Sunday, March 25, 2012

John Welshman's "Titanic: The Last Night of a Small Town"

John Welshman is the author of Titanic: The Last Night of a Small Town (Oxford University Press, 2012).

Here he shares some casting ideas for a cinematic adaptation of the book:
With the help of our teenage son, I had a lot of fun with this. The book focuses on 12 people whose stories are woven into the narrative. They have been chosen to represent, as far as possible, the idea of the Titanic as being like a ‘small town’. So there are passengers and crew members; children as well as adults; women as well as men; rich and poor; and people from Britain, the United States, South Africa; Finland, and the Lebanon. I try to see the disaster through their eyes, and the book is as visual as possible. Here is my cast list:

Adrien Brody would play the part of Lawrence Beesley (35), an English science teacher travelling to visit his brother in Toronto. With the skill of a novelist, but the precision of as scientist, Beesley observes events as they unfold.

Eddie Redmayne (My Week with Marilyn) would take the part of Harold Bride (22), the Assistant Wireless Operator. Young and relatively inexperienced, Bride is totally unaware of what is in store for him.

Abigail Breslin would play the role of Edith Brown (15) travelling with her parents Elizabeth and Thomas in Second Class. Born in South Africa, the family is migrating to live in Seattle in the United States.

Asa Butterfield, star of Hugo, seems perfect for the part of Frank Goldsmith (9), travelling with his parents Emily and Frank, from Kent, in England, to Detroit. Frank had a younger brother, Bertie, who died of diphtheria, but Frank is as adventurous as any nine-year-old.

Kenneth Branagh, recently so successful in My Week with Marilyn, would play Archibald Gracie (53), a wealthy American amateur military historian who has recently been on holiday in Europe, and who is travelling First Class. With an old-fashioned gallantry, Gracie offers his ‘protection’ to any unaccompanied ‘ladies’ in First Class.

Rooney Mara seems perfect for Elin Hakkarainen (24), a domestic servant from Finland who is travelling with her husband Pekka to start a new life in Monessen, Pennsylvania. The couple got married in Helsinki in January 1912, and are excited about their future together.

Isabella Cramp looks ideal as the girl Eva Hart (7), travelling in Second Class with her parents Benjamin and Esther. Originally from Seven Kings, near London, the family are migrating to live in Winnipeg, Canada. Eva is carrying the large teddy bear that her father bought for her in a department store in London.

Kelly Macdonald would take the part of Violet Jessop (24), a Stewardess who is working in First Class; born in Argentina of Irish parents, her best friend is another Stewardess, Elizabeth Leather. Violet is full of resentment at what she sees as the exploitation of the Stewardesses by rude and difficult First Class passengers.

Tom Hanks would play handsome Herbert ‘Lights’ Lightoller (38), the Second Officer, born Chorley, Lancashire, in 1874, who as the Titanic sails has recently been demoted from First Officer to Second.

Liam Neeson would take the part of capable Arthur Rostron (42), born Bolton, Lancashire, 1869, who has had a long career on various ships, and who is Captain of a liner called the Carpathia.

Cate Blanchett would play Elizabeth Shutes (40), born Newburgh, New York, a governess in First Class who is travelling with her charge Margaret Graham (19).

And Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) seems perfect for the beautiful Hanna Touma (27), originally from the village of Tibnin, in the Lebanon, who is travelling in Third Class with her children Maria and Georges to Dowagaic, Michigan.
Learn more about Titanic: The Last Night of a Small Town at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue