Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Elizabeth Crane's "We Only Know So Much"

Elizabeth Crane is the author of the story collections When the Messenger Is Hot, All This Heavenly Glory, and You Must Be This Happy to Enter.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, We Only Know So Much:
Fantasy casting for the movie of my book? Why yes, I’d love to!

The challenge of casting the four generations of the Copeland family, I think, is finding actors who can show us exactly what they’re thinking without doing much ‘acting’ at all. In many ways, though each of the characters has their own issue that they’re dealing with, their conflicts are very much internal, and often this is dealt with in the narrative. So in a perfect world, the actors in the movie of my book will be so brilliant that when they turn their heads a sixteenth of an inch, or blink their eyes almost imperceptibly, the viewer will intuit my exact words from the novel without need of a voice over or any other explanation. I think it could happen.

Thusly, my dream cast:

Philip Seymour Hoffman or Robert Sean Leonard in the role of Gordon, the middle-aged father. Gordon is physically, kind of a stiff, described in the book as attractive in a “small market weatherman” kind of way. He’s also a bit of a know-it-all and at the moment he’s worried that he’s losing his mind.

Catherine Keener or Lili Taylor would be perfect for Jean, Gordon’s wife. Jean is silently suffering the loss of a lover her husband had not known about. There’s also an actress named Amy Landecker who would be fantastic.

Priscilla, their ‘bitchy’ nineteen-year-old fashionista daughter, and her thoughtful little brother Otis, are a tougher ones for me – there aren’t that many younger actors that are on my radar, and since in this universe I’m casting this, I feel like I’d like to discover these two. Physically, Heather Morris from Glee is almost exactly how I see Priscilla in my head (yes, she still plays high school on TV, but we all know that on TV high school it’s almost a requirement that in real life, the actors playing teens are twenty-five). Priscilla goes through a transition as well, though, so the actress playing her needs to play bitchy but also in a sort of quiet way – she’s not so much a tantrum thrower as she is silently hostile. Saiorse Ronan might also be a good choice for Priscilla.

For nine-year-old Otis, a kind of brainy, soulful boy falling in love for the first time, well, I have no idea. So I’m thinking, if he were an actor, I’d cast Caine from the short documentary Caine’s Arcade. He has the kind of creative spirit that Otis needs.

For Vivian, the 98-year-old matriarch and social butterfly, Angela Lansbury would be brilliant. She has the sort of elegance Vivian has, but can also bring the necessary edge to the character. Vivian is not always super nice.

For Theodore, Gordon’s father (Vivian’s son), who’s suffering from Parkinson’s, I would be beside myself if Anthony Hopkins were available. Theodore’s face has stiffened with his illness, but he still has a twinkle in his eyes and a sense of humor, and he has some important scenes and needs the depth of an Anthony Hopkins.
Learn more about We Only Know So Much and its author at Elizabeth Crane's website.

Writers Read: Elizabeth Crane (April 2008).

The Page 69 Test: We Only Know So Much.

--Marshal Zeringue