Monday, October 15, 2012

Jayne Amelia Larson's "Driving the Saudis"

Jayne Amelia Larson is an actress and independent film producer based in Los Angeles, and has also been an occasional chauffeur between gigs. She has degrees from Cornell University and from Harvard University’s American Repertory Theatre Institute. Her one-woman show, Driving the Saudis, has been performed in Memphis, Ithaca, Boston, Roanoke, and Vienna (Austria), and won Best Solo Show at the 2010 New York Fringe Festival.

Here she shares some ideas for casting an adaptation of her new book, Driving the Saudis: A Chauffeur's Tale of the World's Richest Princesses (plus their servants, nannies, and one royal hairdresser):
It’s looking likely that Driving the Saudis will be made into a TV series instead of a movie but if I were to imagine it as a feature film or on TV, I’d hope to see someone like Emily Blunt play the lead character – which is based on me since the book is nonfiction memoir – because she’s way prettier, smarter, and funnier than me. And I think she’s a really talented actress and comedienne. The agency that is repping the project has also suggested Judy Greer and Minnie Driver, and I think they are also great choices.

The romantic interest in the book, Mr. Rumi (who appears only a few times but is still ever present) should be someone tall, dark and handsome but also exotic. I think the hot new French actor, Omar Sy, who just starred in the blockbuster, The Intouchables, would be super because he’s so sexy but funny too.

The Lebanese nanny, Malikah, a warm, kind and generous woman who I grew to care for very much, should be played by the lovely actress Shohreh Aghdashloo who is actually from Iran but plays characters from all over the world very convincingly with a lot of heart and integrity. You may remember her from 24 or “X-Men”, but she was also brilliant in The Stoning of Soraya M. The young Princess Rajiya, who is such a spirited and willful adolescent, could be played by the terrific young actress from Modern Family, Sarah Hyland, who is such a terrible but beautiful handful on that show. Since the teenager Princess Soraya cannot be played by a very young Audrey Hepburn (and she really did look and behave like her), then perhaps Victoria Justice would be right as she seems so pretty and sweet, and I love the video with her singing "Baby It’s Cold Outside" with Leon Thomas III.

Mila Kunis would be perfect as Princess Basmah, so haughty, beautiful, and dismissive. Salma Hayek should play Princess Zaahira because she is stunning and naturally princess-like, and she’s got great acting chops. My friend from acting grad school, Faran Tahir, who was so devastating in Ironman and Star Trek, should play the Saudi colonel. He’s a hottie and totally intimidating at the same time.

I’d cast Robert Knott, my writer/director/actor friend and good times/bad times buddy (Appaloosa, Pollock) as one of the head security personnel, probably Stu, but he’d have to hits the weights and beef up a little for the part. Then, for all the ancillary characters, I would cast my actor friends who are very talented, one and all, and regularly in dire need of work.
Visit the Driving the Saudis website.

--Marshal Zeringue