Saturday, June 29, 2013

Peter von Ziegesar's "The Looking Glass Brother"

Peter von Ziegesar is a New York-based filmmaker and screenwriter. He has written articles, essays and reviews on film and art for many national publications, including DoubleTake, The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, Outside, and Art in America. His short fiction won a PEN Syndicated Fiction Prize. His work as a film and multimedia artist has received national attention, including a solo exhibition at the Hirschhorn Museum of Art in Washington, D.C. He lives in New York City.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his new memoir, The Looking Glass Brother:
Casting The Looking Glass Brother would present some problems if it were turned into movie, because there are several sizes of everyone, for example myself at ten years old, then seventeen, then forty. Laying that aside, most of the action takes place around the turn of the century. I put the question out at the dinner table tonight of who would play me and got an interesting answer: Ewan McGregor. At forty-two he’s the right age to play me at the start of the book, but infinitely too handsome, I thought. Just for the nose I personally chose Adrien Brody, but got outvoted. Then my wife came up with the excellent idea of Aaron Eckhart, who not only looks a bit like me, but as an actor could handle all the conflicts I go through in the memoir: beginning a family, the sudden reappearance of a homeless schizophrenic stepbrother, propping up a faltering writing career, and trying to escape the weight of an uber-waspy childhood that included some suicides of close family members.

My homeless stepbrother Little Peter can be both eloquent and crude, childlike and wise, calm and crazed and can also change his appearance from extremely scruffy to rather good-looking. Joaquin Phoenix could play all those extremes and more.

As for my wife, who’s Korean-American, Sandra Oh, who has great depth and serious Korean soul, would be perfect to play her as she is today, but my wife at 29? A bit of a stretch. Perhaps Esther Chae, who’s a smart up-and-coming young actress who went to Yale Drama School and is making numerous TV appearances these days.

The plumb role in the film would have to be my father, Franz, who was irascible and self-centered most of the time, and also rather cutting, but could focus himself in a second to say something profound and warm. He was something of a clown as well. As a kid I always thought he looked a bit like Humphrey Bogart. But for me casting my father at seventy is a no-brainer. Robert De Niro has already distinguished himself playing a bipolar father in Being Flynn, and the ADHD father of a bipolar son in Silver Linings Playbook. He is the nearest thing we have to a Humphrey Bogart in the twenty-first century would be excellent in the role.

Finally, there’s my grandmother, Frances, who makes a brief but memorable appearance in the book when she’s about 60. She came from a patrician family, but was also a great raconteur, far from the Long Island lockjaw type. We immediately thought of the brilliant Jessica Walter of Arrested Development, who has some of my grandmother’s irreverence and wit.
Learn more about the book and author at Peter von Ziegesar's website.

--Marshal Zeringue