Saturday, June 22, 2013

Tara Ison's "Rockaway"

Tara Ison is the author of the novels The List, A Child out of Alcatraz, a Finalist for The Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and Rockaway, as well as the short story collection Ball.

Here Ison shares some ideas for the leads in an adaptation of Rockaway:
The two main characters of Rockaway are Sarah and Marty.

Sarah is a 30-something, neurotic, nervous, drifting, single, struggling artist kind of gal, borderline alcoholic, borderline Jewish, attractive enough for whatever, conflicted over her responsibility to her aging, consuming parents, questioning all the choices she's made in life, feeling desperate and trapped, wondering if it's too late to start over. The story is, in a way, a delayed coming-of-age novel. She's not the most endearing character, actually - too brittle and high-maintenance, too in-denial about so much - so an actress playing her needs some warmth. I can't really "see" Sarah from the outside, so it's hard to picture a face for her; I had to brainstorm:

Anna Paquin: not quite right, but the Sookie mania works

Anne Hathaway: too beautiful, but I am always pro-Hathaway

Chloe Sevigny: too harsh

Emily Blunt: this could work - brittle but vulnerable

Jennifer Carpenter: is she the most divisive actress ever?

Kate Mara: too waif

Maggie Gyllenhaal: I could see this - I could see her do anything

Natalie Portman: too doe-eyed

Reese Witherspoon: too Gentile

Rosemarie DeWitt: should be top of the list, perhaps!

Jennifer Connelly: waaay too beautiful, also too chilly

Jennifer Westfeldt: too nuts, even for Sarah

Winona Ryder: a bit too old, too fragile?

Young Diane Keaton: yes, please!

But one absolute rule: No Zooey Deschanel.

Marty is a late-fifty-something, once semi-famous doo wop musician, tall, still handsome, very invested in rediscovering his Jewish faith and identity. A whiff of Catskills comic, some musician groove, some sex appeal, some annoying faux-spirituality, so very Jewish, very Brooklyn, very charismatic but totally opaque.

I always pictured Richard Lewis, post-Anything But Love era. But also:

Paul Reiser: not tall enough...but maybe I'm just being a height-whore

Jon Stewart: if he were an actor

Alan Arkin: too old, but he's Alan Arkin.

Jeff Goldblum: because he's Jeff Goldblum

Richard Belzer: a little too weird, but...,

Albert Brooks: post-Broadcast News era

Larry David: too cranky

Neil Diamond: the musician thing, yes

Robert Klein: getting very close

Harold Ramis: he is so dear

Peter Riegert: not tall enough, but...

Ron Silver: always intrigued me

David Steinberg: again, getting close

Henry Winkler: ultimate mensch, probably too likeable

Elliott Gould: because he's Elliott Gould - but too goofy?

Ron Rifkin: like Ron Silver, intriguing

And...not an actor, but: Larry Seidlin. This guy was the judge for the Anna Nicole Smith fiasco - and turned out he loved the camera, and he was showing up on every news show for months, blathering away. First time I ever heard his voice - and saw the way he used his hands, very expressive - I thought: Yup, that's Marty.
Visit Tara Ison's website.

The Page 69 Test: Tara Ison's The List.

--Marshal Zeringue