Friday, August 19, 2011

Ray Banks' "Beast of Burden"

Scotland's Ray Banks has been a double-glazing salesman, a croupier, a dole monkey, and a disgruntled temp. His books include The Big Blind, Saturday's Child, Sucker Punch, and No More Heroes.

Here he shares some preferences for cast and director of an adaptation of his latest novel, Beast of Burden:
Like Russel McLean, I've always thought of the Cal Innes books as more of a TV series than a movie, and given the parochial nature of the books, I have a feeling that most of the actors I'm about to mention will be unfamiliar to most people. Still, ploughing on...

Cal Innes - The "hero" of the series, a twenty-something former pill-popping private eye and a self-conscious stroke victim in Beast of Burden. Cal originally started off looking like a young Billy Bragg, but over the years the one actor who keeps coming to mind is Toby Kebbell. Kebbell's probably best known for his outstanding performance as Anthony in Shane Meadows' Dead Man's Shoes, or as Rob Gretton in Control, but he's had some reasonably high-profile Hollywood gigs, albeit in supporting roles. He'd be able to pull it off, no bother at all.

DS Donkin - The other narrator in Beast of Burden, a self-styled "maverick cop" and a laughing stock because of it. He's a drunk, a wifebeater and an all-round nasty piece of work. So I apologise in advance, because I remember casting him as Les Beale in The Big Blind too, but John Henshaw's my man for Donkin. I think the scene where Donkin takes an informant's shoes may have been inspired by something Henshaw did in a BBC series called The Cops, too.

Paulo Gray - The proprietor of the Lad's Club, a boxing club for ex-offenders. Father figure and mentor for Cal, and one of the reasons he was granted parole in the first place. So obviously he's got to be relatively handy and of an age where he's old enough to be Cal's dad. I would probably have Dean Andrews play the part, if I could. He's got a good boxer's face and, if he got rid of the Ashes to Ashes John C. Reilly look, he might look a bit hard.

“Uncle” Morris Tiernan – The local ganglord, father to Mo Tiernan, and reason Cal did two and a half years at Her Majesty’s Pleasure. If Brian Cox were a broad Manc, he’d be first choice. One of the best actors of his generation, and more than capable of quiet menace – just watch Manhunter if you don’t believe me.

Mo Tiernan – Morris’ son, an even nastier piece of work than Donkey. While he’s barely in Beast of Burden, he’s still a recurring character, and he’s based heavily on an actor from Coronation Street called Martin Hancock. When I worked the casinos in Manchester, the rumour was that Hancock was a massive pill-head. This clearly isn’t the case, but it’s a rumour that helped cement him in my mind as Mo.

As for the director, I’ll go with one of my usual suspects – Alan Clarke, Shane Meadows or perhaps even one of the guys who directed the individual Red Riding films: Julian Jarrold, James Marsh or Anand Tucker.

There, that should make it some grimy telly to remember.
Learn more about the book and author at Ray Banks' website.

The Page 69 Test: The Big Blind.

My Book, The Movie: The Big Blind.

The Page 99 Test: Saturday's Child.

--Marshal Zeringue