Sunday, September 5, 2010

Rebecca Cantrell's "A Trace of Smoke"

Rebecca Cantrell majored in German, Creative Writing, and History at the Freie Universitaet of Berlin and Carnegie Mellon University.

Here she shares her ideas on casting an adaptation of A Trace of Smoke, her first book:
I have to confess that I have an unfair advantage on this question. When A Trace of Smoke was released, Sara Colleton (the producer of Dexter, The Painted Veil, and Riding in Cars with Boys) became interested in it. She read it, liked it, and presented it to the decision-making VPs at both Showtime and HBO. It took them a few weeks, but they both passed.

In the meantime, I had a lot of time to think about Smoke as a TV series, complete with actors and actresses and set designers and my own theme song. Yup, those were fun weeks. Until they passed and took away my theme song. So now, instead of viewing this experience as a devastating heartbreak, I can view it as chance to have an intelligent answer to this question. Yup, that’s how hard I work on these blogs.

Hannah’s 32-years-old in this first book, so I want someone who can play that age. She needs to be blonde-haired and blue-eyed, a veritable model of Aryan beauty in order to confuse the Nazis as she looks like their ideal woman, but, of course, she is not. She needs to be able to portray great strength and also incredible vulnerability. Plus, she needs to be funny. But she doesn’t have to be able to tap dance, so that’s something, right?

Here’s my short list for Hannah:

Carice van Houten from Black Book. I loved her in that movie, and her character there has her own difficult journey.

Naomi Watts. She did a great job in The Painted Veil (The original was released in 1934, the same year my second book is set) and she has that strength and toughness.

Kate Winslet. She has it all too, plus great comic delivery.

• Other possibilities might be: Gwyneth Paltrow (if she can be tough enough), Emily Blunt, Diane Kruger, and Claire Danes.

Here’s my short list for the other characters:

• Boris: Sebastian Koch. Big, German, sensitive, luscious. Yes, it’s a damn short list, but only because he is perfect. Black Book. The Lives of Others. Watch some recent German films and you’ll see what I mean. If not, at least will have seen some of his films.

• Lang: Tough call. I think Sean Penn might like this complicated Nazi police officer who gets much larger roles in the later books. Or Michael C. Hall. Or Edward Norton (come on Edward, aren’t you tired of playing tortured good guys? How about being a tortured bad guy who might surprise everyone?).

• Ernst Röhm: James Gandolfini. It’s a powerful cameo role, and he would be great. He has the size and personal charisma, plus the sense of underlying layers. I think he could have a lot of fun with it too.

Who do you think should play Hannah? Boris?
Learn more about the book and author at Rebecca Cantrell's website and blog. Watch the video trailer for A Trace of Smoke.

The Page 69 Test: A Trace of Smoke.

--Marshal Zeringue