Monday, April 4, 2011

Brad Parks's "Eyes of the Innocent"

Brad Parks’s debut, Faces of the Gone, became the first book ever to win the Nero Award and Shamus Award, two of crime fiction’s most prestigious prizes. His second book, Eyes of the Innocent, is now out from St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books. Library Journal gave it a starred review, calling it “as good if not better (than) his acclaimed debut.”

Parks shared some thoughts on the actors to portray his main characters on the big screen:
Ah, yes. The question readers love to ask, the question authors struggle to answer: If my book becomes a film, who should play the lead roles?

Without a doubt, Tom Hanks should play the male lead and Julia Roberts should play the female lead. Why? Because they’re the biggest box office draws in the world right now, and if everyone saw the movie then they’d rush out to buy the book and…

Oh, what, you mean who should play them realistically?

Well, that’s a different question. And since I’m going to assume Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are also unavailable – too many darn kids to chase – I’m going to go with:

Talented nobodies.

Yes, I want someone you’ve never heard of to play my main characters. Why? Well, for one thing, I’m all for giving the un-famous a shot to make it. I mean, really, haven’t we all learned from the danger of recycling Charlie Sheen for another sitcom? Can’t we give someone else a try? (Perhaps, as an un-famous person myself, I’m biased in that regard).

But I’m also egotistical enough to believe I’ve created original characters, and I want those characters to be discovered by audiences with fresh eyes and without preconceived notions of who they are.

Example: Carter Ross, my protagonist, is an investigative newspaper reporter. He’s a tall, thin, thirty-something white guy with dark hair and a certain goofy charm to him. Actor Zach Braff is also a tall, thin, thirty-something white guy with dark hair and goofy charm. And – bonus! – he grew up in South Orange, N.J., which is maybe ten minutes away from Carter Ross’s boyhood home of Millburn, N.J. Zach would be a natural, right?

Well, no. Because the whole time, the audience would not be seeing Carter Ross up on screen; it would be sitting there, thinking, “Hey, gee, it’s the guy from Scrubs pretending to be a newspaper reporter even though we all really know he’s Dr. John Dorian!”

Same goes for Tina Thompson, Carter’s on-and-off girlfriend and the paper’s city editor. She’s 38, a slender brunette, and in great shape – the prototype hot older woman. Marisa Tomei is also a hot older woman, also a slender brunette. But the whole time she was on screen, people would be thinking of their favorite lines from My Cousin Vinny.

I’d much rather follow the model set when they made Jeff Lindsay’s Darkly Dreaming Dexter series into a TV show. Had you heard of Michael C. Hall before he landed the lead role? Maybe, if you watched Six Feet Under pretty carefully. But once he took over the role of Dexter, he really became that character. And if I saw Michael C. Hall walking toward me on the street right now, I’d pray to God I hadn’t done anything wrong lately, because I really don’t want to wake up in some abandoned house covered in Saran Wrap. He’s that convincing.

Somewhere out there, I’d like to think there’s an actor who could do the same thing for Carter Ross.
Learn more about the book and author at the official Brad Parks website and Facebook presence.

Read "The Story Behind the Story: Eyes of the Innocent, by Brad Parks" at The Rap Sheet.

The Page 69 Test: Faces of the Gone.

The Page 69 Test: Eyes of the Innocent.

Writers Read: Brad Parks.

--Marshal Zeringue