Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Amanda Bennett's "The Cost of Hope"

Amanda Bennett's books include In Memoriam (1997, with Terence B. Foley), The Man Who Stayed Behind (1993, with Sidney Rittenberg), The Death of the Organization Man (1990), and the recently released memoir, The Cost of Hope.

Here Bennett shares some suggestions for casting an adaptation of The Cost of Hope:
The most important characters to cast in The Cost of Hope are Terence, and me. The book is the story of our stormy relationship, and what we became, and especially what his illness brought to our lives. It’s about how the two of us met in a China so long ago the capital was still called Peking, of how we fought like street dogs, got married, raised a family, how I became an investigative journalist and he became a professor and we moved all around the country and then he got cancer and together we fought it and then he died. It sounds like a movie script, but it was our life. After he died, I went back and got all the records and re-interviewed the doctors and everyone who took care of us and tried to make sense of the choices we had all made.

Our life was full of movies. We loved film noir. He loved madcap comedy. (I hated it). The movies we watched were full of prototypes for the dueling-couples-in-love motif. How about Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier in the 1940 Pride and Prejudice? We must have watched It Happened One Night a dozen times so I could see Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable. I can’t help returning to the 1940s and ‘50s in thinking about casting Terence. He was elegant, given to bow ties and well-cut charcoal suits so I think Cary Grant. His Midwestern sense of right and wrong, and righteous ire at the forces of evil suggest Jimmy Stewart. But he was also hilarious, so maybe this would be a good serious dramatic part for Robin Williams or Jack Black.

As for me honestly, I’d say if I were God the only right thing to do would be to resurrect Ingrid Bergman to play me. Not because I’m anything like Ingrid Bergman, but just because I’d like that.

Since my teens I’ve banned the use of the word “perky” in any description of me. The fact that decades later, I still have to threaten harsh actions to enforce this ban suggests a consideration of Meg Ryan or Sally Field.

The book spans 25 years of our life, from my early 30s to mid-50s as I change from an obnoxiously mouthy opinionated, stubborn foreign-correspondent girlfriend in China to, 20 years later, a devoted wife who throws her entire being into trying to save her husband’s life. Maybe Anne Hathaway’s career trajectory, from hem-tripping would-be royalty in The Princess Diaries to hollow-eyed, drug-addicted harridan in Rachel Getting Married would mean she could make the journey along with me.

Sometimes when my friends ask who I’d like to see play me, I say Janeane Garofalo. They laugh, of course, but then a few of them pause and say… hmmmmm. So maybe there could be a version that stars both her and Jack Black. That might help the case I make to people that even though this is a book about a guy who gets cancer and dies, it’s actually a pretty funny story.
Visit the official The Cost of Hope website and Facebook page.

See--Amanda Bennett's five best tales of stormy couples.

--Marshal Zeringue