Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mark Greaney's "The Gray Man"

Mark Greaney has a degree in International Relations and Political Science and is pursuing his Masters in Intelligence Studies with a concentration in Criminal Intelligence. He's reputed to speak good Spanish and bad German.

Here he shares some thoughts about the principal cast of a big screen adaptation of The Gray Man, his debut novel:
The Gray Man has been optioned for film by a Hollywood/London studio partnership, so I am constantly asked who I see in a big screen adaptation of my book. Consequently I’ve had time to consider this, though as far as I understand these convoluted film contracts, they could make my hard edge thriller into an animated film or a Bollywood dance spectacular, or they could populate the roles with cats or Claymation characters if they chose to do so. I have no say in the matter… but if I did?

The hero, Court Gentry, is the Gray Man. He travels the world in a low profile manner; he’s the guy that sat on the bench next to you at the train station who you never noticed, the man on the street that no one remembers one second after he passes. But both mentally and physically he is a coiled spring of potential energy, ready to go into action if the need arises. I like Casey Affleck in the role; I’ve never seen him in anything remotely like this character, but I bet he’d be great.

Sir Donald Fitzroy, Gentry’s venerable English handler, would best be played by Sir Michael Caine. Fitzroy is a tad younger, but Caine could best exemplify both the urbane sophistication of a cultured English gentleman, as well as the cynical and crafty hard edge of an aged spymaster who cut his teeth battling the IRA by running doomed agents in the back alleys of Belfast.

Lloyd, the young, well-educated attorney for the evil French corporation LaurentGroup, is at once intelligent and a bit of a nut case. In order to save a massive natural gas contract for his firm he must bring the head of the Gray Man to the president of Nigeria. He’s in over his head, his very life is dependent on the success of his assignment, and as both the Gray Man and the clock begin to defy him, there is absolutely nothing he won’t do to achieve his ends. I like James Franco or Topher Grace in this role.

Kurt Riegel is the German Security Chief for LaurentGroup. He is tough but fair, a man of honor working a dirty job for a corrupt company. He endeavors to bring about the Gray Man’s destruction because it is his duty to uphold the wishes of his employer, but he derives no pleasure from it. He sees Gentry as an honorable man, though it is his job to kill him, and Lloyd as a reckless fool though they must work together for the good of their masters. I wrote the book long before I saw the Quentin Tarantino film Inglourious Basterds, but when I saw Nazi Colonel Hans Landa, played by Christoph Waltz, I thought he’d be extraordinary in the part. Sadly I just looked up the spelling of his name on IMDB, and I see he is 5’8”; Kurt Riegel is described as 6’5”, so Hollywood special effects would need to come into play!

Lazlo Szabo is the crippled Hungarian forger who Court must visit for documents. I see Peter Stormare in this role. Maurice, Court’s dying instructor at the CIA’s Autonomous Asset Development Program, could be played by Scott Glenn. Clare Fitzroy, the eight-year old granddaughter of Sir Donald, plays a key role in the novel, but I don’t know a single eight-year old English actress, so I’m at a loss for this important part.
Read an excerpt from The Gray Man, and learn more about the book and author at Mark Greaney's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Gray Man.

--Marshal Zeringue