Sunday, March 24, 2013

Tanis Rideout's "Above All Things"

Tanis Rideout’s work has appeared in numerous publications and has been shortlisted for several prizes, including the Bronwen Wallace Memorial Award and the CBC Literary Awards. Born in Belgium, she grew up in Bermuda and in Kingston, Ontario, and now lives in Toronto.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of Above All Things, her first novel:
I totally admit to casting characters in my head while I’m writing them – it’s part fantasy, part useful characterization, part easier to do than actually writing.

Above All Things was so long in the writing process that my imaginary movie version has had to be recast at least once. So, who would I imagine in the roles? Who should write it? Direct it? Where to even begin?

Let’s start with the writing – without a decent script you can’t have a good movie. You can have a great script and still a terrible film, but I don’t think it can ever go the other way, so... I’d take a jab at the first draft, alongside my husband, who actually is a screenwriter, just to try my hand at it. And then I’d happily pass it to Alex Garland. I like Garland a lot – both as a novelist and screenwriter. He certainly knows how to ratchet up the tension – but is also great with quiet intimacy. There’s something about the tone of Never Let Me Go – that I think would suit Ruth’s sections of the story particularly well.

So – clearly we’ve got a great script – which means it’s easier to get a fantastic director. I’d love to see what Danny Boyle would do with Above All Things. Boyle’s a master at the hallucinogenic and using light and shadow that I’d love to see his version of the oxygen deprived climbers high on Everest.

The role of George Mallory has already resulted in some fierce debates at book clubs I’ve attended and if you believe the Hollywood hype machine Tom Hardy’s already been cast as George in the Jeffrey Archer take on this story. But my money for an ideal Mallory is on Michael Fassbender. He’s a spectacular actor and also has the physicality that would work for George – all sharp angles and long limbs.

And for the love of his life, Ruth – I imagine Carey Mulligan. There’s something about the softness of her face that seems to be right for Ruth. She’s probably a little young right now, but these things take a while to get off the ground. By the time we’ve got a green light she’ll be perfect.

Ever since watching The Social Network I’ve known that Armie Hammer would make a terrific Sandy Irvine. Physically his Winklevoss twins were the spitting image of him – blonde, athletic rowers. Can he do an accent? Well, let’s hope so! If not there’s always Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens.

On Ruth’s side of the story there are only a couple more characters I can imagine casting. For Will, Ruth’s support and friend I can see someone like James D’Arcy – good looking, charming, seemingly rock solid. And for Hinks – the bullying head of the Mt. Everest Committee – Geoffrey Rush could no doubt craft a wonderfully unappealing version.

So all that’s left is a few more of the expedition members. Teddy Norton the head of the expedition could be played brilliantly by Ralph Fiennes – who truth be told was my choice for George back before I was even writing a book, followed for a while by Jude Law. And maybe to round out the team – Dominic West as the occasionally antagonising Noel Odell and David Thewlis as Howard Somervell.

I’d go see that movie! Even if it wasn’t based on my book.
Learn more about the book and author at Tanis Rideout's website.

--Marshal Zeringue