals and above all; someone who makes films that feel like rock and roll. Ladies and gents, I submit one Edgar Wright.
Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead, World’s End, Scott Pilgrim, his latest Baby Driver; all prove his wide knowledge of exciting cinema and how to use music - rock music in particular - to add the crucial tincture that makes a film come alive. But beyond that, look at his TV work like Spaced and his fake trailer contribution to the Grindhouse feature titled Don’t:
Both show that he knows how late 60s, early 70s and early 80s horror films should look and feel. He’s also proven he knows how to utilize voice over narration to help and not hinder a film. Much of the flavor of AAF (I am not gonna be bothered to type out the full title of my book anymore, peasants) comes from Codger telling the tale himself. So Edgar Wright seems like a given behind the camera but who will he be directing in his adaptation?
For our lead, the lord of low end himself, we need someone who can handle navel gazing preposterousness one minute as well as the endearingly permachill stoner Zen of a heavy metal lyricist bass player; being able to handle a Brummie accent would be a plus too. Cillian Murphy (Scarecrow from Batman and 28 Days Later dude) might fit the bill. And he has done the brummie accent before with his work on Peaky Blinders. Though I’ve read that some real life Brummies have taken umbrage at the accents attempted by Murphy and some of the rest of the cast. Which brings up the other contender, Murphy’s Peaky Blinders castmate Tom Hardy.
Either could work but I think Cillian might be a more surprising and unorthodox choice with his more delicate looks and this not being the first thing you think of when casting a role like this. On the other hand Tom Hardy seems a more obvious fit, having demonstrated similar characteristics of the loquacious but mumble mouthed in other roles; and having a knack for humor and weird physical ticks. But he’s also a bit over exposed it feels nowadays, right? Not that he’s done any bad work but it feels like he’s everywhere all the time (or maybe it’s just all the Tom Hardy lookalike knock offs that keep cropping up; the Creed and Seven Mary Threes to Tom Hardy’s Pearl Jam. The kid with the pouting lips in the last X-Men movie who played Cyclops, the Kroger brand Tom Hardy in Prometheus who played the dumb, dickhead scientist boyfriend; maybe they’re to blame and not Tom for saturating the cinema pool with Hardy light derivative drivel?
Ten Years Ago
Codger is an over the hill rock star burnout yes, but he’s only in his mid 30s (like this author…shit) so unfortunately frequent Edgar Wright collaborator Simon Pegg is just too damn old now to play Codger, but he would have been perfect just a decade earlier. Likewise to The Mighty Boosh’s Julian Barratt, who actually resembles the Codger who resides in my mind the most of any of the actors mentioned here.
The punk Goth high priestess worried about becoming a flash in the pan prima donna needs to have salt, sand, intelligence and a rough sense of humor. Quick with the putdowns and someone who despite their youth can carry their own next to the older Codger and Marcus. One option is Nathalie Emmanuel from Game of Thrones. She’s got the look no doubt and while she’s a fine actress I’ve only seen her in GOT and her role there is far too soft spoken and even tempered to fit Rikki Spectre’s brash, know-it-all type of bravado. But like I said, I haven’t seen much else she’s done, and she may very well possess and have already presented the qualities needed for Rikki in other roles.
The other choice for this role goes to Zendaya who I just watched in Spider-Man Homecoming and thought was tremendous with what little they gave her to do.
She totally has the sass and brains to be a know-it-all, could-give-a-shit punk rock queen. Her character in Spidey even had a penchant for Sylvia Plath and I figure Rikki would be a big fan of hers. Zendaya is also a musician and performer so she could be more than convincing on that front too. The one thing I’ll say against Zendaya is she is a little young for the role, but it’s really only by a few years and this film will not be made for at least a few (decades) so she has time to mature into the role.
Rikki is a composite character based on some real figures as well as just a creation of mine; but the real life figures she is based on the most are Siouxie Sioux and Poly Styrene from X-Ray Spex.
Like Poly, Rikki is half white and half Somali so it would it be nice to have an actress of mixed ancestry at the very least if not have someone with some actual Somali heritage. But I admit I don’t know much about most actors' ethnic makeup and have a total hole in my knowledge for any actresses with a Somali background.
The two choices here really present two very different takes on the character. On one side we have Terry Crews; a hilarious comedic actor who has also shown a knack for stepping up to the plate for dramatic moments when scenes called for it. Crews besides being funny as all get out could additionally easily convey the physical factor needed for the rock and roll bodyguard character that is loosely based on real life Doors and Rolling Stones bodyguard and Vietnam vet now turned writer Tony Funches.
The other option I’m circling is Anthony Mackie, The Falcon dude from Marvel movies and the dude from The Hurt Locker and other stuff. Mackie is a more traditional serious actor than Crews but he also has great comedic timing and can deliver the sort of rapid-fire, dude giving orders and laying out what’s what type of thing that Marcus does in the book so often. Mackie’s tackled military vets dealing with the ghosts of the battlefield before in previous roles and knows how to play a smart guy who happens to be tough which is essential for this part.
