Sunday, March 30, 2008

Ron Currie, Jr.'s "God Is Dead"

Ron Currie, Jr.'s prizewinning fiction has appeared in Glimmer Train, The Sun, Other Voices, and Night Train. He has been shortlisted for the Fish International Short Story Award and Swink magazine's Emerging Writer Award.

In June 2007, he applied the Page 69 Test to his acclaimed debut novel, God Is Dead. Here he shares some thoughts on the cast should the book be adapted for the movies:
When I was approached about contributing to MBTM, my first instinct was to try to dodge the specifics of the site’s premise—namely that I should choose the actor(s) I thought would best portray the book’s characters—because I couldn’t for the life of me think of who could play the titular character. God, in the book, is a young, slender Dinka woman on the run from marauding packs of Janjaweed militia. If the role were straight tragedy there are probably a dozen actresses who’d fit the bill, but the tone of the story requires a slight yet palpable element of humor from the character, one that would need to be conveyed subtly, without the aid of any dialogue cues, a challenge not many actors are equal to.

So instead I turned to a few of the book’s other characters. First to mind was Colin Powell, who dominates the first chapter. This is not the stern, measured soldier and statesman you see on the evening news, though—he’s a furious, foul-mouthed race warrior who obsessively watches Samuel Jackson movies to learn how to speak “black.” I’ve got Terrence Howard in mind for this role—he’s somewhat young, given, but versatile enough to pull off both the over-the-top pimpspeak and the deep sorrow and resentment eating at the character’s soul.

Then there’s the talking dog who narrates the sixth chapter, “Interview with the Last Remaining Member of the Feral Dog Pack Which Fed on God’s Corpse.” Like Adam with the apple, this dog eats the Creator and is filled with a tremendous and terrible knowledge, something that he is not, for obvious reasons, equipped to deal with. This sudden omniscience drives him from the Eden of his existence within the pack, and the story then follows his doomed efforts to find a new home among human beings. They’re doing incredible things with CGI these days, but I’d be worried that visually a screen adaptation of this character would end up looking a lot like that live-action Scooby Doo debacle a few years back. That aside, as far as voicing the character goes, given my druthers it’d be Djimon Hounsou in a landslide—he’s got the accent, the timbre, the resigned solemnity (and hopefully by the time God is Dead hits movie screens everyone will have forgotten about Never Back Down).

Okay, I’ve avoided it long enough—given the title of the book I suppose I’m obligated to float at least a couple of possibilities for who should play God. Not too long ago someone suggested Halle Berry, and while she’s always nice to watch and has proven her acting chops, I just can’t get past Catwoman. Not that I ever saw it. Two other possibilities, off the top of my head: Thandie Newton, maybe, or Kerry Washington, who was terrific in Ray and The Last King of Scotland. Still, neither of them is ideal for the role. Perhaps I’m being too picky. But then again, it is God we’re talking about here, and keep in mind: whoever steps up is going to have to compete with both George Burns and Morgan Freeman.
About God Is Dead, from the publisher. Visit Ron Currie, Jr.'s MySpace page.

The Page 69 Test: God Is Dead.

--Marshal Zeringue