Thursday, July 11, 2013

Mary Simses's "The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe"

Mary Simses grew up in Connecticut and spent much of her life in the Northeast, where she attended college and law school. As a child she loved to write stories, design covers for them, and staple them into books. Later, careers in journalism and law took priority and creative writing slipped away, until she enrolled in an evening fiction writing class at a local university and was hooked again. Her short stories have appeared in a number of literary journals. Simses now lives in South Florida with her husband/law partner and their daughter.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe:
When I first started to think about this, I assumed it would be simple. I would go through my list of characters and certain actors would pop into my mind for the parts. Hadn’t I wondered about that, even a little, while I was writing the book? Of course I had. It’s hard not to toy with the idea, just as a diversion, so when it came time to actually sit down and do the real “casting,” I was surprised that it was so difficult.

Maybe it’s because these characters are my creations and, therefore, don’t resemble anyone working in film today, or anyone at all for that matter (any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental!). Or maybe I just get nervous when I imagine what real actors would do with my characters. Perhaps the man who played Roy, for example, wouldn’t have exactly the right mixture of quiet competence and country charm or the woman who played Ellen would make her seem too brittle and not understand her vulnerabilities.

Putting all of that aside, however, I did manage to come up with a list – or an almost list – of actors for the main characters. Here it is:

Ellen – When I created Ellen I think I was channeling the young Katharine Hepburn. I loved it when Hepburn played a character who acted completely confident about everything, even when “on the inside” she was in total chaos. That’s Ellen. So if we could just get Hepburn back....

Ruth, Ellen’s grandmother – I actually thought about casting her a while ago and, without a second’s hesitation, decided on Vanessa Redgrave. Redgrave has that elegance and grace that I see in Ruth. She would just need to brush up her American accent. Another possibility would be Meryl Streep, who, as we know from The Iron Lady, is clearly capable of playing someone older than she is.

Hayden – A younger (and blond, and American) Colin Firth would probably be the ideal Hayden. But as we can’t change his age, nationality, and hair color (well, maybe the hair color) it’s best to look at an alternative, and I have an excellent one: Bradley Cooper. Hayden is a buttoned-down lawyer with political aspirations and he comes from a wealthy political family. I could see Cooper stepping nicely into that role, although he would have to lose his Hangover persona and don a more conservative one.

Roy – Roy is tough because the actor I always think of, for his part, is George Clooney. Unfortunately, he’s about ten or fifteen years too old, but Josh Brolin might be a possibility. Roy is the kind of guy you could see chopping wood in his back yard or reciting poetry under a sky full of stars. If anyone has any suggestions....

Chet – I think Harrison Ford would make a great Chet, although he’s about a decade too young. (Make-up, please!)

Cynthia, Ellen’s Mother –Kristin Scott Thomas is my pick for this role. (Again, I’m casting a Brit! Should we move the story to an English seaside village?) Scott Thomas has a knack for playing no-nonsense, take-charge women and that’s Cynthia.

Paula Victory – I think Catherine O’Hara would be great as Paula. O’Hara has done a number of Christopher Guest films and is known for comedy but it’s sophisticated comedy. Paula is a tough, nosey New Englander who knows everything that’s going on around her. But she also has a warm under-belly. O’Hara could pull that off nicely.

Song to open while credits are rolling by: “It Could Happen to You,” performed by Diana Krall.

The Director – Steven Spielberg. Well, if I’m dreaming, why not?
Learn more about the book and author at Mary Simses's website and follow her on Facebook.

--Marshal Zeringue