The Kid (Jon Lopez)
The bellhop, metal head, mega fan, who seems to know everything about Frivolous Black but still wants to ask Codger about it just to hear the grizzled rock star speak; this is the toughest role for me to cast mostly because I am getting old as shit and don’t know who the good young actors are anymore. Jon is young, 16-18, he needs to have tons of nervous energy and also a bit of a dark side. Jon is an American with Puerto Rican heritage and needs to look good but dorkly affable with long hair and braces. The onlyactors that I can think of are Tony Revolori (I seriously just saw Spider-Man Homecoming, what can I say?) and the dude already played a bellhop in Grand Budapest Hotel. He was very much like Jon in that Hotel role; playing the sort of naïve and sweet straight man to an older, pushy crank who had his own schemes. Revolori displayed a bit of mean streak in Spidey as well and showed he knows how to land a joke at his own expense, which is key to Jon’s character.
But again, like with Rikki, the character is Puerto Rican and this actor is an American with Guatemalan heritage; so maybe it's more fair to all the American actors with Puerto Rican roots that the role goes to them? The different types of Latino, Latinx people aren't just interchangeable and it’s not like there are a plethora of good roles for any Latino, Latinx actors in Hollywood movies right now so it makes sense to me that if a role was written to be an American kid with Puerto Rican heritage we should cast a kid like that. But maybe I’m over thinking this? I’m a white dude straight dude so I’ve never had to worry about representation for myself on the big screen.
Actor Jake T. Austin is a young American Puerto Rican actor who looks like he could play the part but I haven’t seem him act in shit. I know he’s done a bunch of TV and family stuff and the clips I watched all suffered from that Nickelodeon, ABC/Disney Channel over acting shit. But that might not be on him, you get that dude away from the clutches of cloying family friendly junk and he might just shine.
The Smaller Roles:
Tilda Swinton has been itching to play or just be Bowie for years, she’d nail this transformative role.
The Road Manager
This is barely a cameo, it could just be a voice on the phone. I think either Nick Frost or Simon Pegg would be fun here. Or, we give it to the man gifted with the voice of God’s cock, like some sort of below the waist Metatron, Matt Berry. “Father!” (Just imagine him saying “Codger!” like that)
This role has no lines so it relies entirely on the look and someone who can move in a weird Marilyn Manson crip-walk sort of way, model Idina Moncreiffe has got the 70s LP girl look down, she’s beautiful and a little strange, if she can use her skills on the catwalk towards contorting her body in unsettling ways the witch scene might be a standout creep out moment in the film.
The rest of Codger’s cohorts in musical darkness appear in flashback form throughout the book so they’ll have to be cast too. For Sully Sullivan, I was thinking Ron fucking Weasly. Rupert Grint has somehow aged into having that Ozzy angelic drug monster look and vibe. I got no ideas for the rest of the band (Vinnie and Burt) , maybe they should all be strung out looking former Potter alumni too?
Minor spoilers for remaining small roles, cameos
It occurs to me it might be fun to have real life metal musicians or just rockstars in these roles. The one problem might be that a lot of these are other bands back in the day so they’ll be young (ish) musicians and obviously all new music sucks (I kid, I kid, but most metal I know now is made by dudes and non-dudes at least in their 30s) so who would you pick for any of these roles? These would be analogues to these bands and artists back in the halcyon days of 1980.
(NOT) Van Halen
If only I had written this book 15 years ago and it got turned into a movie then so we could cast Sam Rockwell circa Hitchhiker’s Guide as our Diamond Dave stand in.
No one who was not on the set of a porno being shot in a dungeon in the 70s has ever looked like this guy. Not saying that’s good or bad, just sayin;.
(Not) The Eagles
White dude who looks good with an Afro plus 4 other 8 track playing smooth douche types? Impossible task or do we just cast Adam Levine and make everyone sad?
(Not) Randy Rhoades
I actually got one for this; for Sully Sullivan’s bostin’ new American guitar player we’ll do some wish fulfillment for a real life rock star (they have dreams too, you know) and cast Mastodon’s drummer/singer Brann Dailor as the ill-fated face melting six string master. Brann is an enormous Rhoades freak and I’m sure he’d jump at the chance.
(Actually John Lennon)
I didn’t bother with an analogue for this one because it’s fucking John Lennon. He only appears in mention by Codger in the opening of the book but I think it'd be fun to have Paul Rudd play him again, (he dida masterful version of him in the critical darling Walk Hard and I think it’d be neat to have him don the circular specs once again. Plus, it’d be a Yank playing the Beatle and funny as hell to hear Codger get riled up about how much he can’t stand Americans especially after they murdered his homeland hero knowing that he was mourning an American actor.
So that’s what I got? Did I bip it up? Got some better ideas than me? Let me know?
We gab Sabbath or maybe Black Gabbath or.. something better? Honestly, this interview was awesome, great conversation about my novel Augmented 4th, horror and heavy metal. And I lose half my fanbase (both of you) over whether I'm a Dio or Ozzy guy.