Thursday, March 10, 2011

Mark Alpert's "The Omega Theory"

A self-described lifelong "science geek," Mark Alpert majored in astrophysics at Princeton University, writing his undergraduate thesis on an application of Einstein's theory of relativity. After earning an MFA in poetry at Columbia and working as a reporter, he became an editor at Scientific American, where he simplifies bewildering scientific ideas for the magazine's readers.

Here he explains his casting preferences for a cinematic adaptation of his new novel, The Omega Theory:
This science thriller is a sequel to my first novel, Final Theory. The film rights to this book were sold to Radar Pictures, and Nicolas Cage has expressed an interest in playing the role of the hero, David Swift. David is a historian of science, a Columbia University professor in his forties who stumbles upon a secret theory discovered by Albert Einstein just before the great physicist's death in the 1950s. It's nothing less than the Theory of Everything, the unified theory that would explain all the forces of nature. Einstein began the quest for this theory back in the 1920s, and contemporary physicists are still pursuing it today as they develop string theory and other quantum hypotheses. The premise of Final Theory was that Einstein actually succeeded in conceiving the Theory of Everything but had to keep it secret because it would enable the development of weapons even worse than the atomic bomb. In The Omega Theory, all of Einstein's worst fears come true as a militia of religious fanatics tries to use the Theory of Everything to hasten the apocalypse.

I was very pleased when Cage was attached to the project. He's an action-movie star who can handle serious films as well. I loved him in Adaptation and Leaving Las Vegas.

David Swift's love interest in both Final Theory and The Omega Theory is Monique Reynolds, a quantum physicist loosely based on several real scientists whom I met while working as an editor at Scientific American. I think Halle Berry would be the perfect actress to play Monique, and I can honestly say that I had her in mind from the beginning. In fact, when I was writing the passages describing Monique, I actually put a picture of Halle Berry up on my computer screen so I could glance at her face while I was writing.

The other primary female character in both novels is Lucille Parker, a sixtyish FBI agent who pursues David and Monique in the first book and teams up with them in the second. Kathy Bates would be a wonderful choice for playing Lucille, who dresses like a Bingo-playing grandmother but is the toughest character in the story.

The most difficult role to fill would be Michael Gupta, the autistic teenager who is Albert Einstein's great-great-grandson. In The Omega Theory I wrote several chapters from Michael's point of view, and to get the right voice for the character I studied the books of Temple Grandin, the autistic writer and veterinary specialist who has written so eloquently about the disorder. It's a great challenge to convey the state of mind of a person with autism, and I have no idea which actor would be best for the part. I'll keep thinking about it.
Learn more about the book and author at Mark Alpert's website.

--Marshal Zeringue