Friday, April 6, 2007

Kris Nelscott's "Days of Rage"

Kris Nelscott is the mystery-writing nom de plume of award-winning author Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

In 2001, Nelscott
received the Herodotus Award for Best Historical Mystery Novel for A Dangerous Road, which was also nominated for an Edgar.

she develops some casting ideas for a film adaptation of Days of Rage, which Kirkus chose as one of the top ten books of 2006:
For years, people have asked me which actor should play Smokey Dalton, the late 60s private eye whose most recent appearance was in my novel, Days of Rage. My answer never satisfies anyone, even though they understand.

Sidney Poitier is Smokey Dalton. Hands down. The man whom they call Mr. Tibbs has the right combination of pride, toughness, and intelligence to play the hero of these novels.

But Smokey is in his forties and Sidney is no longer, unfortunately. So I’ve played with the idea of many different actors playing Smokey. All would bring something different. Denzel Washington can also do the anger/pride/intelligence but he’s always a bit vulnerable, when Smokey is not. He’s also the right age. Danny Glover is a tad too old, but who cares? He would be quite convincing. As would Morgan Freeman or Samuel L. Jackson or Will Smith or just about any major black star. (Don Cheadle is a small man, but I have a hunch he’d bring something quite unique to the role.)

As for the other main characters, I never gave an on-screen Jimmy much thought until I saw Jaden Smith playing opposite his father in The Pursuit of Happyness. Jaden Smith would be perfect for Jimmy. He has the right combination of heart and bravado.

Laura Hathaway ... well, in my dream casting, she’s Jane Fonda (from Coming Home). She is beautiful — required — and also has that perfect combination of intelligence and naiveté that are Laura’s hallmarks. Fonda can play a convincing hippie as well as a convincing wealthy woman. (Having been both.)

Modern actresses in the right age group? There aren’t many who can pull that combination off. I was thinking of Cate Blanchett, but naïve she’s not. It would have to be quite the acting stretch (which I suspect she’s capable of). Scarlett Johansson is too young. Jodie Foster maybe, but it’s hard for her to do extremely feminine, which Laura does as an act. The only one who might be able to pull off Laura now is Reese Witherspoon, because she can hide that intelligence and bring it out like a weapon if necessary.

And finally, Marvella Walker. That’s easy casting. We need a woman with a distinctive look and a lot of personal power. Gina Torres comes to mind. So does Angela Bassett.

As for the others, like Truman Johnson, I have no real preference. However, if anyone ever casts Jack Sinkovich, I’d like a true Chicagoan to play him, someone who still has the accent, like Gary Sinise or Gary Cole. I’ll even take John Mahoney, although he’s too old. He’s got the world-weariness.

My real dream casting, however, is to have Memphis play Memphis and Chicago play Chicago. I know that’s probably too much to ask, more even than to have my perfect actors in the right roles. But a writer can dream, can’t she?
Read an excerpt from Days of Rage.

Days of Rage is the sixth novel in the Smokey Dalton series: to read the series from the beginning, start with A Dangerous Road.

Visit Kristine Kathryn Rusch's website.

Also see the "My Book, The Movie" entry for Kristine Kathryn Rusch's The Retrieval Artist.

--Marshal Zeringue