Monday, December 8, 2008

Rachael King's "The Sound of Butterflies"

Rachael King's debut novel The Sound of Butterflies, which was among the top three bestselling New Zealand fiction titles in her native country for 12 weeks when it was published in July 2006, was released in the U.S. by William Morrow in 2007.

Here she shares some preferences for cast and director for a cinematic adaptation of the novel:
I'm sure that all writers day-dream about who might play their characters in a film; certainly I have been asked enough by my friends, and it's always a fun game to play. I have no interest in the A-list, such as Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie; I'm much more interested in British actors (well, the characters are mostly British) who aren't afraid to get their hair dirty. When I first started writing The Sound of Butterflies, I had recently seen a New Zealand mini-series called Greenstone, and I had a young Matthew Rhys before-he-was-famous in mind for Thomas, but a skinnier, blonder version. The truth is that the exact Thomas I had in my head was a perpetually worried-looking waiter I'd seen at a cricket match. I drew a caricature of him that day in my notebook and will always think of him as my Thomas. Rhys doesn't seem right to me anymore, (too old perhaps), but someone like James McAvoy would be perfect: an atypical leading man who could do intense and awkward well. He's not my waiter, but he will do nicely.

Since Kate Winslet is too old now, I would definitely pick Romola Garai for Sophie. Physically she is perfect, and would do a good mixture of strength and vulnerability. Her modern friend Agatha would be Zooey Deschanel (I love her) if she could pull off an English accent; if not, then maybe Emily Blunt. I had in mind a young Nastassja Kinski look-alike when I was writing.

The characters of Ernie and George, Thomas's companions, would be a good chance for Jude Law and Matthew Goode, respectively, to play it seedy. I have also been impressed by Laurence Fox (the way he made Cecil Vyse in the recent TV adaptation of A Room With A View both sexy and repellent was marvelous), who could play either role. The older, rougher John Gitchens could be played by Rufus Sewell with a beard. I can see Sam Neill (a fellow New Zealander who has just been directed by my brother Jonathan King in Under the Mountain, out 2009) as José Santos, the rubber baron: he does enigmatic and slightly menacing well. His wife Clara could be someone like America Ferrara but older, mid-30s. She needs to be Latin and able to play plain and not thin. As the 'other woman' in the book, I have no doubt that if Hollywood got its hands on her, it would make Clara smouldering hot.

People keep telling me The Sound of Butterflies would make a great movie and I'm waiting for the offers to start pouring in any day now. Obviously it would have to be a big-budget, lavish costume drama, so it's not something that can be tackled lightly. At first my director of choice would have been Anthony Minghella, but then he sadly died. James Ivory seems another obvious one, but I was so impressed with the film of Atonement I would have to ask Joe Wright. Then again, if I were to turn to my fellow countrymen and women, I'm sure Peter Jackson would have the budget and I'm waiting with interest to see what Niki Caro does with my friend Elizabeth Knox's book The Vintner's Luck.
Read an excerpt from The Sound of Butterflies, and learn more about the novel and its author at Rachael King's website and her blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Sound of Butterflies.

--Marshal Zeringue