Saturday, January 31, 2009

Justin Gustainis' "Quincey Morris" series

Justin Gustainis is a Professor of Communication at Plattsburgh State University, where he earned the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2002. His academic publications include the book American Rhetoric and the Vietnam War, published in 1993. The Hades Project, his first novel, was released to rave reviews in 2003.

Here he shares some ideas for the principal cast in film adaptations of his “Quincey Morris Supernatural Investigations” novels:
There are two books in my urban fantasy series about occult investigator Quincey Morris and his partner, “white” witch Libby Chastain. Black Magic Woman was released in January 2008, and Evil Ways came out December 30th. The third one, Sympathy for the Devil, is due in late 2009.

My first choice to play Quincey, the tall Texan with a degree from Princeton, would have been Tommy Lee Jones, about twenty years ago. But Mr. Jones is too old now, and, besides, the role might be too reminiscent of his work in the Men in Black movies. Among those available now, I’d pick Russell Crowe. He showed in 3:10 to Yuma that he can do the accent, and he combines the attributes of an action hero with real acting ability.

Libby Chastain should be played by an actress whose name might not be immediately recognizable: Catherine Keener. You might have seen her in Capote or The 40 Year Old Virgin. Catherine is more of a character actress, who combines the intensity, intelligence and courage that are the essence of Libby Chastain.

Another character appearing in both books is Walter Grobius, the slightly demented zillionaire who uses his money to dabble in black magic. I’d want someone who can capture his madness without chewing the scenery, and for that John Malkovich would be perfect.

A couple of cops play important roles in Black Magic Woman: an African-American FBI agent named Fenton, and a white South African, from that country’s Occult Crimes Unit, who’s been brought over to lend his expertise to a very nasty case involving murders with occult overtones. Don Cheadle would be great as Fenton, and for Van Dreenan I’d go with Ralph Fiennes. He has a world-weariness about him that would work well in portraying this South African cop who is haunted by too many memories.

Black Magic Woman features several villains. Christine Abernathy is a “black” witch whose roots go back to the Salem witch trials. She is just plain evil. For her, I’d cast against type and pick Scarlett Johansson. Scarlett’s age would fit the character well, and the malevolent Christine Abernathy would be a nice stretch for her.

There’s another evil woman in the story: Cecelia Mbwato, an African witch whose magic is as bad as it gets. The spell she wants to cast requires bodily organs from five children – removed while they are still alive. Cecelia has a bodyguard/chauffeur, the appropriately named Snake Perkins. A psychopathic redneck, Snake will commit any atrocity asked of him, without hesitation. To play Cecelia, I’d choose C.C.H. Pounder, a character actress whose most recent work has been in TV’s The Shield. To get inside Snake’s skin, I would send Jake Gyllenhaal, and ask him to turn his Brokeback Mountain character on its head.

Quincey and Libby are back in Evil Ways, as are Agent Fenton and Walter Grobius. But there are two new parts that need casting. One is Pardee, the ruthless wizard in Grobius’s employ who is behind the plan to stage the ultimate black magic ceremony on Walpurgis Night. I like Edward Norton for the role. He can keep the goatee he wore in The Illusionist, but shave his head for a more sinister look.

The other important character is occult bounty hunter Hannah Widmark, known in some circles as “Widowmaker.” The role of this deadly, obsessed, ice-cold beauty would have been perfect for a younger Sigourney Weaver. As it is, I’d probably go with Linda Fiorentino.
Learn more the books and author at Justin Gustainis' website and MySpace page.

--Marshal Zeringue