Sunday, June 14, 2015

Nina Berry's "The Notorious Pagan Jones"

Nina Berry is the author of the Otherkin series and the newly released The Notorious Pagan Jones. She was born in Honolulu, studied writing and film in Chicago, and now works in Hollywood. When she's not writing, Berry does her best to bodysurf, explore ancient crypts, or venture forth on tiger safari. But mostly she's on the couch surrounded by cats, reading a good book.

Here Berry dreamcasts an adaptation of The Notorious Pagan Jones:
This is the perfect exercise for my book because my protagonist is a teenage Hollywood movie starlet in 1961. She’s based on several real life actresses who started acting when they were kids, including Drew Barrymore, Hayley Mills, and Sandra Dee. But if I had to pick just one to play her in the movie, I’d cast a young Sue Lyon as Pagan Jones. Lyon played the title role in Stanley Kubrick’s controversial 1962 movie Lolita, holding her own with experienced actors like James Mason and Peter Sellers. She has the freshness, the verve, the looks, and the sass to play a troubled but clever girl like Pagan.

For the mysterious, dangerously insightful character of Devin Black, I’d cast a very young, ridiculously good-looking Alain Delon. A photo of Delon in his early twenties was the inspiration for Devin Black’s look, and we did say dreamcast, right? So that means I can go back in time and cast Delon as he appeared in the French noir classic Purple Noon, and even give him time to learn how to speak in the many different accents required for that character. He’s suave, looks great in a suit.

For Pagan’s co-star and friend Thomas Kruger, I’d cast a young Tab Hunter, Warner Bros top money earning star in the late 1950s and star of movies like World War II drama Battle Cry and the musical Damn Yankees. Hunter was one of the inspirations for the character of Thomas, who is also tall, handsome, blond – and leading a very secret double life to avoid scandal in those less tolerant days in the early 1960s.

For Pagan’s tough but insightful best friend Mercedes Duran, I’d love to zip back to the year 2000 to cast a younger Michelle Rodriguez, back when she played the female boxer in Girlfight. Rodriguez can act both intimidating and vulnerable, something required for whomever plays Mercedes.

Since I’m hopping around in time, picking from different eras, let’s cast a young John Garfield of The Postman Always Rings Twice as Pagan’s ex-boyfriend Nicky Raven, an older Richard Dreyfuss as the director of Pagan’s film, Bennie Wexler, and the affable James Cagney as Pagan’s bitter co-star Jimmy Brennan. Imagine how all these actors from different decades would get along on set. It would be quite a clash of styles and cultures.

Marilyn Monroe has a brief scene in the next Pagan Jones book. Maybe we could get Scarlett Johansson to do a cameo… An author can dream!

If I could choose a director, it’d be Joss Whedon. He needs a break from computer generated effects after all those Avengers movies, and his TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer proves that he’s great with snappy dialogue and smart girl characters whom everyone underestimates. That’s Pagan to a T.
Visit Nina Berry's website.

Writers Read: Nina Berry.

--Marshal Zeringue