His Ethan Gage Adventures feature an imperfect American adventurer who is not only a protege of the late Benjamin Franklin—but also a gambler, sharpshooter, treasure-hunter and romantic, who manages to get into plenty of trouble with women. Ethan's story entwines with Napoleon Bonaparte's, whom he first meets in Napoleon's Pyramids and is later allied to and odds with in The Rosetta Key and The Dakota Cipher. The newly released The Emerald Storm is the fourth novel in the series.
Here Dietrich shares some ideas for cast and director should the series be adapted for the cinema:
“When will it be a movie?” is one of the most frequent questions I get when speaking about my Ethan Gage adventure books, including the latest, The Emerald Storm.Learn more about the book and author at William Dietrich's website.
“Who should play Ethan?” I reply.
The female vote has tended to favor Hugh Jackman, the handsome Aussie, who indeed could have fun with the role. Eric Bana and James Franco are also hunks fans have offered.
Fun is the operative word. I have a hero who is not just heroic but at times funny, confused, or failing. It takes an adept actor to pull off that kind of cheek. Robert Downey Jr. brings a modern smirk to Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes, but I think he might be a little too commanding and contemporary as Ethan Gage.
Johnny Depp would be fascinating, as always, but is not quite robust enough. Alternately, I’d be curious to see if Jude Law could hold center stage in the role.
Harrison Ford, in his roles as Han Solo and Indiana Jones, captured the mix of pluck and vulnerability I imagine for Ethan. You need an actor who can be funny, and Clark Gable had the knack. David Niven would never physically make an Ethan Gage, but his mix of wit with derring-do again straddles the line between courage and comedy. Roger Moore is nothing like Ethan, but he brought archness to James Bond.
So it takes an action hero with range. Colin Farrell is an actor who has covered roles from Alexander the Great to the humor of In Bruges. Matt Damon and Brad Pitt always do interesting things. Lost’s Josh Holloway has that wisecracking stud quality.
The best choice, of course, might be a relative unknown, such as Sean Connery when he became James Bond.
Who do you suggest?
Astiza requires beauty married with intelligence, so the smoky intensity of a Catherine Zeta-Jones or Angelina Jolie. She needs to be a scene-stealer.
Napoleon should be Tom Cruise, who is an inch taller than the conqueror. While many picture the cartoon-plump Napoleon, looking constipated with his hand in his coat, the Napoleon of the Ethan Gage books rose as a slim rock star of magnetic energy, and Cruise has exactly that Napoleonic star power.
Paul Bettany, who has played Darwin, would make an interesting Robert Fulton. Could Depp pull off French voyageur Pierre Radisson? Alan Rickman as Talleyrand, perhaps. Don Cheadle as the imprisoned black revolutionary, Touissant L’Ouverture, and younger versions of Samuel L. Jackson as Dessalines and James Earl Jones as Jubal, in Emerald Storm.
The real difference would follow a director with the vision and skill to bend the actors to the roles. Any movie would be an historical epic, and the master at that is Ridley Scott. Peter Weir explored the era expertly in Master and Commander. Peter Jackson is perfect if we could get him out of Middle Earth, James Cameron if we could get him out of the water, and Steven Spielberg if we could just get him.
I’d love to see “based on the novel by” on the big screen, and the Battle of the Pyramids or the Haitian slave revolt are made for 3D, Imax, and CGI. But a series like Ethan also lends itself to HBO or Showtime.
So Hollywood, please call. Oh, and my cameo? Pretty much limited to an extra corpse, if you want a good movie.