Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Chris Grabenstein's "Slay Ride"

Chris Grabenstein has written screenplays, made-for-TV movies, and Muppet scripts. He is the author of the "John Ceepak" mystery series, and the "Christopher Miller" Holiday Thrillers, which started with Slay Ride.

Here he shares his ideas about casting the main roles in film adaptations of some his novels, beginning with Slay Ride:
So, who would play Christopher Miller, the intrepid, stalwart FBI agent everybody calls Saint Chris?


Laurence Fishburne.

While writing the novel, I had a photo of Fishburne pinned to the wall over my computer. I think he’s the right age, look, and feel for the part. My character Miller is a 50-ish African American and part of the “theme” of Slay Ride (if fast-paced page-flippers are allowed to have those) is about middle age and the common assumption that ones best days are behind when you hit 50.

Well, Christopher Miller doesn’t get a chance to call it quits, relax on the sidelines and let others save the day. The day still needs him and he has a lot to offer.

Laurence Fishburne can handle the action stuff (All the Matrix movies, Mission Impossible III, Assault on Precinct 13, etc.) but it’s his work in movies such as Akeelah and the Bee, Mystic River, What’s Love Got To Do With It, and Boyz In The Hood that show off his incredibly deep acting chops. He would make an incredible, unforgettable Saint Chris.

So who would play his nemesis, the mad Russian limo driver Nicolai Kyznetsoff? Robert De Niro in a whole new take on his taxi driver role.

As a writer, the harder question for me comes when people at book signings ask me “Who do you see playing John Ceepak,” the lead character in my Anthony Award-winning murder mystery series set down the Jersey Shore (Tilt A Whirl, Mad Mouse, Whack A Mole). Ceepak is a 6’2” tower of power who will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate those who do. He also has a dark past that still haunts him. There is a hint of sadness behind his eyes.

So, not just any hunk will do!

I never had a picture pinned to the wall when writing Ceepak. I just imagined the physical characteristics of my nephew, the ex-Marine and the integrity of some MPs and FDNY guys I’ve met.

So, when asked about Ceepak and the movies, I always answer “a young Harrison Ford.” But then I realize – there are no young Harrison Fords in the movies these days. That quiet, strong man, a stock character stretching back all the way to Gary Cooper, seems to be missing from the multiplex these days.

Gary Cooper! Yes, he could play Ceepak. He’d just have to hit the gym and bulk up a little.

There is a song titled “The Americans” on the new John Mellencamp album Freedom’s Road that sums up Ceepak best: “I like my heroes to be honest and strong.”

So who plays THAT in the movies?
Visit Chris Grabenstein's official website to learn more about his books and the forthcoming releases, Whack A Mole and the second Christopher Miller thriller.

--Marshal Zeringue