Here Joy dreamcasts an adaptation of Where All Light Tends to Go:
I don’t spend a whole lot of time watching television or film, but if Where All Light Tends To Go were made into a movie I’d want David Burris to direct it. That much is simple. I look at what he did with Ron Rash’s The World Made Straight and the budget he did it with and I’m in awe. I was scared going into that film because that’s my favorite novel Ron has ever written, but it’s quite literally the book on screen. That’s flat out the best film adaptation I’ve ever seen. I think the adaptation of Winter’s Bone would be a close second, but for my money I’d go with Burris.Visit David Joy's website.
With the casting of the characters I think I would have more trouble.
The only character in Where All Light Tends To Go that was always very clear to me if I entertained the thought of a film adaptation was Jacob’s father, Charlie McNeely. I always saw Charlie being played by Kim Coates. I think Kim always plays a really good bad guy, though a lot of times there seems to be an unspoken complexity to the roles he plays. That dark hair and those haunting eyes, that’s definitely Charlie all over. We’d just have to teach him an Appalachian accent.
As far as Jacob, this wouldn’t really work anymore because he’s grown, but I see someone like Lucas Black. I loved Lucas in films like the The War. So often people who try to play Southerners get it wrong, but he’s always been so authentic. He does a really fine job of playing a character carrying a tremendous weight. Lucas just has a way of conveying that inherent sadness that would be so important to capture with a character like Jacob McNeely.
Dale Dickey would do a really fine job of playing Jacob’s mother. She’s another one that I almost feel as strongly about as Kim Coates playing Charlie. A lot of times Dale seems to be typecast as an addict, but I think she does a really great job of conveying that with honesty on the screen. Her role on Breaking Bad, though small, was actually one of my favorite characters on that show. If anyone could pull off Jacob’s mother it would be her.
Maggie Jennings would be a really hard character to cast. We’d need to find someone young with loads of screen presence, as Maggie is really the only source of hope in the novel. Not that Jennifer Lawrence would work, but I envision someone with the power she had in a film like Winter’s Bone. That raw, unrefined type of performance was absolutely beautiful, and I think it would be important to find someone with that type of presence.
There’s a reason I chose the novel. I’m a one trick pony for sure. The idea of film just eludes me. That being said, I think this story would be intense on the screen. But if I could have any input at all I’d want to be in control of the soundtrack, and more particularly the very last song to play. As the camera panned away from the final scene, I’d want to hear Gillian Welch’s “Not Afraid To Die.” I’d want to look around the theatre and see people sitting dumbstruck in their seats, unmoving, their eyes glassed over with tears. I want that story to break people’s hearts.
Writers Read: David Joy.
The Page 69 Test: Where All Light Tends to Go.