Sunday, November 7, 2010

Patricia Gussin's "And Then There Was One"

Patricia Gussin is the author of And Then There Was One, The Test, Twisted Justice, and Shadow of Death.

Here she shares some observations about the challenges in casting an adaptation of And Then There Was One:
One job that I’ll never have is that of casting director. No, you’ll never see my name scrolling across the big screen, at least not in that capacity. When I consider And Then There Was One as a movie I see it starting just as it did in the book. A nineteen year old and a nine year old, cousins, frantic, looking for nine year old Jackie’s two sisters, Sammie and Alex. Jackie and Alex and Sammie are identical triplets. They live in Tampa and they are visiting cousins in a suburb of Detroit. The three girls and their older cousin are at a mall. All four went into a movie theater. To resolve a squabble about which movie to see, the four slit up into twosomes. No big deal, the movies were showing right next to each other. But as Jackie and her cousin waited, Sammie and Alex never came out.

Family and law enforcement descend on the mall, but the girls disappeared. The tension is severe and the emotions running on overdrive.

So let’s take a look at the scene. First the parents. Mom, Katie Monroe, is a forensic pediatric psychiatrist in Tampa. she is African American, grew up in Detroit and was in town visiting family. Dad, Scott Monroe, is at a Yankee game in the Bronx. He, too, grew up nearby Detroit in Gross Pointe. He’s white and is a former professional baseball player, now a sports commentator and affiliated with the Yankee’s spring training operation in Tampa.

That’s the primary cast. A family of five. A smart, attractive forty something black woman, a good-looking, well muscled white man, and three adorable little girls, identical in looks, but not in personalities. Jackie, the safe triplet, is logical, well balanced, even-keeled. Alex, one of the missing girls is sweet, shy, sensitive. Sammie is rebellious one, a trouble maker. All three are avid baseball fans.

Wouldn’t it be fun to cast this movie? There aren’t many movies about biracial families. And Then There Was One is anything but stereotypical. They are a happy, American whose life disintegrate before them.

During the search for the girls, Special Agent Streeter, FBI, lead the charge. He is atypical for a fibber. He’s truly collaborative and genuinely concerned and doggedly persistent. But as the week goes n with still no idea of who took Alex and Sammie or why, he’s haunted by self-doubts.

The Monroe parents are devastated, of course, but could they have played a role?

No one knows.

This is super-charged psychological thriller. It requires a black woman as the mother, a white man as the father, and three girls who look very much alike. Jackie the safe triplet is the primary child actress with a role that must portray the avalanche of survivor guilt that takes her over the breaking point. A strong (could be white or black) FBI agent and a cast of very, very bad villains. At the risk of tipping off the plot, the role of Kathy Bates in Misery, does come to mind.

But where to find identical nine year olds that could pass for triplets. I think that the trailer put together by CoS Productions did a good job.
Visit Patricia Gussin's website and Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: And Then There Was One.

--Marshal Zeringue