Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Albyn Leah Hall's "The Rhythm of the Road"

Albyn Leah Hall is the author of the novels Deliria and, more recently, The Rhythm of the Road.

Here she shares some ideas about the casting for a film adaptation of the new novel:
The Rhythm of the Road is the story of Josephine, an English truck driver’s daughter, who spends her childhood in her father’s truck. Together with her Irish father, the sweetly depressive Bobby Pickering, Josephine lives out an ersatz version of the American dream, obsessively listening to country music while traveling the English motorways. Josephine and Bobby can’t believe their luck when Cosima Stewart, a beautiful country singer from Texas, hitches a lift with them. As Cosima’s career begins to rise, they become her biggest fans. This is harmless enough until Bobby, already a tormented and fragile soul, disappears on an overnight ferry to Dublin. Josephine, now a teenager and in denial about her father’s disappearance, manically pursues Cosima, conjuring a friendship that does not exist and even following her to California.

A road novel and psychological thriller based on two continents, Rhythm should be a delight to cast. The easiest role to fill would be Cosima herself, though it would be helpful if the actress could sing. Charlize Theron would be excellent, as would Reese Witherspoon. Rick, her arrogant, rock-star boyfriend who deflowers the young Josephine could be played by any number of young actors: Jude Law, and Matthew Macfadyen, and Jake Gyllenhaal are all contenders. The casting of Bobby, whose descent into mental illness is pivotal to the storyline, is trickier. My first choice would be Heath Ledger, provided he could do a Northern Irish accent. (Ledger also shows a great capacity for aging, as he did in “Brokeback Mountain.”) Another important character, appearing at both the beginning and end of the book, is Rosalie, Josephine’s long-lost mother. This actress needs to be able to play quite a range, from the young, drug-addled Goth from Los Angeles to the Orthodox Jew whom she eventually becomes. (I would also need an actress capable of aging herself, from nineteen to forty.) Thora Birch, Christina Ricci, and Drew Barrymore are all strong possibilities. For Cleat, the gun-toting sociopath whom Josephine meets in Bakersfield, we need an actor willing to be both grotesque and charismatic; Ryan Gosling could be an idea.

The most difficult person to cast is Josephine herself. As Josephine grows from a sweet daddy’s girl to a promiscuous stalker, this actress needs to encompass a huge emotional range. Given the age range she spans, we may require two or three actresses in any case; I could see Abigail Breslin for the pre-teen Jo, provided she can do an English accent. My ideal scenario would be to cast the rest of the characters by famous actors, leaving the young Jo to be cast by a fabulous unknown.
Read an excerpt from The Rhythm of the Road and learn more about Albyn Leah Hall's writing at her website.

--Marshal Zeringue