Sunday, October 26, 2008

Steve Brewer's "Lonely Street"

Steve Brewer is the author of the Bubba Mabry mystery series and the Drew Gavin mystery series in addition to a handful of stand alone crime novels.

Here he reveals which actors are starring in the forthcoming film adaptation of his novel Lonely Street, and identifies a few actors who might have played some of the roles in a different production:
An author may have a movie star in mind when he's writing his book, but it's practically guaranteed that Hollywood will choose someone else.

The director and producers have their own favorite stars. There are myriad business reasons that actors get picked for roles and those reasons may have no relation to how well-suited they are. Even if the author gets a chance to speak up (which is rare) and if someone is listening (even rarer), actors often are unavailable or too expensive or not interested.

Those are facts of life in Hollywood, but many of us still picture particular movie idols when "casting" our stories. It's a nice shortcut in thinking about characters.

My first novel, Lonely Street, was recently made into an independent movie, and virtually none of the actors resemble the people I pictured when writing the book more than 15 years ago.

Lonely Street features Bubba Mabry, a low-rent private eye in Albuquerque, NM. I've written eight different comic mysteries about Bubba, and have a very solid picture of him in my mind. The actor who would most closely resemble my balding, hangdog detective would be Nicolas Cage. So naturally, Bubba is played in the movie by blond, buff comedian Jay Mohr, who's currently starring in the new CBS sitcom Gary, Unmarried. Couldn't be farther from my vision of the character, but I'm not complaining. Mohr's production company helped make the movie happen.

In Lonely Street, Bubba is hired by what appears to be the living Elvis, long after the King is dead. Robert Patrick of Terminator 2 and The Unit plays the aged Elvis, thanks to a crack makeup team.

Bubba's love interest (and eventual wife in the series) is a hotshot reporter who's a dead ringer for Tina Fey. The casting director tried to recruit Fey, but she'd just signed up to do 30 Rock on TV. Instead, we got Lindsay Price of Lipstick Jungle.

I pictured the villainous concert promoter as a weaselly David Paymer type. Instead, the filmmakers cast Joe Mantegna of Criminal Minds and dozens of great movie roles.

The blond bombshell in the book is played by Nikki Cox, a redhead.

A fast-talking redneck drug dealer is played by fast-talking African-American comedian Katt Williams.

The stern, brainy Hispanic police detective in all the Bubba books, Steve Romero, is played in the movie by comedian Paul Rodriguez.

Don't get me wrong. I wasn't disappointed with any of these casting decisions. They're just not the way I pictured these characters.

At this writing, I still haven't seen the finished film (and don't know yet when it'll be released), but in the few clips I've seen, the actors do a great job. Jay Mohr is very funny as Bubba. Robert Patrick makes a great Elvis. Lindsay Price is priceless. Joe Mantegna, one of my favorite actors, is wonderful, as usual.

So, have I learned a lesson? Do I no longer picture movie stars when I'm creating characters? Nah, I write the way I always have. But I do so with the knowledge that, if I get lucky again with Hollywood, they'll pick different actors. I'm okay with that.

But, um, Jason Statham, if you're reading this, please check out my latest thriller, Cutthroat. Boy, have I got a role for you.
Learn more about Steve Brewer at his website and his blog.

The Page 69 Test: Cutthroat.

--Marshal Zeringue